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My Travels with Hot Cross John
By Rory Finnimore
Copyright 2018 Rory Finnimore
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or stored in a retrievable system
or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording
or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher. Except by a reviewer who
may quote brief passages in a review to be printed by a newspaper, magazine or journal.
My Travels with Hot Cross John
Contents
OPENING GAMBIT
A SHORT PRELUDE BEFORE WE TRAVEL
A CONSUMMATE FORETASTE OF MY COMPADRE
TO ANTIBES, COTE D’AZURE
TO VENICE
TO THE AUVERGNE
TO THE ISOLA DEL GIGLIO
TO RHODES
RHODES PART TWO
NOTE TO FINISH . . .
FOR RELATED INTERESTS OF MY TRAVELS
My Travels with Hot Cross John
Opening gambit
B . . . A . . . S . . . T . . . A . . . R . . . “ I think he’s upset.” My calm words to the Teleprinter
operator at Dover Hovercraft operations office, as the message came through. But I could not
control the mischievous sparkle in my eye or the laughter creases that began to weave their
way across my face.
I had left John Cross, John X, JX or Hot Cross John very cross in the customs office at Calais
Hovercraft operations office just one hour previously. And I was wetting myself.
As was Gloria, the very pleasant operator. Once I had clarified how and why she had received
the stark expletive dictated word letter by letter from the non-English speaking operator in
France.
To explain. I have to go back to our last few hours spent in the country just twenty two miles
away across the Channel. John and I were returning from a super and highly successful
photographic trip to the Cote d’ Azure in the south of France.
We had set out from Antibes extremely early that morning in order to ensure we did not have
to make an overnight stay on the way. The reason being we were carrying the precious film
resulting from the shoot. For us, that was priceless.
After a trouble-free ride, we were heading north on the almost deserted A1 motorway in
France. Bearing in mind that the world and its wife were travelling south for “Le Weekend”
summer sabbatical.
We had even got around the infamous “Périphérique” circling Paris in record time. Feeling
buoyant with the adrenaline rush we were experiencing that came from a fantastic shoot
littered with many hilarious and fond memories.
Left to travel a relatively small number of kilometres to Calais, the weather was closing in
with what seemed a rain leaden, dark clouded storm approaching. Cars with caravans and
luggage laden roof racks were coming the opposite way.
They were not en route for their holiday but heading, as directed, for the ferry away from the
Hovercraft port. Against our better judgement and against the advisory signs, we carried on to
see if there was still a chance of Hovering our way back to the UK before the storm really set
in . . .
A short prelude before we travel
A morsel re my good self
Phew! 1962. What a year. The year I was born again. Into my new life . . . At a few months
passed my sixteenth birthday in nineteen sixty two, I found myself sat at a desk in one of the
largest advertising agencies in the West-End of London.
I had just fruitfully secured the position of junior visualiser after being forwarded for the job
by my illustrious art master at school.
The art stream at my alma mater was the fantastic concept conceived by the immense brain
wizardry of one Ossie Frampton. Those who were creatively gifted or minded, were afforded
the chance of joining the course at age fourteen, year three that coincided with the
metamorphic body changing experience that is adolescence.
We were more than fortunate that we had Ossie to guide and encourage us during those three
transient years spent under his direction. He was brilliant not only at art but commercial
design that formed part of the curriculum.
Ossie taught and nurtured us as to the finer points of graphic creativity. His forte was
explaining succinctly the ins and outs of commercial advertising. And understanding how it
was shaping up for its exciting future.
The reputation that Ossie had carved out for the art stream went on before him. Companies,
mainly based in that incredible metropolis that is London, each clamoured to recruit one or
two of his flock. For myself, I had successfully attended the job interview at John Haddon
and Company. An ad agency of some four hundred and fifty odd souls.
My new home was in one of its six creative groups, situated on the fifth floor of the agency.
A four man team, headed up by Alan Greenfield. At Charlotte Street in beautiful Fitzrovia,
London W1. I made five.
A few years down the line, from that illustrious start and via a few stop-offs on the way, I
successfully co-founded a new wave boutique ad agency in the heartland of London’s West
End. That would be nineteen sixty seven. And what a time to do it. Back in the days of pre-
computer, pre-mobile phone, pre-social media, pre Twitter, Facebook. Where every ad, mag
and poster campaign was lovingly put together like a work of art. And won awards for doing
so. Before the decimation of colourful characters. When no two people were alike. Then, two
or more appeared once in a blue moon now, two-a-penny. In other words, in one syllable
bliss.
