Jean-Michel Basquiat at The Barbican, Imperial War Museum, Parliament, Cafe in the Crypt and London Christmas decorations

basquiat01smallThe day started well. The sun came out and so it was a pleasant walk to the Station. Having tried to book my ticket online the day before (an appalling experience that resulted in no ticket) I had concluded the only thing to do would be to go to the ticket office and get a ‘human being’ to resolve the problem. Smart move, very nice man behind the counter, had my ticket in hand moments later. Online booking 0 v 1 Human being. This gave me some extra time to kill and so I settled down in the cafe nearby and enjoyed a chilled twenty minutes with coffee and Pain au chocolat.

Off to London and a couple of hours later I’m at Barbican Tube Station. I’d arranged to meet my companions in a cafe nearby but it was closed so fall back to the Pret a Manger. It served its purpose well and I can recommend the berry smoothie, excellent. The staff were also helpful and friendly so well done to them.

basquiat02smallIf you’re going to the Barbican I suggest you approach it from the Barbican Tube station, this is because the walk to the Barbican from there affords you an encounter with the Banksy tribute to Basquiat under the tunnel. Nice work Banksy.

Jean-Michel Basquiat at The Barbican. The first thing to say is that this is a big exhibition, don’t underestimate it. Its rare that I need two hours to take in an exhibition these days but this one demands it. Not only is it big but its tough, also, you’re going to have to work to get the best out of it.

Basquiat didn’t live long but the life he lived was filled not only with the social life that probably killed him but also with the culture he surrounded himself with. Art, Art history, Music, Poetry, jazz all apparent in his work. The strongest painting influence is Picasso, he studied him hard and it shows. Compare Picasso’s The Weeping Woman with his portraits to see how well he learned the graphic skill that Picasso brought to painting. The Jazz is all Charlie Parker and some of Basquiat’s work is visual jazz. Its a wonderful exhibition, I won’t try to tell you its easy viewing because it isn’t but is it worth the effort? You bet. Well done to The Barbican for this show which is very well presented and curated. There’s much more to say but go see the show.

basquiat03smallBirdy, Jas and myself then took a large change of gear and travelled to Lambeth North. I had a plan but first there was just time to visit the Imperial War Museum and see the Atrium newly done in 2014. A spectacular site with a Spitfire, V2 rocket and Harrier hanging from the ceiling! And a random tank just for fun. I sense Birdy and Jas may re-visit.

This is our second trip together and the first was blessed despite the bad weather. This second trip had slightly better weather but this next part got the worst of it. A short walk from Lambeth North Tube Station is Westminster Bridge and I wanted to come to Westminster bridge from the Southern side to see Parliament across the river. Big mistake, we got drowned walking there and when we got there Parliament was in total darkness and barely visible in the dark. Of course Big Ben is wrapped in scaffolding too (though we were aware of this in advance) the result being our/my first failure for our little Band of Brothers. Even the walk up to Trafalgar Square past Ten Downing Street was hard work and little fun.

Our relief came in the form of Cafe in the Crypt which despite its somewhat limited menu provided my compadres with some nice hot soup and a roll to bring them back to life. I drained as much energy as I could from a hot chocolate and a little something to eat. Sufficiently revived I revealed my last plan for the day to give my guests the chance to walk away but they showed fight and decided to take up the offer and it was a good call.

basquiat05smallbasquiat04smallWe took a tube to Picadilly Circus and walked up Regent Street to see the Christmas decorations. Turned Right at Beak Street and then left into Carnaby Street which got the Oooh from my companions. Congratulations to the Carnaby Street organisers this display is great and well worth the diversion for. We walked the full length enjoying the display whilst at the same time lamenting the commercialisation of the Street which was once alive and full of interest but is now just a place to shop. Back onto Regent Street we walked up to Oxford Street, taking in the decorations there and then along until we reached New Bond Street which also had a rather good display.

Many thanks to my companions Birdy and Jas, they surrender themselves to my guidance and hopefully it mostly works out for them 🙂 An excellent day.

