Street Art 2: Famous faces

Amy Winehouse – She’s saying: “Oh no, I couldn’t eat another thing. Well… Maybe one more chocolate eclair. Just to be polite.

Ever walked down the street and felt that you were being watched?

I’m not talking about that time you forgot your trousers or had your skirt tucked into your knickers. You were being watched that time. Gawped at in fact.

But I’m talking about something more surreptitious.

Something you sense but can’t quite be sure of.

As if people aren’t moving turning their heads – just twitching their eyes. Like a ghostly portrait in haunted mansion.

So back to the street and the feeling of being watched.

Do you try to carry on as if you hadn’t noticed. Whistling maybe. Swaying in an attempt to look casual. Fighting the urge to speed up.

Samuel Beckett: “You looking at me? Huh! Beware or I’ll zap you with my laser eyes.”

Whilst beneath cloth your buttocks are clenched. Your back is straighter. Your own eyes are swivelling while you force yourself not to look back over your shoulder.

Then imagine that the eyes following you are not just anybody’s eyes. That round each corner a new famous face confronts you.

Do you feel intimidated? Scrutinised? Weighed and measured?

Or as if you’re on a fantasy catwalk sashaying for an appreciative celebrity audience living and dead.

Or perhaps you smile to yourself, realising that the faces on the walls coincide with the guestlist for your ideal dinner party.

Queen Elizabeth. It took years of deportment lessons for her to be able to chew her dinner without anyone detecting signs of jaw movement (which is unutterably common).

In this case a woman with priceless stories from the corridors of power, a playwright and resistance fighter (who was reputedly not at all as sombre as his image) and a singer and all-round party girl.

It could be quite an evening.

Seen any famous faces recently? Or is the quality of wall art less celebratory round your way?

And why we’re talking about ideal fantasy guestlists for dinner – which three people living or dead, real or imaginary would you invite?



Filed under art

14 responses to “Street Art 2: Famous faces

  1. Póló

    I would invite the following three Roman Catholic Priests:

    Fr. Peter McVerry SJ who has selflessly devoted his whole live to the underprivileged, the misfits, the homeless, the addicted and the forgotten in Dublin’s inner city.

    Fr. Seán Fagan SM who has been a champion of common sense theology (if there is such a thing) and a promoter of Vatican II thinking. He is old and he is sick and he has been silenced by a supergag order from the Vatican.

    Fr. Tony Flannery CSsR who is a founder member of the Association of Catholic Priests, has a tremendous pastoral reputation, and has been silenced by the Vatican because he feels it ought to be possible to discuss certain issues which the Pope has proclaimed closed (contraception, women and married priests).

    I am by baggage a Roman Catholic and by conviction an Atheist (or Agnostic if you find the former term offensive). But that does not mean I can’t admire the spirituality, courage and humanity of these men.

    I think I’d have a ball in their company and likely as not they’d end up rowing with one another before the end of the meal.


    • blackwatertown

      I predict a punch up over who says grace.

      (PS – Who finds the term “atheist” offensive? )

      • Póló

        Unfortunately lots of people don’t distinguish between Atheist (no god) and Militant Atheist (you’d better believe it or else), so I like to add the gentle rider.

        And as far as Grace is concerned, I’d be out of that particular row myself. 😉

  2. Fascinating notion, Paul. You are not suffering from paranoia, are you?

    Ideal dinner party guests? Don’t know. Would depend on my mood. Obviously I’d invite you: To be my butler. Top whack.

    As any hostess with the mostest knows: In order for a dinner party to thrive, without anyone’s boredom threshold exhausted before dessert, you need to get the mix of guests right. A bit like a cocktail. Make mine a Martini with two olives. Shaken or stirred? Doesn’t matter. I am not fussy.

    The recently deceased (how dare he) Gore Vidal I’d have on my right. The man of whose acerbic wit was said that “no one pisses from a greater height”. Oh the fun he and I’d have. If I sat Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams at the same table I’d probably never get a word in edgeways but I’d have the time of my life.


    • blackwatertown

      Not paranoia. I took pictures of the three stencils on walls as I wandered about London, and then the accompanying words happened to spill out.
      As butler – I’d begin by offering a round of dark rum, ginger beer, angostura bitters and fresh lime juice. That would get everyone warmed up.
      What a daunting guest list. The problem might be too much performance, too little audience. But at least you’d have the three of them vying for your attention.

  3. People are watching me all the time while I’m walking around the streets. And no doubt some of them have opinions about what they see. Not sure if I’d like to know what the opinions are – they might be flattering but they might also be witheringly offensive.

    • blackwatertown

      Oh dear. You’ve just reminded me of this morning. Top Boy’s school bus was late. I passed his crowd bunched at the bus stop. The verdict on me (I heard later) was withering. Too much brown clothing. I’ve been instructed to have my appearance vetted before I leave the house in future.
      Huh! Any more negative comments and I’ll be forced to unleash my doomsday weapon. A public display of affection. In front of witnesses.

  4. I think I would go with the two main Mythbusters because I like their show. And for number three, perhaps Spock. I just finished watching the entire set of the 6 original “Star Trek” movies, so that’s what inspired number three. I considered inviting Jesus, but He likely has better things to do than eat my over-seasoned, overcooked chicken.

    • blackwatertown

      Well Jesus would cut your alcohol bill. No need for anyone to bring a bottle. Just keep supplying JC with jugs of water.
      Would Spock need a special diet?

  5. Nigel

    Harold Pinter on my left, Jeremy Paxman on my right, and Stephen Fry or Paul on the other side of the table. This would or should make for competitive conversation, from which I am sure that I could withdraw- unnoticed- if it all became too much.

    • blackwatertown

      Pinter to the left of him
      Paxman to the right
      Fry ahead of him
      Volleyed and thundered
      As into the dinner party of death (or at least intimidating conversation) rode Nigel.
      (With apologies to Lord Tennyson)

  6. “…ghostly portrait in a haunted mansion,” I like that. One person I would invite is my late mother-in-law; she was saintly woman who I dearly loved.
    Blessings ~ Maxi

  7. Darcy Reilly

    “If you can’t renounce death, then you can’t change your life. If you can’t renounce the false, then you can’t realize the true.”

    If you can’t renounce death, then you can’t change your life. This means that if you develop your skill, then you’re not afraid of dying. I’m not talking about sickness, I’m not talking about pain. I’m not talking about suffering—I’m talking about death.

    Even if someone says, “Oh, then we won’t cultivate, because even if we cultivate we will die. We won’t develop our skill.” That’s called, “If you can’t renounce death, you can’t change your life.” If you die a great death, then you can live a great life.” “If a man wants to not die, it is necessary first to be a living dead man.” You don’t want to die? Then you should now be as if you’re dead. If you’re dead, then if somebody kicks you with their foot, you don’t know. And if you’re scolded, you don’t hear it. Before you’ve died, if you can be like that, that’s wonderful.

    Then there’s hope for you. Your perfection of patience will certainly be accomplished.

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