Back in the days when every laugh was a belly laugh. Where each person was a true
individual. Where the backdrop is the swinging sixties, moving onto the scintillating
seventies, the new romantic eighties.
Television, beginning to make its mark. ‘ancocks Half Hour, ‘Til Death Do Us Part, Steptoe
& Son, That Was the Week that Was (TW3), Ready Steady Go, Top of the Pops, Pete ‘n’
Dud, Monty Python, Kenny Everett, Only Fools and Horses and many, many more side-
splitting shows.
Cinema - the same. Great films. Great directors. David Lean, Ken Russell, Stanley Kubrick;
Dr. Zivago, Lawrence of Arabia. 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Carry On films. The James
Bond phenomenon.
Writers of the highest ilk. Len Deighton, John Sullivan, John le Carré, Arthur C. Clarke,
Frederick Forsythe, Ian Fleming.
New actors. Michael Caine, Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris, Oliver Reed, Sean Connery,
Glenda Jackson. Julie Christie, Judi Dench, Rita Tushingham etc etc.
Music to die for. The Stones, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, Phil Spector, The Beatles, Wings,
Yardbirds, Genesis, The Who and masses more. Venues such as The Marquee, Ad Lib, The
Richmond Jazz Festival and Eel Pie Island to see and hear them. Plus jazz legends at iconic
Ronnie Scott’s. The best jazz club in the world.
A man on the moon just sixty years after man learnt to fly. Just incredible.
The overhanging threat of the Third and final World War did nothing to obliterate our being.
Khrushchev banging away with his shoe at the United Nations was seen as a highlight of the
year.
Even my son, an extremely successful businessman in his twenties says, “You know Pop, I
am so envious of your years back then.” It’s true. And this is from someone who, for half his
working existence, travels the world. Even in these times, moving at four times the speed of
light, those days past still leave their mark. Maybe that is what life is missing now; time to
enjoy it. By that, I mean living life to the full and beyond.
So, I’m thinking to myself, this age of change merits a book. A tome or two that
demonstrates life as it was then. A time to record all for posterity and tell it like it was way
back when, in those heady, adrenaline fuelled fun packed days.
Being a creative humanoid, what platform can I utilise that can set the scene then? When
Alan Parker was a photographer; David Puttnam, a photographer’s rep; Charlie Sattchi, part
of a two-man creative team; Maurice Sattchi, nestling with Michael Hesaltine at Haymarket
Press; Branson launching Virgin. When the pill was inline with mini skirts, mini cars, mini
everything and hotpants. Online hadn’t conquered the world. And all the world was an
ongoing crazy stage.
Then, I had it. Not to write a lengthy, yawn inducing publication. But to break the whole into
a series of cameo littered short editions of connecting foibles. This particular journal provides
a series of sketches relating to some of my overseas trips spent in the company of John Cross.
Photographer extraordinaire, soothsayer and master of many side-splitting, diverse
occurrences. Perchance, we were destined to become friends, muckers. However, before
meeting him, I would like to provide a little more background, including a furtherance of
mine, in order to set out the scenario back then.
~~~~
A short prelude before we travel
A consummate foretaste of my compadre
John Cross, John X, JX, Hot Cross John. All one of the same person. I wouldn’t say mad as a
hatter but near enough. I met the personable being who is instrumental in the creation of this
particular journal during 1968.
He was a member of the radical anti-establishment collection of photographers emanating
from the UK. Instrumental in part due to the solicitous guidance of John French, the accepted
doyen of this new dawn in photographic excellence.
Spawning amongst the notables of that time was Donovan, David Bailey, Peter Dean, Terry
O’Neill and JX plus half a dozen others.
John’s studio was located in a beautiful mews house in Connaught Mews just behind Marble
Arch and site of the Tiburn hanging tree. His studio was in the integral garage when needed
and when not, it housed his wonderful 1957 Rolls Royce. Above this, lay two floors of living
accommodation.
His immediate family consisted of the most aggressive, moody, sullen, independent huge
black cat that was my pleasure to meet. Christened Enoch, named after the political hot
potato of the day, Enoch Powell.
