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Monday, 18 March 2013


Never at his chattiest within an hour of waking, my son gives my question short shrift. "It's art. It's not supposed to have any meaning."

"If it hasn't any meaning, it's meaningless," I say.

"So?" he says, staring through the windscreen. 

I hesitate, knowing how questions bug him before the caffeine kicks in. "Well what's the point of something that's meaningless?" 

He turns to look at me now, not quite irritated yet. "What's the point of a tree?" he says. "Do you know what I mean? What's the point of a nice sky?"

"So it's about beauty then? I ask and answer it myself. "It can't be. A lot of art isn't beautiful. So what is it?"

"I don't know," he says, exasperated now. "I just make the shit." 

I laugh. "You're going to have to do better than that if somebody interviews you."

"Well yeah," he agrees. "You get your bollocks worked out before you talk to people. About 20% of this course, if I get in, is going to be ...."



"It will be interesting though," I suggest.

He stretches and yawns widely. "I guess. But some people believe too much in the bollocks. If you make art you're an artist and what you make is art. That's all there is to it."

"It's a bit tautologous," I say.

"Nothing wrong with a good tautology," he says, as his aunt pulls up, gets out of her car and walks towards us, her face well-wreathed in wool. 

Some kind of neuralgia makes Helen suffer seriously in the cold, so she wore a balaclava for a while. But too many pulls by the police persuaded her to ditch it and buy scarves. Not nearly as cosy, she tells me, but you get arrested much less.
"My satnav went quiet suddenly and I could only hear it by putting my ear up close," she says. "Then I couldn't see where I was going and got lost. Are you fed up waiting?"

 "We're fine," I tell her. "We've been analysing art."

"I don't think you can analyse art," she says, as she climbs into the back seat and I pull away from the kerb. 

"Ha!" my son says. "That's what I've been trying to tell him, but he never listens, d'you know what I mean?"

"I certainly do," she says.

"Have you any idea how often you say 'd'you know what I mean?'" I say, aiming to divert them from the well-worn topic of my deficiencies.

"No, but it's a handy phrase," he says. "Turn right here and we'll park in the multi-storey, then walk to the exhibition.

"I'll use it if I get half way through a sentence and have no idea what I'm talking about," he continues. "Or if I just can't be arsed finishing it. Nine times out of ten, the person you're talking to will go, 'I do - I know exactly what you mean.'

"It's a great way to get a reputation as a deep thinker."

"Let me get this straight," I say, pulling into a parking bay on the ground floor. "Not only does your art not mean anything, but very often you don't mean anything either?"

"Spot on," he says. "Do you think you do?"

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