Day of Culture with Birdy and Jas, including Mark Rothko and Chris Ofili

2017-07-23 16.57.49The day started well with a smile from a little boy on the train up to London. He was just getting bored so his mum sat him on the table in front of her so he could see her face but instead he saw mine, I smiled and he beamed back. He kept doing it for five minutes. We’ll never meet again but we had a little moment 🙂

I’d picked a seemingly odd place to meet but those that know me know that that just means there’s a plan and I had a big one. Costa on the corner as you come out of Monument tube station isn’t the sort of place I’d normally select but this day it served my purpose. A short wait and suddenly my companions round the corner and we are a team.

2017-07-22 11.38.55I beat them there and so once they arrived we set off straight away as we had better places to visit. Heading towards the Thames we reached my first goal almost immediately as it’s on the left and just before London Bridge. Time has caught up with the Monument so that now it is almost entirely hidden by the large buildings around it, despite being a significant monument to an important part of Londons history. Built in the sixteen seventies it commemorates the Great Fire of London.

Alt: Wow – a monument at monument! – How cool is that.

We move on to London Bridge where we’re immediately provided with a spectacular view of the Shard, having already seen the The Walkie-Talkie behind us. Looking down the Thames we can see Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast. We cross the bridge (noting the new safety features).

2017-07-22 12.12.57We get to the corner of London Bridge station were we encounter a large group of Scooters causing excitement in one of our group.

Alt: Scooters on London Bridge – How on earth did Paul organise that?

We cross the road and all of a sudden we are in Borough Market, a great place to spend an hour in London despite recent events. My vegetarian friends where faced with rather more meat oriented stalls than they would have liked and the spit roasted pork turned stomachs I’m afraid. But overall the experience was great and they managed to find a nice Veggie Burger for lunch (I opted for large fancy cheese straws (more of that later)).

Alt: Borough Market – what an amazing place all tucked away, distressed by the whole cooking pig thing but loving the vegan cheese burgers

Time to find somewhere quiet to eat our lunch (surprisingly difficult to do, some tables and seating at Borough Market wouldn’t go a miss). Luckily I have that in hand and guide the troops to my secret spot. Before that we take a little detour to take in The Golden Hind II and encounter a couple of buskers one with a flaming trumpet.

Alt: Famous boat on route to ‘chilled out’ eating area (not the cutty sark but actually the golden hind). Highly amused by the man with the flaming trumpet and concerned about the fingers of the guitar bashing busker!!

20170722_130019Just as the rain starts to get a little unpleasant we reach my secret spot and have a nice french style outdoor bench to sit and eat our food with excellent tree cover to take care of the rain. Its zen like nature turns out to be a little more zen than even I thought as our in-house zen master discovers in the undergrowth a Buddha

Alt: Birdy remarking on how cool it was to find chill out eating area and to be sheltered from rain by the trees, Dad going into his Buddhist conditionality thing prior to discovering Buddha himself sitting opposite in the undergrowth – cosmic!!

With the weather clearing a little its time to make a dash for Tate Modern, we make good progress and soon find ourselves at The Wobbly Bridge (The Millennium Bridge). We’re distracted by workers feeding a squirrel before diving into Tate Modern.

Alt: The guy interacting with the squirrel outside the Tate Modern

We’re all a bit short of coffee by now and so decide to do the cafe first and then the gallery.

Alt: Coffee in the Tate Modern

2017-07-22 14.15.23Despite my dodgy friend (you know who you are) advising me the Rothko room didn’t exist anymore I persisted and found that Tate Modern has done a very nice job of updating the Rothko room since I last went. The Rothkos here are old friends of mine and it was nice to see them once again. In the past I have seen them with more light than they are currently allowed and so this encounter was different to my others. The feeling that you are in a church of art still persists though. A free experience in London such as this should always be checked out.

Alt: Rothko – birdy didn’t quite ‘get it’ – Dad did (kind of) and Paul in his element (definitely did get it)

Having left Tate Modern and begun to walk along South Bank towards Embankment I was attacked by two waves, the first was small but managed to get over the wall and spray me, the second much bigger (as tall as a mountain) climbed so high I darted left out of its way (lightning reactions me) but strangely it didn’t manage to get over the wall and so there was no spray. I survived.

