Sleep like a log – a log that’s waiting for a forest fire to catch up with it. I rarely sleep when in a strange bed. Get up sharp for breakfast and despite the feast I worked my way through last night, I eat like it’s the last breakfast I’ll ever have. I am such a greedy basturt. I then take the 10 minute walk to Groucho’s where I’m meeting the gang for a day of culture. On the way there I walk past Boots. A police van is parked outside. Through the plate glass window I can see that the double row of self-service till points each have a policeman stationed at them. There they all are with their white shirts, black stab vests and truncheons buying their “Shaper” sandwiches, mars bars and flavoured water.
At Groucho’s I have a coffee with Edie, Molly, Marilynn and Marcia. We discuss the day/evening before, declare it a huge success and ask Edie what we are going to do today. Edie is an amazing lady, one of Canada’s foremost art experts and therefore the ideal tour guide. As we sit and chat I’m thinking that apart from the Scots, Canadians have to be my favourite nation on earth. They are so polite, charming, interesting and interested. Okay, there’s bound to be a few assholes, but they probably got sick of all the gosh-darned niceness and emigrated.
The ladies go and freshen up before we set off for the galleries. While waiting I chat up the girl at reception. And why not? She tells me that Groucho’s is a member’s only club. You have to work in the media and be recommended by two members. Then there’s an eighteen-month waiting list. I smile as if impressed, as I think that’s what she’s aiming for. Meanwhile I’m thinking, who could be arsed?
We walk towards Trafalgar Square and the National Portrait Gallery. I be-moan the fact that I couldn’t pack another pair of shoes and look down at my leather clad feet. Not suitable walking shoes. It’s only 10am and they are throbbing already.
A memory pops into my head from the day before. During the buffet at the Awards Ceremony I was chatting with a thoroughly pleasant lady. She paused, thought for a moment and asked the question that had been bugging her. With an apologetic smile she asked, ’I know this is a terrible question, but are you anybody?’ The lie bubbled on my tongue, but I knew in the context she was referring to the answer should be a simple no. So I stay silent. Let her sweat a little and then tell her that if you have to ask the price of something you can’t afford it. That look of befuddlement was exactly what I was aiming for.
Everywhere I look there are billboards for “Angels and Demons” and every bookshop I pass has piles of the book at the front of the shop. I’m thinking Dan Brown has enough money. People should give another author their money. Memememememememememememememememememe.
The Gallery has two special exhibitions; Constable is one and Gerhard Richter (above) the other. Mention Constable and most people think of landscapes, but he was also a talented portrait artist. In a time when there were no cameras a portrait was a way to celebrate the life of an individual and record their likeness for all time. My inner bitch – and less face it we all have one – when face to face with some of the likenesses wonders why they bothered. Did they not have mirrors in those days? My inner bitch is also thinking that obesity isn’t just a modern phenomenon. Okay facetiousness aside, Constable didn’t try to glamourise his subjects, preferring an honest likeness. There was one lady, in her overblown Sunday best gear, but instead of looking pompous she looked vulnerable with real warmth in her half-smile.
Talking about appearances...one old guy clearly doesn’t give a shit about his and would much rather pay tribute to the power of the media – by being the only person in London to wear a medical face mask. Next thing I notice is a CCTV camera and an idea forms. Maybe we could use one issue to deal with the other? Everyone should wear a face mask and make the scourge of CCTV completely pointless! The guy with the mask has me feeling ambivalent. On one hand I love his bloody-mindedness and his conviction in his belief. On the other I want to grab him by the lapels, call him every colour of halfwit and shake him until he gets whiplash.
Don’t you love it when the plane lands and everyone jumps to their feet, puts on their jackets and pulls their hand-luggage from the overhead compartment even before the seatbelt light goes off? What’s that all about? The big guy’s wife is still half-asleep and caught up in this group anxiety she struggles into her jacket. It’s only when they are queued up in the aisle waiting for the door to open (again, what’s that all about?) that she realises that she has her jacket on upside down.
How nice is it to get back into your own bed? Measure the contentment of Larry and one of those happy wee clams and you’ve got an inkling...