Sunday, 9 September 2007

An Invitation That Was Enough To Make Me Glad That I Didn't Go To Art School

There are very few people in the world that I don't like. If I meet someone for the first time I usually try and find some sort of redeeming quality in their character no matter how deeply hidden it is. However with some people it isn't so easy to do.
Dougie is one of those people. He's an artist. Or at least he likes to think so. Any work I've ever seen of his has been utter crap. And yes I realise appreciation for art can be a personal thing but there is art and then there is taking the piss. In the case of his work, I would say an elephant could do better. In fact elephants have. But that doesn't stop himself from saying "Hi, I'm Dougie, I'm an artist" to each and every new person he meets. He used to be an Art teacher for East Kilbride High School until he got the sack. And the phrase 'those who can't do, teach, certainly rings true in his case. Yet every time you meet him he always tells you about his latest art exhibition he's holding in some out of the way place that you can't possibly get to.
Personally I would say he's less an artist than he is a scrounger. He's never got any money for anything. Now the scrounging, that truly is an art form. He'll get you to pay for anything he wants and you won't even realise your are doing it until you are handing over the money. He'll wear you down with stories you've heard a million times before in a slow monotonous tone that sends you to sleep and he'll do so whilst walking, crawling would be a more apt description. I'm not kidding snails could pass Dougie. Dougie, being an 'artist' doesn't have a time table to keep like the rest of us, so when he walks he walks very slowly, and just for good measure will suddenly stop dead for no apparent reason. But this is all part of a plan that he's perfected over the years. While he's breaking you with his stories and his walking speed he'll take diversions into shops and without once stopping his story he'll pick things up, go up the counter and say can you get this and suddenly he'll move like he hasn't done for at least an hour, meanwhile the shopkeeper is looking at you expectingly whilst you aren't sure if you've even got enough money to pay whatever junk he's just bought. I'm wise to his game now so won't follow him into a shop but others still get caught out.
As you can tell I don't like him much at all, I've tried to find that hidden redeeming quality but as much as it pains me to say it in his case I just can't find it. Dougie is not the type of guy I would spend any time with if I could get away with it but he hangs around a couple of friends like a bad smell so sometimes I can't avoid him. Today was one of those days. I was invited over to watch the rugby, the Scotland - Portugal match was on, it sounded like fun until I knew Dougie was going to be there. It was made worse still when there was a powercut at John's house and Dougie invited us over to his to watch the game. Its kind of impossible to say no when the reason we all got together was for the game. The amazing thing was he even offered to make us something to eat. This we had to see, this would mean he would have to spend money on us.
So we went over to his house. None of us had been there before. It was a nightmare. You've never seen anything like it. It looked ok from the outside. As soon as the door opened we knew we'd made a mistake than none of us were going to make again. You couldn't get in the door for canvasses, stacked about 25 thick, leaning one of top of the other, on both walls of the hall, leaving just a narrow passageway to get in the house. We literally had to place one foot directly in front of the other just tp inch forward, which was fun seeing as there was 4 of us. It was like walking a tightrope just to get to the living room, each of us trying not to put a foot through a canvas. And the smell! Trying to walk a tightrope whilst being overpowered by the stench of cats just made it all the more difficult. That in itself was a strange one, seeing as he doesn't have any cats. Your guess is as could as mine. Finally we reached the the living room, suddenly by comparison the hall was looking immaculate now. A bigger room meant more canvasses. There is a TV in this room? We couldn't even find a place to sit. Up to our knees in crap. Papers, paint, & brushes everywhere. Finally we found the couch, a 3 seater, of which all 4 of us sat. Along with the smell of cats there was another smell to be discovered, sort of sweet n sour n musty, none of us could quite work it out. We all looked at one another, without saying a word as if we expected to find the answer of the strange smell in each others eyes. And then we heard "Do you want anything to eat..." The three of us answered in chorus "No it's ok, I'm not really hungry, couldn't eat a thing." It was like 5pm I had worked all day without eating. I was starving but I would spend a month in the Sahara walking under the midday sun before I ate or drank in this place. I'd only been in the place 15 minutes and I was feeling the need to have my stomach pumped to get rid of the toxins.
And the game? Oh that was great. Squinting at a 10 inch screen, at times we couldn't even see the ball.
As soon as the final whistle blew we all quickly made our excuses to leave. Only trouble was we'd been sitting cramped on a 3 seater couch and our legs had given up the will to live and now we had the tightrope to walk. The smell of cat piss and that other sweet n sour delight had gone to our heads, as hard as as was getting in it was harder getting out. It was like Hotel California, you can get into the place, all be it with great difficulty, but don't expect to leave. Oh but the smell of the city has never been so pure.


Just a Girl said...

That sounds horrifying! Ewww, ewww and EWWW!

Good to see that you survived.

Scotsman said...

I barely survived I think. I woke up feeling like crap this morning and couldn't figure out why until the nightmare came flooding back.

Misssy M said...

He sounds awful. That not paying for stuff thing? How come he still has friends to hang out with?

Scotsman said...

Friends may well be too strong a word. Dougie is what I would describe as a parasite, or if I'm in a generous mood, a hanger on. He attaches himself to people who are generally too nice to tell him to get lost and even then you'd probably have to punch him in order for him to get the message that his company isn't wanted.

phoenix said...

Good god he sounds awful,I take it that being a 'stuggling' artist means he's also a scrounger in the sense of not working either? The smell sounds like a combination of turps,oil paints and varnish. A lethal combination that I experienced once when visiting an artist's studio.gut wrenching!

Scotsman said...

Yes I'm afraid so he lives off the state and probably half of Glasgow for good measure.
I don't think it was oli, turps or varnish because I used to do quite a bit of art myself at one point and it didn't smell anything like the smells I was used to. But then again who the hell knows I really don't want to think about it.