So it came to pass, another week in the books. The last few days cemented the direction of my travels. I was going to go and visit Manchester but some things fell through and I’d have to take my business somewhere else. It was going to have to be London after all. London with all of it’s appeal, all of those people and all of those museums. It was going to be a trip where I will have to take care of a bunch of things while I was there. Buying a cheap suit was going to be one of them.
Art is often a reflection of the times. Recently Tate Britain began showing the latest Turner Prize nominees’ work. One in particular stood out in part because of its visual visceral esthetic appeal. I’ve been reading about the concepts or inspirations behind the works. Art in many ways has detached itself from strictly adorning a wall or even a space with a pleasing piece. I decided to make it a day trip out of it all. Visiting a museum would fit in nicely with all the activities I would like to accomplish.
The last few days at work have been interesting in the way that all of the relationships evolved to their inevitable conclusions. Lionel finally completed her hast day here. It was a bittersweet end as drama veiled the otherwise cordial relationships enjoyed by the staff here. It exposed the characteristics that make people who they are. A seemingly innocuous circumstance where help could be offered presented a conundrum that could be remedied based on one’s experience. What the precise circumstance is I won’t say but suffice it to say that based on experience remedies a trained professional could employ were instigated. These run counter to the rules that were taught to a native and thus friction emerged within by the way the situation was handled. It couldn’t of have come at a more sensitive time as far as anniversaries are concerned and then there is the whole emotional component of leaving and still not knowing how things will turn out.
I had to leave the room as I didn’t want to involve myself in the situation. I saw the problem from both sides and the motivations that precipitated this stone that was passing. It made for some tense moments at work. Then there was the delayed delivery. That made the situation a bit better as the focus turned to work and they weren’t together due to things outside of work. The time had to pass somehow and by being busy it made it easier to deal with. I’m a professional and although I put in my two cents it is not up to me to solve these problems. I’m here to work and somehow pass the time until my departure. There is a rigidity to rules that for an outsider makes it difficult to flourish. The plans I had all those years ago when I got here were thwarted by these rules. I wasn’t going to submit to going backwards at an exorbitant price in order to get back to the same level. That’s when I knew I wouldn’t stay in the UK for ever. Now with the prospect of UKs exit from the EU who knows what’s going to happen.
Being this far North in the true heartland of the country the disconnect between the capital and the life up here is really apparent. The City fascinates in a different way from the countryside. Here people have different priorities. There is a lot more farming and a lot more people that are dependant on some sort of industry to keep it going. Off in the distance I see the stacks giving off plumes of smoke or vapour. I am not sure what is being made there. In the distance from my window as I watch the sun rise in the morning I see all those wind powered turbines. There is one however that I have never seen spin. It has just stood there motionless all this time. It is a shame really that those large blades never spin. Next year the city will be EU’s City of Culture and it is being spruced up for the occasion. It’s what has compelled me to seek out a suit for the nuptials that I will be attending next week.
I set off early in the morning. The sun barely rose above the horizon and I was already out there at the bus stop. I could have sworn that I counted out the correct change but as the driver already put some of it away it was hard to protest effectively. I was 20p short. Had to break a pound to get on. We had to wait as she had her fag and checked her social media feed for the latest updates. At least that is what I thought to myself as I sat there waiting for this adventure to begin. It was going to be a long day of travel on the trains. The positive thing is that I was going to have access to wifi and I could back up my phone. I decided against renewing the subscription to the provider here. It has been awful and as such the backups that normally happen at night when one sleeps haven’t happened here. Let’s hope the backups happen smoothly while onboard the train. The internet was slower than normal and even though I wasn’t using the phone the backup failed to complete.
I was hoping to get the latest and greatest phone before my first order of business. The timeline was moved up however owing to elements outside my control. This was then prioritized and I knew that this would spell the end of my chance to get the phone before it sold out. Oh well. All it means is that I won’t have it at the wedding. I was hoping to go and just do all the pictures with the phone itself but I will take my camera as it is fitting that I use it at that time. Rain began to fall as I reached my first destination. It was nice all week and on Saturday it began to rain. Small drops of moisture periodically fluctuated in their intensity. Once the small system moved past it opened up the sky and it actually became quite nice. By this point I was at the store asking if the phone was in stock. Sadly it wasn’t and it was a hail mary anyways that didn’t materialize. Maybe it would be worth going on Regent Street and see if the flagship store has it. I walked into a huge crowd of people. The whole street was blocked to traffic as the NFL set up shop.
