Coale's Notes: Low pressure

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
MONDAY: Back to work. I've decided to give Ars Longa one more try, since they've been so understanding during the period of my misfortune.

Everything seems very much as it was. Rory on the phone to a chum at Faber, trying to interest them in a book package: 'Philip Larkin's Pornography, a deluxe facsimile edition of the images that nourished a poet's imagination. Well, somebody must have the mags still. Of course it would depend on what kind of condition they were in. But that could look extra-authentic. I was thinking for Christmas.' And Kirsty and Siobhan genuinely trying to be pleasant: 'So, did you really have a vision, Gordon? - right, more of a feeling - still, well done you]'

But I found it rather difficult to remember what I used to do here. Later, Rory mentioned a name to me that I was meant to recognise, apparently a very popular weatherman. 'I was talking to his agent. He wants to branch out into the arts now. I thought you'd be the man.'

I think I know what to expect. He'll have a whole studio full of fantasy landscapes, done in luminous paint, with naked women, the Post Office Tower and the hand of God. Or a reworking of Leonardo's Last Supper with the heads of the England squad. Or doves strangled by barbed wire. And he'll have just enough technical facility to make it impossible to be wholly dismissive. Of course. This is what I do.

WEDNESDAY: Consultation with the weatherman. He was, oddly enough, a most sincere and serious person. I explained that, first of all, I would take him through our standard 'Celebrity - Second Career in the Arts' questionnaire, just to establish some outlines.

But, having attempted all the opening sections - 'Do you ever, in the normal run of things, find yourself making up little stories, and wondering what happens next?'; 'Has it ever occurred to you that your singing voice is essentially good, if a song has the right notes in it?'; 'Would you describe yourself as basically physically coordinated?' - and drawn a complete blank, I asked him in what precise area of the arts he felt his talents lay. He replied: 'I think, before embarking on anything definite, I just want to know if I've got it - you understand me?' I said I thought so. I moved on to the Basic Artistic Propensity section. For instance:

Do you ever have experiences which seem to you to kind of sum everything up? He said: 'Yup, know what you mean, know what you mean. No, don't really think I ever do.'

When you have an experience, does it ever make you think of another quite different experience you have had? He said: 'Oh you mean, for instance, if I was making love to my wife, would I ever think of being in hospital, something like that?'

I said yes, exactly something like that. He said: 'Um, no, never. Mind on the job, I think.'

Do you ever imagine yourself being admiringly interviewed about your most recent work on radio or television? 'No, not really.'

So I told him that what I would do, would be to feed all the results into the computer, and simply see what sort of Creativity Profile emerged. But I asked him, just as a matter of interest, what was it that had originally attracted him to the field of weather? He replied: 'I think it was the element of unpredictability.' Then he said to me: 'If you don't mind my asking, what was it that originally attracted you to your field?' I looked at him. I was quite unable to think of an answer to this question. He went on: 'Because I just feel, I don't know what, but I feel there's something more in me. D'you know that feeling?' I got him out of the office as quickly as possible.