Alt: Seeing Paul move like lightning to avoid wave on riverside (one of Birdy’s highlights although she did find the guys on the bike trying to avoid being hit by the flying pigeon and the lad tripped over by the tree pretty amusing as well)

2017-07-22 14.45.17As we were making good progress I decided it would be nice to sit and watch the river for a short while. This afforded a spectacular view of St. Pauls, The Leadenhall Building and The Walkie-Talkie building. Birds amused us as did my remaining posh cheese straws.

Alt: Sharing cheese straws on the bench (with the surprisingly zesty mustard seeds)

The rain began to fall a little heavier so we decided we better make some more progress. Hoping we’d get to The Golden Jubilee bridges we stepped up our pace but by the time we reached The National Theatre it was fast becoming a downpour so it was time to dash inside, grab a coffee and see if the rain would burn out. We let ‘Grandad’ Jas out of our sight for a brief moment and he wandered off on his own with Birdy having to chase him down and bring him back to safety.

Alt: Sheltering from rain in National theatre café (dad wandering off with the drinks in a world of his own)

Helpfully the rain relented and we were able to cross the river and make our way to Trafalgar Square. I had one more surprise left. For those that don’t know, Chris Ofili has a new work on display at The National Gallery. This is free to all visitors and if you have a spare twenty minutes in London I recommend you check it out. Commissioned by the Clothworkers Company Ofili collaborated with the Dovecot Tapestry Studio to have one of his designs handwoven into a spectacular tapestry. The tapestry took five weavers three years to make. Ofili has created a modern masterpiece and you all have the unique opportunity to see it in its original conception before it moves on and I suspect never quite appears so brilliantly as this.

Alt: National Gallery – checking out the tapestry (nice touch from Paul to give us the story behind the painting and the 3 year project) – also really nice gesture from Paul to buy us both a postcard of the painting

2017-07-22 16.02.43 2017-07-22 16.02.37 2017-07-22 16.02.29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

image1I take them to London I show them the finest art available to man and what gets them fired up? Yoda floating in the air, facepalm.

Alt: Dad interacting with Yoda – How the hell is Yoda ‘floating on air’

Its a short walk to Covent Garden from Trafalger Square and so we decide to head over whilst regaling our youngest team member with stories from our past visits to Covent Garden.

Alt: Covent Garden – Birdy hearing reminiscences from both Paul and Dad about their Covent Garden experiences.

20170722_165008After a little wander we get some well deserved drinks to finish the day.

Alt: Fancy drinks at CG (not sure about the cucumber though) and a whole discussion about Rhubarb

Despite the weather a wonderful day in London with fun all the way along. Our paths were blessed and we saw London as everyone should see it, wonderful and resplendent. Many thanks to my companions for making the day perfect.

The evanescent Howard Hodgkin at the National Portrait gallery and the man who walks his cat on a lead

Urgently needing a coffee having missed buying one on Brighton train station we dived into Cafe in the Crypt on Trafalgar Square, always worth remembering if you’re in the area. On to the exhibition..

2017-05-02 10.41.27I haven’t been to the National Portrait Gallery since Mario Testino was on some years ago. But Howard Hodgkin will draw me to any gallery that’s prepared to show his work. I hadn’t expected this exhibition to be quite as large as it was but pleasantly so. Its just right and the work is, to put it mildly, beautiful. Hodgkins painting style is close to my own and when I stand in front of them I recognise the language he’s expressing with each brush stroke. There are a surprisingly large number of paintings that can be viewed with a representational eye though his work becomes increasingly abstract as time passes. Personal favourites are Portrait of the artist 1984-7, First Portrait of Terence McInerney 1981, Lawson, Underwood & Sleep 1977-80 and Mr and Mrs E.J.P. 1969-73. But to be honest I ‘ve had to slash that list for fear of re-typing the catalogue.

This is a wonderful exhibition, Hodgkin is one of our great painters and everyone should rush to see this show.

Some criticisms for the National Portrait Gallery. First, brief your reception staff on the exhibitions you’re currently running. None of them had a clue! Slightly depressing. Two, the chairs in your cafe downstairs are VERY uncomfortable, the sides jam you into the chair and stop you from sitting with a good posture. Three and the most important, I couldn’t buy a paperback catalogue and so had to pay ten pounds more for a hardback one. Not all of us are part of the metropolitan elite and so that ten pounds hurts. On top of which I personally prefer a softback version and don’t want to HAVE to buy a hard back version. Slap yourselves around the face and come to the realisation you’ve made a mistake about this. Even your staff know I’m right.