JX and I hit it off immediately. He was / is a photographer extraordinaire and I really enjoyed
his portfolio. Mainly working in fashion, he applied his own inimitable style to his
photography.
He had his own individual particular taste in other areas, plenty of it. This was reflected in the
way the interior design of his quarters was fashioned. Evocative of the time. Very nineteen
sixties. Antiques mixed with Biba geometrics. Cork on the walls. Not a spare space on the
picture laden walls, including the toilet. We also shared the same taste in music with Pink
Floyd Meddle and Echoes top of the list.
In appearance, there was a resemblance to Dudley Moore. He had the wit of John Bird; the
dryness of Richard Ingram of Private Eye fame. It was always a laugh a minute. He had the
knack.
This is now a good time to begin my association with JX in more explanatory terms. Apart
from his photographic prowess, JX has always been a character of note. Being a mite off the
old block myself, meant that we bounced off each other almost from square one. This is
emphasised as the years pass by. We may not meet regularly but when we do, its as though
there was no gap in our communication. Within moments, we are back in the warm glow of
kinship.
When planning one of our trips one evening, I will always remember John driving around
Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s statue in front of Buck House. Not once, not twice but three
times the wrong way round in his ’57 Roller. We had a stylist and maybe a couple of models
on board but I cannot remember for sure. All I know is that all of us had tears rolling down
our legs as we trundled back toward Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square.
Another time, Pavilion Road comes to mind. This runs in parallel to Sloane Street to give you
an idea of the geography. Piss-elegant Sloan Ranger country.
It had a wonderful restaurant called The Loose Rein. A sublime, glorified steak house.
Candle lit and oozing with the ambience necessary for a super night out. But it was
unlicensed. However, next door was conveniently placed, an off-licence. It meant that one
could purchase a really decent bottle of wine or more plus port and brandy. Take your
selection into the nosh house and be charged just the corkage for a great, great time.
This particular Friday eve, I roll up in a taxi with friends. I recognise the jalopy parked
outside. It is none other than the steed belonging to Hot Cross John. He is lying prone on the
bench that was handily situated outside both establishments. Slightly inebriated, he is fast
akimbo stretched out with his head pillowed in the lap of one Prudence Pratt. A beautiful
model, famous during her unfortunate brief stay in this world.
“Can I possibly tempt you both to join us?” I ask in my best Friday night slur. Prudence: “If I
can wake him we will”.
Three hours later, we emerge. JX is still akimbo with Prudence still on duty. Remarkable.
Especially as we had sent out a couple of revivers to keep her going.
For the most part of my association with JX, I was residing and running the business in one
of the most infamous and intimate areas of London. Soho, the real Soho back then. Bounded
by Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road, Shaftsbury Avenue and Regent Street. What a
wonderful arena in which to have an office and apartment. And it was my fortunate
circumstance to have the two.
It was one thing to have a bountiful, buzzing boutique ad agency and quite another to live on
the old hunting ground of dear old Henry V111. To have both was out of this world, which I
frequently was. It always tickles me that the whole area is church land owned by the Church
of England. And the fact that JX and I were near neighbours residing each end of Oxford
Street.
Now all the afore mentioned, may conjure up the idea that drink played an unhealthy part in
our lives. It was not unhealthy. It was necessarily part of the great social scene that was
indicative of the time. No quick shots of the moment downed in one. No throwing up. Each
drink was appreciated for what it was. G&T was a favourite aperitif to commence Lunch or
Supper followed by superb wines, delectable brandies and superb ports. Or both.
Having said that, I always remember Tommy Cooper and Bob Todd, the stooge for Benny
Hill. Hammering away, one large one after the other in The Ship, my local in Wardour Street.
And one of theirs when they were in the neighbourhood. They entertained us royally and had
us all in hysterics on more than one occasion. How they managed to walk out still puzzles to
this day.
Allow me now to induce those more event strewn trips abroad that JX and I undertook
together. As these form the basis of this tome, I have thrown in not a few of his wonderful
professional snaps where he has hastily but meticulously pressed the shutter release. As
you’ll read through you’ll see how somehow, my apparent creativity and his masterly touch
miraculously came together.
The chosen five chronicles all tell their own story. Like a well prepared gourmet dish; once
tasted, never forgotten. A picture tells its own story and the enclosed do. However, it’s the
pre-empt and the background goings-on, surrounding each that this epistle also caters for.
