I can beat you at procrastination the day after any day
[probably from Current’s Turn, the never to be written sequel to Fardel’s Bear (see previous blogs)]
Hello again. Last week I suddenly decided I’d bored myself, and probably any readers, quite enough, describing my unfinished (or even unstarted) dramatic works, and I’d give us all a break before finishing this list of unachievements with the visual, plastic, concrete and edible stuff. The old website for Lucidity Ltd (making things clear …) will show some of the things that have been made and even, occasionally and cheaply, sold.
The Finnish language has (possibly) a tense called the past potential used for things that could have happened but didn’t. When I describe things below, just imagine I’m using such a tense in English.
- I’ve given up on life — drawing, that is. At least for now (and boy, do I need to upgrade that web page!). Repeated attempts to do justice to the human form, interesting though some have been, were getting stale, and life classes, with their unpredictable poses and viewpoints, were no longer the place to try out new techniques. Not wanting it to just be some sort of hobby (my time is wasted in too many ways as it is — who said such as this blog? – the cheek!), if I ever again need to produce a particular work or practice a style, I shall try to scrape up the money to scrape up a model of appropriate size, shape and sex. Never say never again, I suppose.
- I’m not all that inclined to get out the paintbrushes either, though I do have two series I could add to, if the mood ever took me. There are some portraits that mean a lot to me, and — in a recent break from basing my work on peoples — an oily exploration of the bings (oil shale waste heaps) of West Lothian.The latter, with their fascinating backstory and varied appearances (from a giant fan to a miniature Uluru) speak of history, geological, environmental and social, as well as being a forerunner of the controversial modern practice known as fracking; and provide a damn good excuse to experiment with techniques of application and abstraction on different scales. I’ve even sold one!
- As mentioned last week, I made a chess set once. It’s pretty good but could be better. So I started a second. Ages ago. It’s in a box, somewhere, whittled and weighted but not finished. One day. Maybe.
- At a Vermeer exhibition in Den Haag, it occurred to me that all great art is conceptual (preferably numinously so), but by no means all conceptual art is great. You may quote me. A guy who tried to teach me to sculpt also said that a problem with conceptual art is that you don’t have to see a pile of bricks to appreciate the idea behind Carl Andre’s Equivalent series. Be that as it may, I have been moved in the presence of Hirsts, Wilson’s 20:50 and a Mike Nelson lumber room. And I’d really like some of my ideas to be taken from the page to the gallery, especially my Body Dharma installation, in which the punter gets to consider their relationship with their own naked body (probably leading to even more depression and therapy). Any rich patrons out there wanna bankroll it?
- With all these things produced down the years (yes, the ones that are finished), comes the pompously illusory need to do a retrospective exhibition. The rise of the pop-up gallery, taking cheap advantage of business premises regularly left vacant by this parlous impresarial culture, seems a bandwagon on which one could jump. Different areas could show different types of work, the naked bodies could be placed discreetly at the back, including a table of all my old life class sketches, sold off for a pound each, under the witty label, A Pound of Flesh (laugh, damn you!), and the centrepiece of the show would be a pop-up book, opened to reveal a scale model of the whole show. Sheer genius.
If only I had the nerve to go ahead with it but, like Mr Morrissey, ‘I am the son and heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar’.
I just don’t do focus or category, nor, as la japonesa pointed out, do I ‘have a bland’ (I assume she meant ‘brand’). Nor do I stick to the usual art forms in my burgeoning, floundering creativity.
- You want card games? I gotta card game; it’s called Atahualpa. Because it’s based on (or ripped off from) cuarenta, the national card game of Ecuador (Atahualpa, the last Inca, was born in what is now Quito). The original game is simple, fun and slightly silly. I found out about it when I was trying to find online the soft leather slippers I used to buy in Córdoba. I think I might do a blog about the game one day, when this apparent non sequitur will be explained. But I designed a version which I thought might sell, if I had the nerve to invest in getting a few thousand packs made in Indialand. As a later moan will show, I know this would be money down the drain, so I haven’t.
