Alert readers will know that the Golden Bar was Arthur’s favorite watering hole. (For a more thorough description see More Novel Ideas) He spent many hours sitting there staring at the street. The closure has put him in something of a quandary. What to do? He could have a nap but he just had one. How about an email check. There may be something from Simon.
He enters an internet café/laundry/massage parlour and sits down at an empty monitor. You have to be careful in these places. That innocent looking young Thai at the desk is an accomplished hacker. He will be into your bank account in a minute given half a chance.
There’s the usual cross section of online humanity. Thai kids playing Grand Theft Auto. A Swedish rasta playing bongos. Compulsive communicators working on their travel blogs. The girl at the next desk is up to something too. Talking to her farang boyfriend most likely and giving him an update on her precarious financial situation.
As for the email itself it’s the usual mish-mash. Mostly spam. Nigerians giving away money, free Viagra. Nothing from Simon. Arthur decides to do a bit of web surfing. Then he spots a message from Charles Saatchi.
Somehow Arthur must have got himself onto Charles Saatchi's mailing list because he’s invited to his new show of paintings! Paintings you gasp!?! Yes paintings. It seems Charlie has had enough of pickled sharks and Tracey Emin's love life.
Arthur may be just a useless old alcoholic but that doesn't mean he doesn’t try to pin down the Zeitgeist. Charlie's shows are always interesting, pointing, as they do, to future directions, and he would like to accept his kind invitation, but tell the truth London isn't very high on his list of holiday destinations at the moment. Nothing to do with the bombings and such. He’s British after all. And he was born in London during the Blitz so don't tell him about bombs. He’s as stoical, defiant, resolved and resilient as the next bloke, but he just can't relate to England anymore. Can't stand the place to be honest. Too many chavs and snotty middle-class pricks and hooligans and exploding wogs and Roumanian plumbers. Too many everybody. All lovely people of course..but there’s just so bloody many of them. Arthur gets his news from the BBC. He prefers to watch it play out on TV anyway. Also it clashes with his other interests. Beer and meditation.
But he does take the trouble of doing a bit of long-distance research on these paintings of Charlie's. Turns out they're all about ends. The end of communism, the end of art, the end of the internet, the end of the world for all I know. We are living in the end times according to Saatchi’s new crop of young artists and who is Arthur to argue with that. He’s certainly winding down himself. Getting to the end of his rope you could say. Not that the Thai girls are too bothered. They still smile and call him Papa and hope for a good tip. The end of painting? That started dying a long slow death with Picasso so it's been ending for a long time. Saatchi's got a good eye and he keeps up with what's going on. Perhaps he knows something the rest of us don't. One thing's for sure...he knows how to flog paintings. If he puts them in his gallery somebody will buy them.
Enough internet for one day thinks Arthur. It’s a Tower of Babel. Nap time.
(Incidentally I see Jonathan Jones has been having second thoughts about Tracey so perhaps I should too. Don't want to get left behind. He is particularly enamoured of her luxury penis bracelet.)