It is written with enthusiasm. All seems like yesterday. It is written for your enjoyment and
merriment. It is not just about us. It represents deliciously what life was about back then and
how every last drop of fun and frolics was squeezed out. Some of the names have been
changed to protect the innocent. Not really. I cannot remember all of them.
Probably, someone, somewhere is going to righteously complain that this tome is demeaning
to women. Far from it. I have always loved the company of women. I have always admired
and appreciated their beautiful form. More importantly, in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s we were all
equal and undoubtedly, still are. But particularly so in the mad, mad world we lived in back
then. In London, the centre of the universe.
Buckle up and enjoy the ride…here we go.
Rory Finnimore. Soho, London 2018
~~~~
To Antibes, Cote dAzure
JX and I had departed some two weeks earlier from the confines of his mews studio where I
had kipped over until rudely awoken by the alarm clock at 4am in the morning. Our outward-
bound Hovercraft awaited us at Dover some two hours drive away. Ready to whisk us away
across the channel to Le France.
It was a quiet night, the night before, I don’t think. Consisting of packing all John’s camera
equipment. Stylist’s clothing and accessories for the shoot followed, plus our own gear all
loaded into my company white Range Rover.
This amazing vehicle had just been created and produced for the princely sum of three
thousand knicker if my memory serves me correctly. It was the first of the off-road four
wheel drives. And before initials were instigated for practically everything under the sun,
including SUV’s. Why sod about with the Queen’s English I ask myself?
Our last decent meal in London. Rare fillet steaks, washed down with a couple of bottles of
wine, coffee and Delamain, partaken in a cute little restaurant just around the corner in
Connaught Street. To set us up for the trip ahead. Perfect.
It was a wonder, you may think, that we heard the alarm. Let alone jump up and away. Ah,
we were made of sterner stuff then.
We were guaranteed a fast flowing journey to our illustrious Hovercraft port of Dover as the
only other people who had white Range Rovers back then were the Police. We simply stayed
in the outside lane of the dual carriageway (No Kent Motorways then), and traffic in front
first slowed, brake lights flickering, then moved over tout suite. You see, I’m using a touch of
the Frog’s language and we haven’t even arrived there yet. The journey was top notch.
I always looked forward to the Hoverport and being transported across the Channel by a
superb British invention, the Hovercraft. It was the nearest experience to flying but more
exciting. Similar seats and eight beautiful purserettes, as our cabin crew ladies were called,
looking after us. It weighed over two hundred and fifty tons and did sixty five knots (that’s
seventy odd miles an hour for you landlubbers). On a good day, it made it over the water in
twenty five minutes and carried eighty million passengers in its time. It was up there with
Concord and landing on the moon.
Why they stopped developing this wonderful service beats the crap out of most of us. Why?
Its development could only have led to more refined, larger, quieter craft. But some
bumbling, bureaucratic, bull-headed, bumpkin somewhere put a stop to it. OK, the Chunnel
was news but even so, there would always be room for the Hovercraft. Simple, easy loading,
on and off in a jiffy. Quick crossing time. Bloody idiots, the lot of them. The ongoing ferries
proved there is always a need for an alternative.
As an aside to this, it just so happened that John’s grand mama was niece to Christopher
Cockerell, the esteemed inventor of this marvellous machine. So, he for one was more than
akin to feeling the creative family trait coursing through his veins.
So, we arrived at Dover and our assigned craft was waiting to whisk us away, The Princess
Anne. All aboard, cars and all. The engines growled their intent and the gentle lift-off
commenced. Once we reached our cruising altitude of twenty feet, the four propeller engines
atop began to push us away down the slipway and onto the sea in one flowing amazing
moment. Marvellous.
Just thirty glorious minutes later and a breakfast of a bacon butty slipped down with a gin ‘n’
tonic each, saw us disembark on its counterpart on the other side of the great divide.
From here, so began our long anticipated journey across La Belle France. The first step was
to cut across country, past the sobering world war battlefield memorial sites and join the
ribbon that was the N1 motorway heading south to Paris.
Things occurred when we were on our way. Firstly, the citizens of this worldly country had
obviously not clapped their mince pies on the likes of our means of transport. We were proud,
nay pompous, to show them what was typical of the inventiveness that flowed from the great
brains of Great Britain.
