Every thing seemed to be happening at once. There was my date with the photographer to have the all important head shots done. These then had to be delivered to the studios which seemed to be scattered all over London. The house in Epsom was now ours and I had to choose the decorations, which the agents had thrown in at no cost to us. When this was completed we had to get our furniture out of store and finally move in. Throughout I had to phone Paula twice a day in case she needed me. I was going to have my work cut out.
Having the photos taken was good experience and gave me a foretaste of what I would be doing for the next couple of years. I liked Reg, the photographer and found it easy to respond to his instructions and the resulting photos were very good. You couldn’t always rely on a rapport with whoever was shooting, either for stills or filming and I had to learn to have a secret scenario going on in my head to portray real emotion and a smile that spread to the eyes and made them sparkle.
It was a pleasure choosing the décor of our new home, the decorators did a good job and I still find it hard to believe we were given such a good deal and a free cream tea to boot. We got our furniture out of store and moved in. I decided to give myself a week delivering the photos and then concentrate on settling in. I was fairly sure there would be a waiting period before I would get any bookings. I had seen enough of the girls hanging around Paula’s office to realise that there were many more models than jobs. I had to trust that Paula knew what she was doing.
On the back of each photo I had to write my details. Probably now it’s all done electronically but then it was a truly hands on job. You turned up cold at the studio, introduced yourself, offered them a photo compete with your details and then hoped they liked you enough to book you for a shoot. The receptionists were the worst part as they examined you like a piece of meat before deciding if it was worth calling the photographer. One particularly frightening woman with jet black hair scraped back in a chignon – a dead ringer for a female Dracula - glared up at me from her desk.
‘Have you got a plate?’ she snarled.
Feeling like a bumbling idiot I asked her what she meant – I was still getting used to people who didn’t have a Northern accent. She meant a dental plate. When I’m nervous my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth and she had glimpsed it and concluded I had shop clackers. I managed to convince her that they were mine, all mine, but felt I wasn’t going to be top of her list. Eventually when I became known, she actually phoned Paula and asked for me but she was still more of a dragon than a pussy cat.
One place where I was treated with charm and courtesy was Tower House Southampton St, which housed Woman’s Own magazine. I immediately felt at home and they were the first to use me regularly for artist’s reference, fashion and eventually covers. They seemed to take a personal interest in my modelling career and couldn’t have been more helpful and encouraging.
I used the Underground to get around London and would look for the nearest station to the studio. Eventually I realised that often I was doubling the distance travelled when I could just walk round the corner from A to B. It was a nightmare if the weather was wet and windy. Arriving at the studio looking like something the cat had dragged in didn’t impress them much. More cash was expended on taxis. Throughout my nursing career with all the stress involved I had never had a migraine, but the stress of always looking immaculate started me on a cycle of migraines which lasted until I had my first child. Touch wood, I have never had them since.
You had to look immaculate then. Barbara Goalen the top model de nos jours was the epitome of elegance wherever she was. Some time back I was with my daughter in law in London and she pointed out one of today’s top models.
‘She can’t be!’ I protested.’ She looks so scruffy!’
But I was assured she was. The lift man in the Mansions where Paula’s office was once said I always looked as if I had stepped out of a bandbox. It was expected.
NB Artist’s references were when models were photographed to illustrate a story and then the artist would do a drawing from that.