After Hodgkin my friend Millie and I walked through Covent Garden revisiting old memories until we found a rare spot of tranquility in London. At the end of Neal Street is a nice little bakery and if you happen to be lucky and get to sit in the window you can watch the world go by. Indeed, you can if you’re lucky, watch a man walking his cat on a lead. He’ll probably be posing for photographs as the tourists love it.

Walking back to Covent Garden we stumble across the Moomin shop and of course have to step in and buy a couple of bits and bobs. We’re all moomin’ed up now.

We continue on our way and find ourselves at Embankment Tube station a little drowned by now and ready to go home. An uneventful train ride sees us safely home and because its still early we decide to have a drink at Grand Central. It scores a big hit with me as it sells Makers Mark, two of those and a little Jazz music finishes the day perfectly.

As always Millie a lovely day and many thanks for your company.

We’re on our way, we’re on our way

2017-04-17 16.54.26I should confess from the start that I’m an Ipswich fan but having lived in Brighton for thirty years. I’m one of those rare footy fans that has two teams for a good reason and so I’m happy to support Brighton whenever they’re not playing Ipswich.

Two years ago a friend of mine asked me if I would go to Brighton football matches with him and I agreed. At the time they weren’t doing that well but the experience of being in the ground on the day is always worth doing if you can and so it all began. I began to work my magic and before very long we had started to win matches and climb the table. But that first season it was not to be, an injury crisis mid way through and a further one in the playoffs meant we experienced the bitter taste of defeat in the play-offs.

The second season kicked off and everyone was wondering had the squad been damaged by the previous seasons experience. It didn’t take long to see that was not the case. Almost from the start of the season they had that glow that some teams have when they’re at their zenith. It’s a rare privilege to watch a team at those times ( I watched it at Ipswich in the late seventies and haven’t seen it since, until now). All season they’ve been confident, relentlessly passing the ball around the opposition and somehow, always somehow scoring when it mattered (except against Ipswich of course 😉 who managed a draw).

I think we all knew that they were going up when they crushed Norwich (scum) 5-0 and of course for me that was a great day. I had been at the 1998 game where Ipswich thrashed Norwich by the same score and the memories flooded back. Dancing with the Brighton fans in the aisles of the North stand while the scum were battered on the pitch was a major highlight of the season.

My friend and I have been on a journey together, the highs and the lows and yesterday it all came together to give us a wonderful finish to our journey (we can’t afford to support them next year). I didn’t doubt they would win this game and in truth they never looked like it despite faltering slightly in the last quarter of an hour. When the final whistle blew we shook hands with tears in our eyes and just stood in the stand and watched the fans invade the pitch, we wanted to take in the scene and a wonderful sight it was too. Quietly, at the end, we crept on to the pitch just to stand on the corner flag and say we were there. Chris my old mate. Nothing will ever take this from us, two years of memories culminating in glory!

Paul Nash at Tate Britain

This was a trip that nearly didn’t happen. My friend Millie and her son David were due to go but just the day before they realised they were too ill to travel. So in the morning I decided it was still necessary for me to go (seemed a shame to waste the tickets), however I had one last dice to throw and so rang up my friend Ric and suggested he and his girl Erica come along instead. They had a little think and then decided to do it. Hurrah! Its easy to talk existentialism not so easy to do it, so well done Ric and Erica, good decision.

We made our way to London and met at Victoria. We walked down to Tate Britain (drifting slightly off track as I usually do) and before we knew it we were walking around the Paul Nash exhibition.

Paul Nash is someone I’ve been aware of for most of my life and here and there over the years I have seen one or two pieces in exhibitions, museums, galleries etc. But I have never seen a full show of his work until now so this seemed like the moment to step up and take a view on his work.

War

There are masterpieces from this period including Totes Meer (Dead Sea) 1940-41 and The Menin Road 1919. These show the darkness and destruction of war and in the case of The Menin Road efectively define World War I. Totes Meer (Dead Sea) reflects Nash’s Surrealism influences as it combines World War II machinery with a landscape Nash painted during his none war years. There are some excellent other works that show the reality of war and Nash’s rather unique skill (though I noticed Georgia O’Keefe also does it in a previous show) of painting night scenes adds to the darkness and despair of war.

