I must declare an interest. At my solitary meeting with Maggi Hambling, she suddenly barked, ‘Would you like to see my hysterectomy scar?’ (She was dissuaded by the rather nervous men present.) I had been ‘Maggi-ed’: hit with a piece of confrontational behaviour, simply to see what the response would be. Andrew Lambirth had a similar introduction: he first saw her as, fishnet stockings waving in the air, she performed at a cabaret for a friend’s birthday; she then announced he must be gay because the friend who introduced them was. Despite the terrible drawback of being hetero, he was permitted to stick with her, recording conversations over the next two decades, which now make up the text of the book that summarises her career to date.
The work is, of course, the raison d’