Monday, 21 November 2011

Quick return to St Paul's

I get an email from the camp: 'One of the occupants at St Paul's has asked if you would like to re-do her portrait. She was very taken by it and was devastated that it was destroyed... I do not know her name but she has orange hair.'

The picture had suffered a mishap during ablutions - it's hard to manage a rolled-up cylinder of cartridge paper in camp conditions.

The girl is Jess. I find her eating noodles in the busy welfare tent which welcomes homeless people drawn to the camaraderie, free food and non-judgemental atmosphere. 'I'm going to get the picture scanned and send it to my future husband to show him what I look like,' she says. I think of portraits sent to Henry VIII on behalf of prospective wives. Someone gives her a box of fat pavement chalks. 'I'll do hopscotch,' she says.

I go to a lunch reception nearby and three of us carry the leftover food back to the camp. The professional chef running the kitchen tent makes a huge fuss of us, embracing us and lifting us off the ground. 'LOVE' is spelt out in tea lights on the food counter. A drunk rushes into the tent and pretends to vomit over the counter. He is tolerated.

Two volunteers unpack the food that we brought:
'Oh dear, pork pies.'

Outside, Dame Vivienne Westwood looks cold but is cheered when she warns the crowd not to reject the artists of the past.

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