Dear Auntie Gill

Dear Auntie G,

Thank you so much for your considered response and, more importantly, your kind words about our friendship, an acknowledgement of my modest skills, and the fact that we both share a sense of humour. I accept you advice unconditionally and have returned my ‘reciprocal’ gift to Asprey’s in Bond Street. I was not altogether happy with the emeralds anyway. I am indebted to your discretion in all this.

I note, inter alia, that you mention my friend Mavis and perhaps a slight puzzlement on your behalf as to why I should be looking further afield, so to speak. I first met her when she was a bouncer at a lesbian nightclub. I was doing a reading of Elizabethan Love Poetry. I learnt a lot that night.

Mavis is a quixotic soul to say the least. To note that we are polar opposites is very much the case. Our last meeting demonstrates this. She was wired up with her heavy metal mates (at full blast) and a sprinkling of knuckles on the ground smack heads, seemingly belting the hide out of one another, whilst I was engrossed in the must read ‘History of the Albanian coracle 1214-1216.’ This is the pattern of our relationship. The rocks in her head match the holes in mine. Sadly it is a spasmodic one. Why?
She spends much her life detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure – abh, dangerous driving, and shoplifting coming up with the magistrates next week. Arundel open prison was not so bad but Holloway is a hell of a trek. AND, I have to look after Crusher, her Rhodesian Ridgeback while she is banged up. God that dog stinks.
Sadly, of late she has had a few anti- social health issues and her halitosis would strip wallpaper. Despite, or maybe because of this, our friendship goes along in a strobe lighting sort of way.
With this background, I felt that a life with a nice quiet little English flower, who had never heard of assertiveness training would be good for my blood pressure…sigh…never mind…..

Just heard the roar of an out of tune Harley- Davidson……or….oh no…!!
Is it MAVIS? AAAAAGGGGHHHH!

Aunty Gill Responds to Mumbles

Dear Mumbles

Thank you for your enquiry.

As to your gift. I have had a chat to the female chum concerned and a summary of her her response follows:

Well, it’s not every year that a man celebrates a milestone birthday – and especially one with a relatively high number – so she and her family thought you deserved something a bit special that you would appreciate! She’s sorry that you had to wait a couple of weeks after your special day, but from your reaction seems pleased to hear that you felt it was worth waiting for! She wanted to mark your special birthday in some way, and says that since you’ve known each other, you have always been a good friend, especially during some tough times (on both sides). She said that you have also provided some wonderful humour to lighten many dark situations and that you are an all round good egg. Finally, she said that you’re not a bad tennis player either – even if, as I understand it, you do like to hit the ball off the frame every so often, which makes her smile. Although, she did admit that, coupled with the net cords, you do try her patience from time to time!

So, I hope Auntie Gill has helped to explain the meaning behind the gift, and from what I have come to know about the lady concerned, I would say a reciprocal gift is not at all necessary and would advise you to steer clear of offering the sought-after collection of Australian women’s magazines you mention – otherwise it could be game over! It seems to me that you have a great deal of mutual respect for each other, and both value the relationship you have, but understand that there might be at least one other lady in your life that lays claim to your affection…somebody called Mavis, if I’m not mistaken! Whilst I myself have come to appreciate what a charming and popular chap you are, it would be remiss of me as a respected agony aunt, not to warn you against having too many arrows to your bow, so to speak.

Onwards and upwards

Auntie Gill

Mumbles the Tennis Player

Dear Auntie Gill,

I know you advice and mentoring is concerned with tennis problems but I wonder if you could help me with a rather delicate matter that has just arisen. I have recently had a birthday celebration, should that be the word, and have received a gift which was, and is, a deeply affecting present. Not only was it well researched, it was well chosen and, from my knowledge of the products, would not have been cheap. Top class would cover it. Deeply moved. To complicate matters it came from one of my female tennis chums, and, not to put too fine a point on it, she is rather attractive. The odd thing is that on the court she is demur and retiring, as quiet as a mouse, and not given to improper behaviour.
When we have baseline rallies I always hit the ball softly because her game is genteel and totally without any crash, bang, wallop stuff. A touch player. The only time she squealed was when a mouse ran across the court. She doesn’t run, she glides. When there are net cords she is so understanding. Always gives a rueful smile.
So what am I to make of this gift? Is there a hidden agenda do you think.?
She once complimented me on my designer stubble but that’s about it.
As you know I have led a sheltered life and making any kind of approaches fills me with dread. I stutter so much it is rather like the castanets in Carmen.
How should I respond, if at all? What happens if her boyfriend is a Sumo wrestler?
Hmmmm…I doubt that.
When we have a hug at the end of the match, I go weak at the knees. Mind you, they are weak enough anyway.
Any advice on how to proceed would be of inestimable value. I have a fine collection of back numbers of the Australian Women’s Weekly which could be of interest to her.

