Coales' Notes: The balloon goes up
Monday 06 June 1994
They insisted I take a balloon out with me, which we're all supposed to do now, to build up the mood for The Project. I declined. They are practically barrage balloons.
But this afternoon, I took a highly conspicuous amble round the city centre with Alan, a balloon straining 6ft above his head - and Dave Curley, attempting to interview him for the Herald about 'the artistic aspect. Because you might say, it just sounds like a lot of balloons'. Alan explained that thousands of balloons, each floating 100ft over the city, 'could be a roof. I like that thing of turning an outdoors into an indoors. If you like, a city into a room.' Curley said: 'Oh, you do?'
'But also, I like that thing with balloons, that you're up there with the balloon. You're on this end of the string. But also you're on the other end of the string.'
Curley said: 'Aha.'
'And also, I like that thing that a balloon is your head.'
Curley said: 'Sorry, let me see if I have this right. You're saying, you feel that a balloon is, in some sense, your own head.' Alan looked at him blankly and said: 'Or not.' Curley thought he'd got enough and left.
Then we just stood there, Alan deep in thought, still holding on to his balloon. Eventually he spoke: 'The thing is, Gordon, this is not what I want. What I want is something else. Because what I want now, ideally, is to join the army.' I said, really? Mightn't he be a bit old? He said: 'Or the TA. Or the Legion. But soldiering - that has to be the next move.'
I asked why. Was it the need for discipline? I could understand that - the life of the contemporary artist, too free, always setting one's own goals. Or was it the need for escape? He made no answer.
I said I could understand that too, because - he may not have noticed - but I had been under strict instructions from Di to keep an eye on him, to make sure he behaved himself when she was down in London.
Another long silence. Then he said: 'No, in fact, I didn't notice. But, on the other hand, nor did you.' I groaned. I said I supposed it hardly mattered now. But who was it then? Fiona? Or Iz? He mumbled: 'Not or.'
Fortunately at that point I did happen to notice, above the market stalls, three more balloons moving purposefully in our direction. I told Alan he had granted me a fascinating insight into his creative crisis, but I really had to be going. I made off as quickly as possible. Looking back from the corner, I saw the four balloons ascending rapidly in close formation.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Ed Miliband deemed less influential than One Direction's Louis Tomlinson by official Doncaster power list
- 3 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Kurt Cobain's life and death: New film uses unseen footage to tell Nirvana frontman's story
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Drugs Live: Twitter reacts to Jon Snow and Jennie Bond smoking cannabis
Jimmy McGovern's new TV series 'Banished': Why Australia's past has such resonance today
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'