Monday, 2 November 2015

Go-karting down the streets of Westminster - Lord and Nell Butler for the Sunday Times Magazine

Sir Robin and Nell Butler for the Sunday Times Magazine

What do you imagine the head of the civil service to be like? Would the word “fun” feature in your top ten adjectives? My girlfriend, a civil servant, would not be too happy to read that even on my short-list “fun” would not make it too high… Oh, how wrong have I been and how glad I am that this view came tobogganing down a hill in London the other week.


The great team at The Sunday Times Magazine asked me to photograph another “Relative Values” feature - I was to capture the relationship between Nell and Robin Butler. Nell is the brain behind Come Dine with Me (and a number of other TV shows). Her father, Lord Butler served five Prime Ministers and headed the British Civil Service for a decade. Unlike with Ruth and Dennis Wilson the other week, this time I had the opportunity to speak to Nell before the photoshoot and it was one of the best things to do. As you will read in the article in yesterday’s The Sunday Times Magazine, Nell is the sort of person who lights up the room and I could not agree more - she was enthusiastic and happy to share stories over the phone. Among many she mentioned how much she enjoyed tobogganing down a hill near their family home with her dad. This instantly gave me an idea - a go-cart down a London street.


Guess what was Lord Butler’s reaction to my go-cart? He loved it. What a great family these two are. We shot, we talked, we laughed and I heard my fair share of civil service stories. The morals of this shoot are twofold: “fun” should be on your list of adjectives describing a civil servant and more importantly: always do your research. Had I not talked to Nell beforehand, I would never have taken a go-kart with me to the photoshoot. And what a great shame would that be!


Thanks to Lord Butler and Nell Butler for a fun morning and The Sunday Times team for such a great commission!

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