I do not particularly enjoy art, nor do I know much about it. Until recently I never stepped foot in a museum or had a discussion about art. I even find drawing or painting a chore, I do not enjoy creating art. Despite this, by all intents and purposes I am an artist. A successful artist. My last painting sold for three million pound and my net worth is apparently close to one-hundred million.
They ask so many questions; who did you study under, where were you educated, who are your biggest influences, where do you get your ideas, what next for the brightest new star on the scene? I keep my answers brief: schoolteachers, Steemfield Comp, Big Willy Thompson, they come to me when I’m stressed or sad, I’d like to relax a little and maybe read a little. Sometimes they laugh but mostly they look disappointed with my answers. I’m disappointed with them. I want to ask where they were when I was struggling, ask them how all this money can be thrown at me and on top of that everything I could need is given to me for free when a few years ago I was so poor I was eating Good Flake cereal without milk, how could my mum and dad die penniless despite working hard their entire lives while I don’t work at all and get paid millions for my paintings. They wouldn’t have the answers if I did ask, maybe some would laugh again.
My dad was a genius; he could take anything apart, fix it up, and put it back together again. TV’s, VCR’s, DVD players, stereo’s, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, microwaves, computers. In his younger years he was in a band, he sang and played guitar, but he left to work a steady job when my mum got pregnant. That band went on to be Blue Water and had a few hits in the early 90’s. He never thought about what if.
He used to work for an up and coming company called Darby’s, fixing machines and even got up to management but it lasted less than ten years. People stopped getting their machines fixed as it became cheaper to just buy a newer, better model. Darby’s ceased the whole repair side of their business overnight and my dad was made redundant. He kept in touch with some of the other managers until Darby’s was bought out by a huge company and all his former colleagues were made wealthy men. He never thought about what if.
He spent the rest of his life working in a chemical mill. I knew from other people how backbreaking the work was, but my dad never complained. One day somebody from the previous shift hadn’t cleaned out one of the vats properly and as a result some caustic soda dripped on to his head and into his eye. He was blinded and had some burns on his face that never fully recovered. He got paid three thousand pounds, that’s all his sight and good looks were worth. Still no complaints. When he died three years later that money was still in his bank account, as was the day and a half pay he had earned the week earlier – he had a heart attack on Tuesday an hour before finishing time, hence only half a day’s pay.
The last time I spoke to him was four days before his death, on the Saturday. We shared a bottle his favourite honey rum and among other things I told him I was looking into a computer sciences course, he told me he looked into a similar course before he opted for electronics. Domestic appliances, he was advised, will always need fixing but computers are a passing fad. I saw a ‘what if’ in his grin, but he never said it. He asked if I was still painting and told me he looks forward to his next one; years ago when I was very low on money I gave him one of my paintings for his birthday and it became an ongoing thing every birthday, Christmas and father’s day. When he died, I went into his bedroom and the walls were plastered with the paintings I gave him. The only decorations, other than my paintings, was a family photo of the four of us and photos of his four grandkids. No what ifs old man.
My mum and dad hadn’t shared a bedroom for maybe five years. The reasons they gave was that after forty years my mother couldn’t take the snoring anymore and that lately the chemical smell on him, even after a thorough shower, would leave her eyes weeping and nose running for most of the next day. My dad didn’t seem to mind much. When my dad died my mum was sad but not how you would expect, it wasn’t like she was sad at losing her husband it was more just sad that he died like she felt sorry for him.
They met when my mum was only 15, she had lied about her age to get into a bar called The Locke, it was renowned for having the best local bands and singers perform there before making it big. My dad’s band were asked to cover that night, making their Locke debut, because another band had to pull out. The drummer caught the bass player in bed with his girlfriend. The bass player was in hospital with multiple stab wounds and the drummer was on the run. It was an ongoing joke that if it wasn’t for a greedy groupie my mum and dad would have never met. No what ifs.
