I've remembered the other thing I wanted to tell: I went to the beach with Kim and his kids, Rogan and Meg, last Monday so he could practise his photography by pretending he was doing the shots for the inside of my book jacket. I say pretending because I don't have a book jacket. But I might one day so maybe this was more of a rehearsal. Whatever it was, it was fun. We took a picnic and everything.
This doesn't look like the beach because it's not, it's a viewpoint we stopped off at on the way back to Kim's but is the only shot I got of the three of them that is in focus and not too dark.
I asked if we could go to the beach for the shoot because I felt I needed a theme to feed a look, and I had landed, like an excited bee in a field of comfrey, on exploration. I've always admired those lady explorers. You know the ones who set off on their own across continents when women were supposed to stay home as a male appendages? They always looked so strong, free, and defiant, yet no less elegant and no less female. They proved certain dichotomies to be myths, and I hope that I am carrying on in the tradition they started. When a colleague once asked me to choose another noun for myself (once he'd explained what on earth he was talking about and given me an example – he chose 'witness' for himself ) I said 'explorer': I do feel that's what I do when I write: explore the why and how of us as a species, not to mention the possibilities of literature itself, and what I can do with it. Once the look/theme was decided I needed a setting, and as neither Kim nor I live near a desert or jungle the Galloway coastline seemed the next best thing. In the space of one small cove you will find smooth and sandy here, rocky and jaggy there, grass, pebbles, shells, and rock pools with tiny creatures in them. I could feel like an explorer in such a place. Also, the light is good at the beach which means fewer unpleasant shadows.
I can't pose for photographs, the minute I become aware of the camera pointing my way I kind of freeze, it takes someone with a good dose of empathy to get a decent shot of me. One day, when I'm feeling gung-ho I'll show you one or two of my wedding photographs and you'll see what I mean. By the end of that day I'd been stiffly smiling for so long that my cheeks hurt. I look like a stuffed hamster in every photo.
Kim saw my discomfort and suggested I just run about the beach with the kids saying he'd merely follow. So that's what we did, and very soon I pretty much forgot about the camera and simply had fun. And, although out of the hundred or so shots he took there were only about ten I could bear to look at, there were some I actually liked!
As You can see I didn't dress up but next time, if there is a next time, I'm thinking of wearing a ball gown.
After the exertion we stopped in at Cream o' Galloway for an ice-cream (we chose our beach carefully!) before heading home. As we were driving along Kim pointed out this:
My dream writing room!
Click on any of the pictures to enlarge. The two photographs of me are courtesy of Kim Ayres Photography.