I am in a cave. To one side of me a large, flat, white light shines on my face. I am sitting in a Mastermind chair in front of a black background looking at a camera. It looks large and rather technical for someone who uses his iPhone like a Brownie box-camera [remember those?].
My friend Bob McBurney artist, photographer and writer of the wonderful memoir ‘Nearly 79, Laughter and Loss’ is taking some pictures of me. It’s a chancy business for large, round-face bald men who have rarely been satisfied with images of themselves. But I am in safe hands and the whole experience takes about thirty minutes, rather like a thorough dental check-up but less uncomfortable.
I hosted the recent launch of Bob’s book at the iconic Leeds Library and he, in the generous way of artists, is repaying me with an exchange of skills. These pictures will be used for publicity over the coming year, replacing those of a younger, larger me.
And of course this is 2019 so within minutes we are looking at the images on a big screen in his office. It’s a joyous experience because apart from a couple of shots where I seem to attempting whimsy, not a good look for a seventy year old man, think Shirley Temple on steroids, I look pretty good.
Bob uses the words, ‘mean, moody and magnificent’ once part of the publicity used to describe fifties screen siren Jane Russell. This is funny but demonstrably untrue, and what I mostly see are glimpses of my mother and father in these shots. My skins has all the tags and bumps of age and experience. But there seems to be humour and humanity in the photographs. I do hope so. You can judge for your self from the accompanying picture.
Thank you Bob. You’ve made an old[ish] man very happy.