Peace

Before World War I, between the two wars and then after World War II Nash is busy. He paints landscape by default and there are plenty of those. The colour palette contrasting radically with the war palette. He shows influences from De Chirico and Surealism to cubism and for me Braque rather than Picasso. His interests are diverse from stone circles to tree trunks (which he paints badly). There is a noticeably architectural influence throughout his work and this serves him well when he’s expressing himself through surealism. There’s a wink to Van Gogh towards the end of the show to finish off.

2017-02-27 00.35.03This is a good show, it covers the full range of Paul Nash’s work and gives an excellent feel for what he is about. Some of what he is about is what he’s interested in but his life was bookended by two wars and so some of his work was brought about by circumstance. With Nash the effect seems to have been very noticeable and there is a stark difference between the work he produced during the wars and the work he produced outside of war.

Finally a small mention for Eileen Agar Paul Nash’s partner. There is some of her work in the show and interesting it is too. So look out for her.

Tate Britain rather failed after the show. It clearly wasn’t able to handle two large shows at once (David Hockney is also on) and so the cafe and book shop were swamped. I did the book shop but we skipped the cafe in favour of going anywhere else.

2017-02-24 17.06.072017-02-24 16.52.172017-02-24 16.52.01A pleasant if trafficy walk along the Thames brought us to the very imposing Houses of Parliament. We dived inland a little and got ourselves to St. James’s Park as quickly as we could (my friends are not city folk and prefer countryside). This proved a good move as the cafe there was nicely easy to navigate and so before long we had a nice seat over looking the pond with ducks, other birds and even squirrels to entertain. A pleasant walk through the park brought us to Buckingham Palace and a short walk from there found us in Victoria station ready to go home. Because of our useless privatised railway system we were required to stop at Victoria for a couple of hours until we could travel and so made the most of it by having a couple of beers in the pub there which I have drunk in many times over the past thirty five years. After a couple of beers Ric and I were ready to go home but Erica wanted more beer, it took us a while to make her see sense (;-)) and catch the next train home. Very nice day, thanks for that guys. Also thanks to Millie for my ticket!

Why I’ve joined the Green Party

I haven’t been a member of a party since the early nineteen eighties when I joined CND, I imagine about the same time as Caroline Lucas did. We were supporting the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp alongside other things but I was too much of an individual to stay a member and so quietly let it lapse. I’m still too much of an individual to join a party but ‘the times they are a changin’ and so today seems like the right day to throw my hat in the ring. In recent years I’ve tried to prioritise my politics towards the environment and sustainability (I’m not very good at it personally but all of you should do it (see, too individual)) before other issues and as a result have been voting for the greens for a number of years having been a Labour supporter (though not a member of course) previously. I’m very lucky to live in the one place in the country where my vote can actually elect a green MP (Brighton) and I’m happy to continue to do that. I’ve joined the party because it is time for all those on the left to unite. I want a world were we have a living wage, a sustainable planet based on renewable energy and public services restored to the public for the common good. I’m not much of a political force but you’re welcome to my hat greens.

Brighton 5 v 0 Norwich

2016-10-29-16-42-15You don’t get to see a 5-0 very often in your life and as an Ipswich fan I’ve been lucky to experience that against the old enemy Norwich, 21st February 1998. So to experience it twice was a joy, a spy in the Brighton camp I am never the less a supporter and of course especially so against Norwich.

The game swung on an early goal at the opposite end to us. An opportunist piece of work from Glenn Murray, stealing the ball from the keeper and slotting it in. I didn’t celebrate the goal because I thought the ref would blow at any moment but he never did and that was that. In a tight first half where Norwich impressed the goal helped settle the Seagulls and their supporters and beer at half time saw a discussion about how good Norwich looked and how we’d do well to hold them today.

