In 2010 as my mother was in the final stages of Carcinoid cancer I took a walk down a disused railway line in my hometown that used to run from Didcot to Southampton.
I used it as the beginning of a NTU M.A. in Multimedia. A year later it collapsed and I retstarted it as a Fine Art Drawing M.A. instead after she passed away in 2012.
As my mother worsened I continued to visit her and that track and walk it and remember the times I walked and drew it in the early 1990s.
Here is an image from a small sketchbook drawn on the 1st August 1990….I dated everything in those days.
I completed the M.A. in Fine Art but felt out of sorts with Fine Art in general and indeed published a paper which called into question the basis of so-called Practice-led Art Research theory. This didn’t make me flavour of the month with NTU art research in general and especially in the fine art department. The fact that I went on to illustrate James Elkins as he proceeded to do pretty much the same demolition job (as Chicago professor of Art he carried more weight than a lowly NTU lecturer) only increased the antipathy.
I completed the M.A. with a distinction which hilarious as it was completely ignored and I never got to even show the work….. the support was overwhelming…
I however had not forgotten that Track project and always thought it would come back. NTU had failed to understand it let alone supervise it…..
I was told it too complicated I would have to supervise it myself..hilarious isn’t it.
As I wrote to NTU HR in my resignation note..Farewell and thanks for all the fish but in the end your waters were too shallow.
Now after resigning and resetting my compass I am finally ready to take it all forward.
MY SECOND WIND
North Berks Champions Long Wittenham F.C. 1960-61
Ivo C. Belcher top row second right
Under guttering stars
and moon lost in clouds
like the only working headlight
on the Co-op delivery van,
emerald bonnet and silver radiator
now passing them,
run five figures.
Left-back, goalie, centre-half,
The ice fogs breath, crackles under studs,
shatters in the white blaze of puddles
as strides pound eastwards
down the tarmac road
known locally as the ‘straight mile’.
My father’s village team out training
for a cup match at the weekend.
Hurtling down empty roads
between black fields.
Shouts like stray passes
bouncing off trees and clouds.
The same road ten years later.
A grey Morris Minor hitting sixty.
Door panels shudder and shake
as an unhealthy engine complains.
We’re testing the brakes
We’ve spent all morning repairing.
At least that’s what dad says as we
shoot down the straight mile grinning.
I lean my six-year old face
out the window until my eyes run.
I gulp and gulp in the cold air
Like a pike pulled out of water.
The dust and haze of harvest fields
spins away in the chrome side mirror.
Shouts ring in my ear.
Remember to pace yourself.
Keep a second wind.
If you’re one down
go back and score one against them.
I breathe deeply and thread the words together.
I pull one back.
The net bulges.