The London Book Fair 2015 DAY 2: Brian May’s Magic Tricks

By A.G.Billig
Apr 16th, 2015
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11156124_892767844116226_638993430790672822_nMy second day at The London Book Fair was all bout Brian May. There were, of course, other interesting meetings with wonderful and inspirational authors (one of them, Helena Coggan,  is only fifteen, the other is Jorge Volpi, author and General Director of  Festival Internacional Cervantino) Still, I have good reasons to focus on a musician, not a writer. I admit, I am subjective. I love Queen. I think Freddie was a genius and a beautiful person inside and outside. And although he was the frontman, I always appreciated the others members of the band as well. It never occurred to me that I would ever get to meet any of them.

11.20, Olympia Hall, Kensington – I enter the Gallery Suite 1, where the legendary Brian May is about to start in ten minutes a 3-D press conference about his publishing activity. Because, yes, Brian is a book publisher as well. The lights are dim, the air is cold and on a screen I see the logo of “The London Stereoscopic Company”. To my surprise the artist is already here and he’s quite an appearance with his lion curly grey hair, long tail jacket, blue shirt and sneakers. He greets me, thanks me for joining his event and asks me where I’m from. He does as such with all the people in the room.  There is no pretence in his attitude,  just genuine interest and an open heart.

11.30 – The press conference begins. Brian May passionately speaks about something he holds close to his heart  (besides music and astronomy and animals and common decency): stereoscopy. He discovered the beauty of 3-D photographs as a child.

The magic never stopped ever since, he confesses.

3-D or stereo photographs were very popular during the Victorian era. Some years ago, the musician decided to revive the magic as well as to bring back to life the works of generations of inspired stereoscopic photographers as well as the whole world known to Victorians. Brian May recreated The London Stereoscopic Company, which was worldwide popular in the XIXth century. “A Village Lost and Found” and  “Diableries” are two of the published titles, wonderful books that combine stereo images and words. He shows us the OWL  a modern stereoscope the accompanies each book, as well as unseen images of Queen members. Brian admits being a passionate photographer and taking stereo pictures during the concerts.   I can sense a slight tremble in his voice when he speaks about Freddy:

He liked taking Polaroid pictures. He took lots of them and gave them away. He was such a generous person.

The OWL proudly guarding  the books

The OWL proudly guarding the books

The London Stereoscopic Company stand at London Book Fair 2015

The London Stereoscopic Company stand at London Book Fair 2015

12.00 – End of the press conference. People are gathering around Brian May. Questions are asked and pictures are taken. I stand up aside and wait.  Until, at some point, after everybody got what they wanted, the artist comes to me and asks if I was alright. I thank him for asking, I say yes, of course, and we engage in a brief conversation. There are some many topics one would want to discuss with Brian -astronomy, the ideal society, stereo pictures, animals, common decency. But the time is short. He apologises and leaves in a hurry.

Still, I am happy. Happy to know that one of my favourite musicians is such a great person.

Brian May at London Book Fair 201

Brian May at London Book Fair 20

 

7 Responses to “The London Book Fair 2015 DAY 2: Brian May’s Magic Tricks”

  1. […] schedule of interesting and inspiring seminars and conferences. As one of the attendants said, London Book Fair 2015 was “a hub of amazing talent, a brilliant place to be”. A source of motivation. Despite […]

  2. […] Brian May, the emblematic guitar player of the legendary rock group Queen, believes that music is one of the highest things humans can do. Yet, the musician, same as all human beings must be responsible for how they behave in the world. And so he is. In 2010 he created Save Me, an organisation that gives wildlife a voice. This year, anticipating the United Kingdom General Election 2015 held just yesterday, Brian May launched the Common Decency campaign, urging  people first of all to cast their vote and secondly, to vote for the candidate, not the party. You have a voice, you have to use it was the conclusion that haunted me after our brief conversation at The London Book Fair 2015 (where the artist presented one of his dearest current projects, The London Stereoscopic  Society). […]

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  6. […] had never thought I would ever have the chance of meeting a rock legend of this calibre. As I wrote here, Brian May is more than a great musician, he is a great human being. Before the press conference he […]

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