Thursday, 29 May 2014

Neighbourhood watch...

Just shared a pot of tea with my neighbour Claudia. Loose leafed tea, not bags. She's a bit down in the dumps because of the fire. Her clock tower collapsed. No one was injured. The dogs were safe. No one died. The gurkhas escaped unharmed. They helped put out the blaze. What's going on?  Glasgow School of art, a department store in Fakenham. All up in smoke. Up in flames. Who's playing with a box of safety matches?

We lit a fire in the art school flat in January 1993 with a box of Swan Vestas. It was cold. Miserable and damp. It was the Charles Rennie Mackintosh flat in the Glasgow school of art. On a Sunday night. Depressing. Bill Clinton was president of the USA. His portrait was on the cover of the Saturday Times Magazine that week end. The Dean's husband at lunch had commented that it must feel like the pinnacle of ones career, the ultimate to be on the cover of the Saturday Times magazine. My drawing of Clinton was not one of my best. Early next morning in the drizzle, we went and bought some ready mixed cans of gin and tonic. Walked down to the cinema up the road, the feature film that week was Reservoir Dogs. The cinema I was going to give an illustrated talk in.  Vast, and not quite full, not every seat taken. I swigged two cans of gin and tonic at nine in the morning. Dutch courage, before going on stage and delivering the sermon to the art students and guests at the Glasgow School of Art. Afterwards someone said I was as funny as Jack Dee. I am not as funny as Jack Dee. Jack Dee is a comedian, I was an illustrator. But I accepted the compliment all the same. I am a fraud. I met Jack Dee a year earlier, also in Scotland, at the Edinburgh Fringe. He was funny. Ancient bloody history. A long time ago.

To have work destroyed by fire must be devastating. Perhaps in some cases it is a relief, an excuse to dance around the bonfire. To destroy overworked rubbed out charcoal nudes, the evidence of untalented pathetic conceptual collages of pornographic war landscapes. But I cried for the Glasgow school of art. I'll start a fire tonight burn some rubbish, starting with that Clinton drawing. If I still have it.......

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was accused by the Walberswick locals of being a first world war spy. Because he wore strange clothes and carried a sketch book. Suffolk hasn't changed much really.

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