Thursday, 12 November 2009

Living in a box

Day two of Four Country Bumpkins go to London and we find ourselves all brushing our teeth in the tiny bathroom at the same time and talking gibberish. It is like a cross between the crowded cabin scene from the Marx Brothers'A Night at the Opera and Marlon Brando in cotton wool mode in The Godfather.

From Middlesex Street, we head down past St Paul's to the Tate Modern. The main turbine hall is dominated by a very large shipping container, a great big dark steel box on legs.

We sneer as we join the crowds making tentative steps up the tailgate. It is completely black inside, and we are tiny in a great big world. Our hands reach out and we are surprised to touch soft baize walls. We feel more comfortable and head to the back of the box. Elevated, we look back from whence we came, towards the light and the tall shadows made by those entering and exiting.

'Now what was all that about?' I ask Mr Sheepwash afterwards.

'Oh, to me, it represents existential nihilism in all its epistemological, metaphysical and ontological forms,' he says. I hope he is joking but he looks deadly serious.

Guardian reader Pelly sees the big box as a metaphor for illegal immigrants, crammed into a container on a ship bound for a faraway land.

I am still in Open University film and television history mode. For me, it is a homage to the final scenes of Spielberg's Close Encounters.

When I see five shiny aluminium ducting pipes on the turbine hall wall, I expect them to come out with those five classic five notes from John Williams' theme tune.

I ask Mr Grigg what he thinks about the box.

'Complete bollocks.'

He is your archetypal Emperor Is Wearing No Clothes man. And I wouldn't have him any other way.

That's about it

Love Maddie x


  1. Ahh.. one man's art is.. a head-scratcher for others.

    Loved your toothbrushing mutterings.. well described. :)

  2. I adore Tate Modern. Sadly the box wasn't there when I went in July. I enjoyed all the different interpretations (and the toothbrushing scenario).

    How's NaNoWriMo going?

  3. Thanks for your comments girls.
    Yes, the toothbrushing - that scene is in my writer's notebook for future use, H & PM.
    Re NaNoWriMo - not going at all well! I shall keep plodding away but other things have jumped in its way. However, if nothing else, it's prompted me to get on with an idea I've had for ages. They should have a two-month slot for those who don't finish a novel in a month!

  4. Big-time London envy from over here.
    C'mon - there must be more than that big box to see...lucky you!

  5. I think Mr Grigg and Mr Reasons would get on famously.

  6. Brilliant...I love the comments..
    Very jealous of you going. WhenI was in London in March they had movedthe Tate Modern.................


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