I confess, I took 30 minutes off to have a look at myself in the Taylor-Wessing photo portrait show at the National Portrait Gallery last week. It was total self indulgence (or self-flagellation, depending on how you look at it).
The fact is that a year or so ago (after AA Gill had said I looked like the back end of a bus, and should be kept off tv, apart from "the undateables"), the excellent photographer Adrian Peacock asked if he could come and take some photos of me. I was inevitably torn. OK a nice guy and a great photographer, but wasn't this just another way of self promoting/ self humiliating? So I said rather sternly. Well, OK, yes -- but you've got just 30 minutes.
I didnt think much more about it.We had a fun time doing the pics... but, to be honest, it wasn't until he told me that the pic was in the shortlist for the Taylor Wessing prize that I thought much more about it. (If you want to explore the family, his partner's novel is about bees.)
Anyway, it was after the staff post-Christmas lunch at the TLS that I nerved myself to go and take a peek at the NPG. I thought there were some brilliant pics there -- but that I (thanks to Adrian) could hold my head up high. We weren't winners (more my fault than his I suspect). but it was great to have a great pic of an ordinary 50 something woman there (ie me).
In fact I was rather taken by Sipke Visser's pic (above) of his partner, her mum and their baby -- all asleep after just giving birth. And the winning pic of the female jockey, Katie Walsh, was great too.
I confess that I half hung around my pic to try to listen in to what people were saying. But rather failed! I couldn't quite do the nonchalant overhearing bit.
I was actually feeling quite relieved that no one had matched me up with the pic That's until I half attached myself to a guided tour, just to hear what the general spiel was. As I was listening, a nice man said "have you come to have a look at yourself?". "Oh f***" I said, or words to that effect -- and we got into a bit of a friendly conversation.
At which point the guide (and I dont blame her at all) said to me "Are you part of this group?". And I scuttled off.
Better not to know, etc etc!