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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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
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!!
Primary school jogged along quite merrily. Caning was commonplace, pastoral care thinnish. But we did learn. The star of the show was the ‘times table’ lessons (up to 12) whereby the head teacher had a primitive but effective closed circuit classroom audio system so that the whole school had tables drill straight after breakfast.
This rote learning, to me at least, has lasted 70 years. Sticking to the brief and general orthodoxy was encouraged. Any deviation (such as when I found copying a prescribed pedestrian rendering of a ship could not compare with my Johnny Depp piratical galleon), was not tolerated.
The correction cane was produced. I saw the error of my ways, and resolved to change the error, not my ways.
Secondary school could have been done locally, but it was commonplace in those days, and probably still is, for country kids to be shunted off to boarding school in the bigger cities. Thus it was. There are some kids , particularly the introspective ones , who should never be made to do this. Communal living was abhorrent, the hand me down English public school hierarchy, complete with prefects and duxes and house masters and matrons, head boys and girls and vast mahogany panels crammed with acres of gilt lettering naming the great and the good, was hugely destabilising. One suddenly realises that there are hoards of people you really don’t want to know about. Ever. How I hated it.
Love appeared in a strange guise at about this time. Her name was Adelaide, or more precisely, Queen Adelaide claret. She had more tannins than an Indian tea plantation, and feeble fruit, but notwithstanding that, the door she unlocked is still wide open.
The joys of a solitary life were made manifest during the 1956 Olympics. Those parents who could raise the wind sent their little darlings off to Melbourne for a week, slightly lesser mortals had a range of outings offered, and I was the only child left in the whole school for the duration. The school must have loved this, I know I did.
My school report linked ones attainments by a simple graph joining up the ‘score’ dots on one axis against the range of subjects on the other. Result: smart kids got a profile rather like that of the Himalayan peaks. I flat lined down in the foothills, littered with C’s D’s and E’s…. Highly amusing reading for my grandson.
Only one comment was in any way prescient ‘Has a deep interest in art and music’.
At least I persevered in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and something else to get my A levels. Yet, there was one sign of enlightenment. In my final year when I was given the nod to attend evening art classes at the local ‘Tech’. Thank God.
At last another door had opened. Praise be the Lord.
Trevor’s Choice Tipples
Trevor was an ardent reader of Malcolm Gluck’s splendid ‘SUPERPLONK’ in Saturday’s Guardian. He was much taken with a review of E & E Black Pepper Shiraz, which Gluck described as a ‘molar crunching, heart – stoppingly wonderful red wine.’
Trev got to it before I did….