As he waited for the results of the 1997 general election results, John Major, the famous part-time Lion Tamer, part timer Prime Minister rested his right hand on the cold white tiles of a Downing Street toilet wall and turned to his political advisor, sighing. “Bugger me Cecil, I mean, I like a cheerleader as much as the next man, but seriously, those lot downstairs are getting right on my tits. I mean, I’ll take compliments as long as Edwina’s got breath in her lungs, but honestly, give it a break”
Time and the Official Secrets Act have obscured the exact reasons for John’s rant, but it is known that at least 3 fifths of the Spice Girls were in attendance at No.10 that night. Whatever the causes and the reasons for the outburst, what is clear is that John was not happy with the attention he was getting and I have had cause to share some of his consternation recently. As I wandered around the back streets of the gloriously ill-considered backstreets of Manchester with my camera in tow, I spied a chap of limited growth and mobility standing in my path with a clutch of plastic carrier bags and and leather oven gloves on his hand. I can’t lie, I did consider turning around and avoiding him, but the nagging maternal voice in my head made me carry on ahead. Besides, it would have been a 20 minute detour to where I wanted to go and I couldn’t be bothered with the walk.
As I approached, a strange aroma, parts cat pee, stale sweat and unwashed underpants in equal measure assaulted my senses and his gaze latched on to my camera.
“Help an old gent across the street” he whispered scratchily to me. Before I’d had time to answer my inner conscience or leg it, the tiny, crooked man had latched a leather oven glove on to my arm with the force of an industrial clamp and we were off to the other side of the road and by the time we reached the other side 15 full minutes later, my opinion of my unwashed Yoda-man had changed. He may resemble a rubbish tip in stature and odour, but he was clearly a man of taste. And why was this I hear you ask? It’s simple really. All the way across, as the rest of Manchester looked on in bemusement, he noted several times that I was a good looking boy, kind and as I had a camera, obviously capable of taking brilliant photos that the world needed to see. He was clearly a man of hidden taste and discernment and I was reminded of this for a further two days by the lingering and powerful aroma that refused to leave the skin of my forearm.