Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Saturday, 17 August 2013
Two left feet
H.I. is still working on those cherubs, but I am determined that they will be delivered next week. Yesterday, I set her the task of re-painting some missing feet on one panel, and after about 20 minutes she called me over to see whether or not I approved of what she had done. She knew I would, but secretly I think she wanted to show me just how much better she is at doing this sort of thing than I am.
I looked at it for a while, and she had - indeed - done a marvellous job. There was only one small detail which slightly troubled me - too small to mention almost, but I eventually pointed out that she had given the little fellow two left feet.
I wish I had photographed it before she corrected it so I could show you, but didn't think quick enough. Also, I was too busy laughing.
I was once lying on my back, concentrating hard as I carved a hand on a large, stone, classical figure for a sculptor, and I had to be in this position because some drapery ran through the fingers of the figure, making it impossible to approach from above.
The sculptor came over to inspect my work, and said that he liked it, but added that most humans are born with five fingers, not six. He turned to another assistant and said, "Tom tends to be a little generous in the finger department, and we really cannot afford the extra stone."
I don't think I was ever one of those kids who absent-mindedly stick their tongue out when concentrating, but I have even seen adults do it quite recently. There was a picture in our local paper of a child gymnast dressed in a red leotard, lying on her stomach with her arms and legs arched in a semi-circle and a red ball nestling in the pit of her back. Her face was heavily made-up as they always do with young girl gymnasts, and her hair was tied back and freshly coiffured. She had an expression of concentration so intense on her face, that it had obliterated the obligatory smile which she had probably spent weeks practising under extreme duress. Her tongue was sticking out, and I found myself willing her to put it back in again before she bit it off in the next manoeuvre.
I was - once again - working on a particularly demanding carving, and I stood there staring at it in deep concentration with a lit cigarette in one hand and a pencil in the other. I went to take a drag of the fag, and put the lit end of it in my mouth - but not for long.
I used to day-dream a lot when I was a kid, and on many occasions I stood at the bus stop and watched all the other uniformed school children get on the bus, then watch them disappear into the distance before realising that I should have got on too.
This may explain why I only got 2 'O' Levels. I really identified with the WW1 poem, 'Naming of Parts', though, when it was read to us during one hot Summer afternoon as I gazed out of the classroom window.