Monday, 7 March 2011

"I was invited!!" - Big Issue's 20th Birthday Party

It was an extraordinary set of events on Friday night, well for me anyway! I told my son we were going to a special viewing of Hard Times, a series of portraits of Big Issue vendors, for the Big Issue's 20th birthday.

As we walked down the winding stairs of St Martin's in the Field, I saw, I saw with mine eyes, the founder of the Big Issue, John Bird. I couldn't quite believe it! He was standing there with the man I'd met campaigning for the Tories and two others I didn't know.

I whispered to my son: "That's the man who started all this"
"Which one mummy?"
"Hey I hope you don't mind but I'm going to see if I can talk to him quickly!"

Gosh I don't think you know reader my history with this man! I don't think he knew my history with him either!

The man who I'd met campaigning for the Tories suddenly said: "That's the woman I told you about who I met when I was campaigning last year!"

Mr Bird turned to me. "Hello," I might have said. Maybe I said "Hi" matter. "Hello Mr Bird, my name is Sue and I've been stalking you since 2005!"

He stood back, as well as he might stand back so I continued: "First I sent you a letter asking you if you'd help me publish my book that will never be published then I emailed asking if you could find me a lawyer and then I emailed again asking if you'd er, simply meet me and your secretary invited me to an art show you were exhibiting your work in so I took my son..."

He looked down at my son, as the recognition dawned of something I was talking about (!): "They were pictures of naked women!"
"Yes! But that's not what my son remembered!"

Oh t'was a blast the evening reader. Did you know Simon Callow of Four Weddings and a Funeral fame is a patron of the Big Issue? No, I didn't either. I was way too star struck to even say 'I admire your work' when I passed him, but it seems he and my son had good fun smiling at one another during the speeches (My son, had wangled our way through the packed room, from the drinks at the back, to the speeches at the front)

Paul Wenham Clarke took the stunning prints portraying Big Issue vendors in their 'homes' be that a car, a caravan, a squat, a hostel, and testimonials of how they got where they did. In some cases you know what happens to the inviduals, in others you don't. He said it had felt like a cliche working with homeless people but that instead it really opened his eyes to how extraordinary these people are. It really is brilliant, go if you get the chance.

It runs until the end of June.

I'll tell you what else was very very cool. When I was chatting to the man who I met campaigning he asked me why I was there. How did I hear about it? Did I just come down off the street?

"No," I said, the relief whooshing through me that I wasn't a stalker, "I was invited!"

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