Sunday, April 28, 2002

David Bailey / This much I know / Les is more. Except for sex

This much I know
David Bailey
Less is more. Except for sex.

David Bailey, 64, photographer, on the lessons he's learnt in life

Interview by Stuart Husband
Sunday 28 April 2002 00.36 BST

I find it hard to talk to people who don't make me laugh or don't talk about me.
Every time I look at something I see it as a photograph and not for what it is. Like the story of Dali going to court for kicking a blind old beggar, and the judge saying, 'Why did you do it?' and Dali saying, 'Well, he's privileged, he doesn't have the burden of seeing.'
We read the wrong way. We should do it like the Arabs - right to left. We should explore that.
Arrogance has always carried the day for me.
I've never been that interested in fashion. I suppose I've got a homosexual side to me. To be a good fashion photographer, you can't approach women like a straight guy would. It's not phwoar, look at her, it's about liking women, flattering them. Of course, I slept with them too. If the predatory thing wasn't there, you wouldn't be normal.
I wasn't conscious of class until I went into the Royal Air Force. No one can comprehend it now, but back then it was like the caste thing in India: to the officers, I was an untouchable.
The 60s never stopped. It was like a Big Bang - the floodgates opened, and people are still reaping the benefits.
I feel about 20 years younger than I am. I think that's down to diet; I've been a vegetarian since I was 10 and I've never drunk milk. I think that plays a big part in boosting energy levels and sorting you out emotionally.
But I don't think you are what you eat. After all, Hitler was a vegetarian, wasn't he?
Always be suspicious of experts and authority in general, at least if you're any kind of artist. You need the outsider's eye. Gangsters and artists are very close. But gangsters dress better.
Jude Law
Photo by David Bailey

I fall in love with people while I'm photographing them.
I thoroughly recommend having a few goes at marriage. The fact I've got the perfect relationship now is all down to the market research that went before.
We should bring back square people. They've all gone, and there's nothing to kick against. Look at Posh and Becks. They're supposedly hip, but it's all bought from a store - the right suit, the right furniture. It's not cool to be cool any more. I like anoraks. They're the last people who actually care about anything. I know people who fly model airplanes on Dartmoor, near my house. Some silly old woman was bleating that they should be stopped, but I stuck up for them. We should always stick up for anoraks.
Biology is destiny. That's why you see so many fat, ugly old men with beautiful girls.
I was never going to be a casualty. If I smoked three joints in the 60s it would have been a lot. I just don't have an addictive personality. Work has always been my vice.
I like classical beauty. I love the busts in the Sistine Chapel museum. They all look like my wife or Christy Turlington. Big eyes, straight nose, long neck. But there's different kinds of beauty. Georgia O'Keeffe and Diana Vreeland were beautiful as old women. My ideal woman is someone with mystery. I don't really want to understand them.
I learnt nothing at school because I was dyslexic and they couldn't be bothered with me. I left on my 15th birthday. People get education mixed up with intelligence. I've got an African grey parrot that could get A levels.
You should never meet your heroes. I could have photographed Picasso, but avoided him. It would spoil your illusions. You don't want to know that your heroes wipe their arses, just like everyone else.
If you're going to be a photographer's assistant, get comfortable shoes.
Virility? My Aunt Dolly used to say you can't keep sharpening a pencil. But I've got three kids now and I've gone beyond that. I'm more serene. Women change, too. They have a different attitude to sex after they turn 30. It's not the Holy Grail any more. It's the icing on the cake.
I want a few more lives.
I first got intimations of mortality when I was five and Hitler was trying to kill me. The war was normal to me, and the bombsites were the best playground. But I've always been aware of the presence of death in life. The worst thing about death is that it cuts off your curiosity, and that's what keeps me going. In fact, the older you get, the less you know.
Don't trust anyone under 50.
Fatherhood mellows people, makes you more tolerant, even with assistants. I was never a monster, I just don't suffer fools gladly. Get it right, or what's the point in doing it?
I like to create something every day. It gives your existence a reason.
The only living photographers I rate are Richard Avedon and Bruce Weber because I look at them and I don't know how they do it. I know how everyone else does it.
Less is more. Except for sex.


