Here’s a strange one. I’m not sure what to make of it even though I painted it. It just bubbled up from the black swamp of my subconscious.
It might have been a conversation I witnessed on a radio scanner many years ago. I used to have a CB radio when the craze came to Britain from America (you must remember the film Convoy.) The CB was all a bit public but you could earwig the odd private conversation. Many years later I upgraded to a Unidem scanner where I listened to police, pilots and taxis (I’ll never forgot the police rushing to a house in Droylsden where five big bruisers had alighted from a car with baseball bats had been seen kicking in someone’s door.)
In those days cordless phones were becoming popular and you could pick up one side of a conversation. There were many slushy romantic conversations but others more memorable for their grief: a woman who had epileptic fits every day was sobbing uncontrollably to her mother that she couldn’t live like this, another where a man was telling his girl-friend he would jump off Glossop viaduct if he dumped her (he had taken some pills or was drunk by the sounds of it) and another fiery exchange between a couple. This is the one I remember; it went on for about thirty minutes and was better than watching The A Team or Happy Days.
The woman was ranting with fury as he had obviously been seeing her sister. She was almost spitting larva she was that angry. In an attempt to atone for his mistakes he said he was going to stab himself. If this was a ploy to appease her it didn’t work. She was hollering things like, “Well do it - go and do it now - I’ll wait!” and “If I was there I’d do it myself!” and “I hope the slut’s pregnant and you all die in a fire,” and - what I remember most - “I don’t give a toss and I won’t be booking a day off work for your funeral!” I don’t know….
Its not the kind of painting you would hang over your lounge mantle piece but I’m not one for painting horses ploughing sun-kissed fields. I like those old telephones so I put one in there. The woman is hardly worried about the man’s actions though I’m guessing she’s bothered about how to remove the blood from the carpet. I put a cigarette in her mouth at first but she looked a bit common so I transferred it to her hand. She’s not reacting to his actions except for turning round.
As I was painting it I called it, “The Things We Do For Love,” but I needed a title that showed they’d endured an intense helter-skelter history. As you can see I donned a suit and took a quick photo of myself to help painting the man with the wound. He’s thrown the knife down and it’s stuck in the carpet.