It seems odd, doesn’t it? A summer exhibition in December. Like an autumn Christmas? Or a weekend of Tuesdays. But the summer exhibition stretches into January to give the likes of me and the Textiliste time to enjoy its eclectic, weird, thought-provoking, crass, tasteless, brilliant mix of art, craft and everything in between.
The Royal Academy, as the above ceiling hints at, is an august institution – definitely not a September one. There has been a summer exhibition for, well, ages. Years. Eons. And it’s fairly democratic and inclusive and, as a result, inclined to the odd…
and the surreal…
You can buy the art, or copies of prints if that’s what’s on sale – the little red dots by the pictures or sculptures denotes a sale – or, like us, just look and enjoy.
This year there seemed to be more craft…
more of everything…
There is always some politically inclined…
Even if it’s on the tasteless side of satirical
and there will always be stuff that is just beyond much explanation…
and eventually these dictate your overall views…
as you ask them…
I think every exhibition I go to leaves me de-feet-ed.
Here are some other pics… no explanation is available; that’s the beauty of the summer exhibition. It’s imagery beyond words…
December 2, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the littlest Christmas goat. Who does the goat belong to? What is happening? Go where the prompt leads!
When winter struck Little Tittweaking it did so like a demented blacksmith. The place was gripped by frozen dawns, impassable drifts and foggy deceits.
The one high spot for all, bar Dumpling Pendulous was the village nativity. Everyone enjoyed the carols, the mulled wine, camaraderie and mulled wine. Except Dumpling who always played an animal: donkey, camel, flock of sheep… This year she complained so the Reverend Dimpled Whitethigh offered her an alternative. ‘You can be the goat.’
‘How is that an improvement,’ she moaned.
The Reverend grinned. ‘You’re not just a goat, but the G.O.A.T.’
‘And today we welcome a new member to our group. Would you like to introduce yourself?’
‘Hi. My name is Sullivan. Thanks for having me.’ Sullivan Notadrop scanned the other attendees. There were about ten, ranging from the scowling girl goth in the over sized cable knit who couldn’t be twenty to the thin moustachioed white guy with the scruffy grey pigtail, gold tooth and nervous tick who had to be pushing eighty.
A woman who seemed to be holding her chest in a tight grip in case it might make a bid for freedom leant forward and peered across at him. ‘How long?‘
Sullivan looked from her – he guessed single and forty – to the facilitator, Jeremy Runcible, and raised one eyebrow. ‘How long… what?’
The woman began a staccato tutting which Jeremy stopped by raising his hand. ‘Agnes, let’s let him settle.’ He looked apologetically at Sullivan. ‘We usually confess to the last occurrence, when we speak. It, um, keeps us honest.’
‘Right. That’s fine.’ It wasn’t, but what was he meant to say. ‘It’s a day since I last saw him.’
Agnes snorted. ‘How’d you know it was a him?’
Sullivan wondered if he’d trodden on some feminist toes. ‘The antlers gave it away.’
To Sullivan’s surprise, there was a collective mumbling, of the sort that connoted concern, disbelief and a degree of perturbation. He turned to Jeremy for help and was surprised to see him looking rather distressed. ‘Sorry, what did I say? I mean, you’d expect a stag to…’
Sullivan felt his jaw go slack. The scrawny teenager with startling pale skin looked liked she gone a shade whiter while the elderly hippy gripped his chest as if by so doing he slowed an imminent coronary. There was a collective intake of breath such that Sullivan briefly considered if the oxygen levels might drop.
It was Agnes who responded first. ‘You saw a…. Deer?’
She swallowed and gripped the sides of her seat. ‘A pink deer? With antlers?’
Sullivan nodded harder. ‘Yes, exactly. And behind him…’
The ‘nooooooo!’ that goth girl emitted was so high and loud that several participants covered their ears while a city type in pinstriped suit and a rather retro yellow knitted waistcoat dropped to the floor, rolled into a foetal hug and began ‘omming’ like a distressed yogi.