They slowed down to view more. Pointing and gesturing to us. Even giving us the thumbs up
or a friendly V-sign. Agincourt, Agincourt we naughtily intoned to each other. It did our
heart’s good I can tell you.
In no time, we were smelling the tantalising, spine tingling presence of gay Paris. Hitting the
“Périphérique” within a couple of hours and with no problems whatsoever. It wasn’t to last.
This ring road round Paris is like the dodgems. Going from three to four lanes then
sometimes to five if there’s an exit turn-off coming up. It is like the Etoile roundabout at the
Arc de Triumph, only fifty times worse.
With JX driving, we departed from this racetrack after our allotted exit. I put this down to
him. He, of course, pointedly looked to me.
If one does not get in the right lane at the right time you’re swept along by the tidal wave of
traffic. Which is what happened to us. We both knew Paris pretty well but not the particular
neck of the woods where we ended up.
After a smattering of tout droite, à droite, à gauche and merde all to no avail, we decided
to hire a taxi to direct us onto the A6 autobahn to the South of France. The taxi driver thought
we were the best thing since the end of the last war. “Follow me, mon amis”. With a sizzling
trip through the back streets and alleys of the city we made it to the motorway.
He didn’t charge us a sou (This was pre Euro). Just wanted to sit in the driver’s seat of the
RR before we took off with a loudly hailed Bon chance from him.
Next came the interesting drivability of our horseless carriage. With the wind kicking up, it
was akin to being aboard a yacht as it had similar characteristics in the cross current of air. Its
high profile and soft suspension was wonderful. Particularly when coming up to pass a huge
articulated lorry with its slipstream. Coming up at 140kph and slipping past really got it
reacting.
Steering into the vortex and then out was similar to riding a wave and posturing the trough.
Fantastic. We never tired of this. Small things for small minds you may think. Probably right.
But we enjoyed it so, that we snorted a few donkey “heehaws” in our adapted French
accented lingo each time we went through this moment.
The other pleasure in driving this wonderful automobile was the fact that it had a concertina
sun trap taking up most of the roof area. We had this fully exposed most of the time open to
the glorious French weather in the middle of July.
Full blast Pink Floyd and Stones on the eight-track stereo completed the recipe for a
wondrous trip.
Apart from a couple of brief stops for coffee, call of nature and food supplies, we drove
virtually nonstop direct to Antibes.
At the agreed meeting hour of 20.00hrs, we rendezvoused with the rest of the film crew at a
cave like café hewn out of the rock face set behind the port. As expected you may think but
remember that this was in the days of pre-mobile phones. We just had the address and the
rough direction so we thought making it on time was a pretty good result.
The purpose of the trip was to shoot a calendar for one of my agency’s more illustrious
clients. The theme for the coming year was the era of the 1930’s, based on the dressed and
undressed scene of that beautiful aeon. And we had a great venue lined up and a super team
on board literally.
For we had hired what looked like from photographs received, an incredible schooner from or
before that age. Some eighty feet in length, it epitomised that moment back in time. And it
transpired that it’s owner and skipper, Barry, was an ex advertising man. You wouldn’t credit
it. On top that, Millie, his beautiful wife was a Cordon Bleu cook. We hadn’t only just fallen
on our feet, we had nailed it. We really couldn’t have asked for more.
Our two models were chosen from a plethora of candidates for their stunning looks and
figures with everything well arranged and in the right order. The planned calendar was of
interest to many in the model game. The theme of the shoot coupled with John X’s name
attached to it, ensured it was news that travelled. The ad scene then was the vibrant catalyst to
make this travel fast.
It took almost a week to see every model who was put forward by their particular agency. It
was so taxing that JX and I had to discuss the pros and cons of each over long prolonged
luncheons and suppers. Hard work if you can get it. And we had it.
Nicki, our stylist, was absolutely top drawer. She had worked with JX many times before and
shared the same sense of humour and taste in photography. John had purloined her from her
regular job as fashion editor of Honey magazine, the biggest rag trade mag of the sixty’s and
seventy’s. So she really knew her stuff. Plus, she was an absolute hoot.
