Monday, August 11, 2008

Britain's Next Top Model

In my extended family we have a supermodel. It’s true! Her name is Lily Cole and she looks like a little china doll (as you can see right) – a typical supermodel. From a distance she looks like a spoon with a ginger wig on. Closer examination makes her look like one of the aliens from Close Encounters – also in a ginger wig. But now my family might suddenly have a new supermodel in it’s midst as I did my first ever photo shoot as a professional model! It’s true – stop laughing. I had been contacted by the Royal Parks Society for a promotional shoot advertising their forthcoming Half Marathon in Hyde Park.
I rose at the crack of dawn and headed up to Crewkerne Station to catch the 6.42 to London Waterloo. I pilfered a seat and settled down with my John O’Farrell book and promptly fell asleep. The sleeping was a good idea as it made the journey a lot shorter (or just seemed shorter) – perhaps I should try that next time I am driving a long distance? During my lucid moments it was nice to see the English summer countryside rushing by, with one small complaint – too much foliage. You’d get a glimpse in the distance of some interesting looking building and it would then just be swallowed up by greenery. Chop it all down! On entering central London it was nice to see the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and even the MI5 building as we swept into Waterloo. I trundled the ridiculously heavy Henry costume in it’s suitcase on wheels out of the front of the building and over to the Taxi rank. A very nice driver took me up to Hyde Park and to the Royal Parks office at the Old Police House which is a bit of a misnomer as the place is still used by loads of Police! I was greeted by some lovely ladies from the Royal Parks people and, after quickly getting into the Henry gear we were soon driving over to Kensington Gardens for the photo shoot near the Round Pond. The photographer was a nice guy called Andy Lane, and there was, among others, Sophie Rivett-Carnac from Forster plus Hannah Cottrill and Sally Barney from the Royal Parks, plus Sarah Igglesden who was to be our “jogger” for the photo shoot. The set up was me as Henry, armed with shears, with a topiary figure of a runner which I am supposed to be trimming, while Sarah runs past behind me, causing me to cast a glance over my shoulder. We did this over and over, all slightly different positions, poses etc, with lots of bizarre glances being chucked our way by bemused passers by. We tried almost every permutation you could imagine, and then moved on to having Henry sitting at a park bench reading a newspaper as Sarah jogs by – these produced some of the funniest shots of the day, and masses of interest from various tourists walking past.
With the photo shoot complete myself and one of the lovely ladies from Royal Parks (sorry I forgot your name!) walked the topiary figure back towards the Serpentine Art Gallery balanced on a glorified wheelbarrow. The sight of England’s greatest post medieval monarch walking a wheelbarrow across Kensington Gardens with a topiary figure balanced on the top was almost too much for some tourists and we became a target for many a camera lens. We paused briefly to rest as the whole thing was very heavy, and a very nice lady taking her dog for a walk came over to see this bizarre site and ask what the heck was going on. It was Jenny Seagrove! The gorgeous actress from Judge John Reed and Local Hero and A Woman of Substance. I explained my job as Henry VIIIth and what we had been up to today; she thought it sounded a hoot. I kissed her hand and thanked her for Local Hero as it is still one of my all time favourite movies. She was just lovely.
After a quick cup of tea at the Old Police House I was driven down to Hyde Park Corner where I hailed a cab and was soon on my way to Waterloo. Another lovely driver, we had a good chat and I was soon on the concourse. Sadly my train wasn’t due for 40 minutes, so I grabbed a sandwich from M&S and sat on my case waiting for the time to arrive. I was one of the first on and got myself a seat. By the time we got to Salisbury the train split in two with only the first three carriages going on towards Crewkerne where I wanted to go. Of course everyone from the back three carriages came forward and packed though we already were, we were soon even MORE packed. A little old lady staggered on, so I offered her my seat. She accepted less than graciously, but I refrained from my desire to punch her teeth down her throat and throw her off the train as we thundered through Tisbury. I stood all the way from Salisbury in the corridor by the loo. Very nice. So glad I paid £78 for this privilege. I was forced to look on as a very smug young couple sat being smug, young and in love in one of the comfy looking seats, the particularly smug looking young lady with her ickle wickle doggy woggy in her arms, feeding it ickle wickle treatsy weatsies. Another two doomed for a quick exit near Tisbury methinks.
Home for cuddles with the cat and a bottle of Aussie Shiraz to celebrate. Watch yer back Lily Cole – I could be the next “willowy one” in the family…

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