Monday, 9 August 2010

Various Forms of Artistry, and a Change of Plan.

The Boss has opened all the mail by the time I get into work this morning, so trying to work out what he's done with it proves a bit challenging. The office looks as if it has been rented out to a playgroup over the weekend, with stuff strewn everywhere - though there is no sign of the post. In Andrew's defence: at least he wants to read his constituents' views, unlike some MPs, if today's reports regarding Dominic Raab MP's unwillingness for his email address to be in the public domain are anything to go by.

Greg finally finds most of the letters shoved behind the cushions of the couch in the Oprah Room, along with a gold earring of questionable origin. Andrew claims not to have seen that before, but he does pocket it after giving it a cursory look. Greg is furious.

"Why the bloody hell did you give it to him? Are you an idiot?" he says.

"He took it from me, when I asked if he knew whose it was," I say.

"You should have held onto it, and just let him look!"

"Why?" I am already confused and it's only mid-morning.

"It belongs in the Staff Insurance folder, for f*cks sake."

"Why? We don't even know whose it is. Do we?"

"Maybe not, but I reckon we can be pretty damn sure that Trish would never wear a monstrosity like that."

He's right. The only lapse in taste that Trish has ever demonstrated is when she decided to marry The Boss.

Is everyone cheating on their spouses? It certainly seems like it. I decide I need a cigarette and, by the time I return, Greg has started sorting through the retrieved mail, which looks a bit like the newspaper after my mother has finished reading it. A total mess. He rapidly loses patience, and shoves most of it at me, as if I am somehow more able to cope with collating the un-numbered pages of mixed-up letters than he is. I don't recall the acquisition of that particular skill having formed an intrinsic part of my degree course, but Greg is now otherwise occupied - in wrestling with the contents of a large postal tube.

"Oh, bloody hell. Richard Mackenzie's stopped taking his meds again."

"How do you know tha -" I glance up. "Oh, I see."

Greg is holding up an A2 sheet of heavy paper - bearing a quite astonishing painting. You can almost feel the energy with which the brushstrokes must have been made, and the colour palette is broad, to say the least. I am lost in admiration, but only for a moment. I know what this means only too well, but I check anyway:

"Was there a letter with it?"

Greg shakes his head in response.

"Phone Richard's CPN* - now!" I can be surprisingly assertive when necessary.

"Already dialling," says Greg.

Richard is an enormously talented artist, but only when he hasn't taken his medication. When he has, his work is entirely without interest, and doesn't even begin to resemble the work he is capable of when he's at his most distressed. I'm no critic, but I'm pretty sure that Psychotic Richard the artist is highly-marketable, while Tranquillised Richard really isn't. There must be a moral in this story somewhere, but I'm damned if I can see it today.

Anyway, marketability isn't the most important issue where Richard's artwork is concerned. Over the years we've been dealing with him, his paintings have evolved into an effective measure of his level of sanity. Greg and I might as well be code-breakers. I bet Saatchi doesn't provide psychological assessments of the artists he supports.

Everyone seems to be being creative today. Johnny emails mid-afternoon to say that he has thought of a change of plan. He has decided that the smog in Moscow has now become too severe for his wife and children to remain there any longer, and so they are flying back to the UK tomorrow to stay at the family's Irish retreat until the fires have been brought under control.

I am quite relieved to hear that Johnny's wife does still exist - given that she seems to have been airbrushed out of his life over the last month or so - but then I feel awful again. I have been planning to do to her what Annoying Ellen would do to me, given half a chance. If Ellen hasn't done it already.

Johnny adds that he has decided that, when he comes to the UK the following week - supposedly to meet me - it would now make sense for him to join his family in Ireland. This plan will allow him to meet with his "wafty" architect to approve the next stage of the work on the show-off early-retirement home he's having built. He says this as if everyone knows what dealing with an architect is like.

I assume he's therefore going to cancel our meeting, and am surprised to find that I don't mind this idea as much as might have been expected. But he is actually suggesting that he can "get away with a stopover in London for one night" before travelling to Ireland, "subject to a few minor alterations to the schedule".