Please advise,

Mumbles.

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Death as a Career Move

The idea of ‘death being a good career move’ struck a chord with Mumbles.
In a bizarre dream, with his cat (and confidant) Trevor, he came up with a cunning plan.
Perhaps a virtual death?

d r e a m   m u s i c…

Dawn. Washes of candy floss pink and Naples yellow caress the Eastern sky.
Jarring black contrast. Trevor sits atop the winged figure on the bonnet of the Silver Ghost.
He sports his black top hat, Stokely shades, black cane and gloves. Sits statue like, beside himself with grief, but set of his jaw Sherman square. Cortège solemnly glides through Polegate.

trev funeral
Turnout of local marching girls astonishing. Palpable deep grief. Trev tips the cane to acknowledge. The Uckfield Silver Band plays ‘Waltzing Matilda’, a ditty that needs no tuning and certainly didn’t profit from any here.
The splendid procession arrives at the Eastbourne Crematorium. Hushed silence as Trev stands beside the coffin. Coffin is bedecked with a tapestry depicting the heroes of the Tasmanian Artists Rifles Battalion.
Inside, the Crematorium groaned with the tear- stained great and good.

After stumbling over Daniel, Donald, Ronda eventually got to ‘David’ in a reminiscence that was a monument to brevity.
Trev stiffened. His Eulogy was a minute away. He shuffled his notes. Then, he became dimly aware of someone moving in to sit beside him. God, he stank. A horrendous cocktail of BO, Cutters choice roll-ups and over oaked Rioja. A halitosis laden breath engulfed Trev. This stuff would have burnt the paint off a German Battle cruiser.

It was Mumbles! ‘What the xxxx is goin on Trev? Who is the dude in the box? He looks as square as Queen Anne. Mumbles went on…
‘I come in here every day to get warm….about every hour or so it heats up nicely…’ Trev was incredulous.
‘Where is your earring?…’ said Trev…. and then his jaw dropped. ‘You haven’t got a left ear either, what the hell have you done?!’
‘I thought it was a good career move’, came the feeble reply. ‘Besides, I can listen to your terrific eulogy with my other ear……CAN’T WAIT!…..’

Mumbles awoke with both ears intact.

Lucky Dip

Letter from a Wimbledon Wildcard

Letter from a Wimbledon Wildcard

The snide remarks about my sad tennis footwear got to me. Even a whip-round was suggested to deal with this. I would fix.

funky trainer

Whilst playing this wonderful game, I often ruminated on the very close and frequent Schoenberg/ Gershwin tennis matches. I imagined their tennis styles would mirror that of their wonderfully disparate musical genres. Schoenberg would be full of cool, perfectly calculated and cerebral ground strokes, not much spin, Gershwin loads of flourishes, rich slicing and topspin and theatrical volleying. How delightful.
Anyway …thinks, I must support the local High Street, none of this online stuff, as a way of getting my footwear. Putting on my old shoes (in the porch), an hour or so passed before I got to the shoe shop, this involved driving, visits to the Supermarket, and about a kilometre uphill stroll.

Shoes were produced, tried one on, and the sales assistant said I should do both feet. Really? I took of my left shoe. The salesman recoiled in a state of utter incredulity.
Verrucas? Smelly socks? NO! He had seen a bloody great toad right in the middle of that shoe.

Toad was very alive and very well and, one wonders, looking at him, do toads ever become the exact embodiment of being pissed off?
Was he ever!

