Blue Sky Thinking (Bootham 5)

‘Lovely Day’, said the lady in the petrol station.

‘Hmm’, I muttered.

I’d been working on a portrait in the predictable light of the studio all morning and now I was on the way to York for the 5th sitting with headmaster of Bootham School, Jonathan Taylor. Sunroof open, sunglasses on, I roll into York to find it gaily bedecked with those brightly coloured harbingers of Spring – the tourist. What strange and exotic creatures they are: happily making videos of things which, to my certain knowledge, haven’t moved for a thousand years; like cathedrals. Encased from head to foot in luminous ‘ North Face’ Nylon, the modern day tourist, like a cheap market stall watch, is ‘water resistant to 30 mtrs’, and like a cheap, market stall watch, they steam up at the first spot of dampness. Now, tea shops beyond count fill up with lightly poached septuagenarians bent on taking the weight off their walking poles. Thirty minutes later and on the outside of half a dozen scones and a pot of Earl Grey (top up dear?), they head Minsterwards, where the opening of pockets and purses would have any latter-day Quasimodo wailing “The Velcro, The Velcro!” Whatever happened to tweed as the fabric of choice for the discerning excursionist? It is largely rustle free, comfortable on the eye and when caught in a shower, smells of wet Spaniel. What more could one want?

‘Hold on Steady’, I hear you cry in choral unison: ‘what’s this got to do with the pedagogue’s portrait?’ Well nothing really; we had to abandon the sitting due to the ‘lovely day’. The sun poured through Jonathan’s sitting room window, brilliantly lighting one side of his face while casting the other side into near darkness, making work impossible. I hope for ‘better’ weather on Monday!