Jeremy seemed to have regained a semblance of self control. He stood quickly and thrust a handful of ketchup sachets at the girl, who ripped into them greedily. In seconds her face looked like a recently satiated vampire who’d just ended her fast. He met Sullivan’s gaze, not attempting to hide his upset. In a whisper that spoke of unarticulated fears and an inclination to chew gravel, he said, ‘we’ve never had anything so… big.’
Sullivan was bemused. He blinked and dug in his pocket for the flyer he’d picked up at the station and which he proceeded to unfold. Confused he jabbed at the opening paragraph
Pink Elephants Anonymous. Are you seeing oddly coloured mammals? Could it be you need to cut down on box set bingeing or excessive time on solitaire? Meet like minded sufferers with modern addictions who like you are overwhelmed by primary coloured fauna in a welcoming non judgemental setting. Tea/coffee included but bring your own hobnobs.
‘That’s me. I saw an oddly coloured deer…’ The demented squealing was too much and he covered his ears as he ploughed on, ‘why is everyone so upset?’
Jeremy hugged two women in matching white dungarees. ‘No one sees anything that large. Jocelyn there,’ he indicated the foetal banker, ‘once saw a vermillion gerbil but he’d been miming bitcoin for sixty days straight. The rest of us make do with blue shrews or the occasional natty bat.’
‘But it says Pink Elephants…’
‘That’s just the name of the group. The brand. We’ve all heard about pink elephants, everyone knows that’s what addicts see, only they don’t, do they? If someone,’ he swallowed, ‘someone actually saw an elephant that was… was unnaturally tinted, you’d have to wonder what it was that they were addicted to.’
The look Jeremy gave Sullivan spoke volumes. What exactly, his silent admonishment cried, can you be addicted to that would lead to you seeing a pink deer? Sullivan knew he couldn’t say. He stood and picked up his coat. These people wouldn’t be able to cope with knowing his obsession.
Outside he sucked in a breath, pulled out his phone and began tweeting madly. He’d have to avoid TikTok if he wanted to be free of that stag. Head down he set off for the station, hoping against hope nothing larger than the lavender rat who he associated with Twitter would cross his path…
Funny thing, birthdays. They keep turning up, like the man who regularly knocks on the front door and tries to sell me horse manure. ‘Lovely stuff, Mr Le Pard. Nice and friable. Good for the roses.’ Like my birthdays.
This one, today, is my sixty-fifth. Back when a Johnson was a slang term for a penis and not a Prime Minister (though the analogy remains apt), turning 65 meant you would retire from your paid employment, come what may and receive your state pension. Neither are any longer true. I retired from the law a while ago though I dislike to concept of retiring, as indeed I think do most people. In part that is because, when the state pension was first a thing, you weren’t expected to live much beyond receiving your first instalments whereas nowadays, with a following wind (and, let’s face it, at 65 you really do not want to be facing your wind) you have a few years to indulge whatever it is that is your passion.
When Dad retired, he turned to poetry. he’d always written poetry but he began to generate a lot. I couldn’t find one of his about turning 65, but he wrote this of growing old..
Life In An Old Dog
When a man grows old and the fire goes cold
Down in the boiler room,
And he can’t remember how to fan the embers,
He’s inclined to lapse into gloom.
But such melancholy is unnecessary folly,
And may easily be cured,
By bearing in mind the solace he can find
In the warm, and the ripe, and the matured.
For a roll in the hay, in the month of May,
Though exciting, was not always a success,
But a delicate affaire when the trees are bare
Can be rewarding – and a lot less stress!
And there is this one he wrote for his mother-in-law’s 90th.
To Gran – Ninety Years On (October 7 1986)
On October 7 1896 the Wright Brothers hadn’t yet flown
Women were not allowed to vote, Victoria was still on the throne,
Oil was something you put in lamps, the railways ran on coal,
Titanic was just an engineer’s dream, Scott hadn’t raced for the Pole.
The map of the world was still half red, men always stood for the Queen,
And a blacksmith’s forge, not a garage, looked out on the village green:
Horses were used throughout the land by baronet, bishop and brewer,
And though no-one choked on exhaust fumes, city streets were choked with manure.
Two World Wars were horrors undreamed – except by HG Wells
And on Sunday mornings the only noise in the land was the ring of bells.
Space travel and nuclear power were a million miles away
But a letter cost only a red penny stamp and delivery took just one day.
