memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Posts tagged ‘painting’

Between you, me and the gatepost, dear

You might not believe this but I have little better to do after lunch than to come up here to my atélier that I’ve made for myself in the book-museum, which is situated (open-plan) directly above and separated from/by a waist-high parapet to/from the entrance and reception area.

So I’m obliged to concentrate a fraction of my attention in ignoring the mind-bogglingly uninteresting and unwanted information and opinions often expressed in ringing/rasping tones beneath me (gobby cows).

Another smallish part of my brain is occupied with a new sketch/painting;

A while ago I gave up searching for a new style – this isn’t an Art Course after all; so I curve the curves and colour the colours in my usual self-indulgent fashion.

STAGE 1

There was a teacher, I remember, in the school in Lisbon all those years ago, middle-aged, pleasant and with the forceful delivery of a person born and bred in Dublin.

If she had a fault it was that she was frankly a bit of gossip; she would lure one into a corner of the staffroom and start in a loud whisper with the words: between you, me and the gate-post, dear …

STAGE 2

Tomorrow is the 8th birthday of the Home so the Bishop and other nobs are visiting us plebs for lunch (different food, mind you – reminds me irresistibly of the prefects and masters troughing away at The High Table, raised up on a dais in the Refectory at school).

Eight years, eh – between you, me and the gate-post, dear it looks and feels like rather more …

STAGE 3

Between you, me and the gate-post, dear, I sometimes get sick of living in an Old People’s Home and wish I lived in a Young People’s Home instead.

What a commotion down there!

Mouthy mares!

STAGE 4

Back in my room now and I’m watching the dénoument of Amanda’s trial in Italy – what a result!

I think I’ll name the painting after her.

AMANDA ACQUITTED – PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

The man who kills goldfish with his thoughts

There’s really much to write about this subject except that my physiotherapist has developed an idée fixe over the years that whenever I think about any goldfish, it dies.

I think that she is making a rather drastic confusion between cause and effect.

I dearly wish I had that mental power – there would no flies on me anymore. I wouldn’t restrict my zapping powers to mere goldfish; I would have other fish to fry. I would extend it other creatures; I would attend a Harry Potter-style academy and work my way up the food chain. I would achieve a BA (Black Arts) then an MBA (Master of the Black Arts) and finally a PhD (What’s it All About, Alfie?)

I would become a Prince of Darkness.

I would then change my identity and appearance, but I wouldn’t go for the George Clooney/Brad Pitt look, rather I’d choose that guy in Patrick Susskind’s novel Perfume (must reading, by the way) you know, the pervy little alchemist who could become invisible at will. (Oh, and while you’re at it, lop off a couple of decades from my age, will ya?)

Then I would sally forth and hire myself out to all the Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chancellors, Dictators, Czars, Sheiks, Kings, Absolute Monarchs, Autocrats and Nutters with cash to spare.

I would become all the rich and powerful megalomaniacs of the world’s worst enemies’ nightmare. I would become a millionaire, a billionaire, a trillionaire.

I would be taken up to a high place and shown all the Aston-Martins, Rolex waches, private yachts, trophy wives, (trophy mistresses), Armani suits, i-pads, i-phones, i-gots, i-think therefore i-am hand-me-down religions of the World and ask Him:

–          OK, now what’s the deal?

But all this is based on the hypothesis that I am the man who kills goldfish with his thoughts.

I’m not.

But I must confess to thinking of her wretched fish some years ago – long enough to write this little sketch.

Scene – A tank in the kitchen of Angela’s house.

1# goldfish – Ooh look! There’s Angela.

2# goldfish – Ooh look! She’s having her breakfast.

3# goldfish – Ooh look! Here Angela’s mum to say hurry up or you’ll be late for work!

Later, about mid-morning – and here comes the sad part – the fish, perhaps unable to bear the excitement of life in Angela’s kitchen or simply feeling unequal to the struggle for existence, gently and gracefully expire.

When Angela’s mum comes back from the shops she notices that the fish have died. Oh dear, she thinks, Angela will be a bit upset – I know, I’ll break it to her gently.

Later Angela comes home from work. Her mum says:

–              Hello dear, how was your day?

–              Not bad.

–              Listen, I’m afraid I’ve got a bit of bad news.

–              What?

