Monday, 19 September 2011
On Saturday Alan, 14 Year Old Son and I went to a football match here in Bognor Regis. Bognor was playing Sittingbourne and so who could resist? The stadium is but five minutes from my front door and we knew there would be a passionate time ahead if we went. So we went. It cost us £2.50 per ticket and for an extra pound each, we could sit on a more sophisticated type of plastic chair in a posher part of the stadium. Of course that is what we did, and were lucky that so many of the seats in front of us were broken as both Alan and 14 Year Old Son have legs that start just below their ears and go on for miles. The broken seats were no longer attached to the ground and gave more room to long legs which made all the difference, and so the extra money was well spent.
This, said Alan, is the soul of football. He was very moved and perhaps a little tearful. " I played at this level once", he said, looking wistful. " I remember the excitement and nerves before playing an FA qualifying game, such as this is." 14 Year Old Son didn't hear Alan though, he hadn't brought his hearing aid because it has once or twice picked up someones mobile phone conversation in a crowd, and made him think he was hearing voices from God. 14 Year Old Son has been known to carry on surreal conversations with people who don't know that he has not got his hearing aid in. Not quite connecting to what is being said, he carries on chatting about what he thinks the other person is talking about, and is so batty and conversational that it is only the intervention of a very confused third party asking what the hell they are talking about, that the penny drops. Recently, Son spent time chatting happily to an elderly man about football while the elderly man talked about world war two spitfires. It was only when the whole table (it was at a Sunday lunch) fell into a mesmerised and pained silence that someone noticed that neither party had their hearing aids in. Both Son and elderly man had been thrilled to have met someone who could talk with such depth about football/spitfires, and neither could actually hear what the other was saying. It seemed cruel to disillusion them but the conversation had become so loud and so bizarre that something had to be done.
The football match began. All around the pitch, men and boys gripped the seat in front of them and settled in for 90 minutes of sheer bloodcurdling emotion. Onto the pitch ran the players, one lot wearing green and the other lot wearing blue. Now wasn't the time to ask the old warrior next to me, "And which, pray, are the Bognor lot?" I would work it out. And I would also work out which end Bognor had to score. Then, I would be one of them, an old football hack, able to roar appropriately along with the best of them. And not shout "Oh jolly good!" from the Bognor side when Sittingbourne scored a goal.
I am not a sporty person. I do however, possess a very sporty son and a very sporty other half. What I love when I go to matches and sporting events with them, is the passion everyone feels for the game. I love the furious excitement, I am full of admiration that they know the rules and can follow what is going on, and I am impressed at how personal the playing becomes to each and everyone spectating. It is as if each player is only playing like that to annoy that one man who is beside himself with passion. "You're only doing that to annoy me!" he shouts, but not in those words. That is only the gist of what he is saying. Much of what he says is cunningly wrapped up in personal comments about the player, the team, the ref and his mother. You have to listen between the lines, so to speak. Oh how football matches clutch at the heart of those dedicated to watching them. There is a universal need, it seems, for every man there to shout instructions to every player on the field at the top of his voice, from wherever he is in the stands, and expect the players to hear him and for it to make a difference. Oh thanks! he expects the exhausted fellow sweating in the middle of the pitch, to say. I didn't think of that! I'll just do that now. Or, Excuse me! You there, in the left hand row at the back of the stands! What shall I do now? Give me your advice!
Each man in the stands, watching the game, if they were not singing, was yelling till he was red in the face. Instructions, furious arm movements, match advice, and a running commentary on his personal feelings for game itself and possibly the ref And his mother. A heartbreaking camaradarie broke out within the stands, and fans would turn to each other and say in so many words, "Back me up, pal. I am sinking fast into the Slough of Despond, tell me I am right and that these fellows playing need to be sectioned" or, "so and so is playing like a hero today bless his cotton socks, and long may he continue to do so" and so on. And these men were loud. Caught up in the intensity of the moment, nothing would do except an all out bellow to join all the other all out bellows from the very core of the souls of the other spectators. All of whom were giving life saving advice from their own point of view. (The right one.)
