Forgive me WordPress, for I have sinned. It is 4 years since my last blog…. its been a pretty odd 4 years, but isn’t that what life’s all about – “my life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue”?.
I am, I freely admit, a bit of a lazy sod. On my alternative home planet of Procrastia, as supreme ruler Ennui VIII I enjoy all the luxuries of a benign despot from my sumptuous palace in the Capital Inertia, occasionally issuing rambling proclamations in the native language Apathy ( …a language with very few verbs).
Meanwhile in the real world. I gave up the gallery, we moved from the flat above into a gorgeously spacious house on the seafront with stacks of pictures against every wall and an etching press in the basement. For a short time I helped out at another artist’s gallery and exhibited work in return… and then his roof burnt off and the house filled up with even more piles of prints, this time a bit waterlogged and smelling of bonfire.
I sold prints from the doorway of a not yet opened shop in George street, scattered a few prints around other venues, got back briefly into the open mic circuit, wrote some new lyrics, started swimming again and had an exhibition or two in local bars. However things were starting to get a bit tight..
Although I have always managed to keep my head above water when times get a little rough I have always had the option of ducking for the cover of a “proper job” when I needed to, and so I started looking around for something to tide me over until the waves of austerity had subsided.
I immersed myself in online CVs and job applications and filled in countless computer generated forms for computer generated jobs looking for 20 year olds with 25 years experience and a passion for this, a ambition for that and able to work in a team to achieve targets in a timely manner.
I had more luck with the Playstation where my ominously warlike avatar could leap around throwing fiery hammers and mowing down aforementioned 20 year olds with exploding bullets freed from the exertion of me having to lift my 60 year old body off the sofa.
To be fair I did start going for increasingly long walks, getting to know parts of the area I wasn’t even aware existed and managed to shed a fair amount of weight. Eventually I started to get some dribs and drabs of work through an agency and did a bit of modelling for art groups.
The agency work was all factory work, which, as I had only ever done office work was a bit of an eye opener! The factories were almost invariably, unbelievably spartan establishments, cluttered with almost steampunk machinery and with working conditions barely changed from Lowry’s day; 12 hour shifts (sometimes nights) with one 45min lunch break (which wasn’t paid) and a 4 mile walk either there or home depending of which shift it was. All for minimum wage,… and in bloody heavy safety boots!
Eeee… T’were ‘ard…
Some of the work was interesting, most of it was anything but. The best part was the people. There was almost always a core group of Eastern Europeans; Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Poles, Ukrainian and Rumanians. The common language was Russian, out of convenience rather than affection! I picked up a smattering of Russian from two Latvians in two separate jobs , one of whom brought me up to speed on the subtle usages of various insults and swear words in return for a reciprocal trade in English profanities!
One good habit I had got into while walking and sitting on delayed trains was listening to audio books and after going through the usual page turners I turned my attention to non-fiction and hoovered my way through biographies, history books and even a series of lectures on economics to learning a little more about Russian history – Napoleon’s invasion, The Revolution and for the first time read War and Peace (or listened to someone read it to me).
I also discovered what that Pet shop boys song line was about!
“From lake Geneva to the Finland station”
Anyway the next crop of school leavers turned up at the agency the next October and I, and a couple of other Old boys were “let go”, shortly afterward my PC gasped its last and my giclee printer dribbled its last drop – so back to filling in job applications on a tiny phone screen, slaughtering the minions of darkness with my shouting hammers, learning Russian and listening to Audible.
I now have a nice little job a stones throw away with a great bunch of guys my own age for just about enough hours to get keep me going, The art embers are rekindling, I have a new PC and am walking again – and I can even listen to audio books and courses at work!
Still to have move some of those stacks of pictures though….