Coales' Notes: An affair of the arts

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The Independent Culture
TUESDAY As I remarked to Fiona today, we really have quite a nice little festival brewing up now.

The only snag is the growing pressure from the public - stirred up by Iz - to be actively involved. This must be neutralised. Our plan is to push Alan into doing some really plausible - but absolutely containable - community art project. I hoped Fiona could sort this out.

But she started to squirm. 'Oh you know, me and Alan, it's still quite difficult. I'd really prefer you to handle it.' I said, surely that was all over ages ago. She replied: 'Well, to be completely frank, we've been talking. And I'm not sure what he wants. I'm not sure what I want. But . . .' - but better to keep it on a professional basis for now. I agreed, with a sigh.

I must say, I almost feel as if I myself had had an affair with Alan. It is remarkable how someone whose forte is doing absolutely nothing has managed to complicate my life for the last two years.

THURSDAY To London. Astonishing. I got to Alan's house about lunchtime, rang the bell, and the door was opened by Di. I thought for a moment I must have misread my address book. I began to apologise. But she held up a finger and whispered: 'Alan's sleeping.' I said that that, at least, was not a surprise.

We went down into Alan's studio. Very little sign of work. She said: 'I thought you'd have known. I guess, after Wilf, I needed someone a bit less energetic.' She went to see if he was awake.

I noticed an enormous poster on the wall: 'SCHLACHT. Great Beer. Great Art. Great Taste.' Di returned. I asked how the sponsorship business was progressing. She said very well - that was how she had met up with Alan again. 'But I hope you don't feel this complicates things. In a way, I think it simplifies them.' She said Schlacht would be very interested to sponsor Alan, in whatever he did for us. I explained that for once funding wasn't the problem. She replied: 'Oh, but Schlacht would insist.'

I said, I hoped the Schlacht people were happy she was spending their money on her nearest and dearest. She smiled: 'I think they'll be delighted. Because, if we can sort something out, Schlacht would of course require an exclusive sponsorship relationship with your festival.' I said, steady on, they'd only be stumping up for this one thing. Di replied: 'Well those are the normal terms. Quite reasonable I think. If you want Alan.' Unbelievable.

Alan then came in, in underpants. He nodded to me, yawned, and said: 'So, things - sorting themselves out?'

I have come away with a lot of paperwork. The pair of them are planning to roll up next week. I have to find a way to put all this to Fiona.