On a high from visiting the mood-enhancing Ellsworth Kelly exhibition in The Serpentine Gallery (I love galleries all of a sudden), with time to kill on a sunny day and a vague desire for a bitter row about something I don’t know or care about much with a total stranger, I thought I’d see what Speaker’s Corner looked like up close, as whenever I’ve been past on the bus it’s looked pretty lively. Unfortunately for me, last Saturday afternoon about half past three there was only one person there standing on or anywhere near an upturned crate: a very cranky-looking man with his mouth shut glaring at some tourists who were taking his photo for some reason (I seem to remember that they were Chinese).
We had the following exchange:
Me (feeling all full of springy cheekiness, having noticed that he is looking very pissed indeed): If you’re supposed to be one of those statues that doesn’t move, you’re not doing very well!
Him (scowling like George Monbiot would if he’d just heard that the Government had announced their decision to allow Tesco’s to take over Sainsbury’s): Piss Off!
Me (shocked): Whaat?!
Him (turning away with despair and contempt grinding his teeth): You’re stupid.
Me (still half-hoping for a proper argument, but fearing a row): How do you know that?
At which point he just stared into the middle distance and presumably dreamt of death, or drink, or both.
I might one day write a really long, boring wander around the keyboard containing my theories about addiction, but I’m not much of an expert in this field, I think. But I am starting to realise that I suffer (and suffer) from theory addiction. I also discovered that I really admire pure theorists, people who devote 99.5% of their time to Thinking About Things, and then Talking To People With Similar Or Opposing Ideas, like, you know, Brian Eno, or Momus, but not Bongo off of U2, the Pope or Noam Chomsky. I think I’ve met two such people recently (they’re easy to spot, they wear glasses, presumably because of nights spent reading absolutely everything on a very very long reading list).
(Sorry, when I said I’d met two such people recently, I was meaning the two intellectual types, I haven’t met the Pope or any of those other people at all recently. Although I did have a right old chinwag en portugay with Caetano Veloso on Saturday, so, you know, ¡Toma!).
I myself am not any kind of full-time student, alas, or at least not yet. Too, you know, busy with … stuff. Like … the gym! Ho ho ho. But I have developed a newfound fascination with hugely ambitious but clearly very insane Modernist-inspired Architecture (I have a kind of love-hate relationship with the Barbican) and a recent interest in town planning. Some one is responsible for the fact that Britain, uniquely for a a post-industrial society, has medaeival (?!) castles flying the standards of Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s strategically positioned throughout the land with great tactical military acumen. Ahem. But maybe too much thinking about how I’d redesign the city exposes previously hidden meglamaniacal tendencies reminiscent of Hitler, or maybe just Rick out of The Young Ones.
Imagine a degree course where you weren’t allowed to read any books! A bit like living in China, really, maybe.