Between her and John, they had brought not only original clothes and accessories to die for
but a whole raft of Busby Berkeley music. The number one choice of Hollywood during the
thirties, Busby Berkeley was infamous not only for his show stopping dance scores but also
the sheer size of his productions.
As an added bonus, the yacht had a two strong good looking male crew. One from the USA,
the other from Scandinavia. Both, as it turned out, were more than willing to appear in
selected shots. And Orphan Annie, the ship’s cat to do the same.
Barry, our robust dashing Kapitan, who would also lend a hand posing in his whites complete
with captain’s hat. With the occasional fat cigar.
The whole theme of the thirties would take in the slicked back, groomed and oiled shiny hair
look and make-up for all concerned. We couldn’t wait to get started.
Once we had collected the two girls and Nicki, we made for the quay side. Having seen the
photographs of the schooner previously in London, nothing could have prepared us for
viewing it in the mid-evening light. It was stupendous. More impressive than we could have
imagined.
A gleaming white vision. Two towering wooden masts. Close knitted wooden deck. Covering
its length from long stretching bow spit to graceful, arching stern. We learnt that Barry had
searched intensely for exactly the vessel that he and Millie wanted. It happened that it more
than matched our needs exactly. Wonderful.
To top it all, this mirage of perfection was moored in one of the most beautiful ports on the
Cote d’ Azure. Located between Nice and Cannes, Antibes was impeccably poised for us to
venture out from and discover the backdrops for our shoot.
Barry would also be instrumental in helping find these as not only was he conversant with
every aspect of the coast and watering holes but was keen for us to obtain the best shots
possible. It would be great re future business for him, from the point of view as a super PR
exercise. He looked forward to a great week’s activity.
So, all in all, we had a brilliant team, super location and any requisite extras, sorted. Up the
gangplank we trod in a surfeit of blithesome anticipation. Cabins were allocated for each. The
two model girls, Jane and Jessie in one, me in another. JX had the pleasure of sharing with
Nicki. The main reason for this was that it was the largest. Allowing for the clothes and
accessories to be laid out, along with John’s equipment. It made sense as all in all, it allowed
for the best combinations to be chosen for the appropriate shot in relative calm. JX wasn’t
exactly over the moon about the arrangement but it served its purpose. Anyway, there was
not another cabin available, so hard cheese.
We then sat down to the first of Millie’s gourmet creative delights. I remember fresh fish and
salad with all the trimmings being the order of the day, or evening. Washed down with a few
bottles of Sauv Blanc and Rhone vino plus a splash or two of Delamain. The girls, of course,
were only allowed a sip. They had to look the part; fresh and vivacious for the shoot.
Straight after supper, JX, Nicki and I planned the next days shoot.
The first shot the next morning was set in the salon aboard our boat. It allowed us to get stuck
straight in and shoot the first of the twelve shots to be taken. Getting the first one away
always set a positive and buoyant mood.
I felt really pukka at this stage as it showed to me immediately that Nicki really knew her
stuff. Not only had she brought the clothes needed but the accessories were brilliant. Having
Biba (Jukanuki) in existence was also helpful as much of the special effects needed came
from her Knightsbridge store.
Nicki and JX working together a couple of weeks before, had shown me what they had
sourced previously. So, although I was au fait with the gear, it was great to see it all come
alive.
Whilst the shoot build up was going on and I was not needed, I sat on the deck with Barry to
discuss the likely candidates for the ongoing shoots. What was perfect with this was that we
had realised we had acquired similar taste in beer and wine. It was damn hard work directing
a shoot like this.
The first test Polaroid’s looked fantastic. And I knew that with JX’s expertise, the finished
shot would be tremendous. Not only was he shooting in 2¼” format on his Hasselblad camera
but was also covering it on a relative new 35mm Gaff film that gave a soft focus feel. Added
to this, star filters and fade effects were used to provide that nineteen thirties touch.
Say what you like about digital cameras, they still do not seem to give that finesse, that Je ne
sais quoi” touch that film and expert processing provide.
The next shot would be achieved with a hint of the thirties, Dorothy Lamar style. Where Jane
in her leopard skin simulated shift would lie topless in the forespit rigging clutching an eye
catching colourful vibrant cocktail.
She really looked the part and although topless, the set-up was so meticulous in its treatment,
that it came across as a crafted 1930’s image. Busby Berkeley music completed the set-up.
