I enjoy coach holidays and try to book a seat at the front of the coach behind the driver. My neck turns right easier than left for some reason so I books seats on the right so I can look down into cars and observe my fellow human being.
If the front seat is taken I try to get the back one. From here I count how many of the passengers have coloured their hair (mostly women) and how many have left it greasy and not showered (mostly men.) On a long weekend trip I was on the back seat and a coach which wasn’t full. I had the whole long back seat to myself until a couple in their forties sat in the other back corner. They were friendly and I spoke to them many times over the four days of the break, even having the odd meal with them. I liked the way the man slurped soup loud enough to waken a sleeping pig. It was in relation to sleep that this painting was inspired as the man seemed to fall asleep the moment we set off for a trip to a picturesque town or beach. One day I glimpsed across the full back seat to the couple and saw the man was asleep with what seemed like a bicycle pump pushing up his trousers. You could have thrown an angel’s halo round it though I doubt a celestial being wouldn’t float as close to something so ungodly. His wife who was partially-sighted said to her waking husband, “It’ll go away if we ignore it.”
As her eyes were unfocused I couldn’t tell if she was talking rhetorically or to me but I pretended not to notice and took refuse in my notebook.
This stuck in my mind (and my diary) and inspired this painting. Here is a photo of a woman resignedly moaning that her partner’s awakened man-mamba will resume it slumber if ignored. I’m not sure what kind of person would like this painting on the wall over their fireplace. They’re probably prefer it to be a little lower…in the fire but I’m weird and wouldn’t be averse to it hanging on my wall. It could trigger some conversation to prevent embarrassing silences.
As you can see there’s a mirror over the drawers on the far wall and, in the fuzzy reflection, appears a ghost which was probably more welcome to the lady than the man’s slithering snake. Outside the window is an enticing beach. I’m sure they lady will go there while things die down.
The couple I’d met on the coach holiday didn’t live far away. The woman was registered as blind so I told her about the infinite pleasures audio books had afforded me and would she like me to send her some? Yes, they both enthused, and they wrote down their address. After the holiday I filled two or three DVDs to the brim with a motley array of audio books and sent them off with my contact details so they could email me when they wanted more. I never heard from them again.
The lady has seen the ghost in the mirror…