I’ve never met Peter and, notwithstanding any given afterlife, I never shall, as he’s dead. Nonetheless, he’s changed my life.
I saw him first in my teacher’s house, before she was my teacher. Later, at my first class we all had a good look. He looked back, silently, regarding us with his steady gaze. I decided straight away that he looked like Jesus and said as much – then immediately qualified this. ‘A romanticised Anglo-Saxon representation’ I said to my assembled colleagues. (My mother invented political correctness in the 70’s, along with the muesli belt and recycling. I’ll not forget the washing line, a-flutter with rinsed-out sandwich bags, like tethered, transparent butterflies)
Months have passed and every week we sit and sketch under Peter’s watchful eye. To my own eye, his air of benign holiness has been replaced, gradually, with something else. I notice his hair is artfully tousled, the ends tipped with bleach. His eyes hold a thousand stories; the seventies Scheherazade of Carnaby Street. (He worked there – God’s truth). There are the unmistakeable signs of decadence. I check. It’s confirmed.
While he’s watched us, I’ve been waiting: waiting to be good enough; waiting for the time I can do him some kind of justice. Whilst waiting, I’ve sketched and drawn, painted and practised, rubbed out and re-drawn. Last night. I picked up my pencil and began.