My mum had a boyfriend at the time; she had been with him for three years since they started dating in school. He was a year older and for the last 3 months he’d been in a young offender’s institute for stealing a car, his third offence. My mum said she loved him and would wait for him; she even had a homemade tattoo of his name on her ankle. By the time he got out she was pregnant with my older sister and engaged to my dad. When I tell people that story, especially the upper-class people I find myself surrounded by lately, they are shocked but to me and the people I grew up with there was nothing shocking about that story. We had to grew up young so we grew up quick, my mum would often say.
My mum had to start working in a factory walking distance from our home before my sister turned one as my dad wasn’t earning much at the time loading trucks in a distribution centre. Their neighbour would watch my sister for the day and before long my dad started night college, so my mum had to deal with my sister alone after a hard day’s work.
It was another five years before I came along and for most of my childhood I remember my mum working at that same factory. They would make metal ingots that went all around the country and I remember my mum regularly taking her boots off and small shards of metal falling out. I would promise her one day she wouldn’t have to work and I would take care of her. She would often read to me and encourage me to do whatever I wanted with my life, that I could do absolutely anything. When I’m at my most pessimistic I wonder if she was a genius, running a long investment; like a banker adding to an equity fund for years knowing it would set him up for life one day. I knew this wasn’t actually the case, she genuinely cared despite the fact she found it difficult to show it.
When I turned fifteen things changed; no longer could I do anything or should I do whatever I wanted, now it was time to grow up and get a job so I could help out financially. Conversely my dad went from pushing me to work hard and get ahead in life to telling me to find a passion or something I’m good at and pursue it. Looking back that was a little confusing but at the time I just went with it. It was around this time I started painting. I didn’t particularly like art at school and didn’t choose it when we had to pick our options at age 13 but when my cousin got a load of art supplies one Christmas that he didn’t want he asked if I wanted it. He always got too many presents at Christmas and on his birthday.
I didn’t take to painting or get lost in it like many artists claim they did, it was just something to do. Most of the time I couldn’t be bothered to paint or found it a slog once I started only to leave a piece halfway through and never come back to it. It was my mum’s turn at night college when I was eleven or twelve. She studied to get her English and maths GCSE’s that she never even took the exams for in school. She passed with good results and this meant she could finally apply for a management role in the factory she worked in. She was passed up for almost two years before she applied for a management role at a rival factory and got the job.
Throughout my childhood I would go places with my mum and men would shout things about how she looked or walk over and ask to take her out, often giving me a disapproving look as if they’re wondering why I haven’t left these two adults to have a private conversation – even when I was clearly too young to go anywhere alone and was holding my mum’s hand tight. It turns out the things I saw in the supermarket or on the street was nothing in comparison to what my mum had to deal with day in day out in the factory she worked in; the first one, not the second one. The men would touch her inappropriately, tell her outright what they would do to her and even offer her money for her to do some of these things. This began almost immediately after she started at the factory despite her being only seventeen and some of the men being close to seventy. She got a formal warning in her first month for kicking a touchy co-worker between the legs resulting in twisted testicles that required surgery to correct.
It was seven years of taking this abuse until her next misdemeanour. There was a guy who had been working opposite her on the workbench for a few months. He had a reputation for seducing a sleeping with the women he worked with. He had been moved to my mum’s workstation as he had an argument with a woman he had slept with on his previous workstation. My mum knocked an almost empty cup sized tub of molten metal toward him when he wasn’t looking, on purpose. The liquid lead alloy immediately embedded itself in to his hand and his screams led to that entire section of the factory running over to help or see what happened, everyone except for my mum who walked out the door without looking back certain she had lost her job. When she was called in to the office it turns out several eyewitnesses swore it was an accident trying to cover for my mum, who was well-liked among her colleagues. My mum told them it was no accident and she would do it again. He had tried and failed to seduce my mum over a period of time and on the day of the ‘accident’ he told her to stop being a tease or she would get hurt, that he would wait until my dad wasn’t home and my sister was in bed before letting her know he knew exactly where she lived. When my mum told the committee overseeing the meeting this, they shared a look. It turns out one of the girls he had slept with accused him of rape and others had complained about his inappropriateness at work. They offered my mum more money to come back to work. She accepted assuming he would be fired; they corrected her saying that he would not be fired as he was a good worker, but they would move him. My mum argued that he should be fired and after a back and forth the bosses offered her even more money, she refused again saying that she will tell everyone about this. The agreement they reached was that my mum wouldn’t tell anybody to maintain the integrity of the company and he will be fired. A caveat my mum insisted on was that the women at the factory now be considered for management roles if they meet the requirements – one of which was maths and English GCSE’s. They agreed but my mum, and no women, ever got a management role despite being considered.