Both girls were beautiful and chosen for not only their ease in transforming to the thirties
theme lookswise but also, an understanding of exactly what we were wanting to achieve.
That evening, after completing the initial shots, supper was partaken in a typical French
bistro. Tucked away off the beaten track, that Barry had recommended. He and Millie had a
young daughter and an apartment in town. It was understood, that some evenings he would be
chez nous when he was in port. Particularly if he was away some evenings and nights with us
which he would be. Thus, we were left to our own devices this particular moment, which was
perfect.
It was typical of JX to remark that after the meal we had at a local bistro, he was going to be
first to use the heads (Toilets) on the yacht in the morning. Then, back on deck, he would
check that everybody else’s health was in good order.
When asked how by the girls, he explained that the waste from the heads was immediately
deposited alongside. Silence reigned.
The next days shoot had already been planned. I wanted a shot, taken from a low angle, with
a girl set in an iconic pose in the style of an art nouveau sculptured piece. With the yacht in
the background.
Barry and I had already discussed this and he recommended a low sandbank he knew of in
the Golf de St Hospice, a bay just around the point from Antibes. As it was, it was aptly
named but more of that later. It was the perfect location. Barry certainly knew his stuff.
Including which part of the day would be best for the sun. So, here we were, early dawn,
heading into a beautiful wide, open bay. The sandbank lay in the middle of it so that was
ideal for our needs.
The set-up commenced. The two crew Arnault and Bill, launched the Zodiac that acted as the
tender for the boat. On board was John with his gear, me and Jane. We headed for the
sandbank where we were deposited. JX was happy with his lot and began to set up. While
this was afoot, the Zodiac headed back to the schooner. Barry had manoeuvred it into
position behind the sandbank as agreed and dropped the anchor. The Zodiac was then utilised
to keep it in a profile side-on attitude. This then met the requirement of the schooner laying in
the background of the shoot.
It worked. The shot completed.
The second take of the day could also be taken in the bay. With a third scheduled for late
afternoon. Now, we were really flying.
This second shot, John was really looking forward to. Not. He had to take a view of the two
girls laying, relaxing on the deck from above. From above was the problem. JX was not
possessed with a head for heights. Particularly as it meant him being hoisted up the main
mast in a fashioned type of Beecher’s Buoy. He really did not fancy it.
“Come on John, there’s nothing to it” we exclaimed. “it’s all right for you to comment,
you’re not up the effing mast!”
Up he went for a trial run with Bill and Arnault pulling on the contraption. Actually, I did
feel sorry for him in a fleeting moment but that soon passed. For I suddenly remembered one
particular trick he had played against me on Christmas round at his pad. But more of that
later.
It’s worth mentioning at this stage that two days into the shoot, everybody was getting on
with everybody fair dinkum. Some, more than others however. Nicki, with her outgoing
demure disposition, moulded her extrovert character to suit. Bill and Arnault fell under her
spell, much to her appreciation. The two girls also fitted in admirably. And everybody fell
under the enchantment of the thirties theme including Barry and Orphan Annie the cat.
Barry now moved the schooner away from the sandbank into deeper, safer waters but within
the bay. We arranged that the girls for the “deck” shot should be laid out and dressed in the
appropriate clothing. Complete with coordinated turbans mounted on their bonce. Various
accessories were then laid out including cocktails which I hasten to add, were not laced.
While all this was going on and as we were manoeuvring, we noticed a US Navy ship. The
thought was, it was either a Frigate or Destroyer. Whatever it was, it was big and moored
further up the bay.
We carried on with the shoot. It really worked. The girls looked the part and Nicki as usual,
had done her bit. JX, positioned in the hand fashioned bosun chair, was hanging and swaying
from the yardarm a fair way up the main mast. Still effing and blinding, he took some test
Polaroid’s. These were let down in a basket, thoughtfully provided by the boys on Barry’s
suggestion, for myself and Nicki’s approval. I gave the thumbs up and away John went with
the real McCoy. And John being John, captured a super shot.
By the time we finished the session, that took well over a couple of hours, JX was lowered
down to deck level. We made him a cocktail. This one was laced he needed it. For, during
his time aloft, some wisecrack in a bloody fast hunk of a speedboat came past within feet of
us. To the effect that it’s wash had John swaying from one side of the mast to the other. Until
he managed to grab it. It was a close call. One hand wrapped around the mast. The other
holding the camera . . . just.
