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The Plough and Harrow, London, 6 April 2015

10 April 2015

Easter weekend was petering out. The spare room had been given two coats of paint, the garden got its aggressive pruning, I’d even published a couple of these blog posts, but there had been no life modelling in eight days. I felt dull.

Then, at midday on Easter Monday, out of the blue, an emergency call-out appeared. A fellow life model was looking for someone willing and able to cover his booking that same evening. I was game. Facebook messages, texts and a phone call all followed; by late afternoon everything was arranged.

Seven hours after the first call-out, I walked through the doorway at The Plough and Harrow pub in the High Road, Leytonstone. I was a half-hour early – always early for first-time bookings – but found the venue already set-up. Jenny, the group’s organiser, was sitting on a table edge, chatting with the first artist to arrive.

Warm smiles and handshakes were exchanged. They’d been speculating how I might look but didn’t give away whether they’d guessed right, or indeed were quietly content or disappointed. Arrangements were straightforward: we had Classic FM on the radio, materials for the artists, two heaters for me, and tea and biscuits for all. Splendid.

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The only worry was that no-one would pitch up on a bank holiday. The group has had 26 artists attending at its busiest yet on this occasion we were relieved to get eight. I would be posing at the centre of a small circle of chairs in what was actually rather a big room. On the floor was a yoga mat covered with a red velvet sheet garnished with a small cushion.

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Jenny asked me to provide four poses: two short poses of 5 and 10 minutes, followed by 45 minutes up to a break, and then a further 45 minutes after the break – although in practice this would be 40 minutes as our partaking of tea and biscuits overran.

I began with standing poses: first with both elbows high and hands curled down to my shoulders, tight beneath my ears; second with right hand on my belly and my left arm extended sideways. For the first of the longer poses I sat on the floor, left leg crooked flat and with both hands around my vertical right shin.

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After the break I had a go at finding a semi-reclining position that would be suitable for all artist vantage points, but failed, and instead sat cross-legged with hands on knees. There were a few murmurs of surprise and doubt that I would hold this for a long pose, but I knew it would be relatively comfortable for my peculiar build.

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We finished at 9:30pm. With everything packed away almost in the time it took me to get dressed, five of us then repaired to the adjacent bar for drinks and banter. It was a friendly group and I appreciated being made to feel so welcome.

Jenny books models way in advance so I know not to hold my breath while waiting for a return. Even so, without wishing another emergency on anyone, I hope this won’t be my first and only visit to Life Drawing at Leytonstone.

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