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The Old Dairy, London, 23 July 2014

29 July 2014

There was an unexpected denouement to my last life modelling session at The Sun in Clapham Common. The group’s organiser, Aless, asked if I would be willing to run a Life Draw N4 group in Crouch Hill. Both regular organisers, Aless and Julia, would be away that day. I was both flattered and humbled by their trust, and of course agreed.

Only later did paranoia seep in. I pondered quite how much damage could be done by a lone man making an unimaginably incompetent job of running a life drawing session. Aless emailed me a superbly comprehensive set of instructions so any disaster could only be of my own making,

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Allowing for any possibility, I arrived at least an hour early and found our room in The Old Dairy pub still set out with tables and chairs for diners. It was not long, however, before a member of staff pitched up to help. We stacked tables in front of the frosted windows, and I arranged the chairs in a wide rectangle.

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A trolley laden with paper and boards was wheeled out, as was a suitcase stuffed with assorted art goodies: pencils, pastels, loyalty cards, donations box and much more. I laid out everything on a table with obsessive compulsive neatness, as if anyone would care, and then sat down.

The first artists arrived twenty minutes early and I duly took their money and stamped their loyalty cards. They in turn helped themselves to art materials and left their small cash donations. Simple! Maybe my mild paranoia was a tad uncalled for after all.

More artists rocked up – 12 in all – as did our model, Edward. Being both mature and much experienced, he needed no gratuitous attention from the likes of me. We began at 7pm sharp. Edward stripped and stood in pose on the blanket and sheet I’d spread at the middle of the room.

The pose times would be much the same as my own the last time I’d modelled at this venue: 5 minutes, 4, 3, 2, 1, then 10 minutes, 15, 20, followed by a break and a half-hour pose to close at 8:45pm. Timing these on my mobile I called ‘one minute to go’ and ‘last ten seconds’ for every pose, plus half time, 7 minutes and 3 minutes on the longer poses.

I had imagined I might be rather bored and lapse into reading a book once the poses were under way, but instead I found something rather compelling about watching the seconds count down while the artists toiled serenely. It would have been a mite rude, albeit fascinating, to spend the whole time looking over their shoulders.

8:45pm: job done. The evening seemed to go without a hitch. I paid Edward and the bar duty manager, took a groat or two for myself, and then packed away. The artists drifted home with smiles and polite thank-yous, which I took as a good sign.

There’s no doubt that first and foremost I am a model rather than an event organiser, yet if this experience is typical then I would happily do the job again, if asked. I was blessed with a friendly crowd for my initiation – I dare say there are more demanding customers out there – but it’s the stuff of life. I was glad to have been able to help.

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