Last week I half promised a glimpse of Sophie and the unicorn, but I am not sure they are yet fit to be seen. Instead I offer two little items I think are worth looking at, for their curiosity value if nothing else, and perhaps for the verses I have just composed to go with them. (The acting job, by the way, is not quite a deal yet so the less said the better.)
I went to the Turner exhibition again and, unlike last time, didn’t feel the need to sit down once. Canaletto’s famous painting of ‘The Bacino di San Marco on Ascension Day’ (c.1733-4) drew my attention; just now I am looking at the reproduction in the splendid book published for the exhibition. Canaletto must have depicted hundreds of people in this painting, tiny figures on the gallery of the Doge’s Palace, the crowds of finely dressed people in the square, a whole cargo of grandees on a giant gilded gondola, but peripheral to the great event, yet central to the picture and in the foreground, is a rowing boat containing five men, drifting to a mooring. The men might almost be stagehands, waiting to serve the magnificence of the scene, but detached from it. Somehow, once one has spotted them, they become more alive on this Ascension Day than any of the celebrants, and their undramatic story more fascinating. I see that the picture is on loan from the Royal Collection at Windsor. I once performed at Windsor Castle, narrating a Gilbert and Sullivan concert – Iolanthe – along with Donald Sinden; if I ever get a return gig, I will be sure to take a look in the Grand Corridor and to renew my acquaintance with these commoners, these five immortal mortals.
Two Limericks for THE ONLY
My beachcomber's lucky technique
Discovered this fragment: unique!
It was found at low tide
Near the Tate at Bankside
'Found Art' - or is that too oblique?
Oh 'Only begotten' pip-squeak
(I'm serious, not tongue in cheek)
Semi-precious of gems!
Cast ashore by the Thames
How I value your modest mystique.
You were not the only pebble on the beach
That's the lesson that our elders used to teach
Though your gaze suggests a soul
It's delusion: rock and roll
And acts of God can surely put you out of reach.