The Photographer's Assistant


Before we could all get back to our seats the announcement started. Mrs Huntley-Johnson, who I’d previously only seen from afar, or as a detail in her husband’s photos, stepped up beside me. She looked proudly expectant. I was braced ready to offer my congratulations; although I still held a slight hope it would be me.

‘And the winner of the best photographic portfolio of the year is . . . ‘.

The name wasn’t mine. As applause broke out I smiled to cover my disappointment. Mrs Huntley-Johnson leant forward, as if to speak. I moved a little closer.

‘Between you and me, I preferred yours,’ she whispered.

I turned, surprised by her indiscretion, to see her elegant profile staring straight ahead.

‘You shouldn’t really say that, should you?’ I whispered back.

‘I didn’t really, no, it’s very unlikely that I did,’ and with a wink she turned into the throng, weaving her way towards the stage where Mr Huntley-Johnson was shaking hands with the judging panel.

Those around me offered their commiserations.

‘Better luck next time.’

‘Very good for a first effort, it must have been close.’

‘No one here expects to beat him, that’s five years in a row now.’

I wound my way back to my table.

‘Sorry chaps, a bit of a melee at the tiramisu,’ I said in my most-posh voice.