The assistant became unglued. If I had said ‘look, if you can spare a box of tennis balls and a shirt or two, as a freebie, I will sort this problem and get the hell out of here,’ I bet he would have gone for that deal.
Cooler heads prevailed. ‘Leave him where he is’, I suggested. I will wear my new shoes home, and he can go in the bag in his shoe.

The following morning, our neighbour wondered why on earth there was an old empty tennis shoe planted in the middle of our garden.

They still remember it in the town.

Cast Your Bread

Volume 3

By now the one- legged seagull (aka Pegleg) had eaten almost all the ‘Beyond Aesthetics’ copy. Yet there was one chunk that remained. Curious, our man (aka Robinson) read this last uneaten fragment. Maybe Pegleg found it totally indigestible?

It read ‘The bogus separation between art and theory is broken down by interventionist uses of quotation which rely on a theoretical understanding of the way ideology informs subjectivity, in order to undermine the culturally- loaded meanings invested in images. Since, as Hal Foster wrote, any truly critical practice must transform rather than merely manipulate signification, (re) construct rather than simply dispense structures of subjectivity’
(At our OAP bingo evenings, we talk of little else. -Ed)

Robinson rolled this into a ball and wondered how far he could throw it, but was distracted by Pegleg . The dear bird was now cross-eyed and looked in extreme discomfort. What followed with his friend was a most violent attack of diarrhoea. This bird had dumped (pro rata) the biggest load of crap Robinson had ever seen. But, of course, he knew that anyway.

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Robinson glanced at the offending bottle, a vessel redolent of such hope, a hope that had morphed into a wasteland. There was still a small slip of paper stuck to the base of the bottle. Should he read it? Why not?
It was a note about some recent paintings by an artist that Robinson had never heard of. Didn’t look up to much. Anyway, he reads (by Abi) the following:

‘This series of small paintings from David Armitage, entitled ‘Fragments’ contains elements or sections of other works. In a process of palimpsest the work involved was re-used or altered but potentially still bore visible traces with its earlier form.’

Robinson was fascinated by this ‘palimpsest’ term. It sounds like something that a teenage son or daughter would not talk to their parents about. Or it could be a wee beastie that scuttles around a lot and keeps you awake at night.

Anyway, he stuffed all the remaining bits back into the bottle, climbed to the top of an adjacent cliff, gave it three swings around the head, and let it go.
His anguished cry of despair followed the bottle far out to sea. It could be heard for miles around.

Cast Your Bread

Volume 2

When he awoke from a troubled nights sleep, our man did not feel like breakfasting on another dollop of ‘beyond aesthetics’. Instead, he noticed that several shorter pieces had been appended to this magnum opus ….in effect, slighter ruminations of Artspeak.
These pieces were dignified by their brevity, if not their gravitas or syntax.
He started on this little gem. ‘The significance of an ordinary item…. an inventive and unusual exploration of the cultural history of the button with all it’s metaphorical and lexical suggestiveness’….(true!) or… ‘In a process of palimpsest, the work evolved or was reused or altered but potentially still bore visible traces of its earlier form…. the result is a body of work that reflects themes of female identity, diversity and transition. (Gosh!). or ‘What follows is: impossibility to believe in discussion for imagery…..#towards aphasia, towards immobility, for a progressive identification of consciousness and praxis….

Was our man developing a morbid fascination with this tosh? Rather like watching kitsch soap operas when nobody was around? He was armed with acres of this twaddle that would make the winter nights fly by.
Nights! Nights! His dream hurtled back.
He had invented an ABM machine! (An Art Bollocks Machine) and it had made him a fortune. The punter simply keyed in the show he or she was doing. As a demo he chose a show called ‘An anthology of socks full of cold porridge’ (international of course.) This opened more bollocks doors than a French farce. He asked for 3x A4 pages, double spaced, paid his money, and Bingo! The machine chuntered out the result. Terrific stuff!
This market was huge. Think of anything, as is now academic, call it art, and good old
ABM would do the business. It did a fabulous job on ‘German battle cruisers and the suspender belt’. An international touring show, people now speak of little else.

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He had a rude awakening. A one- legged seagull had befriended him and was demanding some breakfast. The bird seemed quite keen on snacking on the recently arrived paperwork. He pecked at it. Wanted more. Was it edible?

Let’s find out in the final episode…