–              Well, let’s put it this way, you don’t have to bother to feed the goldfish this evening.

–              Why not? Has Dad been feeding them again?

–              No, it’s because they’re dead.

Angela feels annoyed. Those damned fish keep on dying on me, she thinks. I know I’ll go this Saturday to the pet-shop to make a complaint.

Saturday, at the pet shop:

–              Good morning Madam, what can I do for you? Some piranha fish… a nice little shark… perhaps an albatross….?

–              I’ve come to make a complaint. Those goldfish that you sold me last weekend have already died!

–              No they’re not dead, they’re only sleeping.

–              Sleeping! They have not moved for days!

–              Yes these Oriental fish like to hibernate sometimes…

–              Look, they are dead! They’ve gone to that great fish-tank in the sky! They have shuffled off their mortal coil! They have kicked the bucket! They have cashed in their chips! They are deceased…. They are ex-fish… they are DEAD!

–              Well if you’re sure… would you like three more?

Angela goes next door to the café and has a soothing cup of coffee to calm down

THE MAN WHO KILLS GOLDFISH WITH HIS THOUGHTS

(Those who can, do; those who can’t, blog)

The Umbrella II

Being an umbrella represents a serious demotion – I must have blotted my copy-book quite disastrously in my previous existence. I’m being held high in the right hand of a young woman, my owner, who’s using me presumably to protect her face from the sun.

(Why pick on me, I’d whined to the President of the Immortals. He ignored my question. As an umbrella, he instructed me, your function will be to open and close, sheltering your owner from the rain or the sun: it’s hardly rocket science; think you can handle it?)

Back to the young woman, she’s strolling along a promenade in the company of her mother. It’s a sunny but windy day, late afternoon judging by the long shadows and probably somewhere by the sea. In my previous existence I would have judged her to be attractive, but now I am just an umbrella devoid of all such cognitive values. I am like one those cute little mechanical androids in a kids’ cartoon, jerking and chirping, comical and essentially lovable; or better like one of those super-computers guiding the spaceship to a distant star, to whom the human crew, assuming an intellectual superiority which they don’t really possess, based on having emotions and the ability to act illogically, give terse instructions, check out the navigation system K4 or fancy a game of chess K4 … until K4 sinisterly starts straying from its program, demonstrating first resentment then rage and finally self- destructs, the ship imploding in space …. I listen in on the conversation:

–              Where to next? I’m dying to sit down somewhere for a coffee; we’ve been shopping all afternoon and we still haven’t found a wedding present for Luisa …

–               As for the present for your half-sister’s wedding, it’s tricky isn’t it, I mean they’re already living together; now there’s someone whose creepy, her husband-to-be, that Pete!

–              It’s not his fault he’s lost his job. Anyway he’s just joining the other three million or so who will unemployed by the end of the year. Luisa says he’s thinking of applying to be retrained as a teacher, of Social Communications for example …

–              A teacher! A teacher of How-to-Cheat-People-out-of-their Life-Savings, more like.

–              Oh, let’s stop arguing and go in here; I’m going to have a coffee and one of those delicious cakes, what about you mum, after all we are on holiday aren’t we … I wonder how dad is getting on with his fishing; he probably hasn’t caught a single trout yet.

–              Don’t be so mean. Now, how about this resolution to limit yourself to only one coffee a day?

Laughing, mother and daughter enter the café and, folding me up, Chrissie dumps me in the bin by the door adding me to two other rather dubious-looking umbrellas.

As I am unable to hear the rest of their conversation, I continue my reveries. Chrissie’s mum’s comment about coffee reminded of an incident in my previous existence. As a young man teaching English in Portugal I met a Columbian girl called Ana with whom I struck up a friendship. We used to meet about once a week after work in a bar at the bottom of the Avenida. She invariably drank a small strong coffee, (she was running along comfortably on about six or seven of these a day).  One day I casually mentioned that if I drank coffee at that hour I’d be unable to get to sleep. Anyway the next time that I saw her, she had smudges under her eyes and confessed that she’d been having difficulties in sleeping since we last met. Now the power of suggestion …

But I see Chrissie and her mum threading their way towards me: she plucks me from the bin without stopping and emerges from the café, not opening me but dangling me loosely from her wrist. (They’re still discussing the wedding):

–              One thing I am concerned about is what they are going to live on. Luisa has her job as a nurse at the hospital, but when the baby comes along and she’s on maternity benefit and Pete is going to get some form of social welfare …

–              Anyway they’ve made their bed so they’ll just have to lay on it … you just concentrate on your finals Chrissie … look; we’ve got to make a decision about their present. There was an art shop back there, let’s check it out; Luisa likes that kind of thing doesn’t she? 

