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kes

I was deep inside the crucially important early stages of Always Wear Red at the time.

My clothing brand.

I was thinking deeply.

Wandering.

Pondering.

Worrying.

I was investing deeply, too.

It was the only way.

Building relationships with the world’s best takes time.

And patience.

And money.

I was learning deeply.

I was learning daily.

Because I didn’t really know what I was doing.

mychael's Michael Owen

One day.

As my legs pedalled me through Newcastle where I live.

As my mind pulled me between London and North Yorkshire and Scotland and Birmingham.

All the places that product was being prototyped.

I glanced up and saw a young boy walking towards me.

He was carrying something.

Something big.

The something he was carrying was 2 feet tall.

And heavy.

I knew it was heavy because he was straining a little.

And this thing he was carrying was so tall that he had to lean his head right.

Then left.

Just to see around it.

And this thing he was carrying.

It was moving.

As the young boy got closer.

This young boy that was no older than, say, 14 years old.

I could finally make out what he was carrying.

And there he stood.

There they stood.

Against the backdrop of the urban Newcastle landscape.

This 14 year old boy.

Was cradling a large, live Golden Eagle.

It turned out that the boy was taking the Golden Eagle to the falconry where he worked.

Or so he said.

And this is when my personal ‘Kes’ journey began.

Or more specifically.

It is where my personal ‘Kes’ journey continued from where it had began 35 years earlier.

Because I was 15 when I first saw the film.

It was at that moment that I saw my favourite film come to life, you see.

I saw Billy Casper.

Still aged 14.

And even though Ken Loach’s film ‘Kes’ was made 50 years earlier.

And Billy would no longer be a boy.

In my mind.

There Billy stood.

I visited the falconer.

And I asked John Kirtley if he’d seen the film Kes.

I asked John Kirtley if he knew who Billy Casper actually was.

John didn’t answer.

Instead.

He lifted his shirt.

To show me a chest-wide tattoo.

Of Billy Casper.

Yes.

John had seen Kes.

I told John I wanted to do a photoshoot.

A 50-years-on homage to Kes.

My favourite film.

John’s favorite film.

Using John’s kestrels.

John said yes.

And John’s son Ayden.

He was our new Billy Casper.

The photographer.

Even though he didn’t know it at that stage.

Was Dan Prince.

Dan is the only photographer I wanted to do this work.

Because Dan is the only photographer I ever worked with.

That listens to a brief.

Then completely fucking ignores most of it.

Then does work that is better than I, or probably anyone else, could have ever imagined.

Dan said yes.

Then, I asked Terry McStea if I could hold an event to premier Dan’s photography at the North East’s best Design Centre.

The £10 million pound, 60,000 square feet Northern Design Centre.

Terry said yes.

Then.

As I was in ‘asking’ mode.

I asked Billy Casper to come along, too.

I called David Bradley.

The boy I’d known from my childhood.

The boy that played Billy Casper in his childhood.

The boy that won a BAFTA for doing so.

I asked David Bradley to be at the photography premier.

David said yes.

I was pleased.

And so were the BBC.

On the day of the event.

I bought every copy of Kes that HMV had.

With Billy Casper.

On the day of the event.

I had lunch, and learned about Ken Loach’s favourite scene from his favourite film.

With Billy Casper.

A scene that was never actually captured on film.

Because unbeknownst to Ken the film can had emptied by the time the scene had played out.

And so it became a scene that could never actually make the final cut.

On the evening of the event.

At dusk.

I flew kestrels.

With Billy Casper.

This is a Dan Prince film.

At the event.

In the autumn of 2017.

A hundred people watched as, on stage, David and I discussed the film.

It was intimate.

A hundred people watched excerpts from the film.

Together.

It was emotional.

And as a hundred people watched the closing scene.

A hundred people watched as David cried.

Because as David later explained.

David never watches the end of the film.

Because David has never stopped being Billy Casper.

Then.

At the end of the evening.

We premiered Dan’s photography.

Here it is.

Pete Zulu.

The original singer from The Toy Dolls was there.

Pete is another man that, like David, I’d never met until that day.

And Pete is another man that, like David, remains a good friend until this day.

Pete took photographs.

Photographs that now appear on one of Pete’s books, Triggers.

And a year later.

David came to stop at my house.

And Pete, David and I – with a new friend Carlo – appeared in another mychael experiment – the dinner.

This Experiment.

What did I learn?

It is simple really.

It is that.

If you want something amazing to happen…

Ask.

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