Your article about pantomimes brought back memories of when I was at art school and we wrote and performed in our own pseudo-pantomime called 'Aladdin & The Forty Critics: A History of Art Enslaved by Heterosexual Culture: This Is Not a Pantomime'.
Well, the last part of the title is obviously a reference to Rene Magritte's seminal 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe'. Ronnie Kitaj and I had this idea about a pantomime cow. In the end we made a ridiculous costume and painted 'Ceci n'es pas une vache' on its belly. I got the rear end: Ronnie let me be the back end as long as I gave him what he called a 'pantomime goose' every now and again. I was happy to oblige. Good draughtsman, Ronnie, but I could always capture a young male body more readily, if you know what I mean.
David 'Ceci n'est pas un artiste' Hockney,
Who was it who said that order was the destroyer of art? I thought of this phrase as I was doing the rooms this morning. Friday is changeover day at Railway Sidings View, you know. More years ago than I care to admit, we had that lovely young man Bobby Crush with us for a week or two, while he was appearing at the Pump Rooms. Such a tidy young chap he was. The bed was always apple pie order, and I never found any tell-tale discarded tissues or crusty sheets such as you do get from many single gentlemen. Anyway, I am currently reading from Alan Titchmarsh's 'Beethoven: Portrait of a Genius' in bed. Apparently Beethoven was an absolute slut, music everywhere, never changed his singlet, sat up all night in his smalls writing the Ninth Symphony, fag ends all over the firegrate, pretended to be too deaf to hear his wife saying the cleaner wanted to do the music room. I don't think Beethoven ever won Opportunity Knocks, or played Leamington Pump Rooms for a solid fortnight.
But as far as I know, Bobby Crush never wrote a Sonata in C Minor to equal Beethoven's Opus 111. Makes you wonder.
PS My Uncle Lance always used to say, when Auntie Vyna told him to move his feet for the hoovering, that it was too much tidying that brought down the Roman Empire. Trying to keep everything spotless drove them all mad, probably, like those Emperors who married a horse and played the fiddle in the Great Fire of London.
Railway Sidings View
In a heart-felt plea from the heart of an artist, I ask you - how can a painter of real women find a subject in these times? I remember when the washerwomen, honest working whores and dancers of Paris would be only too glad to let me paint them at their daily ablutions and work. These days, an old man with a beard who claims to be half-blind AND who wants to paint a girl as she bathes her nude body in a shallow hip-bath, is liable to be arrested as soon as he broaches the subject. And these women of today, they are not the sweating, cursing, dirty, alive women of the old days. I am driven to paint from memory, then. But what memories!
Having recently had the misfortune to watch Shakespeare's film of 'Othello' starring Laurence Olivier in the title role, I have to say it was very poor. The action was slow to move forward, and as for the special effects in this day and age - they were a disgrace. It was obviously filmed on stage sets, Frank Finlay as the villain looked like the bloke who used to drive the ice cream van when I was at school, and Olivier's make-up would have disgraced the Black and White Minstrel Show (and at least they could sing and dance). The death scene with a pillow was terrible - maybe Othello should have hit her with his banjo? Not a patch on Polanski's Macbeth.
A C Bradley
Please forgive a long letter, but I am writing to register my continued dismay and frustration at all the expressions over the long years, of admiration towards Mr Coleridge's poem called 'Xanadu', which purports to be about myself and the palace I am supposed to have erected in the place encompassed within the poem's title.
Reading the poem you would think that all was sweetness and light for me and my so-called kingdom. I am here to tell you otherwise.
Yes, I DID decree a pleasure-dome. I had the ideas. I had it all planned, down to the last brick. I could show you the blueprints. Blueprints I have coming out of my ears. I have had them locked in a cupboard, I am that sick of bloody blueprints festooned everywhere.
The issue is, have you ever tried getting anything done in a place like this? These people have no concept of timetables, of the working day. Their idea of a deadline is 'sometime after we've got fed up of having orgies and eating stuffed camel and smoking opium'.
Now no doubt this is what attracted Mt Coleridge to write his verses about this place. It IS lovely. And they're such lovely, laid back people. But work? Forget it.
So no, I haven't quite managed to have the 'twice five miles of fertile ground' enclosed with the walls Mr Coleridge talks about. Yes, the scaffolding is up, but the builders have buggered off elsewhere. And as for 'gardens bright with sinuous rills' - I'm still waiting for them to make a start on the landscaping.
So I am afraid this much-vaunted 'dome of pleasure' with its 'caves of ice', though it's very much an integral part of Mr Coleridge's poetic 'brochure', - here on the ground in Xanadu, I'm looking at an empty building site with a few trenches. They'd just got started on the foundations, when they downed tools and scarpered. Seems this is hallowed ground or something. I'm now trying to bring in labour from Eastern Europe, who I'm assured don't bother about all this mumbo-jumbo, but it all takes time.
Anyway, I will not keep you any longer, but only to ask - the next time you become intoxicated by Mr Coleridge's deathless verses, just remember that at the bottom of it there's a ruler without a palace who's been living out of yurts for God knows how long. Now, when I was younger, I lived in a caravan, while I was doing up the house in Whitby, but I only had myself to bother about back then. This is on a different scale altogether. Apart from the loss of face, it'll soon be winter again, and the mud round here is no joke when you're in what is basically a big tent.