He says that he will be "pressed for time," due to the early flight he will have to catch to Dublin the next morning, so he has cancelled our booking at the Marriott County Hall, and booked us into a hotel near Heathrow instead. He doesn't even ask me if I think this is okay, or acknowledge that it will make the journey a damn sight longer and more inconvenient from my point of view. I bet he thinks I'm going to stand in the arrivals lounge, holding a placard saying, "Johnny Hunter's Bit On The Side" and waiting to lead him off to bed.

Johnny's having assumed that I have nothing better to do than to cater for his every whim reminds me so much of The Boss, that I become very cross with him. I don't think I let this show in my reply, though - as I am still exercising caution with regard to emails since the Gary Glitter incident. My fourth draft reads:

Whereas I have a reasonably convincing reason to be seen hanging around near the House of Commons, I have no excuse at all to be waiting for someone at bloody Heathrow. The Boss doesn't take holidays, so I couldn't even claim I was meeting him. And with my luck, there'll be some sort of terrorist incident, and then my picture will suddenly pop up on the news coverage and Max will see me. 
I don't think I can make it. 

What I should have added was, "I am not your bloody PA, either - and the idea of standing around in an airport waiting for you to arrive holds zero appeal," but I am too polite for my own good.

Afterwards, I feel oddly relieved that I am not going to have a dirty mid-week weekend. What on earth is wrong with me? I look down at my day book, and see that I have obliterated most of today's pages with doodles that look like the work of an obsessive-compulsive on speed. Maybe I am mad enough to be discovered by Charles Saatchi? Then I could pay for an architect to build me a retreat from all this. I may save these doodles for posterity - although I'll have to black out the various swear words I also seem to have scrawled across the pages.

*CPN - Community Psychiatric Nurse


  1. Molly, I'm gutted. You know loads of us were on tenterhooks waiting to hear of your escapades with ID of GOC. Now we'll have to be satisfied with seeing Phil Mitchell and the old slapper on Eastenders drugged up and naked on the floor together - and that's not half as interesting or fun....

    New twist to the plot though - could the offending tasteless earring possibly be the property of Annoying Ellen?

  2. Aargh, no! The thought that it could be Ellen's earring is too horrible to contemplate. Though if she does ever meet The Boss, anything is possible.

    The Russian fires rather put the dampener on our smaller fire, though I haven't told Johnny never, just that I am not bloody well trekking to Heathrow at his beck and call. Can't help feeling he forgot I wasn't a member of his staff when he started making unilateral decisions.

    Re Eastenders, I never watch it these days - though I always quite fancied Phil Mitchell, (or do I mean Grant?) I hope Johnny and I would have been more dignified than that, though ;-)

  3. Fair enough. Though you don't want to get sacked as his bit on the side before you've even sampled the fringe benefits. LOL.

    Have you checked with IPSA about the rules for selling Psychotic Richard's artwork? We could do with a talented artist sending in something marketable to help pay the gas bill. We still haven't got the facility to claim against the CORE budget - and they don't seem able or willing to tell us why, despite numerous letters, e-mails and phone calls.

    Do tell us all some of your anecdotes about dealing with IPSA - they would be laughable if they weren't costing 6 million quid!

  4. True.....the fringe benefits appeared to be being eroded with his latest plan, though ;-) Shall see what he suggests next.

    Hadn't thought of selling Richard's artwork, though do have a large collection in the archive cupboard. Will see if I can find out where we'd stand! I'll let you know. Maybe we're supposed to start car-booting to cover the office costs now.....

  5. Molly, I am are so much better than a shady Heathrow airport hook-up! Make him work harder! I am sure that the ID of GOC can do better than that!

    LOVE this Blog, it is getting me through recess!

  6. Thanks - so glad you approve! Wasn't sure if I'd over-reacted, but there was just something about him just expecting me to get there and wait around like a starched fart that just p*ssed me off big-time!

    Glad to be helping with the undoubted trauma that is Recess, too! Less than 4 weeks left - and counting.....;-)