“My dad’s got the fattest prick she’s ever seen and when he ....puts it up her ass it pops out as clean as a whistle”. The group pondered this sentence and we were left wondering what it was about this cock heavy book that so inspired AC to choose it. “Don’t you see” said Milly “these cocks and blow jobs aren’t to turn us on, they’re to show us how anaesthetised he is on heroin”. Watching AC grinding her thighs together with saliva dribbling down her lip, I was left unconvinced.
I glanced around at the other girls and could see it was having a contagious effect. Ian was looking very uncomfortable. I was keen to turn the conversation to something more appropriate. “What did the title “Horse Latitudes” mean? The group stared at me a moment, clearly anaesthetised. After what felt like an age, Michelle answered “well horse is another word for heroin”. Thank god, I had just recovered the situation. “And latitudes are the metaphorical scars” pointed out AC. “I thought it reflected his mind drifting, in the same way that it read like a stream of consciousness” enthused Mary.
We were assembled in the convivial surroundings of Michelle’s lovely flat, enjoying the sunshine on her South facing terrace, sipping our white wine; ostensibly part of the chattering classes but in fact something quite different. Mention must be made of Michelle’s curry chicken: it was sublime.
But did we like the book? A book printed by a small publishing house about a man’s experience of drugs and prison. The consensus was a resounding “Yes”! We all appreciated the photos of his art. For me a book with pictures is like a book without long words; it appeals to my other side. His paintings moreover were a sign that he had overcome his addiction; as Mary said, they had become his redemption. That’s not to say it was without its faults. Michelle wanted to know why he had become an addict and there was all round frustration that he kept on falling off the drug wagon. Whilst we all liked the photos, our resident publisher Milly Harris pointed out you couldn’t publish a book with these photos; it simply wouldn’t make money. When it comes to literature, Milly knows her stuff. In fact the book reminded her of “Chocolate Orange”. We all nodded in agreement, not quite sure of the book but it certainly sounded familiar.
All this intellectual talk was taking its toll and I could see the girls were becoming bored and were so to speak, drying up. Someone perked up enthusiastically “why do male prostitutes get sucked off as opposed to sucking off? Surely the punter would want it the other way round”. The floodgates opened and they all started talking enthusiastically, much like a field of cows when a studly bull rocks up. Ian started looking anxiously at the door. Oh God, it was happening again. “The exhibition” I cried, “the exhibition, what about the exhibition?” Aware that you can at any moment get kicked out of The Kensal Review for not being intellectual enough, minds reluctantly focused on the subject at hand. Ian mopped his brow; another narrow escape.
The art in question was by Moyra Davey at the Camden Arts Centre. The gallery described her as working “across photography, film and writing to create intimate, flâneur-like visual essays.... towards the overlooked discards and detritus of daily life”. As I walked around with Mary, my art companion, I saw plenty of detritus and pondered why we chose to see this exhibition? Lara who wasn’t feeling well and not her normal self confessed she too found it “uninspiring”.
Ian asked “why mail her art to the gallery”? Depending on your orientation, you either thought this was a novel, interesting way to present your work or just a gimmicky piece of exhibitionism. But some of us did really like it, especially Juliet and AC. As I reflected on the exhibition, I recalled some photos of naked women from the 1980’s. Photos with a lot of hairy muff. And then like a lightning bolt, it hit me in the head. Our founder’s swing swings in both directions with a healthy, flexible approach to life. That was it, the choice of exhibition made perfect sense after all.