Thursday, 26 October 2017

Not in Vogue.

Me,back in the very early 80's
I can remember having this picture taken. It is a photograph, not a snap. I had to pose, I was very tall (well, funnily enough, I still am) and very slim and very young and fancied myself as super model material. I was a bit premature on that front as the real supermodels were still struggling to make names for themselves back then, in fact the term wouldn't be christened for a couple more years. I sent the photo to a modelling agency in Mayfair. I didn't hear anything from the agency so just carried on in my job as a clerical officer at the Greater London Council. Then one day I had a phone call at work, a personal phone call which was very frowned upon. It was a man calling from the agency in Mayfair asking me where I was. I was flustered and replied that I was at work. He went on in a dramatic fashion to say that the studio had been set up and the photographer was waiting for me. I didn't know what to do as I couldn't just up and leave my desk. I tried to explain that I hadn't heard anything from the agency at all, let alone notice of a pending appointment. My immediate boss could see that I was in a pickle and indicated that I pass him the phone which I did. He asked the caller for an explanation and then calmly put the phone down. He then, to my astonishment , took some cash out of his wallet and told me to go and get a taxi to the appointment.
It was summer and I was wearing a dress, quite a smart dress as casual clothes were not deemed fit to wear to work at that time. I felt frumpy and not model material at all but a steely determination had set in and on the way to Mayfair I mapped my new life , it would include lots of glamorous parties, champagne, gorgeous clothes, Vogue covers, shining hair, good-looking men and of course, vast sums of money.
I arrived at the building which was a tall and grand affair, I presumed the whole house was the agency but soon realised that the number of bells attached to the wall gave the lie to that assumption. I pressed the bell to the agency and the door swung open. I climbed up a long staircase until I reached what was probably once known as the servants' quarters. I was ushered in by a youngish man who was wearing a hacking jacket and light brown cords, (I don't know why I remember this detail so clearly) he had a floppy fringe which he had to keep flicking from his eyes. He looked me up and down while rubbing his hand across his chin. He asked me to pull my dress up so he could see more of my legs. I felt a red flush bloom across my cheeks but pulled up my dress as instructed. He seemed to stare at my legs for ages and I felt awkward and embarrassed but kept telling myself I was being stupid as of course I would have to expect this sort of scrutiny everyday while being photographed by David Bailey and the like.
Finally, the man from the agency, (I can't remember his name) told me he thought my legs were a tiny bit on the chubby side but not to worry, I could exercise that away. I remember feeling mortified, my legs couldn't really have been any skinnier, they wouldn't have held me up. I dropped my dress back down to below my knees.
The photographer called from the 'studio' which was probably once upon a time, a broom cupboard.
I had lost my nerve, I couldn't bear the thought of my chubby legs being photographed. I dashed back down the staircase on my sturdy pins and hailed a taxi which took me back to County Hall.