It’s A Snail’s Pace in Twickenham
Afewyears ago, when a quiet old lady who had lived in my street in Twickenham passed away, to everyone’s astonishment among her belongings were discovered a cache of weapons. It later emerged that she had been involved with the Nazi interrogations after the war and was a Cold War spy!
It occurred to me that the older generation go to great lengths to conceal their colourful pasts, so, fascinated by the — to me — secret and mysterious world of the local allotments, I decided to try and assemble a group of elderly gentlemen to pose for an oil painting. The idea I had was for them to be gambling, drinking and yelling over a snail race in an allotment shed: a scene reminiscent of the Russian roulette incident in the film, The Deer Hunter.
I contacted the Richmond and Twickenham Times newspaper about my project, and they kindly ran an article calling for gentlemen gardeners over the age of 80. The response was huge! I decided to choose a group that all came from the same allotment. The men and their families were over the moon to be involved with the project, so a date was arranged for a sitting in my back garden. I had a long checklist of things I wanted them to do, such as waving beer bottles, ripping up betting slips, waving wads of money and shaking their fists.
They all had a fantastic time, posing and shouting and alarming the neighbourhood, before finishing off with cakes, scones and brandy. When the brandy bottles on the table were drunk dry, I drove them all home. What an interesting group they were!