|Raymond Briggs for The Observer Magazine|
off to photograph Raymond Briggs, with as per usual not an inkling of what
we were going to do, what the magazine wanted, or what would be there when
we got there, but as also per usual, the magazine were expecting blood.
The day was gloomy and drizzling rain, and as oftens the case, we arrived to a not too inspiring set-up, -just an ordinary country house really (what did you expect?!), where the brilliant Raymond Briggs creates pure magic with the likes of The Snowman, Fungus The Bogeyman, Gentleman Jim, When The Wind Blows etc.
So were clutching at straws, wandering around, trying not to look too disappointed, or like we dont know what we were doing, whilst wondering how we were going to make something visual out of all this (the Crown Jewels out of a packet of Smarties), when all of a sudden I saw it! In a heap in the corner was a crumpled up Fungus The Bogeyman outfit. Bingo! The tricky part was someone had to get into it, which couldnt be me as I was taking the picture, Raymond was in the picture, - all eyes suddenly fell on my assistant Diana.
The suit smelt of rubber and the bodily excretions of the last occupant, whose character we could only imagine (what kind of person dresses up in something like this for a living, for book promotions and the like?). On top of all that it was still drizzling with rain and the builders outside (one of which Diana said looked rather tasty on our arrival), had a field day seeing her dressed up and trying to take direction from us inside!
Still it wasnt the most humiliating thing that Diana had had to do. I once had to do an advertising picture of four Top Rank directors, and in the background of the set I had a muscleman posing for the part in front of a huge gong, the height of the studio. When it was decided he didnt have the right kind of briefs, Diana was asked to go up the road to get some replacement swimming trunks. She was unsure what sort to get or what the correct size was, and our muscleman couldnt go with her as hed already been greased up, so it was impossible to get re-dressed. But it was a sunny day and he volunteered to go up as he was, much to Dianas hysterical laughter at even the thought of him accompanying her down West End Lane like that, let alone it actually happening! But off they went with Diana unable to contain herself!
It took her months to get over it, much like the time we photographed a guy dressed in armour for an article on The Battle of Bosworth. He was on horseback for the picture on top of a hill with a magnificent view, but there was a less expected view as the armour and chain-mail were the genuine article, and as he as he dismounted and cocked his leg back over the horse, -his own genuine article popped out! Funnier still was his reaction in exclaiming Put that bloody thing away! a phase weve never been able to forget!