Tuesday, 4 October 2011
On my office wall 2
Well, Philip Larkin of course, in his duffel coat. One would want Mr Bleaney to keep an eye on at least some of one's doings. What he makes of the De Kooning next to him would probably echo what he made of Parker, Pound and Picasso. I see him as Munnings man with a sense of irony. He does have Adolf, little doll-like Adolf, kneeling on the other side. Monet's Rouen Cathedral shimmers next to some pretty dreadful stars, and that may be a Pompeian wall painting but I can't remember now.
On the far left, at the top there is an image by Ana Maria Pacheco to my poem 'Armadillo' who was a Roman soldier once. I wrote forty of these bestiary poems and Ana Maria produced twenty magnificently coloured prints. The whole added up to a book worth four figures, but that's artists for you.
The interesting pictures are the three next to it, showing a now closed bookshop in a building that stood in plenty of need of renovation. The bookshop was called The Scientific Anglian and it was collapsing from some inner core of ruin. The owner, rumoured to be a relation of Mervyn Peake, stood in the shop near the door while customers circumnavigated the narrow passages betwen dust and cobwebs and piles of old Pelican editions, some of which might have been valuable. The condition of the building is evident in the picture on the left. The model sailing ship that had nothing to do with anything inside the shop is displayed in the window in the middle photo, and the whole glorious spectacle of Dickensian gothic is on the right. It is the sort of place where spontaneous combustion is likely to occur, if it occurs anywhere (there was a new case reported in the press last week). Under all this, a poster showing Raphael imprisoned and a flier for The Drawbridge magazine, with a cartoon of me on it. I was very pleased and proud of the cartoon.
A Cézanne, a Bonnard, Ella, the Dame au Licorne and, in the middle, in orange, my poem Water,selected by a project called The Poetry Cure, to be displayed on the walls of hospital toilets. Unlike the case of the cartoon, I have never known whether to be delighted or embarrassed by this. It doesn't quite feel like an honour. I hear your poem is displayed on the wall of the loo, is not as good as I hear your poem is displayed on a wall of the Louvre. Perhaps I could say the latter while meaning the former. I hope the poem brings relief to some.
I ought to change all this. I ought to put up later, newer things. At least another set of pictures. One of my colleagues has dragged a good quality cream sofa into his small room. Perhaps I could add a grandfather clock or an old armchair with an anti-macassar to mine. With a large globe of the world. A pipe-rack with pipes. A copper ashtray. A spittoon. A tiger-skin rug... why stop there? Jules Verne is waiting to see you.