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…

Cast Your Bread

Episode 1

Another scene. A desert island. The lone inhabitant (he had tried to sail across the Pacific in a very large yoghurt pot) was surviving, but only just. He had found enough to eat locally, but had saved up the tastiest bits of his sandals for a kind of culinary ‘Michelin Moment’. However, after some instinctive premonition he decided on a more modest seafood meal instead.

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Was there some kind of celebration in prospect, perhaps not unconnected with the world he had left behind? This was an immense loss, as powerful as life itself.
He gazed out to sea, this gap would never be closed….. nostalgia flooded in.
But wait. He sat bolt upright.

Ah…tricks, a mirage, a cliche even… Was that the light bouncing off the neck of a bottle?
A bottle that bobbled toward him? Did this bottle contain a tightly rolled scroll of documents? His sun- stroked neurones had led to a wandering mind more than once.
Our man was a fine string player in an earlier life. Could this vessel contain an autographed score of Beethoven’s Op. 132 string quartet? Music that the Gods could listen to but could never hope to write. Ever. His spirits rose.
He waded out to get the very real object. Yes, a scroll of papers was contained within.
As he gently extracted them, our man wept.
A moment to be savoured! The text was in English!
He settled down under his favourite palm tree and began to read. It was a review of a conceptual art show. It was headed ‘Beyond Aesthetics, Readings in cultural intervention’. There was pages of this stuff… deep, deep, joy!
Agog with anticipation, he read the following:

‘During the past two decades the breakdown in humanist metaphysics has radically transformed theories of the production and reception of art. Humanist fallacies of the individual as an essential self have been deconstructed by post- structural explanations of the formation of subjectivity through language and its representations.
The art object is no longer conceived as an autonomous, transparent device reflecting the unmediated intentions of its maker, but read as a visual text ‘read’ through the lens of the cultural fabric which furnishes the meanings encoded in art.
Roland Barthes’s famous dictum that ‘the birth of the reader must be at the cost of of the death of the author’ has suffered an overly reductive interpretation as simply entailing the impossibility of originality, which has been used to justify the supposed futility of attempts to generate new imagery. Abandoning the modernist pursuit of
‘Making It new’, reactionary artists now gratuitously ‘quote’ existing images. But as Jean Baudrillard commented, quotation is never a goal in itself… the play on second and third degree quotes…. is a pathological form of the end of art, a sentimental form’.
If, as Barthes wrote, ‘a text’s unity lies not in its origin but…….’

At this point, (about 10% of ‘beyond aesthetics’), our man drifted off…. perchance to dream… about what I wonder?

See ‘cast your bread’ episode 2

Musings of an ex graphic designer…

I am sure that the temptation to overload an ad goes back to biblical times…

 

Hullo Design helper,

Picture the scene…Hot and biblical….Eve has just popped in to see the editor of The Garden of Eden Gazette. ‘Right! Ephraim’, she snapped,’ On my tiny ad. I want you to make the picture of the Apple tree bigger, AND, I want to put in a load more words and the serpent of course’…. the space allowed stays the same, so sort it for me’
‘Look, Sweetie, said Ephraim, stroking his great white beard, ‘I get this all the time’. The best I can do is meet you halfway. I so LOVE all your suggestions and when you see the next revise, you will see that I HAVE included a load of them. Not all, but that’s called ‘C’est la vie’ in Gaul. In Terra Australis they say ‘We ain’t playing for a bloody sheep station.’ Also, I have Griselda from Gethsemane Graphics on my ploughshare wanting to print the damn thing. Pronto. ‘AND! Just had a call on the ram’s horn from Adam and he would like a fig leaf border and a couple of your buy to let holiday cottages on the Tigris dropped in somewhere… No can do.
My man Paul from Tarsus is a whizz on this kind of kiddie… his patience is as long as my beard and, even as I write, he as a revised brief. As Soon as I get it I will forward it to you.
As Liebniz was heard to say ‘It will be the best of all possible worlds’ Of that I am certain.
Hullo, I think Griselda has just turned up with a cleft stick… O dear!!

 

Ever yours,
Ephraim.xx