But the most striking thing is this: beautiful people en masse have roughly the same effect as a bottle of aspirin - totally anodyne

In my week

Share
Related Topics
Stylist has long since dropped out: a pair of doe-like eyes is not a strong hand to hold. Designer, photographer and I hunch aggressively over the formica, fighting to the bitter end. "See you one and raise you one." We study our cards. They're large: not so easy to manipulate, but the detail is fantastic. "What've you got?" "A three of little pointy chins." "You?" "Yeah. See that two, raise three." "I'll see you". Photographer pouts, shrugs. Lays his cards on the table. "A flush." "What of?" "Button noses." Triumphantly I lay mine down. "Five-card straight. Cups AA through D." "Damn."

Model-card stud is a tough game: you have to be ruthless and you have to have total self-belief to get to the top. The rules aren't clear-cut like they are in other games: sure, you've got your basic traditions of ascendancy - and luck, of course, plays a major part, but so, unlike modelling, does originality. You've got to be able to see those special features and use them: in model-card poker, it's differences that count: a pair of roman noses, for instance, will beat a flush of rosebud lips hands down.

Designer, stylist and photographer have been working; I've just been along for the ride. We've spent the day cabbing from agency to agency, developing coffee-imbalances and extra-large yawns as a stream of kids is herded past us hoping to be picked for the slaughter. Sometimes they're in books, sometimes they're on walls. And in the wood-floored, white-walled atmosphere of the Elite agency, they've been trotted out in the flesh (what there is of it) to tell us their names in their little voices and look hopeful beneath the layers of panstick masking their beautiful complexions.

There's nothing like a model agency to give you an appetite for a sausage sandwich. It's not so much the girls themselves as the bookers, with their salad-and-grape pitta-bread lunches and their adjectival armaments. Bookers have sharp haircuts, sharp faces and totally angular personalities. The words "amazing", "extraordinary", "wonderful", "so professional" and "such a character" trip from their tongues as they wave photographs of indistinguishable pubescents under your nose.

"She's fantastic," warble the bookers as we huddle over a glossy of another child who should by rights have been playing hopscotch and bothering old blokes with the way she eats ice lollies, "Incredible personality. We can't bring her up to see you 'cause she's still at school, but she's got great potential". Their computer terminals are plastered with Post- It notes saying things like "I love you loads and loads and everybody thinks your (sic) great." And then you overhear them swearing on the phone to their boyfriends and saying things to their colleagues like: "He's such an idle sod. If he doesn't get off his arse soon there's going to have to be a split," and you understand that beneath these darling exteriors beat the hearts of secondhand car salesmen.

The secondhand cars are lined up, waiting to trip over to us, ignoring each other and all dressed exactly alike - skinny-rib top, cotton A-line mini, knee-boots. Everyone wants to be Jean Shrimpton these days, though prawn cocktail is often closer to the truth. "Do you like it in London?" photographer asks an exhausted-looking Swede. "Oh, yes," she replies. "I hope to live here one day. Find a good Englishman and settle down."

You learn a lot about beauty when you're confronted with a whole slew of it. Those cheekbones that bulge out above an inverted isosceles trench, for instance. You know how you get that look? By having teeth like a horse, that's how. Wrinkle-less skin is usually accompanied by a total lack of movement in the facial muscles. But the most striking thing is this: beautiful people, en masse, have roughly the same effect as a bottle of aspirin - totally anodyne. Ikea may claim we've come a long way, but your average rag-trade impresario doesn't want a woman to look interesting enough to distract the eye from their clothes, and the ideal female body is still one that doesn't traumatise the male of the species with the fact that it menstruates.

We gather handsful of cardboard and dive into the first bap-joint we come across. Order white-bread sandwiches with loads of ketchup, Coke (diet) and an ashtray. Designer and stylist bitch about the day, laying cards out one by one. "That one," says stylist. "I mean, the teeth. Dentistry's free on the NHS for kids, isn't it?" "Have you seen the arms on this one? She'd never pass quality control at Asda."

"You're really good at talking to them," stylist says to photographer, who has been food-poisoned by the three bottles of wine he shared with me the night before and has been grizzling all morning. "Yerr, well," he replies round a mouthful of food, "I like to see if their expressions can change." I fondly finger the spot that's coming up on my chin. "Anybody fancy a game of stud?" "Okay," says stylist. "Brunettes are trumps, yeah?".

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone