In the meantime, I continued with photographic modelling. One day I was sent to a studio in Chelsea. To my surprise, the photographer was Lord Litchfield. He was the 5th Earl of Litchfield and cousin of the Queen. I curtsied involuntarily. There were two models from a different agency who were typical high-fashion models.
One of them was called Maggie and well known internationally as a cat walk model. She was very thin; in fact, she told me that a photographer had said: “Sleeping with her would be like sleeping with a broken bottle.” After that remark, I doubt he ever got the chance to find out!
We went to Horse Guards Parade and borrowed a horse. My partner for the job was a beautiful New York model. She was six feet tall in her socks and I was six feet 2 inches in her socks. We were fairly well matched and were photographed standing by a handsome sixteen-hand grey mare, who was not from New York.
When we finished the session, Patrick (Lord Litchfield) suggested taking the models for dinner. The restaurant was rather formal but served wonderful food. In fact, it was my first lobster Thermidor.
Over dinner he told us about his lifestyle. One night he was staying at Buckingham Palace and after a rather boozy evening he staggered along a corridor, stumbled into a bedroom in the middle of the night and − shock horror − he found a lady in bed with her hair in curlers − if only he’d remembered which room he’d been given.
The woman was probably a Lady in Waiting!
On a photo shoot in Chelsea, I met a man who was the manager of a cargo airline. He liked my voice and asked me to record a series of training films for his staff. Some (too many) producers don’t understand the importance of trained voiceover. I have ten fingers, but I can’t play the violin.
During our conversation, I asked if there was a chance I could fly with them to New York instead of a fee for the voice over. He agreed and arranged for me to travel on one of his planes.
It was so old it had to refuel at Shannon and Newfoundland. The flight took 17 hours, but was worth every minute.
We eventually landed at Kennedy Airport. The two flight crew reluctantly took me on a short tour of New York. They were quite blasé because they had made the trip many times, but they were nice guys and realised it was important for me to share my first experience of America. They had to fly back the next day, so I started my lone adventure and walked to the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station and Times Square.
I usually walk around cities because I can’t be bothered to wait for a bus. I ended up around 112th street, which is Harlem. It’s a great place for jazz clubs, but can be dangerous for lone tourists. At one point I was walking past a derelict building when a Mexican-looking lady ran past me screaming for help. Then a Mexican-looking man ran past me screaming at the woman. He pinned her against the wire fence and slapped her. At that point two policemen arrived and, after much screaming and shouting, arrested him.
I walked around the corner, which was busy with people milling around. In front of me were six rough-looking guys who looked like they were from Central Casting. They were shooting craps on the sidewalk. I decided to walk in the gutter rather than disturb them – I’m thoughtful that way.
On the next corner was a group of ladies singing hymns. I stood at the back of the crowd admiring their gospel singing when I noticed two evil-eyed men looking at me. I had no idea why they stared. Perhaps it was because I was wearing good clothes, carrying a movie camera and a 35 mm Nikon and wearing a Rolex my mother had bought for my birthday.
They were like vultures. I turned and walked quickly across the street. As I looked at the reflection in a shop window I could see them getting closer. I had no idea where I was, but wherever it was, I didn’t want to be there. A bus stopped a few yards away and I jumped on it, regardless of its destination. Somehow I got back to a more civilised area.