‘…and then the Prime Minister hit me…’

Blog 13…the final blog for my book…until I need to shake the tree again, maybe later in the year…but in the meantime I say adieu and thank you all for reading my ramblings so far…there are a lot of images on this blog…so have fun and enjoy.http://impress-publishing.com/and-then-the-prime-minister-hit-me.html


Brian's book launch by Valery MeliaMy mum photographed by Valery Melia showing a photo of her and my dad taken in a Bond Street studio in 1947…hand coloured…I wonder how many photographs taken today will still be viewable in seventy years time !!

And so, it came to pass, that my book,  …and then the Prime Minister hit me…’ is finally published and book launched at the Hoop and Grapes pub near Fleet Street, the centre of what was the beating heart of the British newspaper industry in London town.

Panorama by Steve Morgan v2Photograph by Steve Morgan of me giving my little speech of thanks…Andreas Whittam Smith is middle left…hard left is Jamie Fergusson and on the right is photo editor and ex managing editor of the Times Christopher McKane.

I reckon that at one time there were over a hundred guests at the gig enjoying the bar, the beigels and smoked salmon and some wonderful Neals Yard cheeses and served with BH Book personalised napkins provided by my sister Jan, chief party organiser and bunting maker along with her husband John…thanks guys…and thanks to my nephew Dominic (Dom – he was the very tall guy !) who looked after the book stall during the evening.

Panorama v2Montage image above by Brian Harris…Cedric Hemmings and Tina Hemmings with Valery Melia on left….David Hoffman in front of Alun John and Christopher McKane…Andreas is back middle and Suresh, Glynn and David are on the right.

I think it was a great evening, I even managed to enjoy myself without a drop of alcohol passing my lips, although I was pretty nervous at about 6.30 when i thought my family would have to start running around to make up a crowd…but by 7.30 you couldn’t move for photographers: young and not so young, some from the nationals and some from the regional papers, picture editors I have worked with and abused and amused, designers, art directors, good pals from my dim and distant past and younger guys and gals who came on through the mentoring scheme that the Independent implemented in the early days….my mother watched on with a certain level of bemusement (she is still waiting for me to get a proper job !)…and the founder and editor of the Indy, Andreas Whittam Smith rocked up, thanks to Susan Glen tipping him off…what a wonderful crowd of really really nice people…a room full of great talent…thanks for coming along.

Brian's book launch day by Brian harrisx__My former editor Sir Andreas Whittam Smith (AWS) with the silver locks and designers Jennifer Penny with straw and Professor Phil Cleaver of et-al design who put my book together and worked far more hours than budgeted for…photographer Steve Morgan is getting a look in from the rear and Lisa Clark a former designer at the Indy and now with the Express is behind the wine glass of AWS 


My thanks to Edmond Terakopian for letting me use his pictures from the night seen above

One photographer of senior years emailed the next morning to say, ‘That was the best book launch party I’ve ever been to…’. What a wonderful thing to say.

The party snaps above were taken by me…i think ! From the top: John Putman photographs me, me and my books, Andreas in the centra, Cedric, Tina and Val, followed by picture editors Alun John and Christopher McKane, Keith Waldegrave with Suresh Karadia and Mike Crozier….on left Glynn Griffiths with David Sandison above Mike Lawn and Keith waldegrave…right centre…David Hoffman, Antonio Olmos with Graham Harrison…and on the bottom row me with nikki and Glynn with the two limited editions he bought !!

BUT….it very nearly didn’t happen due to absolute last minute ‘cock ups’ at the printers…..

Even though my ‘Book’ was printed and all signed off back in February ( see my earlier blogs )…the product then had to go to the binders to be glued together by hand due to the unusual construction of not having a spine so that the book would lay flat with no gutter for images to fall into.

First off, the book boards were the wrong size, too small…then the slip cases for the limited edition books were made to the wrong size…then the dust jacket which was originally printed to the smaller book board size and then had to be reprinted to the larger size ( by 3 mm ) was printed too dark…and then it was reprinted but the binders ignored the trim marks and cut to an ordinary dust jacket rather than the French Folded jacket that I wanted….only discovered on the Friday, before launch day when I had 200 books delivered to my house.

