Meeting Michael McIntyre in a Victorian bathhouse / by Joanna Furniss

When I woke up last Monday morning I didn't anticipate that I would be spending the evening with Michael McIntyre in a converted Victorian Bathhouse somewhere near Liverpool Street.

It wasn’t THAT Michael McIntyre.  This Michael McIntyre happens to be a magician sharing the same name with the comedian.   Michael, along with fellow magician Jack Lenoir accompanied by Jack’s two goldfish Charles and Darwin had been hired to entertain guests with close-up magic that evening.  A tip, they told me, is to try to capture the expressions of the guests, especially at that ‘ta dahhh’ moment.  And so I tried.  I captured.  I saw suspicion, curiosity, amazement, and befuddlement.  Often all in the same photo.

Capturing expressions….

Capturing expressions….

Occasionally I ducked out of the reception to take refuge behind a red velvet curtain where trays of champagne glasses were being refilled.  I sighed. I stuck with the water. I’m a talker like my dad, consequently striking up conversations with the friendly waiting staff tasked with refill duty responsibilities. Turns out that they are singers and dancers, other people in pursuit of their passions.   Several conversations began, yet remained unfinished because we were all so busy.   But it was fun, although they all looked a little uneasy as they watched me balance precariously on a wobbly stool behind the bar, dangerously close to meticulously arranged glassware as I attempted to take a big group shot of the guests. 

Nobody likes to be photographed with a mouthful of mangetout.  So, as the guests tuck into their meals I took a proper break.  The magicians saw this as an opportunity to exchange secrets of their magical prowess and to practice new tricks.  It didn’t matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t work out how on earth they did anything.

Charles and Darwin take a well deserved break

Charles and Darwin take a well deserved break

Later that week I am editing and my doorbell buzzes.  I am expecting a visit any time between 8 am – 12 noon by someone coming to check the safety of the electricity meter.  The guy was apologetic as I let him in – not a problem, I said.  He noticed my piano and asked if I am a musician.  I’m really not.  Wayne, as it turns out in an electricity meter safety checker by day, and a musician, a podcaster, and a radio show host night.  We chat about Prince, recalling the times when we’d seen him perform.   Wayne was scheduled to interview a member of The Revolution (the band that played with Prince in the 80s) later that day.  He scribbled down his podcast details – something else to listen to when editing.   And my electricity meter was perfectly healthy.

In the space of 48 hours, I had met a ton of people making it work to be able to do the stuff that they love.  It was energising and I'm still thinking about it.  It was that thing; never knowing where photography is going to take you and who you might meet along the way.