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Lucky dip December 1, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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The troublesome thing is choice.

I went to Poland. Quite by accident. I’d only meant to take the S-Bahn to Potsdamer Platz to go and see Klee and Koons – it’s K season at the Neue Nationalgalerie. Lowry and Lichtenstein up next. I’ll have learnt the whole alphabet by 2013 – but got confused and ended up in Warsaw.

Made up for my error by going to see Koons and Klee another time, though. May I recommend to anyone thirsting art but who hasn’t got a bean to walk around the outside of the Neue Nationalgalerie building if they want to see the Koons? You’ll see every single exhibit thanks to its perfectly glass walls. And the troubling thing is, if you go in, apart from having to pay, which makes any transaction less satisfactory – just ask a man who frequents prostitutes if you don’t believe me – you might watch the little video about Mr. Koons. And that slightly spoiled him for me. Because while I was quite happy to look at his big bowl of eggs and think, “Hmm,” I was slightly underwhelmed by Koons the man. Nice enough guy. But I wish I hadn’t heard his justification for his works. “All about acceptance.” Drone.

But Klee was far more problematic. Horridly prolific. Wall-to-wall fucking art wherever you looked and downstairs at the NN is loathsomely spacious. Couldn’t get away from the stuff, though I did have one moment of joy when I went to turn another corner, fully expecting another frightful, never-ending vista of more wanking Klee, and it was just an alcove with a fire-extinguisher. The one brief let-up in the whole sorry affair.

But there was a lovely museum-goer with the best intellectual hair I’ve ever seen. A small gent. In his 60s. Jacket, shirt, trousers. Brown shoes, of course. Wandering around with his less intellectual – at least if her hair was anything to go by – wife who nodded spouselily and dutifully at his disquisitions. But his hair was top-hole. A swirling typhoon of hair, which may have had its whirlishness increased by having to double as an extremely elaborate comb-over. But the most extraordinary thing was the pate – is that the word I mean? You know. That bit where all the hair seems to spring from. Where he’d have had a bald patch if he’d had less of his intellectual hair – was just behind his left ear. I was transfixed. Much more interesting than the endless, non-stop Klee.

And the art made me think of potatoes, and how, as I shuffled from one hateful Klee to the next, I’d much rather be engaging with potatoes. Preferably eating them, of course, but, at a push, even looking at them. I’m not sure whether I’d rather have peeled potatoes than be at the Klee but it might have been a close run thing.

So I ended up in Poland. The Russian – for he was with me. You think one of us would have noticed we’d missed our stop when the border police got on, but no – commented, when we took a breather from hijinks, that, say what you like, and Poles may well like to say otherwise, being in Poland does feel just an incy bit like being in Russia. Warsaw looks quite like Russia – all hugeness and parallelograms – and the hustle and bustle of downtown Warsaw feels quite like the hustle and bustle of downtown St. Petersburg and Poles and Russians look quite alike with their chunky men and all the glamour pusses and Poles and Russians abandon themselves to fun, when they have decided to abandon themselves to fun, in the same concerted, uncynical way. It’s very attractive.

We had such fun that the Russian has had to convert to Catholicism and I’ve had to go and rescind my excommunication from the church so that we can quickly join Opus Dei and self-flagellate the pleasant memories away. In the meantime, we have fantasies about moving to Poland. Like Russia, but not. Surely we’d learn the language in ten seconds. And the totty! My god, the totty. We have retuned our souls to their Slavic settings and now have to fight drearily over who gets to wear the best shawl.

But, darlings, the only problem is that Poland gives you choices. If you go to a cash-machine, it asks, “Do you want us to fix the exchange rate now or let your bank do that, kind sir?” When you pay by card, the machine asks, “Shall we charge you in złotys or some other currency of your choosing, kind sir?” Honestly, do these people have no respect for their totalitarian past? I can’t cope with that kind of choice! The whole trip was wasted prevaricating.

But once there’s a lucky dip button on all Polish machines, that’s it. We’re emigrating.