Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lies The Liars Tell

Before I forget, here’s one of the Soho meet-and-not-so-great-greets I was talking about before.

In the mid 1980s I went to art school. It wasn’t what I really wanted to do. What I wanted to do, I didn’t have the confidence/guts to do. And it was about the time my parents left home, so it was complicated.

Art school was the final viable option. A friend in the year below once said, “In the 1980s, if you didn’t know what to do with your life, you trained to be a graphic designer.” Which is what I did.

Midway through the arts foundation year, groups of us started checking out various degree courses. I figured London was the place to go. Out of the London art schools we out-of-towners checked out, I chose An Esteemed School of Art, applied and got in. Which was a shock to me. And would soon be an even bigger shock to the tutors who accepted me.

I did the three years. If I remember rightly, it was suggested within the first couple of months that I might like to transfer to a different course. After that they tried a more concerted effort. But I hung in there.

Within a week on the course, I’d figured out their bullshit. The Esteemed School of Art obviously had a good reputation but the tutors were all to comfortably resting on their laurels. I turned up ever day, hunkered down, mainly ignored the set projects and wrote.

Skip forward a couple years after graduation. By then I’d been suckered into animation, got out for the first time, and had spent a summer travelling. Back in London, walking from A to B, I cut through Soho. No sooner am I within the boundary then I see, across the street, this guy who I think might have been in the year below me at the Esteemed School of Art.

There were a shit load of kids taken in each year, and I really wasn’t interested in any of them unless they had long legs and great tits. Though I recognised him from somewhere, it didn’t stop me from carrying on my way. Except... he saw me. His eyes suddenly lit up and he started coming at me like a guided missile.

Pretty soon tourists were staring wide-eyed as they hurried past, watching some poor sap (me) suddenly accosted by this Deranged Maniac (him). Flattened against the wall of a theatre, I was subjected to this near incoherent rambling that spewed out of him about how his life sucked because the tutors had lied to him!

Apparently, as students of The Esteemed School of Art, we were supposed to be the Chosen Ones. Really? I suppose our year was given the same pep talk but I had tuned out.

As students of The Esteemed School of Art we would sail into high-paying and all-powerful jobs upon graduation. We would stand proud with the world at our feet! We were the Chosen Ones, after all. Of course.

Some students had sailed in to top jobs and, perhaps albeit briefly, produced spectacular work. But they were good when they first came through the door at ESA. What the Deranged Maniac hadn’t noticed was how the tutors immediately hitched their wagons to the cream of the crop’s stars, so they could look back and say, “Ah, one of mine, of course.”

The more mediocre students were left to struggle along on their own for three years. Whether they sank or swam was their responsibility. Obviously not one of the star students, the Deranged Maniac had bought into their speech of conquest and glory. And three years down the line reality had reeled back and punched him square on the nose.

From what I could make out he was scraping by doing menial studio work. They might not have been in the right order, but I’m pretty sure those three words surfaced amongst the spit and bile. Around which time I peeled myself off the wall and more or less made a run for it calling out “I sympathise with you. Really. Take care. Don’t be a stranger!”

Nice little sidebar headline in The Times today:

The organisers of Madrid Fashion Week have said they will banish skinny women from the catwalk - and will send those who are too thin for medical treatment.

About. Fecking. Time. Take those skeletons wrapped in skin and get a pie inside them.


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