Barry, meanwhile, had his binoculars on the US Navy and commented that there was more
than a fair amount of interest from our American audience. Taking it in turns to view through
the binocs, we saw sure enough, there was an amounting number of ratings all armed with
their binocs looking at us. All undoubtedly trying to figure out what we were upto aboard our
beautiful vessel. We had had the Busby Berkeley music near on full blast during the shoot.
This, along with all the shouting and hollering between us and John hanging about, had
carried the sound across the water. And the ships’ company were intrigued even more so.
We sat down for a powwow and deliberated how we could give the boys a treat three
thousand miles away from home. It was the girls who were instrumental in coming up with
the brainwave.
Barry agreed that we take our boat up and around the Frigate on our way out of the bay. The
girls would provide a stunning striptease of the highest order, to the music of BB, as we glide
by.
Nicki was all for it and selected the clothing that would provide the most evocative of dance
to fit the bill and she wanted in on it.
Before setting off, we made sure that the girls had a large cocktail each. And included
ourselves in these. This time nicely laced with rum, just to make sure everyone was relaxed
and hunky dory.
It worked a treat. By the time we had edged within a hundred yards of the vessel, the whole
of its starboard side was jammed with its complement. Hundreds of sex starved sailors, all in
their whites, all with their binoculars trained on us.
The carefully chosen music was turned up to maximum and the girls began peeling off. The
two models in all their beauty and Nicki with her FF bazookas. She was big and wide but
great looking and light on her toes.
The whoops started up from the frigate big time, man-made to begin with. Then reinforced
with the Frigates own “Whoop, whoop, whoop”.
Then, in what seemed like slow motion, the officers sitting in chairs on the quarterdeck near
the bridge, dropped their papers and rose from their repose as one. And also took note. Close
note. Binocs were issued to them in double quick time.
The girls really laid it on. Like they did it for a living. The whoops from the guys changed to
the loudest cheering and cries of sheer delight. It did us proud.
As we rounded the bow to head down the port side, as one they all rushed over to the
opposite flank to continue their pleasurable pursuit. Including the officers. We were
convinced that the vessel swayed as the huge human mass ran over.
The cheers were now even louder. Screams and hollering. And that was just the officers.
By the time we reached the stern, the girls had done their stuff. They all loved it. In fact, we
all felt that we had done our part in helping cement our two nations together. And we
believed the Yanks thought so too.
As a final touch of respect, Barry dipped the ensign on our way out of the bay to another final
round of departing whoops and cheers. We were glad to be of service.
Day three of our shoot, saw us depart from Antibes and head Nor’east for Nice and Monaco.
The first shot of the day saw us in the Golf des Augers near Nice.
Taking advantage of the cool crisp dawn. We set up ready to bag a sophisticated voyeuristic
piece. Peering down from the deck into the cool interior. With our girl interrupted during her
repose. Giving us the benefit of her steady gaze. It was a super composition that worked a
treat.
Next on the agenda. We wanted the two girls standing in the bow of the schooner in beautiful
dresses. It was to be a head-on shot with dresses and sails billowing behind.
Only problem was, no sails. It transpired that the cost of insuring Barry’s boat was almost
prohibitive. Due to its age and resulting speculative value. An all wood boat with all the
trimmings ran onto a vast amount of money, even back then. We had an inkling then that the
insurance did not in fact, stretch to the towering majesty of the wooden masts. They were the
most valuable part of the schooner.
We could see that Barry was uncomfortable therefore we said to leave the sails down. The
other problem was that the wind had got up and it would have been almost impossible to get
the right angle of the schooner even with the help of the Zodiac.
So, we shot sans sails. It was still a difficult shoot to take as we were using the tender as the
platform for John to perform. Leaving Barry to use engine power to keep position.
Nicki stayed on the boat. John and I on the Zodiac with one of the guys. The next problem
was keeping water off the photographic equipment. The sea had come up and in a small boat,
the spray was an ongoing threat. It took literally hours to capture what should have been a
simple shot. Although we did it we knew it was not a patch on the other sessions and it was
left out.
The third shot of the day more than made up for the intricacies of the last. It turned out to be
a masterpiece.
As we were heading up on a North Easterly bearing late afternoon, the sun was behind the
boat and . . .