When I started to make money from my paintings, I gave most of it to my mum and despite her having no debts, nice things and money in the bank she never left her job at the factory. I don’t think she would know what to do with herself if she didn’t work. One Sunday around noon my sister went to my mum’s house to go shopping together but all the curtains were still drawn, my sister called up the stairs to no response. Fearing the worst my sister knocked and entered my mum’s bedroom. There she was; in bed, grey, still and cold to the touch. As my sister let out a pained cry my mum shot up out of bed in shock and very nearly gave my sister a heart attack. My mum’s colour came back to her over a cup of tea and within a couple of hours her and my sister laughed about it. The next day, under the insistence of my sister who had stayed the night, my mum called the doctors but they couldn’t see her until Friday. On Wednesday my sister got a call from my mum’s work saying she hadn’t come in and they couldn’t get in contact with her. My sister drove to my mum’s house and repeated Sunday’s exploits except this time no reaction to her cry of pain, no heart attack, no laughs about it afterwards.
My sister would often joke how I was the favourite child, how I was given more as a child and how I was encouraged and supported in finding a talent and pursuing it – a privilege she never received. Jokes of course, but like all good jokes these too were tinged with truth. My sister began working at a bar close to our home at age 16. Her overdeveloped chest supported her claim to be 18. Many of the regulars knew and respected my dad so any inappropriate behaviour was shelved at least until alcohol consumption reached a moderate level. The issue was that the more they consumed the braver and more indecent their actions became. And where we are from people drink a lot.
Maybe it started out of necessity but before long my sister became involved with the bouncer from the bar and that’s where the fun began. My sister liked the flirting and loved the tips but hated how far some of the punters went. The bouncer liked to hurt people, didn’t care about tips or the relationships my sister had with punters that never crossed the line. Of course, where the line was drawn was up to my sister and often moved to support whatever argument they were having at the time. Roughly twenty years and exactly three kids later my sister is still with the bouncer, in fact they are married. My sister still works at the bar occasionally. I believe it’s for the attention but the attention she receives is much less than she got twenty years ago, she would blame her overzealous husband for this rather than accept it’s the toll of time, kids and roughly fifty pounds of excess weight.
Her main job is working in a call-centre for emergency ambulance calls. She works shifts and often has interesting or harrowing tales to tell. I think she likes drama as well as attention. The bouncer still bounces and makes up for being much less effective by selling stiffy pills to the regulars, I’m pretty sure he sells harder drugs too – especially the one’s he confiscates. For a while I was the go-to babysitter for my sister and while her twin girls could be difficult the money would go a long way in my burgeoning illegal cigarette business. I would buy as many packs of twenty I could afford from a Chinese woman who would have them brought over from Spain duty free. If a bought a sleeve (ten packs of twenty) I would get a free bottle of whisky, vodka or rum. I would more than double my money by selling the cigarettes individually to other students and occasionally teachers. When the other kids who sold cigarettes had run out of stock my prices doubled and students would often bid for my last cigarettes. Of course, when the bidding was over and money changed hands I would magic up a fresh twenty deck that I had hidden away.
