Monday, February 05, 2007

Confessions of a trichophile

The long and the short of it is
that even my visits to the barber
are trimmed according to demands of work.
One aesthetic battles with another
under the occam's razor of art.

And so to George's in the Peckham Road
which I first patronised in 1962
(a qualifier then for student rates)
there to be shorn by George (the son of George,
himself a son of that eponymous George
who served me long ago).
He now snips off
a pensioner's percentage from the bill.

Scissorwork done, the mirror is flashed
the gown whisked off.
Then George who knows the ritual
sweeps up my shearings lock by lock
and (to the surprise of other customers)
wraps them in yesterday’s Sun.

Clutching my red top reliquary
I hurry to the studio
where on a dedicated table
crowded with bowls and jars
a dark receptacle
(courtesy of Tesco’s microwave meals)
awaits replenishment;
material for morning toil to come.

So on this normal morning
my Gandhi hour begins the working day
a time for tweezers and rumination
sorting out one by one
the white hairs from the black.

I long ago discovered
that though my hair would be described as grey
there's no grey hair to sort.
Nature the pointillist
makes an optic mix
changing the proportion with the years
(I'm running 60/40 now:
black hair still in the lead).

I'd wear my hair short
if I had the choice

but art that shapes my ends
delays delilah-time.

And all this to what purpose?
Why tennis balls and skulls?

A postcard stapled to my studio wall
shows Titian's Allegory of Prudence
[so loosely painted with such enviable ease];
a man of middle years
flanked by a younger self and self grown old
plus emblematic animals and moral text.

Also in the studio
casts of skulls
variously covered in paint, mud,
orange peel, or fragments of a humument.

Humument Skull, 1986.

Now three such skulls
entirely clad in my own hair
one black one white
and one in salt and pepper mix
will stand (when I have finished them)
for Titian's heads.

Instead of his symbolic beasts
I seek a metaphor
that might less gravely mark
the frittered past.
Macbeth is on my mind and Eliot
with coffee spoons and
all our yesterdays
and summers gone whose sunlit tournaments
(together with the Oval Test)
have measured out my life.

...., and all our wimbledons
have lighted fools the way to dusty death.

Enough of hair... but wait
I'll also have a hat before I'm through
If I can use my hoard for making felt
to fashion a fedora [beuys will be beuys]:
recycled life to adorn its place of birth.

1 comment:

Mike C. said...

Remarkable, the way the creative impulse can percolate so deeply into a life. Can't figure out whether this is a curse or a blessing.

Mark you, I have just cleaned the hair from our bathroom plugholes, and this has foregrounded the queasy element here. I note that there is a button on this blog labelled "Flag Blog", which is for notifying Blogger of "objectionable content on this page"; I say no more ...