They enter the shop. It’s the usual eclectic mix of paintings, some unassuming, some pretentious and some veering towards local artisan work, but most moderately priced – people don’t go on holiday to invest in art.

–              I’ve an idea for them – something modern but discreet … hey mum, how about this one? (This one is a large framed print signed by Bridget Riley – a simple abstract with rectangular blocks of colour – greens and yellows: good choice, I think – but then what do I know? I’m only the umbrella). I think they might like this one; it’s a limited series and would look good in their living room … 120 Euros, seems reasonable … (go for it, I think, it’s a good investment) … what do think mum? Would it do as a suitable wedding present?

–              Yes I suppose so, I don’t know much about it – could we have it gift-wrapped, please – of course your father and I are giving them money …

They leave the shop, the picture under Chrissie’s arm (she having handed me to her mother) and stroll back to their hotel. They enter the lobby and approach the desk for their keys. They go upstairs to wash and wait for dad to come back from his fishing trip.

Chrissie collapses me, neatly folding me again and puts me to sleep in my plastic cover.

I dream again. I dream that I am a wind-hover riding effortlessly on the thermals. I am the heroic dog vigorously shaking myself dry scattering drops in all directions after rescuing the drowning child. I am the monstrous and deformed crustacean lurking on the deep sea-floor. I am one the Norwegian banners flouting the sky and fanning our people cold. I am the fox-driven fire devouring the wheat-lands…

But I am only an umbrella protecting a girl from the sun and rain … could be worse I suppose.

MASKS - PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

 

Amanda Acquitted

You might not believe this but I have little better to do after lunch than to come up here to my little atélier that I’ve made for myself in the book-museum, which is situated (open-plan) directly above and separated from/by a waist-high parapet to/from the entrance and reception area. So I’m obliged to concentrate a fraction of my attention in ignoring mind-bogglingly uninteresting and unwanted information and opinions often expressed in ringing tones beneath me (gobby cows).

Another smallish part of my brain is occupied with a new sketch/painting; (a while ago I gave up searching for a new style – this isn’t an Art Course after all; so I curve the curves and colour the colours in my usual self-indulgent fashion).

STAGE 1

There was a teacher, I remember, in the school in Lisbon all those years ago, middle-aged, pleasant and with the forceful delivery of a person born and bred in Dublin; if she had a fault it was that she was, frankly, a bit of gossip; she would lure one into a corner of the staffroom and start in a loud whisper with the words: between you, me and the gate-post, dear …

STAGE 2

Tomorrow is the 8th birthday of the Home so the Bish and other nobs are visiting us plebs for lunch (different food, mind you – reminds me irresistibly of the prefects and masters troffing away at The High Table, raised up on a dais in the Refectory at school).

Eight years, eh – between you, me and the gate-post, dear it looks and feels like rather more …

STAGE 3

Between you, me and the gate-post, dear, I sometimes get sick of living in an Old People’s Home and wish I lived in a Young People’s Home instead. What a commotion down there! Mouthy mares!

STAGE 4

Back in my room now and I’m watching the dénoument of Amanda’s trial in Italy – what a result! I think I’ll name the painting after her.

AMANDA ACQUITTED - PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

The Invisible Exhibition

picture of paintings by Thomas Milner

Photo of exhibition

Since Thursday there has been a little show of my paintings up in the entrance hall. So far, not only has no one commented on them, but I don’t believe that anyone has even noticed them. I do believe that I’ve discovered the formula for producing an invisible painting. What you do is the following: first you contrive your life in such a way as to end up in an Old People’s Home full of nice, but culturally innocent, inmates. Then you take your brush in your right hand and apply various coloured tinctures on a prepared surface (usually paper) to form a design – a series of lines, shades and shapes, which might result in a «painting». Repeat this periodically over several months and then, and this is the tricky part, get someone to group them together and display them on a large stand in the entrance hall. And there you have it – invisible paintings (painted by an invisible man).

%d bloggers like this: