TUESDAY: And now it's begun. This afternoon a fly-sheet fell through my letter box. 'The Wormwood in Exile: 'Travelling Light' - Work by Eight European Artists to be sited around the platforms of West Street Station etc' - supposedly opening tomorrow. This must be stopped. It is especially astonishing, because I know the Station Manager slightly, owing to the many overtures we have made to him in the past for just this purpose, and he has consistently proved himself a very solid opponent of the arts - though always pleasant. I tried to ring him several times, but of course one can never get through.
WEDNESDAY: This morning I did speak to the Station Manager, and explained to him that the show was the work of an irresponsible splinter group, and however much he had been sweet-talked, it must be removed at once. He was confused. He professed no knowledge of any exhibition, though he supposed someone might have got in during the night. I said I was coming right over.
I joined him on Platform 1, and we began a thorough search of the whole station. He asked what precisely we should be looking for. I told him it could be almost anything, that was the problem - anything unusual or suspicious that might be an artistic intervention - it could be the tiniest modification of the normal environment, as so often these things tended to blend in, in the most insidious way. We did the concourse, the platforms, the cafe, the booking area and the sidings. After an hour or so's hunt, he said 'Well, I think we can safely pronounce West Street Station an art-free zone.'
But I was still not entirely convinced. I pointed out a soft-drink dispenser, and asked him whether it was normally there, or whether it might possibly be a work of art. He said no, it had been there for years - and then a puzzled look came over him and he said: 'Look, you won't mind my asking, but how could a soft-drink dispenser conceivably, conceivably qualify as a work of art?' I took a deep breath. I said that it was really much too complicated to explain, but once, a long time ago, an artist had taken a urinal and put it in an art gallery, and ever since then the floodgates had basically been open.
He considered this, and suddenly showed signs of great alarm. He said: 'Oh my God] I tell you, if anyone's been having a go at the Gents - I'll bloody kill them,' and he bolted off in the direction of the toilets. I followed. By the time I arrived he was ordering men out of their cubicles and interrogating them. 'What are you up to? Who are you? Are you a European artist?' But it turned out there was nothing untoward going on, and they were allowed to go back.
I was somewhat embarrassed and said I was sorry to have troubled him, it had apparently all been a hoax. He said: 'No, no. Better safe than sorry.' He would now put all his staff on art-alert and let me know if anything turned up. A good man.
So - this time, yes, a hoax. But one never knows when the real thing will strike. I rang up Fiona this evening and left a blistering message on her answerphone.
THURSDAY: Another fly-sheet, announcing that at 3 o'clock, Joe Willard, the living sculpture, would be publicly performing in the Gilbert Arcade. No sooner had I read it, than I got a call from the Chairman of the Leisure Committee, absolutely hopping mad. He had just received the same announcement. I told him I was already on the case.
I took a walking stick (just in case) and arrived at the Arcade at 2.45pm. Similar fly-sheets were posted at both entrances. I took up a position at one end, and at intervals proceeded slowly to the other, and stood guard there, and so on, all the while carefully scrutinising every shopper for any sign of performance activity.
By 3.15pm I had concluded it was another bluff. I was about to go, when I noticed a man looking at me in a peculiar way. I stopped. He said: 'Have you started yet, or are you still warming up?' I just stood there. He pointed me out to his child, and said 'I think he's starting now.' Various other people stopped and stared at me. I stared back. This went on for a while. Someone said: 'Is that all he's going to do? I don't call that living.' The child walked over and prodded me in the leg. I raised my stick. The crowd gasped.
I said: 'Now look. You are under a misapprehension. I am not a living sculpture. I am a perfectly ordinary pedestrian. And now I am going to leave the Arcade.' I began to walk calmly towards the exit. The first man said: 'Is that it then?' I said yes it was, and there was some half-hearted applause, but a few of them made after me, and I had to run across some heavy traffic to escape them.
I realise now that we are dealing with a scheme of quite diabolical cunning. The plot is evidently to throw a pall of aesthetics over the whole city, so that literally anything might be taken as an artistic manifestation.
FRIDAY: This afternoon a letter arrived. 'Dear Gordon - Great Work] With thanks from Fiona, Bob, Juliet and all at the Wormwood in Exile.' Devils.Reuse content