Maurice just got on well with almost everybody – he was a cool, placid, relaxed and calming influence on his great freelance friend Geoff Goddard – his regular fellow photographer around the race circuits of the world – who was notoriously prickly and explosive – especially with “fat-headed” foreign officials and police officers – and liable to detonate at any moment. Maurice would often stand and spectate nearby, quietly puffing on his pipe (while giggling) before remarking, perhaps to me, “…he’s gonna blow” – whereupon he would move in, smiles, affability, a gentle, calming tone – and effectively would keep Geoff out of jail so they could shoot yet more magnificent photography undisturbed.
Maurice was the epitome of a calming influence. He was great to be around – and his technical proficiency and competence never ever in any doubt. It was standard practice, out on circuit, to find him not just as “the bloke with the stepladder” but also as “the bloke stretched out, with his head on his camera bag, catching a few zzzs in the sun”. But the moment the action started on track, he would be wide awake, absolutely alert to a potential picture, and up and about his business.
And never doubt that when it mattered, Maurice could also be very crisp, direct and decisive; an always charming man, yet absolutely nobody’s softie. And he really was a superb photographer, with tremendous technical grasp and that most vital of innate talents – a great eye for a picture.
One year his great eye for a picture triggered a wondrously Italian drama high on the Monza speedbowl banking in Italy. Maurice was shooting for a feature story that Philip Turner would be writing on Alfa Romeo. They had six cars from Alfa’s contemporary range, and Maurice choreographed a tracking shot in which the cars would formate upon the one from which he would be shooting. Alfa’s PR man Rai would drive the car in which Maurice was riding, and they would zoom – not too fast – around the banking section permitted, before they would have to stop at a barriered-off obstruction beyond which maintenance work was taking place.
They tried a first run, but the formation was awful and not at all what Maurice had visualized for his front-cover photo. So Rai re-briefed the drivers. Another run was better, but still not right. Maurice would recall: “I felt there was something strange about the drivers’ behaviour – they all seemed to be gripping the steering wheels with fixed stares. Coming round for the third time I said to Rai it still wasn’t working, so we should pull off instead and just take some static shots. But as we slowed the world went crazy…