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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Objets d'art

"You going back to the office after this?" I ask my son over lunch in Antipasti.

"It's hardly an office when you've people standing on tables throwing paint at the walls," he says.

"Would have improved some of the offices I've worked," I say. "Studio then."

"Actually there is a resemblance to an office this week," he says. "One of the guys brought in an office chair and he's slowly cannibalising it for his work," 

I chew the thin, crispy pizza and spoon the froth from my cappucino. "Can you make art out of anything?" I wonder, and he gives me a look that says the answer's obvious.

"Of course you can."

"Surely not?" I say. "What about a slice of this pizza, two pregnant gerbils and a signed photo of Silvio Berlusconi?"

"Stick it on the wall that's art already."

"What about the collected truths of Tony Blair?"

"That would be minimalist."

"How about a steaming pile of horseshite?"

"Come on," he says. "Have you any idea the number of artists who've used steaming piles of horseshite in their work?"

"No," I say.

"Me neither," he says. "But it's a lot. Everything is raw material for art."

"Are you an artist?" says the waitress, come to collect the pizza crusts, and he gives her the smile that melts stones in space. She fumbles the plate and says "Sorry". 

"Just a student," he says and looks away.

The waitress lingers, acting busy with the crockery, but he's off somewhere in his head and doesn't turn back till she's gone.

"Lemme ask you something," I say. "Did you notice that woman serving us?"

"I saw her," he says.

"But did you notice her? Did you see that she liked you?"

"She did?" he says, surprised.

I shake my head. "You're missing several antennae, son. I've suspected it for a while. It's why you're still single."

"I'm still single because I saw one marriage up close and personal, when I was a boy. That was one too many."

"Good point. But they're not all like that." 

"Sure they are."

"They're not. Have you any idea the number of marriages that are perfectly happy?" I ask.

"No," he says.

"Me neither," I say. "But it's a lot. Loads of women make great wives. In fact women are the one exception to your theory about making art out of anything. You can't turn women into art ...."

He holds a finger up fast to silence me. "If you say 'because they're works of art already', he warns, "I'll disown you."

"I wasn't going to say that."

"Yeah, you were."

"Yeah, I was."

He shakes his head in sorrow and gets up to go.

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