Car horns blare as a sleepy London springs to life. Crisp morning air disperses through vast networks, rushing shoes pound pavements, and sound bounces off the endless slabs of slate grey concrete. Steam from a coffee cup blurs my vision, its heat a comfort to me at this challenging hour, observing my situation. I’m perched at the top of a steep hill, barefooted on a bike. A feeling like I’m looking down the barrel of a gun washes over me; I try to brush it away.
“This must be how a high diver feels the first time they take a leap, into a thimble?” Sarcasm has no effect as today’s crew is living in their own little world, keeping busy so we get the first frame of today just perfect.
Welcome to ‘creating fashion fantasy day’ my Darlings. A day where we bring the bizarre to life, where we throw caution and reality into the wind. Where everything is just ‘faaaabulous!’ and sometimes even freaky. A day that is in direct contrasts with my surroundings.
A round of air kisses for everyone. “Ha Ha Ha” at the sky as I flick my fierce mane and flash my teeth. Devil may care –indeed. On the outside I’m all like “Everyone can kiss my couture arse, we are making art!” But on the inside, there’s a whole other battle going on.
A hairdresser sprays copious clouds of sticky spray in my hair; I swat him away like an annoying insect. The stylist is eyeing row upon row of bejeweled shoes laid out on the side of the road, tourists snap photos like they are lost relics and they are hastily packed away.
Shivers of angst run down my spine as I stare intently down the hill I’m supposed to ride down at break neck speeds in a couture ball gown with five inches of heel on my feet. A white duvet is wrapped around me; I now resemble a large white tepee with nothing but a head with masses of hair humorously poking out the top.
Glamour? I scoff to myself at the irony of it all. Welcome to the cover shoot of (lets say) “This and That Monthly”, oh heavens above, what an honor. Hand on my heart, fantastic, or is it? (Tiny voice of caution) I have an IQ of a Tickle Me Elmo on any given day, but today I let my inner idiot shine in the wind. Thoughts like smashing my pretty little face on the handlebars, or being thrown over them, missing my mark and hitting the photographer, must be ignored. What would the editor say? They’d never have that, as I’d bleed on the gown and be sent home with a huge dry cleaning bill and no teeth. Plus being stripped of my title as cover girl, no way! I MUST NOT allow that to happen.
The story board says “Couture Bike Chic”. My face is all “Oh La La” in the photo, but all they’re gonna get is “AHHHHHHHHHRG!”
“Do they really want me smiling AT the camera?” I enquire. Yes, they do. This is a cover shoot Sweetie! Raised eyebrows.
“Well, that means that I’m not looking in the direction I’m travelling in. Even Jim Morrison once said, keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel” Maybe these people don’t listen to music?
“Do I have to be travelling FAST down the hill?” Yes, they want it to look like I’m riding through pink clouds.
Wafts of pink smoke emanate down below, obscuring my view of everything. The smoke wafts across the lanes of traffic, causing even more confusion.
My stomach starts slapping against my spine, plus I’m acutely aware that I have to pee.
“What the hell?” the stylist is tapping away at my foot, an international sign to say ‘I’m putting you shoes on Madame’. It’s too late to run and hide, I’m all trussed up and supposedly ready to go.
“ACTION!” My dry mouth swallows at nothing. Bike pedals spin mercilessly out of control. Fake eyelashes peel back to the vicinity of my forehead. Molars snap together nearly biting my tongue clear off, fear spreading to my lower intestine as I take my hand off the handle bars and search for my hip. I’m through that pink fantasy cloud, I see my mark and NOTHING ELSE. I turn my face to the right and pull this ironic smile. Just in time I see the photographer, an ALMIGHTY BLINDING FLASH ensues. Did I crash and die? I break hard with my one free hand, the delicate silk fabric whiplashed forward, the weight of that raises the back wheel… IM GOING OVER. Faaaark I scream in my head, I clamp my jaws shut, so I don’t destroy my front teeth on impact, but lady luck was kind to me this time.
There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist; the fashionable non-conformist.
I MUST make this work. It’s my job! This cover will grace the news stands for a whole month, but then be at the bottom of the kitty litter tray the next. The show must go on regardless of the fear factor and all cats have to pee on something.
Where are you health and safety? Slap of my thigh annoyance. The irony of the situation is the sheer fabulous glamour of it all. Glossy images juxtaposed against the dangerous situations. What us models have to do to get these jobs done, turning a blind eye from Never Never land to the never EVER complain department.
This is a fantasy land of mad hatters with everyone playing the part of the hare. We are asked to whistle the Alzheimer’s theme tune when it comes to the dangerous details of our shoots, and just like a vegan BBQ this just doesn’t seem right sometimes.