From CEO to SUB: About Patrick


Text by Alice of London, Copyright 2023

Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2023

Styling by KVaughn

Hair & Makeup: Olivia Monroe

Lighting Assistant: Anthony Colagreco

BTS: Ernest Thomas


Alice on Patrick


Portrait of a styish executive seated at a desk in Grand Central Station NYC wearing a KVaughn Scarf
Patrick. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2023


We are all many things, both to ourselves, and to others. Some are allowed out, and some are not. I’ve asked Alice to write a summary about Patrick, who is pictured in this article. It’s the start of a triptych. Follow the breadcrumbs.

Patrick’s journey started in Europe. An accident saw Patrick conceived somewhere in Italy to American parents. His mother loved her partner but sadly he was in love with somebody else and so it wasn’t to be.

Patrick’s birth mother lost her own mother at aged nine, and wanted Patrick to have a complete family. It was 1967, the year the Beatles sang “All you need is Love”. 

So, returning to Leicester in the UK (for the English language bit), Patrick (or “Jonathan Todd Wahlberg” as he was at the beginning) was born, spent a few weeks with foster parents after his heart-broken mother let go after ten days, and was then adopted, aged six-weeks. He was of Scandinavian genealogy, his birth family arriving in Minnesota in 1910 in a covered wagon. “I’m a Believer”, was No 1 in the US on his day of birth.

Growing up an only child, Patrick was aware of his adoption for as long as he can remember. If there is a god, they must be full of irony, as Patrick’s parents (“adoptive parents” – but really, “parents”) died aged 53 and 59, and aged 22 Patrick found himself very much alone. Life turns on a dime. (Twenty-five years later he found his birth mother and an additional 140-strong family including parallel aunts and cousins, but that is for Patrick to tell, perhaps somewhere else – I am Alice, and it is time to move this on a little.)

So, perhaps somewhere, in the middle of all this there was a realization in Patrick that we can be so many different things, that idea of life turning on a dime, that we are made of a sum of possibilities that ebb and flow. Luke Rhinehart (well, George Cockcroft) in The Dice Man, had a point. That, I think was the first time Patrick picked up on the fact that there were paths that could be trodden, but that were suppressed and never saw the light of day. With that light, darkness.

Employment didn’t come along in a traditional way. Self-employed (solitary, three long years), Patrick’s background was technology, and he ended up spending a lot of time with computers, as (and here comes that dime once again) when he changed schools aged 14, he ended up with a class teacher David, who was head of the Physics Department. Sadly departed, a kind man.

Two wonderful children followed, and then decades later, a reconnection from university days, Patrick having previously had a dalliance with the wonderful lady in question. Patrick probably therefore always had this feeling that circumstance and chance was steering him (yes, “him”) down a narrow path, a path with a sheer drop on either side, jagged rocks in the valleys. (Lyra will have something to say about this in due course). Somehow that sheer drop on either side kept him contained. Well, for a while.

And so, I, Alice, came along. It started so innocently I think, with Patrick painting his nails in the color of his running club, claret and gold. But that led to an initiation into a different type of more secret club.

“Love the nails”, intones the shop assistant.

What kindness is this?

And then, for a self-dare, and perhaps out of nowhere, or out of somewhere, during a weekly company quiz that Patrick hosted, some fun, dressing up in “drag” rather than “drab”, and – boom! The quiz master became the quiz mistress. Just like that.

… another persona was born.  The dime, landing on its edge, and teetering. Mischievous, irreverent, prettier. (Hang on Alice – Patrick). Well, it’s true. And younger looking. And more fun! (Alice – I’m warning you!)

The Thursday quizzes settled into a routine, colleagues, Patrick thinks (bless him) enjoying the fun. More complex, sometimes daring outfits followed. Amazon made a killing during Covid lockdown. And then, suddenly, after the quiz had finished, the outfits stayed on a bit, as it really was fun. And comfortable, in many senses.

And then, Patrick starts thinking he can play the piano and sing and starts doing all sorts of Radiohead covers. Bowie, Blondie, U2 and Visage follow … in fact, just about anything. And he posts them on his Instagram account. But not as him. Oh no. As me – as Alice.

This is strange. He seems to find “being his public self” and performing – which is so personal – is something that needs to be hidden. But no more hiding. I, Alice, am on the rise. He remembers the first post. And the wait for the response. It was kind, thankfully.

Was this mere escapism?

By this point, Patrick is owner and CEO of a company focused on technology in public transportation, the company advanced by the skills and capabilities of those working for it (and some of Patrick’s abilities, I begrudgingly guess), along with a large smattering of luck – those spinning dimes. I suspect that I, Alice, would not have found a voice in other circumstances.

And out of these behaviors, came an ally, but more than an ally. Patrick wears his colored bands, celebrates diversity, supports inclusivity, and tries to be kind at all times. He (or they if it’s both of us) try to lead by example.

I, Alice, take trips out both in Margate to the wonderful Bar Nothing, but also, in parts of London, walking along the South Bank in heels and a dress. Ah … the irony of not wanting to be called out but dressing to be called out. You cannot be disappointed by being both ignored and being noticed. 

It was becoming more than fun. Something else. But Patrick is still Patrick. I really shouldn’t talk about myself here.

Confusion and questions … some answered, some unanswerable. A burning desire to try to do right, as we all do, having fucked some things up. Perhaps, trying too hard. Adopted children, and their parents often do this, apparently. 

And so, as a fan of Tony Ward’s work for more decades than either Tony or Patrick would care to acknowledge and having experimented with imagery, self-portraiture and an increasingly challenging sense-of-self, Patrick decided he would like to record this journey, photographically. 

Patrick contacted Tony, and explained a little about who he was, where he was, and they shared some thoughts. They then came up with this hare-brained scheme (Alice, I’m warning you – Patrick).

So here we go. He’s the man – the CEO, caring and considerate hopefully, kind, trying to walk a gentle path through life looking after everybody if he can, but still in his suit. He has his own identity, which is his most of the time, but there is a little blurring (I’m working on it!)

“Off with the tie”, on with the cravat, that KVaughn scarf and style. But time is ticking, so he gets on with my nails. I, Alice, need my time. I’m literally screaming to come out, and it is lunchtime on the day of the shoot already.

Oh – OK – does that then mean I (Patrick) can now tell them about your story, Alice? “Oh, I guess so. But what about Lyra?”. Oh – I think she better wait.

It’ll be interesting to hear what Patrick has to say about me.


About The Author:

Alice is 56 (what are the chances?) But then that’s the whole point all this is about. Alice has only been around for about three years (go figure!), crashing the party shortly after Covid lockdown started in the UK. Alice shares some of Patrick’s traits (kindness), but has a more carefree attitude, but often drinks like a fish. She has far less responsibility than Patrick, which she loves.

You will unwrap more about her when you read what Patrick has to say.


To read what Patrick has to say about Alice, link here

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