Chuck? That must be Chuck Woww the Bangkok writer. It was a few days after the snowstorm when he came into my bar. I’d heard about him of course but we’d never actually met. Nice looking bloke I must admit. Bit like George Clooney but not so smug. He ordered a beer and introduced himself. Then he came to the point. Would I keep a few copies of his book in the bar? We could go 50/50 on sales. I said sure. We got talking about literature and he made a suggestion. I must hear lots of anecdotes and meet lots of characters he said….why not write a book?
Bollocks to that I said. But it was flattering in a way I must admit. I did agree to do a bit of narrating for him.
Some of you may be waiting for Miss Perfect Part 3. I’ll post it in due course but before I do I notice I’ve left Simon and Arthur dangling back in 1966. They are on their way to Indica Gallery for an art opening. You won't believe what happens next.
They stroll together up Horseferry Road and across St. James Park to Mason’s Yard, a small square tucked behind Jermyn Street. The gallery itself is small, not much more than a shopfront, with people wandering in and out. Inside a Japanese girl has set up some exhibits. There’s an all-white chess set, an apple called ‘Apple’ priced at 200 pounds, quite expensive Arthur thinks, and a white board with nails in it with a sign inviting visitors to have a bash. Something is happening here but he isn’t sure what it is. Dashing young gallery owner John Dunbar, tailored Levis, collarless shirt, waistcoat and granny glasses, explains…
“Yoko is a friend of John Cage. She came over from New York with her husband to make a film about bums. Bottoms I should say. There was a happening here a few weeks back…she had some people cut her clothes off with scissors.”
“So they can see her bottom?”
“Not exactly Simon. More a case of communicating her internal suffering through her art I think. Or you could see it as a commentary on identity if you like. Gender, sexism that kind of thing.”
“Sounds a bit heavy.” Simon has his notebook out.
“Not really. This new work is very playful. It’s conceptual, to do with events, Zen. Hang on, I’ll get you a press release.”
In the center of the gallery is a ladder leading up to a black canvas. Arthur looks up and sees a magnifying glass attached by a chain. What’s the idea he wonders. Are you supposed to climb up? Feeling adventurous Arthur decides to have a go. He climbs up the ladder until he can look through the magnifying glass at some small letters on the ceiling. The letters say “Y E S.” Yes. A very positive message. So why does some nasty little voice at the back of his mind say no?
Simon seems to know a lot of people at the opening. He obviously enjoys it. Arthur watches him in action, chatting with fashionable friends and other arty types, a Beatle or two. It’s all a bit much. He feels completely out of place. To Arthur it just seems phony and pretentious, nothing to do with art. He mutters something to Simon about being in touch then he’s off to Victoria Station to be reabsorbed into the anonymous multitudes.