2016-10-29-16-47-32Murrays second got the fans going (it being in front of the North stand) and suddenly Norwich looked shaky at the back and Brighton began to attack them from all sides. Four minutes later Dunk sailed above the defence and bang 3-0. The Norths getting up for this now and even I’m celebrating the goals like its Ipswich (if only). Murray scores the fourth, his hatrick and this is where we crack, furiously jumping around hugging strangers just because its that kind of moment. It feels significant and so we photograph the scoreboard just to say we were there. But that’s not the end and my dream to see five against Norwich again is given to me by the Seagulls. Knockaert scores a wonderful chipped goal right in front of us and we all go wild again, crowd singing lets go fucking mental. We photograph the scoreboard again and the moment is complete. Thank you Seagulls, it was great to see Norwich go down 5-0 for a second time and brought all the memories of 1998 back to life.

Georgia O’Keefe – Fiercest of warriors

379px-O'Keeffe-(hands)The Georgia O’Keefe show at Tate Modern is perhaps an alternative view of the most famous female painter in history. Traditionally we think of her as someone who paints flowers, not just flowers of course, they mean much more than that but flowers never the less. This show balances all her styles and subjects on one plate to give us the fuller view of her oeuvre. The outcome is a clearer view of this fierce warrior painting on the edge, abstracts, skulls, cityscapes, night paintings, it’s all there.

Composition is key to her decision making often perfectly balancing a painting down its centre point with contrasting sides of one object (see Calla Lilies on Red 1928). She stares sharply and then paints that sharpness often bringing things to a literal sharp point. Her colour is always perfectly balanced and reminded me of Caspar David Friedrich slowly shifting down from the full colour to paler and paler versions. She also paints a perfect gradient using the same colour shift, blending the colour as if it had been airbrushed.

My personal favourites were a beautiful nightscape of New York City (New York Night 1928-9), the beautiful Calla Lilies on Red 1928 and Horses Skull on Blue 1931.

2016-08-26 12.56.58It was a hot day in London with my friend Millie. We had a light lunch around Borough Market and found shade under a well placed tree. I took pity on a scrawny cat and fed him some of my gourmet Sausage roll, he seemed grateful. We then walked along the South Bank of the Thames towards our goal of Tate Modern. Received poor service from London Travel Inn Capital Southwark, better service from Swan connected to the Globe Theatre. Having spent two hours going round the exhibition and then re-hydrating in the cafe afterwards we took a peek at the new extension at the back of the Tate on our way out and then walked on until we got to Giraffe on Southbank Centre. The food was adequate without being spectacular but our compliments to the staff who were excellent in challenging conditions.

2016-08-26 17.12.42To finish the trip we had to sneek me all the way home without a train ticket having lost mine somewhere in london. But we’re old hands and got the job done nicely. Lovely day.

Jazz, Neil Young and Pink Floyd

In my experience there is life and then there is none. This post is about life. A pleasant evening with Ric, first we listened and the subtleties of Jazz washed over us and then we discussed it. Beer and then bourbon helped and then we drank more bourbon and discussed other things and the barman wanted to hear us tell him that Georgia O’Keeffe was the meaning to his life. Ric, still fierce, a warrior who must be slowly brought back to the fight. Time came and Ric runs for the last bus, I on the other hand fall into the clutches of POW, my favourite pub where sometimes time stands still and this night time stood still. Many more bourbon, wonderful conversations with dutch Vikings who wonderfully love the British and are happy to know us despite #brexit. Then Zebra and 6fish regale the boy who is a living saint with tales from the seventies and eighties, drugs, booze, shagging, break ins and death defying accidents. We’ve done it all. The bourbon flows until time loses all meaning and finally Pink Floyd comes into focus.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGSPUOaHYn4

Talk of Networked Doom and offices re-arranged for fun only. We did it all and Pink Floyd was the sound track to our lives. It’s better to burn out than to fade away. It was 19:00 pm when I left the flat, it’s 02:00 am now, to ruin and the worlds end.

A Perfect Day

Attending someone’s funeral isn’t usually a good sign if you’re looking to have a perfect day. But this day was the perfect day and the funeral was perfectively part of it.

I walked in the sunshine through the sleepy village of Needham Market to the train station heading for my old friends funeral thinking of him as I walked. On the platform I looked across the countryside while I waited for the train and I knew that Dale was with me, he would stay all day I realised later.

