I wasn’t expecting any callers when the phone rang at 9.30 on Monday night. Wondering who it was I answered it and a man I didn’t know asked if I was the artist Jackie Adshead and when I confirmed it was, he told me that he had found one of my drawings of Repton online and wanted me to do a similar one of his sisters house for her, for Christmas. Its a good job I’ve got a strong disposition I thought. THIS Christmas? The one in NINE days time? Yep, that was the one he meant he cheerily confirmed. Okay, well that’s not leaving me much time to get it done, but it IS possible, even with this VERY late request I COULD do it but it would be pushing it. Since I was brought up in Repton and know it very well I asked where she lived exactly and he described it for me. Okay, I could picture it in my head. And what exactly did he want? A drawing, in pencil, on cartridge paper, 12 x 8 inches. Okay, that was possible, I have everything I need, and didn’t have to order frames or canvases or special paint. Okay, so what was his budget for it? He airily said he presumed it would be between £12.50 and £3,000 and with a grin I agreed it certainly would. He needed to have a think and chat with his wife about it he said and would ring me back the following morning. Okay, I agreed, and thought that he wasn’t leaving me much time to do it, but if I shunted other deadlines around a bit it was possible. I like to do a commission whenever I can although this one was right up to the wire. I went to bed wondering if he would ring back. Sometimes people don’t even when they say they will……
He told me the price he wanted to pay – and I was happy with it for the work I had to put into it for him. He confirmed the house that his sister lives in, the house name and number. I told him that I was possibly going to take the photos of it this very morning, since I would then have the photos ready, depending on the weather, to start the drawing later in the week. And would let him know when I had chance to do it.
Fortunately, the weather was a bit of a mixed bag this morning, a bit of rain, followed by sunshine, and clouds, and a few spits of rain in the air (nothing like this photo of Repton taken in the summer some years ago). I decided to go and take the photos, since it might be fully raining tomorrow or the next day and not suitable at all for what I needed. I headed off to Repton, parked the car just off the High Street and started walking towards my destination, camera in hand but not obtrusively so. I found the house easily, and glanced at it as I walked past, then went across the road and down a bit so that I could see the angles better. I never just take one photo, since until I get home and can study them properly I never fully know which one will work best, particularly when there were parked cars and wheelie bins out on this occasion and I knew that they would have to be removed from the drawing as well as TV aeriels, for sale signs, satellite dishes, and anything else that didn’t add to the image. I happily took a dozen or so photos, from different angles and dodging traffic, and it was whilst I was looking through the camera that something appeared in it that shouldn’t be there. “Ahhh…” was my immediate thought (actually it was nearer to “Oh shit this is going to be interesting!”) as the something that shouldn’t be there looked in my direction and headed my way. I decided that the wide eyed friendly approach was the best as I smiled at her, she looked very seriously at me and said “Can I help you? That’s my house” as I smiled innocently and waffled on about my Mum used to live in the village and knew someone who used to live a couple of doors away pointing. She wasn’t impressed at the mad woman intruding on her space, and took her dog off for a walk up the road and I made a show of taking photos of any interesting looking houses in the immediate vicinity in case she came back suddenly. Happy that I’d got the photos that I wanted, as well as a load I didn’t, I headed home.
It was later that afternoon that the client helpfully rang to say he had sorted out the payment for me. And I told him that I had bumped into his sister, who I hadn’t expected to be at home today since its a work day. Neither did he, it turned out! He would have pre warned me if he’d known! I told him about our conversation, and it amused the pair of us, me waffling and not wanting to actually give the game away as to why I was actually lurking in her vicinity. Whoops!
Still, in less that two weeks he can say to his sister “You remember that strange woman who was loitering outside your house last week? Well…. this is what she was doing….. ” 🙂