Gosh, I thought. What would women do if we had something that moved us to shed all our good manners and yell advice at the top of our voices to whoever was entertaining us? What, I thought, am I passionate about? Colour was my first thought. A whole sea of women becoming unhinged at a spectacle where teams had to choose colours and paint something in those colours? I don't think it would work. (Red! Orange! No, no no, not blue, tell me you won't do blue AAaaaaaagh! Yaaaaahhhhh! Pink! etc) I wondered what would move me, as a woman, to identify with a game so much that I would merge my soul with it and at the same time give myself a hernia telling it what to do. I couldn't think of anything. I do love painting, but that is a solitary act. I love eating - not quite. I love reading. Nope. I love dancing to reggae. Nope. I love funny people. Nope. Nothing it seems, in my own life, could match football in a man's life.
I did have a small insight though. While at school I would try and try to get onto the Lacrosse team. I never made it, and couldn't understand why not. I ran around didn't I? And sometimes I caught the ball, didn't I? What I lacked, and still lack, is ability to see the bigger picture. Once I got the ball, it was meant to be passed on strategically to someone else (on my team) so that someone could hypothetically go on to score a goal. Well. I was so delighted to have caught the ball that I would not be too worried who I gave it to. Look at that! I wanted to say. I got the ball, I am definately team material. But I see now that it didn't stop there. As part of a team I was duty bound to act not as an individual, but as a cog in a wheel that was destined for victory. I saw all that in a flash on Saturday, at the Bognor Regis v Sittingbourne match. And while I was watching the match, I realised that I had no idea how anyone knew where the ball would be in this very game, or how the game would unfold. It was blindingly clear to those men having metaphorical heart attacks around me. But all I could see was a collection of men working together with some kind of divine knowledge not available to me, a game making sense with a plan, doing something together that they all understood and working together as one in a team in a way that was utterly beyond me. There, That is the nub. I am not a team player. I am a lone worker, an individual, and as such, no darn good in a Lacrosse match.
Well, Bognor Regis won. They wore the green outfits and no one died watching the match. I understand more about Lacrosse now than I did this time last week. And in the relief of the discovery that I am not a team player, I will make a badge that says "Don't ask me the rules. I'm a loner."
Friday, 9 September 2011
I have coined a new psychological term that may be useful. It is called the Tracy Emin Personality Association Complex Disorder Thing. It refers to the sudden realisation that you want to do exactly and only what you want from now on, be paid a lot for it, basing all that you do artistically and expressively solely, utterly and only upon yourself . It is a very good thing. It means that you are rebelling and you are probably going to do something dangerously different. Tracy Emin Association Complex condition comes on quite suddenly and can feel like a bolt out of the blue. Hang on, you say to yourself as you make your tea and chocolate spread sandwiches, I don't want to do this painting that I am doing so nicely and lovingly for someone else. I want to let rip. I want to paint trolls in the background and give all the women moustaches. I want to express myself and let my inner artist out. I don't care to please anyone any more, I'm having a Tracy Emin Moment!
It is far too hard to take this on board the first time it happens. Like a vocation to the religious life, you fear it and pretend it never happened. Don't know what came over me, you say, as you wipe the sweat from your brow and remove the chocolate spread sandwiches from your fist. You don't know why you punched them, but you blame low blood sugar in the morning and the stress of not waking up slim and beautiful as you hoped you might if you didn't eat the coco pops you so wanted just before bed last night.
The next time you are struck by the Tracy Emin Thing is when you are feeling listless in the late afternoon in the studio, and not wanting to call up new venues that may be interested in your work. Before you can stop yourself you have called a gallery in London and told them that whatever they wanted from you, the answer is No and what is more, you are going to roll in flour and red paint to make an installation called "It's All About Me" and write down all the names of those who wanted to marry when you were twelve. Like, for me, Alvin Stardust and Bryan Ferry. What is happening is that you are experiencing an extreme reversal of your artistic choices and whereas before, you were happy to do whatever anyone wanted in the style they wanted, now suddenly (it seems) you are filled with a passion to shout Knickers! to your clients, and a furious need to do only what you want in your studio, with your art, for ever. And alongside this furious reversal of your whole artistic ethos and business model, is the utter conviction that everyone that has anything at all to do with your new madness, will absolutely love it. Adore it. Fete you, promote you, write books on you and ponder your inner meanings - even ponder your soul. Bring it on! you shout as a kind of battle cry, from now on it's Me Me Me!