The money I made would be split three ways; a set amount I needed to be reinvested, about half of whatever was left would be saved and the rest would mainly go on weed and alcohol on the weekend with some occasionally buying clothes, trainers or dates with my girlfriend at the time. I was certain my business nous was a key part of me and I would go on to be an entrepreneur. In actual fact this wasn’t far off the best I would manage and, in truth, I was closer to a common drug dealer than anything. By the time my nephew came along I no longer commanded a babysitting fee, I did it because I enjoyed it. I enjoyed him. He was very easy going and would smile as soon as he saw me, he would laugh for me without me trying and fall to sleep on my chest within seconds of me picking him up. We still have a good relationship to this day while I don’t see the twins very often.
It was actually my nephew that led me to meeting my girlfriend but there was no romantic meet cue. It was actually rage, threats and a poke in the eye. I’d like to say I was intensely painting when my nephew came running in to my flat but the truth is I was taking a pretty intense shit. My front door swung open, slammed shut, and footsteps ran down my corridor past the closed bathroom door. I can’t remember exactly what I shouted but I tried to sound as threatening as I could despite my vulnerable position, as I grabbed my twelve-inch multi toilet roll holder ready to strike a mild inconvenience to my would-be attackers’ midriff.
My nephew stormed into the bathroom and interrupted his own version of the story to tell me how bad I smell. Before I could reply the door knocked. My nephew told me not to answer and ran away to hide. Another knock at the door, harder this time and accompanied by some indistinguishable shouting. I shouted back that I was coming as I prematurely finished what I was doing. I think the time it took me to come to the door added to her rage. She started up immediately how the little bastard that just ran in here smashed her window with a football. I said well if that’s the case he couldn’t have meant it because he’s crap at football and never hits his target. She didn’t find that funny and with a few swear words splattered in she asked if I thought it was funny. I told her I didn’t and asked if she had the football. She told me she hadn’t bought the ball. What proceeded was me correcting her and explaining the difference between bought and brought. The more I explained the angrier she got. This culminated in her calling me a condescending prick and poking me in the eye. Normally this would be nothing more than annoying but she had gotten her nails done that morning and the extra length she was not yet spatially aware of left a pretty good scratch on my iris. She drove me to the hospital despite still being pretty mad and now I think about it she never apologised.
She waited for me while I was checked over and I was glad to see her even through only one eye when I came out. I had to wear a patch for a week and she took great joy in calling me Pong Eye after the popular cartoon frog of our youth. Even after the patch came off and everything was back to normal, we kept seeing each other. She said she liked my paintings. I told her I liked her company. I was only working four hours a day from Monday to Thursday and while it doesn’t sound much it covered my bills, just about. But it gave me plenty of free time to paint – this is the lie I told people, including her, to look good when in actual fact I would watch every movie and tv show known to man, read a little, sleep a lot, and play retro games on the Spitfyre console my parents gave me one Christmas maybe ten years ago. At first she was okay with how I made my spending money but over time she kindly educated me and encouraged me to work more hours at my actual job despite this making me less than half the money my tax-free endeavour once did.
Upon leaving school I attempted to maintain my entrepreneurial spirit and after many failed ventures I attempted to learn how to code. This would also fail but it led me to a winner. I lacked the focus required to code so I ordered some pills from Canada that apparently worked wonders. They worked a little too well. I didn’t sleep properly for three days. Once I got the dosage right, I found mild success – not with the coding, I realised that wasn’t for me pretty early on. I got plenty of painting done. A friend of mine that used to come over to smoke and play games asked how I’d got so motivated, I told him about the pills and he asked if he could try some. Before long I was ordering these pills in bulk and selling them to pretty much every student in town and plenty of professionals to boot. When I realised just how illegal this was, and how much is wasn’t worth the risk for the small amount of money I was making I researched legal alternatives. It was fairly cheap and easy to make my own version of the pill with drugs I could get over the counter and chemicals you can buy in any supermarket. I became a silent partner; making the pills for my friend to collect and distribute. The split was fifty-fifty, though I knew he was making a little more than that. It never bothered me. I explained on many occasions to my now-girlfriend how this was legal and each time I explained she was less convinced. So that little money-maker was soon put to bed and I worked more hours. Soon I’d also stopped smoking weed, bought (not brought) new furniture and my Spitfyre went months without being turned on. She went from loving all my paintings to liking some of them, to thinking they were okay, to thinking my time could be better spent elsewhere, to comparing me to a retarded child for painting so often.