- Bottoms. Everyone likes bottoms. I’ve designed a set of stationery items shaped like bottoms. I’ve even registered the design (and got a distributor who will market them if I have them made). I fear they may fall into a ‘taste gap’ between the Newton’s cradle executive toy and the utterly naff clockwork willy, but there probably is a market for anyone with that old entrepreneurial drive what Yrs Trly so lacks, and the gonads to invest a couple of grand in having a Chinese manufacturer churn out thousands of bum-shaped glass paperweights, to be sold at £4 profit each. Apparently the Dragons of Den fame don’t like novelty items, or it would have been such fun to go on there and say, Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve come to sell you my arse.
- Part of me fancies the idea of running a restaurant. Not shouting and swearing at people like a Ramsay or White, not trying to bring quantum physics into saucemaking, like Blumincheek; just some sort of streetfood experience. Inspired by a cycle shop in Bangor called Mike’s Bikes, I fancied the idea of Dai’s Pies. The thought of having one spiced dish called Pain on a Plate appealed, as did a few other alliterations and puns.
Then a year at the Edinburgh Fringe in which a snack from every stall was chewed (while all actual shows were eschewed), made me aware of the lack in the UK of a good po’ boy. All memory had faded of where I’d heard of these delicious, spicy sandwiches, and no existing outlet sold the real thing, passing off the likes of plain pulled pork in a tiny, soggy ciabatta as substitutes for the delicious, foot-long remouladed beef, oysters, shrimp or pork patties with salad.
The same part of me liked the idea of opening an all-night café somewhere in the student quarter of town. Friends from Poland and the like are often amazed that such places aren’t commonplace here, and with one, the idea was developed of an establishment called (after dark at least) Children of the Night (after Bela Lugosi’s description of the wolves around Castle Dracula). The sign would show a howling pig, silhouetted against a full moon. The café would be staffed by East European drama students, dressed in black roll-neck jumpers, who would hand you your drink while saying, in sepulchral tones, ve are all going to die — here is your cappuccino. There would be a ‘miserable hour’ when everything costs ten percent more from 11:20pm to 00:40am (miserable hours are always longer than an hour), a student surcharge of twenty percent and a disloyalty card — a card with ten spaces for stamps, five of which must be filled in other cafés to qualify for a free coffee here (to encourage variety and discourage stick-in-the-muds).
But this part of me that fancies doing these things is the part that’s oblivious to the amount of time, effort and money needed to stand a chance of getting them off the ground. In the absence of a dynamic young team to help out, I think it’d be easier and equally profitable just to sit on The Shore, throwing money into the Water of Leith. See you there.
- I don’t have a smart phone. I have a thick phone; it’s all I need most of the time, nobody calls me anyway, and after decades working with computers, I don’t want to carry one of the bastards around everywhere. I have a small digital camera but the viewing screen is on the back only. I only mention this because I had the idea of doing a collection of photos of people sitting or standing by my side, but with me hardly in the picture if at all. I just wanted to challenge the hegemony of the selfie with pics of someone else — Elsies, in fact. It’s a spin off from the idea of photographing unknown members of the public standing next to ‘celebs’ (the streets of Edinburgh are full of both in August), but cropping the famous one from the finished picture (but not the title).
- Music, music, music. As has been mentioned, frustrated musical dreams lie behind all these frustrated ambitions in the other arts. When still a teen I started a parodic cantata for school choir and orchestra called It’s Very Good, Considering, not to mention a stirring tone poem called Cader Idris. And now, more realistically, I wanted to do a free translation of the songs of George Brassens; sadly, the simplest strumming on a guitar has always been beyond me, so the chances of working out the notes and being able to play them while singing something are less than zero. I’m still trying to find chords to fit my rendition of When I’m Cleaning Windows™ on a ukulele (five different sets of tabs downloaded, none sounds remotely right, even when I can get my fingers into place). And as to my efforts on the tenor sax, the less said the better. Damned ASBOs!
So there you have it, apart from a hundred books to read, a few ideas for barred cryptic crosswords and heaven knows what else burbling away in the back of the brane or the bottom of desk drawers, there’s enough to keep a small army going and bring hitherto undreamt of vistas of hope, laughter and delight to humankind, even before I get on to the philosophical works about love, chaos, value, sexual politics, blah, blah, blah.
But for now, weighed down by the enormity of it all and my innate defeatism, I need to get an early night. If anybody has actually been reading this, I suspect they do too.
Don’t have nightmares.