A Speed DateA Speed date By Taymaz Valley


(The buzzer sounds and fairly beautiful woman comes and sits down opposite Mark)

Mark: Hi. I do hope you are more of a talker than the last one. I think she might have been shy. She didn’t say much. I’m Mark. I was divorced recently. My wife is a…well, I should say my ex wife. I can’t get used to the idea of having an ex wife. I really can’t see the importance of it. Except for the fact that she gets paid out of my pockets. And, as if that wasn’t enough, she got her own way and I had to give her nearly everything. Except for some clothes, and my paintings. Thank goodness she didn’t like any of my paintings, can you imagine? I’m a painter by the way. Yeah… (Sighs), and her lawyer stuck me with all the expense. Damn lawyers. You know there is no justice in the world. Some people get everything and others are left alone to look forward to their own death. “In life there are certain sores that, like a canker, gnaw at the soul in solitude and diminish it.” I suppose you wouldn’t know that quote from Hedayat’s “The Blind Owl”; and I think it’s better that you don’t, it’s pretty mind boggling. He committed suicide you know? And everyone at the time said “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?” Ha! How benighted can some get? Anyway, I am a professional painter… I think I told you before? When I say professional, I mean that I have dedicated my life to it, not that I sell loads of paintings. Well, as jobs go, it’s quite a terrible one. And, as a lifestyle it’s even worse. But you know, we don’t choose Art, it chooses us, and you can’t prepare for it. You can go to every art school and academy, royal or not, for years and still don’t make it. Oh sure you will be some artists on some list, which only a few, like those so called experts on Antiques Roadshow, will remember, but you won’t ever be a Leonardo or a Turner. No, you have to have a vision, and an idea greater than god. You will be the Creator, and no matter what you create, it must be in your vision. (Laughs) It always makes me laugh when I hear the line “God created man in His own image” for God must be a terrible artist to have created such despicable examples. And how vain can you get? Self portraits by the billions! I need a drink. (Takes out a small flask, opens it and drinks from it) One can only endure this wretched life drunk; actually one must. Do you know in some religions you can’t have any alcohol, and their justification is that when you die there will be rivers flowing with wine in Heaven. (Laughs) I can just imagine what their heaven would be like. Full of drunks. Lenin and Bonaparte getting into a drunken brawl over Marilyn, while Einstein and Gandhi argue over whose round it is. Well I rather get drunk and forget about life and death now. My ex wife never approved of my drinking. “You are a good for nothing drunk” she used to say, and that was when she was in a good mood, which was hardly ever. Suffice to say I am not a rich man. I’ve never been, and it’s safe to say I never will be. I mean, it nice to be appreciated in your lifetime, but if I was to be, I would have been by now. I think that was one of the reasons my wife left me. She just didn’t see me making it as a famous painter. I tried explaining to her that all the greats were poor at one stage of their lives, and that Rothko didn’t even get recognised until his fifties, but it was no good. Fame. Ha! Why are we so obsessed by it? Nowadays to become a known artist you have to spend 14 million and make a diamond skull. Well I certainly don’t have 14 million. And if I did, I’d probably have to give it to my ex wife. (Takes out his flask and takes another sip) It’s all about marketing. Nowadays what you say is not important, it’s how you say it. Call it war and people be against it, call it fight against terrorism and you’ll get the right support. Art is not much different these days. If those damn publishers don’t think they can sell it, you will die an unknown. You know that they ask for 80% of the sales? Art is getting to be worse than music business. Soon they’ll be making five painting contracts…

(The buzzer sounds and the woman quickly gets up and leaves, and another woman comes and sits down in front of Mark.)

Mark: Hello. I do hope you are a better conversationalist than the last lady, she didn’t say much. I think she was shy.

By Taymaz Valley