I woke up this morning on Carnaby Street. Right at the heart of London. In a caravan. Last night was surprisingly calm considering what I was expecting. The caravan hadn’t been there for long enough to be have become an unwanted thing in the very active community of homeless people that circulate that area. We’d largely made friends with the guys whose sleeping patch we were on. One of them got a reading yesterday. Another was too superstitious so he just had a Werther’s Original and encountered someone who treated him like a human being for a while.
People occasionally get worried about “JuJu”. We are such a superstitious species. I can understand why they did, to an extent. We both get theatre, Mel and I. So we are both consciously wearing clothes that make us look unusual. Plus the caravan looks weird too. Plus what the hell is a caravan doing in Carnaby Street? JuJu!
I’ve been dressed in my green ringmaster coat and, for some reason I don’t fully understand, my grandfather’s bowler hat. I’m the front man in this operation. Familiar, but wrong era perhaps. Mel is all curtains shawls and veils and New Orleans and secrets, and you have to go through the caravan to get to her, so while she does secret readings for the shy, I’m doing performance tarot in the front for the extroverts.
As it happens Mel and I both have many years experience with other forms of Tarot, but that was a pure coincidence when we were booked for the job. The gig was just to work with these particular cards called “The Grandmother’s Tarot”, and get people to see them, connect with them and appreciate the artistry therein. Had I not already known Tarot I’d have felt a fraud doing that. I’d have gone in with both feet. But there have been lots of women who know it very well, and I’ve read for them. And thankfully it has been lovely.
People crave answers, and answers that come from somewhere outside of a mobile phone. This piece of art has made people drop their technology for a moment in a busy place, and made them think about their grandmothers. “What does grandmother want to teach you?”
My grandmother, Peggy, used to read fortunes too in her way. She had one of those plastic fish that respond to heat in the palm of your hand. It went with her wherever she went, and it would always come out after dinner. But mostly it would just tell us we were fickle.
I like to think they Peggy would appreciate what I’ve been doing. She really knew her way around stories. Her freedom within stories taught me to improvise, and her instinct helped me understand structure. She knew how to make it all about the person she was with. And she lived dreams, myths and symbols. I miss her. But that’s enough for me to know that Alice’s art is doing what it’s supposed to do. God bless peggy. I’m too tired and far gone for a photo right now. Zzz