When we met social media was pretty new but as that grew so did her online presence. I would often complain about how much time she spent on these sites but ironically this is how my paintings would get noticed and how I became a rich man. People started commenting on the art in the background, they requested photos of just the art without my girlfriend posing in front of them, some of these people then shared the pictures with people they knew and before long people were messaging my girlfriend asking how much to buy certain pictures or asking for commissions. I never did the commissions, but I happily sold some of the art. We agreed that if I sold enough I could work less. She agreed and miraculously she started liking some of my art again. It blew up from there and the extra money and time my girlfriend and I got to spend brought us closer together. We were probably more in love than we had ever been. During this summer of love we decided to stop using contraception and see what happened. He was born less than nine months later. He’s perfect.
In the years that followed I got an agent and a manager and a whole load of individuals that would authenticate, value, tout and sell my paintings. They smile too enthusiastically and try to convince me they’re my friends. I know they’re not but I smile politely and say whatever I have to say so I can end the interaction and get home. They’re riding the gravy train to Gold Town and I can’t blame them. They have kids to feed too, bills to pay, vintage Spitfyre games to buy – or not. They look like they play squash and schmooze clients at the local social club, like smile in their sleep after making love to their wives tenderly. So content with life, never going to bed hungry or wondering what the point of it all is or looking at your so called love one over breakfast and thinking if she doesn’t close her mouth while she eats so help me god I will shove this spoon in one ear and out the other.
My publicist, manager and agent held some strange kind of intervention for me last week. My girlfriend and my sister were there too. My nephew and son both had the same look of “I was forced here against my will” look on their face despite the decade-plus age difference. Everybody agreed that my latest sabbatical had gone on a little too long. The press, the art people and the fans loved a suspenseful wait but that would only go so far and soon people would become angry or disinterested. I told them I’ve made more than enough money and we didn’t need anymore. There were other people in the room who I hadn’t noticed until I hinted at no more money and they perked up. They didn’t say anything but I could see a mixture of disgust and sorrow in their eyes. I guess this was the equivalent of them being fired. No art, no money, no job. I wonder if my dad had that same look when he was fired, I doubt it. The man with next to nothing seems to accept losing the next to more than the man with very much accepts losing the very.
I made some joke about the paint going dry. None of them laughed. I said I’ve been working on something I could probably push on with and get finished within the next month or so. They all smiled. A press release was called for the next day. I was picked up and taken to a hotel an hour or so away in a fancy car. Anything I wanted; I was told. All facilities twenty-four hours a day; I was assured. My room fully stocked; I was made aware. No request too troublesome; I was seduced. I asked where the bar was and told my entourage I would like to go alone. Some man who looked around my age picked up my bags to take to my room. I saw enough movies and TV shows to know I should tip this man but as I reached for my wallet the receptionist and man with my bags insisted that was not necessary. I told the receptionist my request is to tip the man. She nodded reluctantly. After all that posturing and pushing all I had was a five-pound note. I could hear him say “are you fucking kidding me” although his smile never faltered. I put the five-pound note in his pocket and told him to take me to the cashpoint. He very politely attempted to refuse me again. I insisted, again. He took me to the cashpoint and I withdrew the maximum I could, two hundred pounds, and gave him that. I said if he needed more come and find me in the bar at midnight and I’ll withdraw another two hundred. He didn’t come back.
