"Oh, we've been expecting you. Come in " she says. She stands and I follow her into the foyer where the show is set up. I put my large camera bag on a table and glance around. There are children everywhere, and someone in a rainbow costume is singing and playing her violin, and radiating seemingly inexhaustible energy from the small stage at the front.
"Rainbow Rosalind" says my host. "She's fabulous, isn't she?"
Who could argue? Who would want to? She's fabulous.
"Is there anything I can get you?" she asks. "Coffee? Tea? The friands are actually very good. "
"Ahh, no... I'm all good thanks. I'll just get on with it. OK if I put my stuff here?" She smiles and goes back to guard duty by the door. I pick a lens, fit a strap to my camera and walk tentatively down the side of the audience, trying to assess where the light is coming from, and nervously hoping I'm not getting in anybody's way. There's a couple of other photographers here. Their cameras look smaller than mine, more modern, more expensive, but mine has a certain gravitas borne of size and venerability. My compatriots and competitors glance at me and nod a cursory welcome. I nod back, trying to give the impression of nonchalant familiarity, watch them, and follow their lead.
The star of the show is the incomparable Suzy Cato.
She does her well polished thing with a kind of relaxed exhuberance. I've been asked to get some shots of her, so I'm aware that I'm staring at her through my viewfinder for lengths of time, which in other circumstances might result in someone dialling 111, but she ignores me completely. As indeed she should. To her I'm as much a part of the furniture as the sound desk and the flood lights. The camera around my neck has rendered me completely invisible, and as I relax into that invisibility, I realise that pretty much everyone there is treating me the same way. In ancient China they used to use tiny jade screens to hide behind. For example if the guests arrived too early for dinner and you were still rushing around getting things ready you would put a little screen on the floor and people on both sides of it would pretend not to see each other. These things were only a few inches tall, but there was social agreement about what to ignore. And in our time, in our culture, a camera does much the same thing. I stood behind Suzy on her stage and no one reacted.