No-one had watched television, or flown, in six hours, the Atlantic,
The countryside lived by the seasons – and the pace was scarcely frantic.
Twopence you needed for ten cigarettes, or a gin, or a pint of beer,
And in the pub you could talk to men who had fought in the cold Crimea.
That’s how it was ninety years ago, in an England long since gone,
So it’s good to know, in this transitory world, that one thing is still going strong
I refer to Grace Lillian Francis who all through the years, bad and good,
Kept her powder dry and her head held high as an Englishwoman should.
But this is no time to be serious, too deep or too profound
This is your special day, Gran, with your family all around.
We wish you a Happy Ninetieth Birthday – and bright tomorrows, too,
Gran, with all Our love and respect, we raise our glasses to you.
A bit of an exaggeration this, but it has rained and blown rather a lot so the autumn clear up which we’ve been holding off is now underway. Gone are the remnant of some of the cosmos and helicrysums and we’ve dug up some dahlias and cut and covered the others. The wall cold frames are up and we will now begin to tidy up the beds, pulling leaves onto them and cutting back other dying back herbaceous planting.
Still there is still a lot of colour, remarkably.
And Dog is still involved…
You might notice the shaved leg; poor Puplington had a tooth extraction which requires a general anaesthetic. Poor parenting, I believe….
November 25, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write about a canceled flight. Where was the flight headed? Who does it impact and why? How does a protagonist handle the situation? Go where the prompt leads!
Godfrey Pricktingle held two important positions in Little Tittweaking society: chair of the hot air balloon club, the ‘Balloonatics’; and umpire of the spring betfest, when the village cow, Moose was released after her winter’s incarceration, enabling the residents to bet on where she would defecate first. Each year Godfrey offered to fly the winner around the village as a treat and each declined. Godfrey feared it was the smell that put people off; others worried someone might literally ‘take flight’ to avoid inhaling. In truth, the agglomeration of methane about his person rendered Godfrey a distinct fire hazard.
I was sorry to hear you had been arrested for climbing the west tower of Westminster Abbey again. Mother suggested that, if you remain intent on conquering iconic religious edifices, you might consider getting up the nose of the Bishop of Penge and Piddlehampton since there might be some societal benefit in annoying this aggravating Anglican. I don’t think she understands your motivation, hence the unsympathetic tone to her sarcasm.
I know you are of the unshakeable belief that since Great Uncle Euclid was unfortunately eviscerated while harvesting the swedes you are duty bound to seek out his restless spirit, but I would ask you to consider if Mrs Rinconcubone Alloy is to be your sole source of guidance as to his current whereabouts. While I have no reason to disparage Mrs Alloy’s motivations the fact she appears to be charging you fourteen guineas per séance does suggest, per Mother, that she isn’t exactly neutral when it comes to how she directs your searches.
I would be the first to acknowledge that there are some compensations in how you have approached your quest. You must be one of the fittest 87 year olds in the Piddlehampton WI, though Madelaine Cupnipple’s recent attempt to swim across the Piddle, mangling the Rev’s cassock while singing Jerusalem was a worthy effort and suggests an enviable aerobic capacity while emphasising the dangers of misinterpreting the Bible.
However, if you remain intent on your next assault which I understand will be the East Tower next Sunday, I will of course continue to provide support assuming you are bailed in time. In that connection your new monogrammed crampons have arrived and I will ensure your portable commode will accompany the climb, just in case. In addition, there will be a stall selling some of your memorabilia though we have received complaints that Great Uncle Euclid seemed to possess an inconceivable number of pairs of dentures given we recently sold his 100th set.
Mother, sadly will not be present. As she remains convinced your behaviour has led to Great Uncle haunting her garden she has arranged for the local priest, a handsome young cove called Randy Thumpthighs to spend some time exploring her lobelia in the hope of exorcizing his spirit while bringing some much need ecclesiastical ecstasy into her life.
I will sign off now. I hope this letter finds you well in solitary; please try and refrain from biting the guards again and can you save the stamp as your Great-Great niece Annunziata has begun collecting them to create her next collage, having been dissuaded from using her pet gerbil’s turds after complaints from her school teachers.