Regent street is one of those shopping streets. It is usually busy with people but today as America’s biggest sports league promoted its games that will be played at Wembley they had all manner of activities for the whole family set up here. The place was packed with many jerseyed supporters milling up and down the road. There was one bottlenecked area that took a while to pass and as I arrived at the flagship store I found it shut and the image of what I wanted to purchase pasted on the temporary hoarding in front of the facade. By this point I felt like I should take some time to think about what to do next. The store that I was going to buy my suit at was near but I didn’t want to carry it for the rest of the day. I had a coffee and thought about the next steps that I was going to take. It was already two in the afternoon. I am going to the museum and then will return here for the suit.
This NFL thing really brought a lot of people down to this area. Not that this area needs any more people to visit it. With all the traffic and all the buses it is one of the most polluted roads in London. I read some time ago that the amount of particulate concentrations in the air is highest along Regent Street. This may also have to do with the high buildings lining this street as well as the popularity of all the high street brands having a lot of space to showcase their material in. The rents are probably very high. It is however a great place to do shopping especially when shopping for clothes.
I’m a bit dissapointed that I didn’t get the phone. I may wait a bit before getting it now. At least sometime after the wedding. The money could surely go somewhere else. There are all these glasses that have to be filled and the rate at which more fluid comes in is a bit slow. As almost everyone there is a bit of a struggle with money. Too many hands out to get what I owe them. It would be nice to be free of that for a while.
A few stops along the Victoria line and I’m in a seemingly different part of town. The crowds have died down and the sun now shined brightly illuminating the buildings giving them a brightness never appreciated when it’s gloomy and dark. I was looking for the museum when at this space just outside Tate Britain a strange wooden sculpture or more precisely an installation graced the square bounded by old important looking buildings.
Smile is the name of this installation and it is part of some exhibit not connected to the Tate. Here the concept behind this rests upon using renewable materials like wood in order to make a conceptually interesting structure. The bend is part of a fifty meter diameter circle. The little pamphlet talked about the engineering that went into the production of this structure. It was kind of neat to be inside of it. It is however wholly impractical as any kind of civic building.
Psyching myself up to go inside the museum admiring the views outside. I needed the ‘culture’ that this city provides. What is this art that I’ll be seeing? What does it represent? High concepts have to be bashed over the head in simple terms in order for them to be understood. Those cheeks being spread out. There’s no asshole there. As with any art there is something in the detail. Is it intentional? What does it mean?
As it is a representation the first thing that sprung to mind was my old boss. I was a lowly pizza delivery driver at the time. It was a late night on a Friday sometime in the summer years and years ago. These dudes walk in whom I kind of recognized but didn’t associate with. They were gangsta types in their fancy cars coming in for a slice. They ordered a few and they asked if they could get a deal. These guys who ostentatiously showed off their wealth now wanted to get a deal on some cheap pieces of pizza. My boss was a fiery Persian and something set him off. These guys waltzed in being the big guys and essentially wanted to get something for nothing. My boss at some pint said to them “should I turn around and spread my cheeks so you could fuck me too?”
This is what the piece made me think of. That scene in that pizza shop with all them guys. As the women that were laughing about it pointed out there are no genitals so it’s hard to say what sex the sculpture is. With no asshole there is the constipation that can be associated with its absence. The associations can go on and on. It took a while to get a photo with no one in front of it.
There are four artists selected for the prize. Two of them felt kind of weak to me. The last one said something however. The concept behind it is the poverty line. In the UK a family of four (two adults and two children) are above the poverty line if their combined income is £24K. There is a precise number and the pennies are a physical representation of that amount. There is one penny missing however and thus that family is below the poverty line.
The room is packed with people starring at the pile of pennies. There are fists everywhere and a wire outline of the family. Some scattered paraphanelia hints at the associated associations that come with being below the poverty line. Stereotypes that grow from people’s misunderstanding of how it feels to be there below that line. The room it was housed in felt very clinical. There were no sharp edges and the finish made it look like the lab I draw my doses from. Associations made by casual observation. As if that line is something that demarcates some sort of experiment perpetrated on anyone below this line. Some sort of experiment where the cage can be squeezed and expanded however the lords please. It’s easy to then calculate how much society costs.
I had a look around the rest of the museum. There is a lot of British art hanging in the walls. Some of it is really good too. What’s interesting is the collection of Turner’s art. He was an early 19th century romantic painter who specialized in painting the sky. His status as a painter elevated over time as he wasn’t appreciated in his own time. His were just some of the works that I admired while inside. I walked through the collections quite quickly only stopping at certain ones that caught my eye.
