Artful Dodging


Occasionally I do get jerked out of my solipsistic reverie. Sometimes an external event or person will be so interesting that I wonder if perhaps they don’t trump my verruca in the game of Universally Fascinating.

On reflection, Noel Fielding’s art exhibition could well be one of those trumps, but unfortunately I must confess that I haven’t much to add to the general conversation. Several reasons for this: 1. Art scares me. I look at it, and I tilt my head a bit, cultivate a contemplative air. If truly panicked I might even make a small noise. I have friends who are arty. The usual manqué sprinkling, of course, who went to art college before deciding to do other things, but also real, genuine, slap-it-on-the-canvas successful artists who make a living at it. However, manqué or making it, they are certainly all able to muster up a response that goes a bit further than the whistling and roaring that fills 90% of my head. (The next 5% of head space is wondering whether the dry pellet of idiocy I’m about to choke up will make people delete my number; the last 5% I keep back for motor skills.)

2. Famous people scare me. Somehow they stop being real and become ur-, with their famous mates, and shepherd’s pie in Primrose Hill and conversations 20 times more scintillating than I could come up with. I know they’re just like us really, though given my endless drivelling on about foot fungus I wouldn’t be so sure.

3. Enclosed spaces scare me. Fielding’s exhibition is on at Maison Bertaux and when I arrived, through the gay and topless Pride throng (that’s throng with an r), I was a little flurried. Couldn’t spot my mate who was helping organise it, so thought I’d better shuffle on in and have a look. Downstairs to a tiny, hot room, to queue to get into what was presumably an even smaller, hotter room. More people came down the stairs. Someone arrived with a vast tray of Maison Bertaux goodies and couldn’t get far, so the exit was blocked — admittedly by cheese puffs and dinky éclairs (horror/delight mashup), but the fear was on me. I could feel the snorts and eye-rolling not far off, which is when I decided to get back up the stairs and into the air before I started bellowing and goring passers-by.

Within a couple of minutes I had beached at a table outside the Coach & Horses, and spent the evening watching the merrie masses and eyeing famous people from a distance. There were lots of Mighty Booshers there, as you would expect, and Julian Barratt’s partner, Julia Davis. Here she is in clips from Human Remains, which she devised with Rob Brydon. The woman’s a genius.


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