For those with an interest in the arts, and a degree of interest in me beyond my role as writer of lewd tasting notes, it might pique your curiosity to learn that I am the subject of a photographic art book by the talented, up-and-coming photographer Nataliya Ileva.
I was incredibly flattered when she chose me as the subject of her book, and having just received my own copy, signed by the lady herself and the illustrator who provided some excellent additional eye-candy, I can say that she has done a brilliant job of offering an insight into my life in a highly skilled, sympathetic and aesthetic manner.
You see, I am a little; that is to say, most of the time I feel and behave as if I were an age (very nearly four) much younger than the age which I was tricked into becoming when, all those years ago, I was expected to grow up. I did not want to, even when I was three the first time, but one is told it is the done thing, so I made the massive mistake of growing up and finding myself unable to stop once I had started so now some would have you believe I am forty!
Forty my bum! I am three at the moment, I will be four in November and stay four years old for as long as I want to! Being little is great fun! You get to be happy, funny and silly and everyone loves it. When I go into a shop I am giggly, make jokes and make the shop-keepers feel they are making me happy by serving me. Is that not good, to make people feel happy? Almost-four-year-olds lead exciting lives where they can be friends with everyone and whine to The Editor that they want a cheese straw in the baker’s, making all the staff giggle when I do a dance of happiness if my pleading is successful, or pout and be grumpy if it is not.
Almost-four-year-olds wear bright and fun clothing. I have got shortalls with a dinosaur on the bib pocket, which feature in the book. I have loads of t-shirts with colourful designs on them. My welly-boots are bright red and I can wear them and just shorts to leap in big puddles when a summer storm strikes. Even when I am pretending to be big, say when attending a wine tasting, I still wear wild, bright, exciting clothes that make me happy. I am not a dusty old bore in a dreary suit, I am a happy little boy and dress appropriately.
Now you may be thinking, how can I be nearly four and still write about wine? The truth is that some parts of me did grow up, and if I apply myself I can easily be mistaken for an adult. But little Davy is always there. He tells me to make my tasting notes more fun and with more jokes in them. Anyone who has seen me at a wine tasting after having tried a really good wine will know that there is a child at the controls: I jump up and down on one leg, do little dances, sing songs about the wines.
My little side is always there. It is not something I can turn on or off. I am, in a very real and meaningful sense, a nearly four year old boy who just happens to be 6’ 3”. And I am completely fine with that. I accept the complete person that I am and I think I am great just as I am: teddy bears, onesies, finger paintings, encyclopaedic wine knowledge and all.
It is the little side of my life that Nataliya wanted to capture, in an accepting, non-prurient manner, and she has done a very good job of it. Little Life has real aesthetic merit. Even the introductory essay, written by me, is jolly good. This is not a book that leers at a weirdo with warped ideas, it is an open-minded, and dare I say it, beautiful look into my life, a life lived on my own terms, with total acceptance and love for my true self. And bollocks to anyone who sees that as shameful (Tee-hee-hee! I said bollocks!); likely as not they are close-minded, largely unaware of their true selves and disapproving of what little they do know.
Here is a picture of Nataliya, the photographer, and Amanda, who not only assisted Nataliya on several occasions but also drew the whimsical but iconic illustrations that brighten and add to the beauty of the photographs in the book. Below that is the link to buy Little Life. The link also gives a small preview of Little Life, which is sadly too small to illustrate the full, rounded picture Little Life presents. Little Life will brighten your big life with its insightful, transparently honest optimism that we are all capable of accepting our foibles and of loving ourselves as we really are, not as we think we should be.