I had to walk past reception to get to the bar and now I was alone I asked her how much this all the cost. She didn’t understand the question. I asked how much my management agency had to pay for our rooms at such short notice. She said it was all free and that the hotel would get great publicity from me being here and that the business that results in is worth more than any monetary figure we could pay them. Incredible, I scoffed. I’d never stayed in a hotel before my paintings became popular, couldn’t afford it but now I’m staying in the definition of extravagance – for free. I headed to the bar and ordered a honey rum. As I reached for my wallet to pay on my card the barman told me no charge. I asked him to leave the bottle. He smiled as he placed it in front of me. I got to my room around three in the morning and realised what the receptionist meant when she said my room was fully stocked. Other than my two measly bags of clothes the never-to-return suitcase clerk brought up everything else in the room might as well have been made of gold. The wardrobe was full of expensive clothes with a note with my name on and the extension for an in-house tailor in case I needed him, available all hours – poor soul. The shelves next to the wardrobe had a dozen towels with my initials stitched on to them in gold. The wall opposite the bed housed a bar not much smaller than the main one downstairs, fully loaded with spirits, wines, beers and even soft drinks I’ve never heard of. I poured myself a hearty glass of red wine. I’m not sure why but I did. I barely took one sip before going to bed.
Over-exuberant knocks woke me up. I could tell whoever was knocking was pissed off but having to contain how they felt to try and avoid pissing me off. I answered the door armed with three day worn boxer shorts and worse smelling breath. The press release was in a couple of hours and I needed to get ready. I told him I’ll throw some jeans on and be straight down. I could tell it took all his bravery to tell me I had to wear a suit. That was fine, a mild inconvenience. I’m not sure if this guy had worked for some difficult prima donnas previously or if I had some undeserved reputation but he was very cagey around me. I told him to come in. I asked him which suit, and what goes well together. He put together a full ensemble for me while I quickly showered. He looked about my size so I asked if he wanted anything from the wardrobe. His quivering lips said no but his puppy-dog eyes said yes. I told him to put whatever he wanted aside and I would put it in a case for him. I told him I’d get the hotel to send up one of those over-the-top Dio Vitorri suitcases every celebrity seems to have. He must have said no fifty times but when I asked if he wanted blue or red he barely took a second to respond – red. I asked him to pour us both a drink. He gave a poor attempt at telling me he wasn’t allowed. I told him I’m the difficult, self-obsessed celebrity you have to keep happy. He didn’t laugh until I laughed. I asked him to pour us both whatever his favourite drink is. When he opened a bottle of Der Kisch beer I told him no, a real drink. He made us an espresso martini each and after one sip I gagged. I told him he could have both, I’ll have the beer. As I finished getting dressed he told me how one of the bottles of red under the counter was supposedly worth five grand. The alcohol had clearly loosened his inhibitions. Put it aside with the clothes I said. His hesitation I’m certain was just a courtesy.
As we walked down to meet everyone I could tell he was drunk. I wondered if he would cry if he came down shouting and raging “How dare you send a sloppy drunk to my room to wake me! And I caught him stealing my clothes and my wine!” I chuckled to myself at the cruel thought and he must’ve thought I was laughing at him as he stumbled trying to correct whatever I could have found funny. Instead I told my manager that I made him have a couple of drinks with me and that he was to receive no punishment. That I insist I see him after the press release. My manager smiled, what a little rascal he must think I am. The lack of any kind of hangover and the entertainment I’d created for myself that morning had me feeling quite jovial and mischievous. Perhaps I was still drunk from that honey rum the night before. Whatever it was the press release was going to be fun.
There was no fun to be had for the next three hours. Preparation, rehearsals, being primed on what to say and how to say it, waiting around, audio and visual tests, makeup, anti-sweat and glare treatment, even eye drops and breath mints that tasted like sewage. I was offered drugs but had no interest. I make enough of a fool of myself sober, the world doesn’t need to see me reach new heights. I was offered a drink, just a Jingle Juice please. Some poor kid got shouted at for ever so softly letting me know they have no Jingle Juice. Just give me whatever soft drink you have. It tasted pretty bad but maybe that was the mint. Would you like to relax with one of the girls I was asked. Ever since I agreed to this press release I’ve had every temptation possible thrown at me, just leave me alone and let me ask for what I want rather than seduce my tiny, impressionable mind in to thinking I may enjoy what you’re offering despite no previous desire.
