Monday, 23 November 2009

This was a bit weird.

When I was a student midwife, a photographer working for the BBC's photo library came to the ward looking for people willing to 'model' for her. The ward sister was in no mood to be photographed. I think she was having a 'bad hair' day, or a 'fat' day or something, but she didn't want to turn this photographer away.
So, the job of posing with a baby, posing with a colleague and posing with a new mother pretending to plump up her pillow and laughing carelessly at some fake conversation we were having, fell to yours truly.
I never saw the photos, and I never thought about them again. Until about five years later when someone phoned me all excited having seen me on the news. I was all ears naturally, because it's not every day one gets to be on the telly. But I was totally baffled when she explained that it was a news item about an NHS pay dispute and mine (
mine!) was the chosen image of NHS champion, neat as ninepence in stripes and a petersham belt, selflessly ministering to the patient and generally oozing the sort of goodness that deserves a payrise.
It's not all cake when you're really really ridiculously good looking.

Honestly, it had me going for a while until I remembered having those photos taken.

Then last week a friend who emigrated to the States about 10 years ago sent me an email saying:

"I hope you got paid for this"

That was all she said. She doesn't go in for alot of words. I thought "Huh?". I do wish she wasn't so attached to extreme brevity.

Attached was a news item in the Times online about education. And there, in the body of the article was a picture of this kid, looking positively nerdily neat in his school uniform. Holding a pen and appearing to be paying close attention to the (out of shot) teacher.
He looked like a 'Back To School' advert. All ship shape and bristol fashion.
"What a boffin!" I thought "That kid is just begging to have his tie yanked and his lunch money nicked."
But wait a minute. I recognised that boy, and unless I gave birth 15 years ago to identical twins one of whom was snatched at birth and raised by a family of very neat people, that kid in the picture was my son Dominic. After a boffinaceous makeover, naturally.

Funnily enough, my husband didn't think it was him, just a very neat and tidy boy who looked very similar. Like Uday Hussein's body double.

I was scratching my head, and ready to raise cain with The Times who had
clearly photo shopped my sons head into a school uniform catalogue!

Then Dominic came downstairs, having been persuaded out of his long-hot-reading-a-book-and-relaxing-for-hours bath, by the commotion of a younger brother banging on the door and telling him that he was famous. He was as confused as the rest of us at first. Then the mist cleared.
Turns out it was all legit after all. A few years back a friends photographer husband had asked Dominic to do a few sessions for him and I dimly remember signing a photo library release. We got a nice photo of him all muddied up playing fake rugby in a studio and he got a bit of money.
It seems he modelled lots of other looks too, one of which was the studious tidy boy who brings the teacher an apple and gets duffed up at playtime ( I jest, but Dominic will be reading this so I can't say anything too soppy)
Actually, he was a very cute kid. Still is. Only now that dimpled chin is starting to get a little bristly. How did that happen?

(And what were the chances of my friend In the US coming across that?)


  1. Are you starting to feel as though Big Brother is following you around with a camera?

  2. That IS weird! The idea of one's image being used to promote a cause without your knowledge is scary! I hope that none of the photos were used to sell anything.

    It reminds me a little of this story. Except at least you signed a release for your photos!