Black Teardrop


I was about forty years old when I visited York for the first time alone to explore. I was on the way home from the coast and thought I'd call by and walk round the castle walls (before they started charging for it.) Since then I've called a few times, found Dick Turpin's grave and walked around the shopping area, the busy bits and quiet squares. Now when I think back it's small slithers of humanity I remember. Looking for the Turpin grave I remember the resigned look of a portly old man who was being wheeled down his garden path on a stretcher by ambulance men. His forlorn eyes met mine before he was put into the back of the ambulance and I felt a bit mean. The Minster building was impressive but what I remember most is a funeral taking place nearby at York Oratory. This huge historic Roman Catholic church is known to be the "Mother Church of the city of York" and I doubt many people warrant a funeral service there.


Outside on the pavement was scattered an impressive gaggle of black-dressed mourners awaiting the hearse. With so many mourners I loitered around waiting for the cortege even though I was burning on a parking metre. More mourners arrived. A taxi pulled up and a man alighted and as he bent into the door to pay I noticed a tear drop from his face into his wallet. The deceased was getting a reaction before they'd arrived.


Whose funeral was it? I never found out as I needed to return to the car park. As I walked away the funeral cortege crawled round the corner. I looked back at the mourners and the moment one woman saw the shiny cars a tear rolled down her face - blackened by eyeliner. I thought it bad manners to stare or stay a minute longer and left.


Anyway that moment sparked an oil painting and here it is done in oils on some cheap ply board I'd sawn from a larger piece. It was done with knives and as it's only 7" square it didn't take long. This weeping eye took up three happy hours before I overloaded the brush with linseed oil to make the teardrop. I ruined yet another pair of pants when I dropped some white paint on them. The thinners I used to scrub out the paint only seemed to spread it and now the pants have ghostly grey clouds on them. Oh well. I'm sure I could buy some new pants when you buy this painting for 8,288. It might be dry before Christmas and would make a nice present for someone you only pretend to like.