I have been having a few of these moments recently. I have been shifting slowly, it feels, towards simply doing what I want. I have had enough! I said to myself. And so the painting of Rev Rachel Mann which was like this -
has been wiped out and is now this -
Poor Rachel has not seen it yet but this is how it is going to be. Courage, Rachel, all will be well. It is going to be mainly black and white and I bought loads of magenta paint to go somewhere in the back ground so it really will be something.
This is just the start of the creeping Tracy Emin Thing. So far with me, it has only taken the form of Doing What I Want. Soon, unless I practice deep breathing and eat lots of healthy vegetable soups, my whole artistic oeuvre will concern only, and obsessively, myself. And if I am to do a proper Tracy Emin Thing, I will have to do it extremely well. I will have to make my dirty laundry really speak to you. I will have to exhibit my toenail clippings with passion.
The bottom line is that I like Tracy Emin a lot. She is fascinating to listen to, she can actually draw and she does what she does well. There is an integrity to her that I admire, and I love her intelligence. So onwards, my troops, with this sudden explosion of assertiveness. You never know, Tracy may get the urge to paint Angels and Veg Fairies and have a breakdown and I may exhibit my tonsils that were removed when I was twelve and have a breakdown too.
But this is getting out of hand. I don't want any breakdowns. The whole point of this Tracy Emin thing is that it is healthy. It is about doing your own thing and being bloody minded about it. So as Johnny Rotten so sweetly put it
"No feelings, no feelings, no feelings for anyone else. Except for myself, my beautiful seeeelf."
Monday, 5 September 2011
My feet are cold and so I will be brief. It is September now and the wind is blowing around my garden under a low grey sky. It is only natural then that my feet are cold. I did not think twice about putting on my usual flip flops this morning; during the summer months I choose my flip flops to suit my mood, my outfit, or both. I paint my toenails red, or pink, or often paint the red over the pink and vice versa, and keep going like that until I have very tall toenails.
I am sitting in my studio as I write this, thinking and making plans but I keep coming back to how cold my feet are. Despite the difficulties in concentrating, I have made a wee plan for today and I am going to stick to it stubbornly even though, even though - my feet are cold. Very cold.
My plan for today is to email three people to say thank you for various lovely things, which I have done. Then to write the A Graceful Death blog which I have done too. (www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com). Oh, it is pouring with rain now. When I leave here I will have cold and wet feet. Why do I have to suffer so?
My plan. Back to my plan. I have this blog to write and then I am going into the house to tidy, clean, wash and do laundry with Oldest Son who is, I hope, going to let me into his Quarters so that we can make his surroundings a bit more crisp. If I ever finish the cleaning thing in the house, I will come back in here and paint more of Nushi and more of Rev Rachel Mann.
Rev Rachel Mann has been a bugger to do. I have wiped the wood clean twice now and am starting again with a completely and utterly different style. I am going to try to do her in black and white paint, with grey and maybe bright scarlet too. I think this may be the answer, I have begun it and hope that I can make it work. It is taking for ever, but I hope I will finish it before Rev Rachel makes it to Archbishop.
There are goosebumps on my arms now. What is this coldness? I have a warm boiler suit on and a long sleeved teeshirt. I have blue and white spotty flip flops which we have agreed will not keep me warm, but the boiler suit has always kept me warm before. Maybe I am coming down with something. Maybe I am fading away. Unlikely. I had a dream the other night that I was now officially fat and got a certificate to prove it. I don't think I am fading away. Maybe I will be discovered like the poet Chatterton, dead in my garret, my tiny feet as blue as as my flip flops.
Henry Wallice The Death of Chatterton. The young starving poet is found dead in his attic. His feet look fine.
Oh! I got it wrong! says Puccini, I meant to say, your tiny feet are frozen.
A rather sinister thought is that Socrates felt the effects of Hemlock from the feet upwards. He lost the sensation of his feet first, they became cold. The rest of his body followed. I have not taken any hemlock that I know of, I had PG Tips for breakfast, there wasn't any Hemlock in my tea caddy. I think.
No. I am not going to die. I am being dramatic. I am simply going to go back into the house now and put on my fluffy winter slippers. I will put all my flip flops into a plastic bag and fling them to the back of my wardrobe as if Finally. Our relationship over the last few summer months is over. There is no more need of you here. It is time for boots and fur lined slippers. It is Over, do you hear, Over.
Whoops! Time to go and clean the Son's Rooms. Best foot forward and all that ha ha ha.