Highlight Extract:
Peter Dench
Has Tea With Martin Parr

In issue one of Hungry Eye magazine Peter Dench travelled to the north west of England in the footsteps of his photographic nemesis Martin Parr and his iconic book The Last Resort. This issue he travels to the south west to meet the man himself for tea, cake, and general chit chat. This is the written proof of that encounter…

I am looking at cakes. There are many cakes to choose from: coffee and walnut cake, chocolate fudge cake, lemon roll, chocolate roll, even a Colin the Caterpillar cake. I ask my wife: “Which cake do you think Martin Parr would like?” “All butter Victoria sandwich!” we say in unison, a little too loudly. Martin Parr has invited me over for tea; a Parr tea if you like. I asked my Twitter followers’ advice on what gift to take. Cake was the winner; well that and “Something Gaddafi”.

There is no Gaddafi-shaped cake. It is 14 years since I last made the journey to Parr’s house in Bristol, where he has been resident since 1989. I first bumped into him at Royal Ascot. He’d just shot the frame that would feature in the book Think of England, of a man in a grey top hat speaking on his mobile phone next to a red telephone box; so very Parr. Two years out of university I was finding my feet as a photographer and shuffled over to say hello.

After pleasantries were exchanged, he opened his wallet, gave me his card and suggested I pop over some time. I check Twitter again for answers to the question: “What question should I ask Martin Parr?” The response is disappointing and some suggestions simply rude. I heave the 17-page curriculum vitae I printed from Parr’s website on to the train table and begin to read. At home, when I pressed print, I nipped to the shops for a bottle of Cava, returned home and poured myself a glass; it was still printing. I make a note to plant a tree to compensate.

There is also an accompanying five-page FAQs which I’m determined not to ask a question from. Towards the end of the journey I’m so Parred up, I’m convinced the announcement says: “We are now arriving at Martin Parr,” rather than Bath Spa. Martin Parr has so many visitors; a prepared ‘getting to’ memo arrived via email. The taxi driver asks: “Where to?” “Martin Parr’s house?” I reply. He looks blank. I give the address and read from the printout: “Along Cumberland and up Joy Hill.” I’m early, so nip into the Adam and Eve pub for a glass of ‘Manager’s Choice’.

A fantastically gauche tray with a smiling woman beams across the counter. I suggest that would be something Martin Parr would like to collect. The manager does not respond.

Knock knock. “Who’s there?” “It’s Peter Dench, author of the Dench Diary and contributing editor to Hungry Eye magazine.” “Hello Peter, come in.” Casa Parr is busy. I exchange the all butter Victoria sandwich for a cup of tea with a Garibaldi biscuit and take a seat next to the glass display cabinet crammed with Obama objects and listen. The six-way chat swings from Shakespeare’s King Lear, artist Jack Vettriano (Parr is not a fan), to the use of ‘s’ instead of ‘z’ in the spelling of words.

You can find the full article in issue 3 of Hungry Eye Magazine available direct from us