I can finally reveal why I’ve been flying in and out of Dublin the past few weeks. Ireland woke up to a new Irish President this week and I’ve been shadowing him. Well err… not shadowing him like a proper pol-cor (political correspondent) who continuously gets to ask him very important questions (that would just be a bit too West Wing). But shadowing him like when you’re a writer and a photographer and you travel and it allows you to try on different versions of yourself for a while, not haul around the one you wear at home. The man is utterly fascinating.
As I stood in Dublin castle between the two “hot rooms”. Results poured in from all around the country; and in the first hot room the returning officer sat receiving numbers from counting centres all across Ireland. Two huge guards guarded her door. The second “hot room”, your actual Reactor Number 4, still on fire and nuclear hot kind of hot room where the stage for the presidential results was located. The heat and pressure in this room reminded me of hot yoga a few weeks back, only much, much hotter, and with lots of photographers and foreign TV crews and politicians and zero yoga leotards.
Toward the end process I thought to myself, I m not worthy of such rare access to a President as I spoke to him, learned from him and photographed him backstage. My but it’s intimidating, stepping behind the scenes with a President. His story of poverty as a child and rise to power through books is utterly fascinating. It was poignant therefore that during my time with him I heard the sad news of Jimmy Savile’s passing. In truth, if Jim could have fixed it for me to do anything for the past few weeks it would have been exactly this.
The nice thing is that I got to bumble about inside the world of politics for a few weeks. I’ve done countless fashion designer shadows like this since writing my first book, but following a President and peeping backstage was a very new and exciting thing for me. The full story of shadowing this fascinating man as well as Peter O’ Dwyer’s lovely portraits are on The Huffington Post here with the whole shadowing story (where he reveals his favourite biscuit and TV show) here.