AND SO…on the Monday, launch day minus 2, I was at the printers, Geoff Neals in Feltham, right under the flight path into Heathrow, at five in the morning as I wanted to micro manage the last, the final, the fifth printing of my dust jacket, to the right colour, the right tone and the right size…the paper stock was ordered to be there at 9am and arrived at 1pm (on the Monday)…a press was stopped and my job was put on in the middle of printing for a high end car catalogue. Within half an hour I was done. A van was laid on to ship the 800 dust jacket sheets from Feltham to Diamond Binders in Enfield just off the M25 for the French Folding to start, all done by hand by a team of women who also did the earlier hand gluing. I am constantly surprised by how much hand work is done…which explains the relatively high price for this book.

In the meantime my printer Dave Davis, after having a lie down, was kicking butt down in Mitchum in Surrey where my slip cases were being made for the second time to the now new sized and slightly thicker book, due to the French Folds…..

TUESDAY..launch day minus 1. I was having kittens and a breakdown as all I had to show at my launch was …nothing, de nada, niente, zip and zilch !!!

Brian's book launch by Jason ByePhotograph by Jason Bye which well summed up how i felt on launch day minus 1

And then just after lunch on Tuesday after a few calls into St Jude, a second pallet of books, correctly dust jacketed arrived…followed a few hours later by Dave with 200 slip cases, that looked beautiful and were the right size, at last.

At 6pm, on the evening before book launch day I started to stamp and number the first 50 (of 200) of the limited slip cased book which all had to have the stamped and signed A4 sized print inserted and then had to be wrapped in black tissue paper and for those that had been pre ordered, tagged with the right name and number. At 9pm I started with my partner Nikki, to box up the standard book…each posting/packing box had to have two pieces of foam inserted to add to the post box strength and then had to be taped together…by 1am, I was done in and my back and legs had given out….but I was up at 6am to package a further two dozen for the ‘night’.

Having set up the room Jan and Nikki and Dom and John relax before our first guests Nikki’s daughter Holly and her beau Phil (top right) arrive walking the same pavement that I walked as a messenger boy 47 years ago in 1969 when working for Fox-Photos a few hundred yards up Farringdon Road and Street.

BOOK LAUNCH DAY. And then to London town to pick up 150 pre ordered beigels from the Beigel Bake in Brick Lane-the best beigels in the world !!…and onto the Hoop and Grapes pub on Farringdon Street to set up for the evening do. My sister and her husband Jan and John did a fair imitation of training to be care in the community helpers by hand making about 80 metres of bunting using triangles of newsprint from the last ever edition of The Independent-all things have a use ! Between jan and John and Dom and my mum ( 87 ) and Nikki ( with a broken paw ) we managed to dress the set, a real Fleet street pub boozer into part gallery and part overflowing news room, picture desk…well done to you all, it looked splendid !

Photographs above courtesy of Edward Webb – a wonderful bit of photo-bombing by Ed Sykes…Dom is back left and Edmond Terakopian is back right….I’m the one with the silly grin !

And then we waited…and then everyone came…thanks once again….I was totally completely utterly overwhelmed …and for those stalwarts who stayed to the very very end I’m glad you all enjoyed your take home goodie bags of left over beigels which i understand were still being found in the bottom of various camera bags some days later…TOP TIP…when you have a day old rock hard beigel…place under a running tap for a few seconds and put into a red hot oven for a few minutes…it’s amazing how they revive…..this personal message is bought you by the beigel preservation society !

Brian's book launch day by Nikki_1010061I’m pleased to say we took home nearly 100 books less than when we arrived !! Photographed in true documentary style by Nikki Bertoya…the final frame !

About brianharrisphotographer

I have been an editorial photographer since 1969. After working for various 'Fleet Street' press agencies and local papers in the east end of London I joined The Times of London where I worked around the world until 1985. I joined The Independent Newspaper in London in 1986 and stayed with them until 1999. I'm still working as a photographer, generating my own story ideas which I sell to the international magazine market. I also contribute generic stock images to various photo libraries. I live near Cambridge in eastern England.
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4 Responses to ‘…and then the Prime Minister hit me…’

  1. john Fowler says:

    Thanks for a great story Brian, and all best wishes for success.

    John Fowler

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kris Gray says:

    Who’d a thought when we first met 50+ years ago we’d still be doing what we are doing, congrats on the book mate I enjoyed reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

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