Sunday, 4 May 2014

Tales from Tickleford Gully

Scene: the public bar of The Corn Poppy, Tickleford Gully, earlier this evening.

A:  Evening.

B:  Quiet in here tonight.

A:  Aye.  That's the way I like it.  You should have been here last night. Bedlam!  Full of city folks and arty farty types.  It was like that time when Madonna moved into Tickleford Gully.

B:  Madonna? That was before my time.

A:  Aye, a year or two back.  She moved in to the Big House on the hill, Weston Towers. 

B:  Right

A:  Then she booked the church for a blessing for her parrot or something.  Brought all her friends and cronies in from that London and from Hollywood.  Bert and Gary had to come and help behind the bar - they were like kids with the keys to the toy shop - and we had to send out out to Lidl's for extra Ready Meals.  Made a killing that weekend.
B:  I'll bet.  So what happened yesterday?

A:  Well, it all started on Friday.  Some of us went out on one of Bert's magical mystery tours in his charabanc.  He just uses it as an excuse to take his wife shopping.  He dumped us in the middle of Brummagen, said "pick you up at five" and buggered off.   We wandered around for a while looking for bulls in the bullring but there weren't none.

I got lost in the market and eventually found myself at a custard factory.  Well, it said it was the Custard Factory but I couldn't see any evidence of it.  I kept on walking away from the hassle, found myself on an industrial estate.  Then I saw this notice:

It said NOTICE and then in smaller print Bill Drummond - The 25 Painitngs. 

Always been a fan of Drummond so in I went.  Funny old place, you'd think they would have tidied up a bit.  There's three big piles of books on the floor, a circle of chairs with some wool and knitting needles, a couple of timber bed frames, one with barrels under it, a desk with a couple of chairs, books, maps, shoe shine stuff.

On the walls there are maps, notices and paintings with odd words on.  Without an awareness of context they don't make much sense.  And then there's a real big deck of cards made out of 25 paintings (actually I can only count 23).

I'm looking at the walls, reading some of the notices when in comes The Artist.  "Hello Bill" I say.  There's a subtext here that says "I've followed your career since Big in Japan, got a complete set of Zoo singles, bought you a drink in 1979 after a Teardrop Explodes gig at the Nashville Rooms when none of you had any spending cash, read all your books, collected Scores, explored Penkiln Burn, monitored the ramblings of the Jamms, the KLF, the K Foundation and the rest.  45, the17, $20,000 are all on the shelf". 

Of course Bill doesn't know this and just says "Hi" politely and goes about his business, adding that he's just popping out..

I carry on looking around and see that rather than just popping out he's preparing for some painting.  So, I say, not just nipping out for lunch then.  Gamely he says I can come along.  He tells the gallery staff that he's "just going outside, I may be some time".  His quoting my namesake makes me feel quite proud.  Out we go, Bill carrying a roller and a paint pot, me carrying another pot.  Finds a site, does a spot of painting, adding to the greyness of Brum.  Some people pass by, admiring the art. A passing rasta takes some pictures on his phone, taps away, and already the work is being shared. Discussion has started. Job done, art made, conversation initiated, we return. 

When we get back Bill makes tea and coffee for everyone and says he wants to interview me.  I say yes but only if it is limited to four questions that I haven't been asked before. This is a new venture.  Interview 40 people, each for 40 minutes.  I'm (one of) the first.  Part of the concept is that the interview is a self contained event, which the interviewee can use as they want but Bill won't be using it, recording it or making a sculpture out of it.  We sit down at the desk in the gallery and start the interview.  Bill asks questions. He also puts forward his views, occasionally stopping himself to say this is your interview. Pretty soon we're talking about topics we have a shared interest in: Elvis, Dylan and the Beatles.  His favourite Dylan album is Nashville Skyline, mine is Blood on the Tracks.  He's a good bloke. 

B:  What does this have to do with how busy the Corn Poppy got last night?

A:  Well, I told a couple of people about it and showed them a picture.  They shared it; some of the people they shared it with shared it again, then some of them did too.  Some of them, tho' not all, credited the source of the picture and this site.  So there were nearly 1000 people in here last night.  Some of them were still here this morning, sleeping on the sofa.

B:  All gone now?

A:  There's just a few left.  It'll soon be back to normal.  Just you, me and the usual suspects.

B:  Thank goodness for that.  Make mine a double.  Have one for yourself.

A:  Don't mind if I do.

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