So my sister and I were back in our hometown at the weekend to see The Mighty Boosh live (her birthday present to me) and to take photographs along three different stretches of coastline, for a commissioned project I'm doing. The show was noisy and rude and we loved it (though it has to be said that we felt like the oldest people there who weren't accompanying their offspring - the average age of a Boosh fan is apparently 19, so what that says about us I'm not sure). The next day we rocked up to the ferry to discover it was only running at weekends, a serious blow as my project hinged on photographs taken along that stretch of beach. So we raced along the coast to option B, and as it turned out, the light there was magical and I found plenty of inspiration. The next day it was overcast and i feared a trip on the ferry would be pointless, but the weather forecast predicted patches of blue sky around 2pm, so we geared ourselves up for a dash to the beach. With my brother-in-law driving, we played a mean game of Horse* and threw Boosh lines at each other making the half hour drive fly by. We arrived at the car park at exactly 1.50pm, and sure enough, the clouds were breaking up and gorgeous autumnal sun was shining down on the beach across the stretch of water. And then something happened that made me realise that all the weather chasing and ferry disappointment and every little thing that had happened up to that moment had been for a reason. Because at 1.55pm I looked out of the car window and saw that Julian Barratt, one half of the Mighty Boosh, was walking towards us. In a car park. In the middle of nowhere.
And so it was that we spent five minutes chatting to our comedy hero as he stood in the blustery cold, eating cockles bought from the quay-side fish shop, while his five other companions walked ahead to their car, chuckling as they went. He was as droll as you'd expect, and clearly uncomfortable with the attention. And we played it cool, while simultaneously peeing our pants with excitement. If you were standing in front of your comedy hero and had four cameras on you, you'd take a photo, right? It was only after we'd said our goodbyes that i realised a Hasselblad, a Holga, a Polaroid SX-70 and a Fuji point & shoot - hell, even a phone camera - just weren't enough to encourage me to take a photograph of the man. I have been kicking myself for days, people.
Four days after that strange coincidental meeting and I am still pondering the photos we didn't take, the photos we couldn't take and the ones we'll never be able to take again. The people we'll never photograph again. I realise that so many of my memories are tied into the photos i have and so many of my photographs i think are memories but really i'm just describing the image. If i'm taking photos at a family get-together I'll often feel removed from the scene - sometimes it's better to leave the camera in its bag and cut another slice of cake. When we met Julian Barratt i wanted to be present in that car park, even if i didn't consciously realise it. The 35-year-old me didn't want to pull out a camera and break the spell, though the 14-year-old inside me was jumping around like she'd bumped into Simon Le Bon circa 1985. What is it about people off the telly? By being bathed in their limelight for a moment do we hope that some of their charm rubs off on us? Whatever it is, it was still a thrill to be able to say to his face: thank you for making me laugh.
* if you see a horse you shout 'horse', simple as that. The person who sees the most wins. Steve won, but we know he cheated. Some of those horses were cows!