#54 Shoot

In Kids, midlife on August 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm

It’s not every day that a national newspaper wants to shoot me for the cover of its magazine – and there are many, many reasons why, as anyone who has ever seen, or tried to take, a picture of me will testify.

But today I was summoned at less than 24 hours notice to a studio on the opposite side of London to endure an experience that is, for me, right up there with being force fed macaroni cheese, driving in a foreign city, or listening to Justin Bieber.

To be fair, their interest wasn’t in me, but in The Midlife Manual (Out 2 September! All good bookshops! Order it now! etc!) which they are extracting at some point later this month (tba). And for some reason they wanted to illustrate it with a picture of myself and my co writer John O’Connell, even though of course we don’t look nearly old, dowdy or careworn enough to be writing about midlife. Er…

So I dragged a case of simple jeans and tops options, and two children (Summer holidays –> no childcare–> no work –> no money to pay for childcare–> no work, etc), from Crystal Palace to Kentish Town (rebranded East London Line extension to Dalston jct, then rebranded North London Line from Dalston Kingsland to KT West, since you ask), to a huge and glamorous studio where I was hair-and-makeup-ed and squeezed into 4inch Louboutins.

Even though I am of course normally very sensible and shun such frippery as high fashion (mainly because I cant afford it) there is still a small part of me that thinks it would be wonderful to spend my days dressed in designer clothes and shoes, either in front of a camera or in the course of one’s work, and to be groomed within an inch of one’s life as a matter of course rather than because you are going for a job interview. So the idea of being styled and the chance to wear £400 shoes regularly namechecked in shows like Sex and the City (Louboutins are the ones with the saucy red soles) did, I confess, give me a tiny frisson.

But an hour of grinning and girning, chanelling the Pet Shop Boys, and standing on tip toe in 4 inch heels made me realise why people get paid good money to do it for a living – although not why anyone would want to. In spite of the novelty of being in fancy studios  and wearing shoes that cost more than I’ve earnt this month, I’ve discovered being photographed requires a surprising amount of energy for something that’s essentially just standing still.

In the event, the team who did the shoot were not the child hating fashion monsters I’d feared they might be (I wasn’t the only one who had to bring their family on the shoot) and made it all relatively painless. They plied us with chips and chocolate (another reason why a modelling career just wouldn’t have worked out) and put us at our ease, or as close as I’m going to get in such a situation without alcohol or a strong sedative.

The kids had a ball – parading around the huge luxurious studio, going to the toilet an unnatural number of times simply to marvel at the grand bathrooms, ordering chips, not just being allowed to drink fizzy drinks but being allowed to take them from the fridge for free, and finally having their picture taken themselves thanks to an incredibly patient and indulgent photographer. Even though I have been an alpha mum this holidays taking them on educational trips to museums, art galleries, activities, and even been organised enough this week to make a packed lunch and get out the family railcard for a trip to the countryside (Eynsford, 35mins direct from Peckham Rye on Thameslink since you ask), they said it was the best day trip they’d had.

Me, I’m not looking forward to seeing the results on the newsstand, but I did get to keep my T-shirt from the shoot. The shoes I can live without.


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