Guardian Unlimited's online Portrait of the Week archive is a favourite Hitchcock Blonde haunt, but a visit to the National Portrait Gallery this weekend was a ripe reminder that, in a real-life exhibition, the art on the walls is only a fraction of the art on show. Newly observationally articulate, I become as fascinated by the form of my flesh-and-blood fellows as I do by the canvas-bound characters. The architecture of a living face, the physiognomical clash and cohesion of nature and feature, warts, wicklows and all: tis a brave new world indeed.
Nonetheless, three paintings stand out in this year's BP Portrait Award. Thomas Leveritt's AC Grayling is tender, trippy triumph with a touch of Tron. Miriam Escofet's portaryal of her artist father Jose is a luminous, meticulous lovesong that mixes medieval allegory with Miyazaki. And then there is Johnny and Glory by Richard Brazier (left) - candid, enigmatic, hypnotic and sad, promising tales from the trenches.
Incredibly, six hours on, drinking whisky sours in Shoreditch House, I bumped into Johnny. He runs Time for Tea in east Lahndahn, sourcing 40s and 50s nostalgia. Glory was at home, but I am assured she is well. He is just like his picture - elegant, defiant, mournful, too young for his clothes, too old for his time.
I'm still in sublime, serendipidous shock. And busy mainlining Bourbon in hope of meeting Captain William Augustus Bowles.