The next stop was Trafalgar Square after the museum. A new statue was erected on the empty plinth that ceremoniously houses something modern. This year it’s a giant thumbs up. When I mean giant it means that the thumb is giant compared to the rest of the hand. It almost looks grotesque. It also looks like a dick from one certain angle as if someone is pleasuring themselves. It looks like a sarcastic “way to go eh!” Or even you are doing a really good job. It is kind of disturbing and yet it could mean something completely different to others.
It’s time to buy my cheap suit. The store got a massive influx of people as I walked in. rain began to put again. People sought shelter as it would ruin their hair. I just wanted something to fit me. I was after a suit with a modern slim cut. That is in some ways easy to find. The problem lies in the trousers. My calves are too thick and as I tried on the final pair that fit around the waist I realized that. I wasn’t going to go and find another. The thing fit and this is how these things are supposed to fit. I don’t have a sinewy thin frame of a younger lad. My body is thicker it always has been. I need a suit for the wedding and this color and this combination of jacket and trouser was the only one available in my size off the rack.
It’s an agonizing decision finally deciding on what to buy. I’ve seen Chrl struggle somewhat with such decisions. I understand the struggle myself and have thought about the selection process. If I took more time I would have probably chosen something different and most likely more expensive. I wanted a cheap suit however. Something not too expensive something disposable if need be. I’m sure however that it’ll be with me for a while.
At the check out as is often the case I was asked where I’m from. At first she thought I was American. She continued guessing until she hit upon the right country. She apologized for thinking I was from the states. Apparently some people get insulted when they are asked if they are from the states. I feigned my displeasure but told her that I wasn’t. Often times I am forced to explain the American train of thought. Now with all the politics in the news this becomes a bit more challenging.
Our conversation must have distracted her from what she was doing. She was on her way for a break to get some food. I was the last customer that she was going to process. She gave me the total and something didn’t add up but it was in my favor so I didn’t say nothing. It really was a cheap suit. I didn’t understand what she did until I got back to my room in Hull. She curved me for the trousers twice thereby reducing the cost tremendously.
It was slowly getting dark a consequence of the changing season. Clouds moved in again threatening to rain down some moisture upon the population. At a coffee shop along the way an exacerbated barista made my coffee. She was about to close down the shop and we talked about the lack of coffee shops being open late. There is no choice but to go to a pub late at night and imbibe. She spoke of her native country and the shops being open late as the young and old alike talk over a coffee instead of a pint.
On the train home this thought of sitting at a coffee shop inspired some plans for me. Tomorrow I was to go to the local one in the village and enjoy some quiet moments glued to the screen. Wifi wasn’t up to snuff again as I struggled to read all that I can in the train. Reading has been a great pastime for me lately. All these stories about how the world is turning and twisting in the sun. Controversies, death and politics with some insightful essays about what this all means thrown into the mix. Each passing stop emptied the train a bit more. I was hopeful that the train gets back in time as there is only one bus left that will take me back. I had to furiously flap my arm to stop it. It looked like it was going to drive right on by.
Navigating the empty streets with only semi clothed people stumbling about getting home from the pub. They had to say their goodbyes before boarding the bus. It was dark now and all the buildings that we passed looked a bit more ominous with only some features visible in the light. Curtains were drawn and the flicker of the television screen was visible strobing through. By the time I reached my room I was tired.
It is customary for me to forget to set the alarm on a weekend. I’m curious what time I’ll actually wake up. It isn’t that late in he morning when my eyes opened and looked at the clock. Behind the curtains the sun was already above the horizon. One thing about this room is that it has a great view of the eastern sky. Every morning I scan the horizon to see what changes appear. Each morning is gloriously different even if I feel kinda the same.
During the weekend I often like to putter waking up enjoying the brewing process as well as the peace and quiet of an empty residence. Right, at some point I should go and hit up the coffee place that I thought about the day before. When I actually got there and looked inside it was packed. There were all kinds of people inside as well as kids playing their games at some of the tables. It would be a bit too loud to enjoy sitting there. I decided to just do some grocery shopping and retreat back into my room. I would get ready to chat with Chrl as she has a busy day and we are scheduled to chat earlier than normal.
We are counting down the weeks until the days become a more manageable number. Something like a month. There is less than three to go now. My emotions may be stunted a bit in anticipation of letting them be free again. Our conversations let off some of that pressure as we talk of the various things that affect our daily lives.