The first squadron has arrived! Bombing along the middle of the road in formation. Skimming the roofs of the double-decker buses, then soaring high above the houses, squealing with delight. At top speed they gleefully swoop and dive before reforming to repeat the pattern again and again. Difficult to imagine such elation at arriving in Hackney.
I'm standing at the front door watching them and waiting for the local community support officer to cycle round and have a chat about the ongoing prostitution problem....
It's my late mother's birthday and the day always coincides with the arrival of the swifts/swallows/house martins, who knows... and there we have the beginning of the debate which will rage for the next three months until they return to the tropics in August. Sitting on the roof terrace in the evening, observing the aerobatic display, I say house-martin. Brian says swift. Guests say swallow. We all take a sip and scan the pink sky. I say swallow. Guests say swifts etc. etc. We try to determine the shape of their tails but they fly at up to 130 mph and after a couple of bottles of rose in the fading light, I'd have trouble identifying an albatross. Brian says bat.
At dusk the air above the huge reservoir that lies hidden beyond the trees is liquid with flying insects and so, year after year the, lets call them... birds, return to this street to build their nests under the eaves of the tall houses, raise their young and feast on the abundance of bugs.
I hope you will be relieved to hear that the enormous painting that John and Brian manhandled to the top of the house and perched on the narrowest shelf didn't slip off and kill anyone in the night.
We found the incredibly ornate frame in the auction. It's about 5ft across and 6ft tall. We were told that at one time it had pride of place in a house in Highgate until the building was gutted by fire. The mirror inside was cracked from side to side but the frame survived, although it's a bit broken and charred, which we think adds to its mystery. There are crouching dragons hidden among the scrolls and flowers and the whole thing looks fit for an emperor so Brian thought it would be a suitable surround for a painting he was planning of Cesc Fabregas, the revered Arsenal captain. The grandoise and rather gothic frame wouldn't look out of place in the old Cathedral in the centre of Barcelona and B liked the idea of portraying a modern-day sportsman who is worshipped by thousands and thousands every week (including him, sigh) as a religious icon. The painting oozes sadness, misery and suffering reflecting the mood of Arsenal's trophyless fans this season.
We had a nice low-key shoot yesterday (real people having make-overs ready to go to a wedding). Anyway, it finished early, so after clearing up, at 7.35 Brian announced that the time was right to move El Capitan out of his painting studio on the first floor and up the stairs to its new elevated position on the top floor, in the heavens with Our Lady. (We had a dinner date at Emma and Toby's at 8).