Every so often, for a laugh, we round up the family and head off in the direction of a bit of modern art. Each time I am reminded of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Surely, surely, everyone is faking admiration, and feigning intellect, as they scuff around with narrowed eyes, tilting their head this way and that, eyeing up a dirty comb with a missing tooth here, or the dried contents of a can of paint that’s been hurled at the wall there? There was once an installation that consisted of elephant dung. Yes, really. And what are the headphones about? They need a commentary? Per-lease…
Each time, I am so incensed at being duped and taken for a mug – I AM NOT A MUG! – that I vow to never again darken the doors of the gallery. Time passes. I forget. I suggest that, for a laugh, we should round up the family and head off in the direction of a bit of modern art…
It had been a while. Bank Holiday Monday was designated as the day we would visit the Saatchi Gallery, as yet one that we had not explored. We trotted happily in the late morning sunshine with great expectations, until we arrived at said destination. The sign outside informed us that it was closed for a private function (How very dare they), so we decided that we’d take our custom elsewhere, stopping first for a coffee at one of the street cafes nearby. It was all but empty.
‘We don’t want food, just a drink,’ I said as the waitress came over. She scanned the empty caff, swivelled 360 degrees on the balls of her feet and pointed to a few tables huddled close together and tucked out of the way at the side. It was the ‘busiest’ place in the whole lot with only one empty table available. There were people there, as far as I could make out, but they were engulfed in cigarette smoke. It was Fagash Corner.
‘You can sit there if it’s just for coffee,’ she said. (How very dare she). Some people have no idea how to run a business. We declined.
Nice place, Chelsea (apart from Fagash Corner). I felt very safe and rather at home there. (When I am rich, I may well buy a second home there, and a dachshund called Millie, but that’s by the by.) Anyway, we stumbled across a lovely pub The Phoenix, very quiet and with delicious food, and had an early lunch instead, before heading to the nearest tube station; we would revisit our old favourite, The Tate Modern. Somehow, one of the party (male, middle-aged, father-figure) managed to take us in completely the opposite direction when we reached the river. There was much angst and dawdling of aching feet as, first, we backtracked our steps to the point of error, then walked in an enormous, complete circle until we found ourselves back at the Saatchi Gallery.
Finally, weary and decidedly lacking in enthusiasm, we limped on to a tube train. By the time we got to The Tate, our need for caffeine was great. The coffee shop was on the sixth storey. There were queues for the lifts, but the stairs were out of the question. Eventually, we managed to squash in and joined the queue at the very busy coffee shop from which there is a wonderful view. We purchased drinks and cake galore and headed for one of the empty tables in the larger area of the cafe where many a family had already settled themselves and their refreshments. At the threshold we were stopped. That part was ‘shut’. Shut? (How. Very. DARE. They) We were forced to join the throngs that were jostling near to the window ledge and spilling across the narrow space into the counter queue. Still more people came in. Still they served coffee and cakes. Still they thronged and jostled. We had to eat and drink standing up! Standing. Up.
With hopes that we would be cheered by the art, we headed down to the galleries. It was as I had suspected. I can name no names. I can post no photos, but art? Really?
Here are some of my favourites (feel free to tut):
a black rectangle – black, all black, like the one I did in infant school;
a bit of string in a frame – a bit curly, probably taken off a parcel;
a white sheet, ruffled on the floor;
a tray – painted white and put in a glass case so no one would touch it;
some broomsticks propped up against the wall;
a mirror – you’re the art. No effort.
I rolled my eyes, and tutted (as you probably just have), and pointed, shaking my head so that it would be publicly known that I was not, and never would be, taken in.
‘They are treating us like mugs,’ I said, as I popped my contribution into the money box. ‘We’re not coming here again.’
We still had one more joy to behold on the journey home. As the tube doors closed, a veritable songbird made his way down the carriage towards us. Sorry, did I say ‘songbird’? I meant foghorn. A passenger in a cap, shades and headphones sang at the very top of his voice for his entire journey. He knew every lyric to every song that was being pumped into his ears. Even the high bits didn’t deter him. He performed the entire repertoire to the closed carriage doors, never once turning to make eye contact with anyone, despite being filmed by at least six passengers. (How very dare he). He’s probably an Internet star by now.