I went out today… down town.. to see the BP Portrait Awards painting exhibition… but, it takes me, an inordinate amount of time, usually to leave my house, I do the rounds of the doors and the ‘lock up’, before assuring myself that the cat will be alright even if it rains. I seem to be over doing it on that element. I often think of moving back to the countryside, because of this hyper sense of tension caused by city dwelling, and by that I mean the always present possibility of burglary and intrusion. However, being able to jump on the tube train and see some of Britain’s finest portrait painting is always a bit of a thrill, though always there is the reliance for this particular exhibition to show a lot of photo-realism. I haven’t entered anything this year and it is partly a financial reason the ever increased submission fee. Even this year’s offerings are a bit thin on the ground it may seem. There are some lovely pieces, but, this is not a review, but yes I would encourage people to go, for the few treasures that do exist.
I finally am coming round from my year of ‘change’, having spent five years in a rigorous routine of sorts in an academic library, which by all sense of deliberations, seems to be getting smaller and smaller in it’s collection size as subject areas are being abandoned due to cut backs and political decision making by Conservative think tanks. The lack of funding is propelling the planning of resources toward the e- library concept. And I guess the future is going to be all a bit of a virtual experience for most of the students from now on.
I just wonder when the idea of chip and pin planted into a student’s head is all that will be required, yep, the government would probably find it all much more convenient to do just that and program the whole population to do its will.
It has taken a year to undo any damage, that occurred due to the rigor of that routine lifestyle. I had intended writing and finishing my memoir/novel Looking for Pearls, but this indeed may change again and possibly the title, but, who knows. Driftwood is coming into being. I finally saw a hard copy printing of The Island, and spent Sunday morning re-reading it. I am happy writing Driftwood.
The academic colleges run by corporations, I think suffer particularly from a lack of purity of purpose. In my own life time, both through primary and secondary education, I truly felt I had a freedom and the right encouragement to read, and learn and grow in confidence with no particular agenda attached to the process. Going to art school was for me, a choice to do something I showed talent in from an early age, but, again the road and path a person follows is not always a straight forward thing. When I arrived in London, settling down in a vast city that was always on the move, both night and day, seemed impossible. I made about three moves from one bedsit to another in the space of the first year. The landlords varied, and it proved a little hazardous with regard to my own sense of safety even then. I battled through three undergraduate years managing to live independently of college digs or halls of residence. All the time facing dangers that might have sent any nervous type of person running back to their parents. London school kids, for example, notably, in the winter always hang out in the local launderettes, and were so lively, they thought nothing of jumping in a drier, and trying to spin round and keep warm. They were clearly left to their own devices with regard to recreational interests. One kid had been thrown in one of Hampstead’s ponds, and was trying to get dry in order to avoid a telling off about the state of their clothing, on returning home, and had begged money for the drier. Once they got money from whoever had any, they turned the drier on whilst also climbing inside to spin and treat the whole thing like a fairground ride. I managed about two years of my undergraduate period without a television. I had persuaded myself to opt for studying and reading as many of the ‘classics’ (meaning books), that my schools had failed to show me, or fit into the syllabus. This was a reaction to a public school boy getting ‘my’ place at Goldsmith’s College to study fine art. It helped a bit, it helped me to realize a naked love of reading that started in any case when I was fairly small. In fact I cannot remember learning my alphabet, but only rather the act of reading the ladybird books, that lined our bedroom shelves. I was an ‘A’ grade English student at school. I had been I think a bit lazy not to do the Advanced level study of that subject. I found myself trying out all sorts of literature just because someone had mentioned it. From the Mysteries of Udolpho, to Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar. But, also this period started the collection that is now at least four packing boxes worth of books. John Paul Sartre’s Words, got bought because of a radio program focusing on existentialist literature and philosophy. And I went on to read most of the trilogy the first being, Age of Reason. My friend Quentin, had been reading A Happy Death by Albert Camus. It was also around this time, that I started with ancient classics too, all books, leading to a kind of bolstering of some of the other subjects that I had been fortunate to have the privilege of studying by virtue of secondary school being a Catholic church school, for example Classical Civilizations. We at school had studied Oedipus the King, and read through the play Antigone. I seemed to be drawn to Plato. It has also helped subsequently that a move in recent times to Sussex, also showed me some of the Bloomsbury group’s dwellings during the war, and in particular the home of Leonard and Virginia Woolf. Virginia Woolf wrote A Room of One’s Own. It contains the sort of reasoning, that, spurred me on to feel independent about study and writing and art. Life for me has always been with a sense of optimism of opportunity as a result. I remember encountering rather like a mirage, Nicole Kidman, as I walked down a lane in Lewes town, one summer. I had no idea she had been filming The Hours, which I also subsequently have read, as well as having watched the movie version inspired by the book. The whole thing was indeed filled with sentiment and feeling, about worth and expression. Also at this time, I had come across The Maggot, by John Fowles, and the first book I had read of his was The Collector, and that too was set in the town of Lewes. And yet again my sci-fi which is going to be completed soon too, no doubt in the next year or so, well there I go, Lewes and East Sussex feature, and yes because to stroll and walk is for me a stimulant for thought and creation of images, both artistically and with the realm of writing creatively. So rather wonderfully today took on nostalgic tones. As I left my house today, about lunchtime, I had just entered the Cranbrook Road and was walking toward my local shops for a ‘top up’ of my oyster card, when I saw a figure in the distance not in a dissimilar way that I had encountered Nicole Kidman. I had difficulty seeing who this person was, partly because of the brilliant sunshine, glaring back into my eyes as I clearly was looking westerly as I walked, and at first, I kept thinking the person was someone with dreadlocks. I had not worn my glasses, as mainly I only put these on for reading, but, the strangest thing occurred. I looked and looked as if wanting to see more clearly, but, the person turned out to be a guy, with neck length dark hair, and quite a lanky figure loping forward at some deliberate speed, with a very intense look. It dawned on me it could so easily have been Will Self, but, why I should think this I am not sure, but, I had read about Will’s walk to Yorkshire with his eleven year old son beside him that had nearly got him arrested. It was an amazing tale that somehow by virtue of his own inimitable style, he drew me the reader into his world of great intense engagement with life, seeking to inspire his son, whilst journeying to see relatives in the north, all by foot. When this tallish figure had passed me it was only then, I looked over my shoulder, and stood stock still, willing him to look back. And at one point his head did turn, but, hey, he probably would not have known me or the why he felt the need to look round. He was about half a mile down the road by then. This had a kind of Joycean feel to it at the time, a day in the life of…….. ‘Stephen Daedalus is my name ….’ Ulysses.