I don't know what possessed me, but I used to be a life drawing model in-between children and jobs. I think I was just was bored and skint. I mean, babies and toddlers – they're alright and all that, but when a friend-of-a-friend was on the hunt for someone to go the full Goya once a week, I thought, why not?
Nothing focuses the mind on diet and pubic maintenance more than knowing a room full of folk will be scrutinizing your every nook and cranny. Those sketching your cesarean scar tend to claim they "really don't mind" what you look like - but you have to worry when they get the rubber out. That would be rubber in the British sense of the word, rather than the American (which I can assure you, would involve me charging a damn sight more than thirty snots for two hours).
Anyway, it turns out I was alright at the old Birth of Venus/Nymphe Des Meeres thing and I ended up with bookings a-plenty. I actually enjoyed the job. Show me a mother who doesn't want two hours of child-free peace and I'll show you her well paid nanny. And the artists were a good bunch in the main - apart from this one bloke who turned up with a reporter's notepad and biro, drew a pair of comedy breasts then buggered off. He didn't even have the decency to stay for half time hobnobs.
There were a handful of minor hazards... Usually, a few straight poses would suffice – slouching on a sofa looking wistful, reclining on a bed appearing, er, asleep. But some groups preferred to capture a bit more movement. The Wimbledon Special springs to mind, where I held a tennis racket above my head for half an hour while simultaneously tossing a ball in the air. Cue much muttering about new balls and strawberries.
But at least the tennis scenario kept me awake. If the room was really warm and quiet and I was suitably relaxed, there was potential for one to drift off and let off. I never had bran flakes on a work day.
The venues ranged from a Quaker meeting house to someone's spare room. The Scout hut was OK, but a bit whiffy due to it being straight after Beavers. Once I was tentatively asked if I'd mind doffing off in a garage, if they provided a heater... but I had to draw the line at that.
I occasionally bump into artists in a non-drawing situation now. A regular is the chap who goes to the same film club as me. Try as we might to keep it light about Nordic Noir, I know he knows I know he's picturing me in the buff. Which can be awkward when his wife's there too.
But I must admit, I'm toying with the idea of dusting down the old robe again - since they asked so nicely ("Becks, we're running out of models and nobody else is daft enough - you game?"). But there's a bit more to consider now...
Firstly, I've got what some might call a 'proper' job. Secondly, my eldest daughter's about to turn twelve ("God mum, you're sooo embarrassing"). But mainly, I just can't be fussed with the upkeep anymore. I've strayed into the unkempt and I'm quite happy to remain there. And if I choose to visit the all-you-can-eat-curry buffet, I don't want the worry of being rubbed out again if I go back for thirds.