In the custard pie firing line
When I imagined myself as a photographer for an international news agency, I imagined the battle field situations I would find myself would be in distant and dusty locations, full of grizzled commandos avoiding sniper fire and shelling. Instead I found myself in the middle of a green park in leafy Sussex with 251 six to eleven year olds ready to unleash their few years of anger upon each other; and the weapon of choice was custard pies. Their cause, was to claim the Guinness World Records title for the largest custard pie fight ever.
It was tempting to stand on the sidelines and shoot with a long lens behind the barrier alongside the heckling parents. But with the immortalised words of war photographer Robert Capa burning in my head “”If your picture isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” I knew what I had to do. I needed to be where the action was happening, on the frontline amongst the battle hungry children and the ammunition of waiting custard pies.
With two black bags and a length of duct tape I prepared my camera for action. Wrapping the plastic to create a protective sheath with only the filter of the lens and the flash head showing, and just enough space for my hands to control the trigger.
The countdown had begun, the demarked area was swarming with children. The starter shouted ‘Go’ and a stream of custard and flan bases rained down to the sound of shrieking children. No less than 10 seconds and my camera had taken a direct hit. Everything faded to darkness, I couldn’t see anything through the dense custard layer. With the aid of some nappy rash baby bottom wipes (supplied by the sponsor to aid the clean-up operation) I managed to wipe clean my camera and continue shooting.
It didn’t take long for some of the braver pie fighters to decide that an adult and member of the media looked a far greater trophy. ‘Splat’ I took a pie in the side of the head. I could feel the custard already congealing inside my inner ear. As the rest of the patisserie made its way down the back of my neck. From then on I was target numero uno and sustained hits to most part of my body.
Suddenly a cheer went up. “We’ve done it”. Battle had been sustained continuously for one whole minute and victory over the World Record holders was imminent. Skirmishes continued as parents tried to drag away vanilla and banana flavoured children to be cleaned.
I limped away (I had custard in some unimaginable places) to file, feeling somewhat like a giant crème brulee as the custard firmed to a crust in the sun.
Photos of Luke MacGregor taken by Terry Applin of The Argus in Brighton.