The press release finally started and I forgot every piece of prep work I had done. I asked a cameraman what his question was when I saw his hand raised, he was holding some piece of equipment. Everybody laughed and he looked embarrassed, I asked him to ask a question anyway. He played it safe and asked who my favourite artist was. I told him Big Willy Thompson. He laughed and blurted out that he loved Big Willy. ‘Grab your ticket, enjoy the ride’ we quoted almost in unison. Half of the reporters had no idea who Big Willy Thompson was and the other half pretended they didn’t. He wasn’t a painter; he was a comedian. But he made you think as well as make you laugh. He had a unique perspective on many things including drugs and war, politics and music. He’s the reason I wanted to name my son Billy.
Many of the following questions were boring and I tried to be funny or clever but for some of them I just had no response. My management and PR team didn’t look happy with me. When asked where I got my ideas from and if I could share my inspiration for some of the odd names of my work I revelled in being able to answer a question. Downward Oak is a blurred memory of a tree my friends and I used to drink cheap cider in and it was named Downward Oak as the roots seemed to grow more than the tree and would bulge out of the ground all around it. Bungle’s Dream was based on a daydream this kid called Bungalow had at work, we called him Bungalow because he had nothing upstairs. Anyway, his daydream was that this horde of farmyard animals were chasing him but they didn’t want to hurt him, just tickle him so he had this mix of fear and dread but also uncontrollable joy. Slivers of Nowhere is about a group of friends my sister had; they all got into heroin when they left school, not my sister but some of her best friends. And you would know when they were going to shoot up because when asked where they were going they would say nowhere. My sister followed them once and told me that’s exactly where they were; nowhere. They were non-people when they were high. They’d gone nowhere but they weren’t here. I guess I found I poetic and it just stuck with me. I realised then and there that I had got carried away telling my story and everybody in the room had this look of shock and disbelief on their faces. My nerves told me to say something light-hearted to brighten the mood. Brown Bullet was about a dog in my neighbourhood that used to hump everything in sight, one day he humped a vandalised lamppost and the electric shock sent him flying over the field we were playing football in. Some laughed but it was obvious they weren’t laughing at the story. The ones who found it funny nudged the ones who didn’t and told them I was teasing them, being ironic, playing the ‘ignorant’ angle to appeal to the uncultured and sophisticated alike. Soon they were all laughing.
Some personal questions followed regarding my parents, sister, girlfriend and son and while it started pretty nicely my mood soon changed to quite melancholic. I was growing bored and my answers started taking a snappy turn. One more question please, I asked. The reporters looked confused, as did my team but what could they do? They smiled politely and accepted it. I pointed at a young man like I was the grim reaper himself selecting my next victim. He couldn’t have looked more terrified if I was. He stuttered and thought, second guessed himself knowing one last question better be a good one. He asked about my newest collection, what’s it called, what is the inspiration. In all honesty I had nothing. I hadn’t started a new collection and had nothing in mind. I allowed my unconscious, my current state, my bored and slightly depressed disposition to answer the question. I was a spectator to what came next, pure art in a way.
“A lot of pain and suffering is going into this collection. Of course, there is good behind my inspiration such as my son, my wonderful supportive girlfriend and some childhood memories that may shock and awe the art community but are dear to me. I’ve realised that there is no joy, no love, no happiness without pain – before, during and after. Sometimes I’ll be having the greatest time and out of nowhere think that all of this is futile. I’m in the greatest place in the world but maybe I’d be better off somewhere else, not quite nowhere but just elsewhere you know? Maybe I should go away. Those I love may be better off. A legacy would replace anticipation, love would overpower hate, the mention of my name would light a spark in the imagination rather than a slow burn. My new collection may contain a hundred pieces but it may contain just one; depends on how stressed out and crazy this, and life in general, makes me. What’s it called? Red on Canvas.” Nobody laughed.