Sunday, April 21, 2002

Ann Widdecombe / This much I know / "We're far too obsessed with sex"

Ann Widdecombe

This much I know

"We're far too obsessed with sex"
"I think television is a thief of time"

Ann Widdecombe MP, on the lessons she has learnt in life

Geraldine Bedell
Sunday 21 April 2002 01.12 BST

Men are easier to get on with than women. They tend not to make emotional demands on you.
The best advice my father gave me was when I passed my driving test, he said: 'Remember, it's not just your own mistakes you've got to look out for - you've got to drive for the other idiot on the road.' At the time I took it to apply just to driving, but I actually think it's a very good life lesson.
Always carry a handkerchief. Especially in television studios.
Secretaries have told me about jobs in which they've spent half the morning reading a book, until the boss decided to give dictation. My response would be to write a book in that time.
Never judge something by whether it is popular or not. You don't have to follow trends. No one thought William Wilberforce was right at first.
We're far too obsessed with sex. You can't get away from the wretched activity. That's my complaint - that it's overrated and we're obsessed with it, not that it actually takes place. I wouldn't be around if it hadn't.
One of the best things to have happened to me was that I got whooping cough with complications and failed
the 11-plus. If I'd passed, I wouldn't have gone to my convent boarding school.
If I could achieve something at a stroke in Parliament tomorrow, I'd repeal the Abortion Act.
Cats are so wonderful because they're furry, purry and totally independent. And they offer no judgment.

As an adult, I didn't have a television until my mother came to live with me in 1999. I think television is a thief of time, and there is a huge amount of bad stuff in terms of the promotion of irregular living - irregular sexual relationships, drunkenness, crime, violence, bad language. I just didn't want to give house room to it.
Mr Right never came along. And it was never a sufficient priority to go out looking for him.
Keep up your skills. I used to be able to read Latin fluently and play the piano and now I can't do either. And I rode every weekend from the age of 19 to 39, when I got into Parliament. I got on a horse the other day for a TV programme and I had to get off again.
Happiness is not about moments. The test of happiness for me has always been: am I enjoying the period I'm in more than the one that went before?
My greatest triumph as a constituency MP was probably getting someone out of jail in Morocco. As a minister, it was equalising the state pension age for women. And I broke the mould of speaking at party conferences by wandering around like a crazed evangelist.
You can be surprised that you've got a talent for something. I was rotten at French at school and assumed I was no good at modern languages. Then one day I tried to learn German and found that actually it was fairly simple.

Love at first sight is possible, although I wouldn't advocate it as a general rule.
As our language about people with disabilities has become more sensitive, our attitudes to physical perfection mean that we have actually become more dismissive. The war-wounded, who were all around when I was a child - and were responsible for our freedom - helped to make society kinder.
I'm frightened of heights. I can't go on to my office balcony. I don't even like travelling on the top deck of a bus. I have to sit on the inside and look away from the window. And yet I love flying. It's a glorious inconsistency.
Full-time motherhood is one of the most important things a woman could do. What could be a bigger task? If I had become a mother I certainly wouldn't have become an MP while my children were growing up.
When you are with a really holy person, you will feel closer to God just by being in their company.
The 60s were a great time to be young. There was a huge optimism in society and we were extremely silly. People blame the 60s, but the 70s were when the rot set in. If you add the 'I can do what I like' of the 70s to the 'I can have what I like' of the 80s, you have the seeds of destruction.
Always ask to see the headline over anything you've written. I once wrote an article for the Daily Mail about why we've got appearance out of all proportion. The headline over it was 'I don't care what I look like'. I never said it. But it's dogged me ever since.
Faith does not come naturally and never has.
If you asked me whether I'd rather have children than not, then I'd say yes. But if you mean, 'Do I actively regret it?' then the answer is no. For me it's rather like if you asked most people if they'd rather have been a millionaire than not.
The most underrated value is self-restraint. We have no concept of self-sacrifice any more. But no man is a moral island. If you even try to practise self-restraint, you create a much more responsible society.
One should look forward to giving up work. I'd like to retire in my early 60s, while I'm still young enough to write full-time, and to live on Dartmoor with several animals - cats, dogs and maybe a donkey. I'd love a tortoise, if you can still get tortoises in this country by then.
I don't go in much for self-analysis. I'm very sure about who I am. I'm Ann Noreen Widdecombe, and I wouldn't waste time wondering about it.