Saddened to hear of the recent passing of one of the country’s great eccentrics, namely Fang. Yes, Fang – nothing else, no Mr, no surname, no christian name, just Fang, as it says in his passport. He changed his name by deed poll to the single word ‘Fang’. A friend and colleague, James Millar, attended his funeral today, and was surprised to see my portrait of him on the order or service, not realising the connection at first, but then remembering he had seen the photograph hanging in my house. I only knew of Fang’s passing, thanks to a text from him.
I met Fang 20 years ago when he signed up to a character model agency I was working with at the time, shooting head shots for their catalogue. As soon as I saw him, I knew I had to arrange a shoot. Long hair and long grey beard, he looked like he might have been the inspiration for a Lord of the Rings character
I picked him up from his flat in Archway, to bring him back to my own house in NW9, where I had set up lights and a backdrop in my dining room. I had also prepared some props – Red Snappers, from my local fishmonger. Fang apologised for the heat as he welcomed me into his flat. It was about 90 degrees in there. “I have to keep it warm for the geckos”, he explained, and I realised I was being watched by several lizards.
And then there was the matter of the canaries and budgies. All the furniture, sofas, chairs. kitchen worktops, kettle, toaster etc were covered in matter. He told me there were about 100 of them flying free around the place, perching on bicycle wheels he had suspended from the ceiling. He once had a similar amount of gerbils running around, but only had a few now. On moving in, the council had warned him that he was not allowed to keeps cats or dogs in the flat. ‘No problem’, he said. There was no mention about restrictions on budgies or lizards. I politely declined the offer of a cuppa, having noticed the kettle and worktops covered in bird shit.
On the way to my home ‘studio’ we discussed the idea of using the fish props, and Fang told me that he once played double bass, briefly, with the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Double Sea Bass, that is. He stood on the stage smacking two fish together in time with the music, and eventually the Bass would start to disintegrate and shower the audience. I’d like to think this is a true story.
I really wish I had looked him up again more recently, and perhaps captured him on video for posterity, but alas, it is too late, and one of life’s great loonies has moved on.