The train pulled in and I scanned the passengers on board, there was a small chance another old friend of mine might have got my message and be on board. I couldn’t see her and so decided to board. As I sat down and wondered whether to check the train properly I felt a tap on the shoulder and there she was, the perfect girl for my perfect day.

We grabbed a taxi at Ipswich station to ensure we would be on time and had fun chatting with our driver who’s broad Suffolk accent was a perfect accompaniment to our journey. He got us where we needed to be and we laughed as we left his company.

Fearing an austere funeral ceremony our fears were allayed immediately and it was clear this would go well and when Effervescing Elephant by Syd Barratt came on we all relaxed. Dale had sent his messenger to ease our fears.

The call came out for people to speak and mistakenly I faltered. Unprepared as I was I did not want to spoil peoples last goodbye. But, I had something to say and here it is. Dale and I discussed many things but we always came back to one thing and that one thing was ‘it’. We couldn’t define ‘it’ and so we called it, ‘it’. We felt that we had ‘it’ and that everyone should strive to achieve ‘it’. Later, I found a better definition of ‘it’ when reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig described it as ‘quality’ and quality defines Dale Mann. 

We said our goodbyes, briefly meeting Dale’s son, it was like looking my old friend straight in the eye.

I had planned to walk down the cemetary as we left and this proved a good decision, there was nothing depressing about walking through the cemetary and workers chatting as we went combined with dog walkers and joggers made the walk pleasant. We strayed only slightly before perfectly finding the bottom of the cemetary and so the top of Cemetary Road. A short walk down, passing the place I lived for a short while back in those old days and then we were at the bottom of Hervey Street. My brothers old house where too I had lived in those days. Across Cobbold Street and we were at the bottom of Bolton Lane. I lived on Bolton Lane while I was at art school and so it was nice to see it again.

And so to my goal, Christchurch Park. Tea with the perfect girl, looking across the pond where my old friend Tony and I came to feed the ducks in our first year at art school. Tony too is lost but not forgotten.

2016-08-03 13.01.24My next goal was to walk up the hill to where the childrens playground now exists, it wasn’t there when Dale and I and our other friends used to hang out there. On the crest of the hill there you will see a single large tree, I call it The One Tree. It was our tree, many days spent drinking under it, shading from the sun, talking, always talking. If you go there, you will find Dale and some day me. The perfect girl shed a tear and as usual I didn’t know how to console her, but the tear was perfect and the moment slowly passed. I told her the story I have of Dale and the one tree..

When Dale and I were friends I was like a puppy that gnawed at his ankle to begin with. Slowly he brought me up to speed with George Harrison and others. But in the beginning I was still a schoolboy and so still delighted in school boy jinx. We were hanging about under The One Tree one day and I did something to upset him, I can’t actually remember what it was but he quickly had fire in his eyes and since I’d not seen that before I legged it down the hill heading north across the park. Being tall and in those days young I was confident I could out run him, I was wrong. Dale was lythe and ran fast and so he chased me across the park, I turned this way and that but could not shake him. Eventually I headed back to the hill and The One Tree and an idea came to me. I slowed my pace very slightly and allowed Dale to get as close to me as I dared, as I ran around the hill I suddenly turned to run up the hill, just as Dale was about to bring me down I deliberately fell to the ground and scrunched up like a ball. Because he was so close to me he had no time to adjust his step and so fell over me. I jumped up and ran up the hill to The One Tree. Puppy had triumphed and the old dog had cooled the fire in his eyes, accepting his fate. Because I won the battle that day I never forgot it of course and would give anything to have the fun of Dale chasing me across the park again.

It was time for the perfect girl and I to leave and we walked down the slope musing at how on earth I had managed to run up it once!

We passed through Ipswich and ended up in the Town Hall cafe/gallery. While we had coffee and scones we saw the Jackson Pollocks Paul had spoken about. As we left I saw Mannings on the left and since it was an old haunt of Dale and I we stopped by for a drink. Wonderful to see that it has not changed at all, a very rare thing these days.

And so to the train station for the journey home. It was hard to leave the perfect girl but circumstances meant we had to part quickly and before I knew it I was on my way back to Needham Market.

Goodbye my old friend, our connection was strong and stood the test of time. You held to our pact and sought quality all your life and so shall I.

theperfectgirl

The Perfect Girl

thepuppy

The Puppy