Cibil’s enforced aesthetics…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s existential angst is centred around the idea of golf balls.

I just received a fat airmail envelope with some colourful stamps on it from the USA. It was from Veronica Crush, writer from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League, now living in New York with tall tree surgeon and heir to a multimillion dollar fortune, Monty Tick. The bulk of the envelope was taken up with a wad of her writing, but there was also a picture postcard of the Roy Lichtenstein painting, ‘Whaam!’, on the back of which she writes that she has just met Monty’s stroppy slim sister Cibil from Cincinnati, who insisted that they all three should spend a day going round all of the New York art galleries that they could find. Veronica says that she was completely exhausted by the excursion and on returning home fell into a deep sleep, but managed, on awakening, to jot down some elements of the dream she had had – and produced a new piece of prose for us…

Was the cafe in Paris? It should have been!… It was somewhere in Europe – it definitely wasn’t in Tokyo… or Chicago… or Islington. You must understand now that it wasn’t in our real world anyway… because… Oh hello, Leonardo is getting upset again! Just listen to him swear! It always happens when drunken upstart Francis Bacon tries to sit down at Leo’s table. See how Jacopo Pontormo, Warhol, Bridget Riley, and Fra Angelico crouching in the dark corner with their shapely bottles of Coke, are squirming in their seats having to witness the drama – so sensitive those folks! It’s like that time that Giacometti walked in and Bacon shouted across, ‘Look out! Here comes ‘stick Man” – blood on the floor!… Ah, Frank’s got the message, but is now foolishly heading for Buonarroti’s table, where he gets nothing but a dismissive gesture from Mike’s white marble dusty hand, which says very plainly, ‘Don’t even think about it!…’ Frank stops dead, and swaying slightly, turns and squints at the sea of faces which by now are all staring at him… Ah, a paint spattered Jackson Pollock, a kindred spirit, reaches out and pulls him by the arm over to the bar which he is propping up, and buys him a glass of Stella. An evening chill drifts across the emptying square as a light breeze gets up; Senemut, the designer of Queen Hatshepsut’s temple, and Frederic, Lord Leighton, who had been engaged in a friendly game of senet at an outside table come in to warm up; they sit with Hokusai who is doodling with a slim brush and black ink on a beermat next to the paraffin stove. Leonardo shouts across with, ‘Hockie! – let’s have a look then!’ Hockie holds up the beermat and Leo gives him a cheery ‘thumbs up’ sign of approval. Suddenly there is a very loud thud, glasses tickle on the bar, and everyone looks up, expecting that one of the drunks has fallen over, but it is just Barbara Hepworth coming in and dropping a heavy canvas bag of carving tools on the floor; she catches the eye of the barista and shouts ‘Got any Yorkshire Tea in yet Letitia?’ Letitia shakes her head and frowns… Barbara spots Mike, gives him a nod of acknowledgement, turns back and orders a cappuccino and a slice of buttered toast. The sky visible through the front windows has now turned into deep blue-black ink, and Letitia walks around lighting and turning up the gas jets; the cafe gradually becomes a cosy shell of warm flickering gold… As she goes to close the glass doors she bumps into Rene Magritte on his way in – he raises his bowler to her and asks if Tristram Hillier has arrived yet. She points to the back of the room and says, ‘There he is Rene – over there, with Schmidt-Rottluff and Hans Arp’. He thanks her, kisses her on the end of her nose, effortlessly rises a few centimetres off the floor and floats elegantly down between the tables to meet his pals…

Veronica Crush. 2014.


About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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