Once I went on a coach holiday to Babacombe and the driver was blessed with near-film-star looks. Over the week I noticed subtle affects he had on some of the women passengers. They smiled more, had more upright spines, craned their necks to a greater degree to prolong a view of him, hung on every word, laughed at things that weren’t that funny. They seemed perkier in the mornings when he appeared in the restaurant for breakfast. As I was the only single person on the coach I sat with him for many meals. I remember thinking it doesn’t matter if you’ve intelligence, good background, loving family, education, prospects, peace of mind - good looks axe through the lot and leave them behind in tyre smoke. Strangely on the way down to the coast we picked up his girlfriend at some motorway services and she was plain as a pan handle.
He either spied in my eye that he was under scrutiny or saw a shrinking violet almost famished of female attention and told me much about himself. He’d gone out with most women he had wanted to but they had not worked out. He said he had a brother too and they’d both been quite competitive then asked me (while cutting open a bap) if I knew what a “FAB” was. I’d only really heard it when referring to The Fab Four (The Beatles.) He could see from my expression of idiotic innocence I didn’t know what he meant. He leant closer, “F----g Attractive But Boring” or, in less rosy parlance, deadly but dull. Mmmmm, this made me think. As a hapless geek I had read similar fodder in a book, that physically beautiful people thought it their due to be coveted but, over time, yielded to be boring through lack character-forming trials.
So where did this painting come from? Partly from the above and partly from a television programme I saw about instant attraction. The featured woman said that when she saw a new employee in a corridor on his first day at work that she knew she’d marry and have a family with him (she also added her unused womb started buzzing and her undercarriage started throbbing. They married and multiplied and her husband sat beside her on the couch looked about average. People’s versions of what is attractive seem weird. I remember a woman telling me the most handsome man on earth was the footballer Frank Lampard. I didn’t know who he was but one day the new mentioned his name and I watched with intrigue. He didn’t look anything exceptional, I thought, I’d seen better looking chaps delivering parcels for DHL.
Anyway here is a painting about the lightning strike that exceptional looks can render on another. Once I was stopping in a hotel in the Docklands in London. I was descending the main stairs to the broad foyer and was a few feet behind a young woman. A swarthy man, probably of Italian origin, swung in through the big glass doors holding a brief-case. The woman in front of me momentarily paused upon seeing him. Had I stood closer I dare say I’d have heard an intake of breath.
This painting shows this moment. Bit of an odd painting I suppose; not a bowl of tangerines or a vase of pansies. It’s not very good but I’d had enough of it after five sittings and ten hours. I put a corona of light around the man as this is what I saw. As he entered the doors strong morning sunlight cast over his back and it, rather sickeningly, helped looks that needed no help. Unfortunately there was virtually nil chance of romance for the woman I was behind on the stairs; she had legs like Roman columns, supporting a face that put me in mind of an ill-tempered bloodhound.
Anyway, here it is with a title tickled with a bit of romance. I haven’t taken many photos of this probably because I didn’t think I’d finish it. I’m not sure where the title came from but I was listening to a play about woman who loved horses and when she first saw a certain horse she said she felt “her heart lift and swell” before buying it.