I stood in the corner watching the crows. I was vaguely aware that someone was talking to me excitedly but I’d tuned out their voice and the voices of the others long ago.
People milled around the room peering at the installations I had created for my own amusement. Hunks of universal crap that I had lost interest in well before these people discovered they existed and would somehow enrich their lives and increase their social standing to be seen near.
My mind momentarily returned to this realm.
“This one in particular… I just find the imagery a stark assault on my senses, but an assault that time has decree’d NEEDS to happen. I feel it somehow tears down my preconceived conceptions of the world and forces me to reappraise my view of the world…”
I walked over to her, this old hen… older than she wanted to be. The oils and scubs and skin treatments and no doubt, surgery, that she’d applied to her face over the years couldn’t hide the old body the younger face was attached to. Like a crane she hovered over the exhibit. I almost expected her to stand on one leg.
“Really?” I asked.
“Oh, yes. Why yes, I mean, they are all very brutal contrasts that force the viewer to re-evaluate their understanding of the world but this one in particular…” She paused and seemed to be in some pain as she struggled for the socially correct words to describe the emotion she imagined she might be feeling. The shiny sandpapered flesh of her face compressing in an unnatural and painful looking manner as she mentally wrestled with her vocabulary. “I don’t know… this work leaves me lost for words almost”
“Dalek on chair?”
She did look like she was in the grip of emotional turmoil. It may have been caused by medication more than anything, but the pity I felt for her almost, for a second, overwhelmed the repulsion.
Keith had gone. Possibly milking sponsorship out of some reptiles elsewhere in the room and avoiding me and my condescension. He’d hung around for a while, sensing that perhaps I was a disaster waiting to happen. I think he was afraid I was going to get tanked up on the free Bolly being handed about to the bourgeois zombies but I told him I preferred the raw cynicism that cold sobriety offered me today. He saw me looking at the clientèle, and his ‘friends’ like they were only so much Whack-a-mole and probably decided the best place to be was as close as possible to the entrance with the money so he could escape if a massacre occurred.
A semi-famous actor who couldn’t act and hadn’t had a real job in years who was still famous for a part he got sacked for being crap in over two years previously peered at ‘Dalek on Sun-lounger’ like he was trying REALLY hard to see the beautiful new magical fabric on the naked dalek emperor that he assumed everyone else could see. This already laughable scene had become even more laughable and I desperately wanted to remove the low rope curtain from around the isolated section of tiles containing the cheap Argos Sun-lounger with a replica BBC prop lying on it and open up it’s circumference until it contained its viewer as part of an upgrade. Thus creating a new exhibit. I’d call it ‘Stupid Man watching Dalek on Sun-lounger’.
I filed it as a mental note for a future exhibit and decided to have a glass of Champagne.
On my way back from the table containing the bottles and glasses and sundry revolting looking cheese nibbles… they had a more ‘important’ name but I didn’t think they deserved it… A woman who looked like an Orangutan dressed as the queen standing next to ‘Dalek demanding emergency social fund loan’ grabbed my shoulder. “I just wanted to congratulate you boy on putting on such a wonderful exhibition, myself and my partner here…”
“It’s an installation, not an exhibit.”
She looked scared, confused, and insulted, and the expressions representing all three states fought for supremacy on her face with confusion appearing the victor. I sipped my champagne and stared at her impassively. I’ve long found that if I don’t blink it’s more intimidating. She was real hairy. Probably not as old as I’d originally thought but certainly hairy. The ‘Yer majesty’ outfit didn’t help. Without breaking eye contact with the freak I realised her ‘husband’ was a woman. She seemed to be dressed, and looked somewhat, like Prince Charles. I wondered if they had both come in fancy dress for the evening.
I waited to see if there was any further ‘conversation’ from this woman, who in all likelihood could actually be a man.
“erm… well… this installation. It’s… very… oh…”
“Good? Bad? Cold?”
“No, no.. I mean… well it…”
“Makes you re-evaluate your view of the world?”
“Yes. Yes indeed.”
“Great.” And I walked off, back to my corner. A short man was waiting for me. I didn’t want to talk to these people anymore, but I liked that corner. I wasn’t going to give it up without a fight:
“Hello”, he grinned. He looked somewhat like a rat.
I smiled soulessly. “There is Champagne you know?”
“Ah, yes…” he greased ” I don’t, er, drink.”
“Don’t er drink?”
He had sank slightly but perked up “This is a wonderful show you’ve put on, myself and my wife are enjoying it immesely. We had been due for a dinner tonight with Mr & Mrs Prentice” and here he punctuated the name with a nod as if i was supposed to know these people were somehow important. I just looked questioningly and shook my head almost imperceptibly. He paused then seemed to go on, ignoring my obvious ignorance “but when we read the article about your er show here in the Metro we just HAD to come along.”
“Ah,” I smiled “er Thanks for coming, your wife er lost is she?”
“er no, she’s looking at er ‘Dalek in focus group’… I really er heh heh find that one witty myself. heh heh.”
I looked at him blankly “Er really?”
“Er yes… it’s erm… well, it’s the situation… the Dalek… in the focus group. You know.”
“What does it say to you?”
The man was nervous, I could have fun here but I wanted to finish this quickly as I realised the champagne had found traffic light and made record time into my bladder.
“Well… you know.. it’s ” He lost eye contact with me and was now talking at my lapel. “it’s a statement about society, as it is today. And the need for so many focus groups for everything and placing a Dalek into one highlights the absurdity of the culture.”
“You don’t find it at all representative of the sinister alien elements that many people feel are often hidden behind the image of the suburban middle class individuals we are lead to believe are making decisions and having opinions on our behalf?”
He looked on at me, his brow pulsing with sweat that he probably wanted to mop away. I was standing almost directly below a halogen light fitting which didn’t bother me but seemed to keep many of these sickly socialites at bay for much of the evening.
“Well actually er I think that in many ways that is also true and perhaps many people may not be aware of that and your er statements… as it is… in er… these exhibits may bring peoples attentions to…”
I can’t be bothered with this anymore.
“I need to go to the bathroom, if you’ll excuse me.”
His eyes suddenly lit up as if he was struck my the voice of god, or he’d just had an incredibly witty idea…
“Dalek on toilet, heh heh”
He laughed. I didn’t.
He continued to laugh. I refused to.
I almost laughed. Thankfully, he had stopped.
I’d watched the man’s face turn from an expression of mild amusement into an expression of utter horror. I turned and left for the bathroom. I didn’t expect to find him still here when I returned. He’d be long gone. Home to alcohol and thoughts of suicide, or at least social isolation. My corner under the light would be my own again and I’ll continue to defend it mercilessly from any invasion.
I decided on a cubicle. I needed to sit for a bit. I pulled the packed of cigarettes from my pocket and slid one into my mouth. Smoking. Jeeze… no matter how far I think I’ve come the fact that I started smoking after all these years is a sign to me that I’ve slipped back, rather than gone forward. Though the fact that I can afford to smoke is a small comfort.
Dalek on toilet. Jeeze, these people. They live in constant fear that they will fall one day from their uncomfortable roosts. They constantly need to feel they are being enriched and focus their public attentions on any old crap they are informed by society has some aliment of exclusivity about it. So here i am, in a building full of these peering crows many of whom either have no real idea what they are doing here or have convinced themselves they somehow understand the rubbish I’ve thrown under their beaks to be some miraculous key to the understanding of the universe.
Perhaps I just don’t get it?
I finished and went to leave…
I looked back at the bowl as the flushing water ground to a trickle.
“Dalek on toilet? Hmmm.”