Remember when everybody on the internet started throwing buckets of ice on themselves and then nominating you? That was for ALS. Motor Neuron Disease. It’s a bugger. And it can kill quickly. Another of these desperate side effects of knowing next to sod all about the brain. One thing that has been observed in the treatment of this condition is that the state of mind of the patient can have an effect on the speed of degeneration. So it becomes about finding ways to stay happy.
The artist I’ve been working with today lost her husband to it. While he was suffering, she was making ridiculous and beautiful installations in their home using great big mascot heads and balloons and anything that struck her as fun – just to cheer him up, and thus to prolong his life. Now, at this moment while the world is in the clutch of fears both nameless and well known, she has found a way to brighten up a tiny patch of London for anyone who happens to be passing a particular window, in the same way she brightened up a hard time for both of them as he was slowly taken.
It’s Mayfair Art Weekend. Almost directly opposite Claridges, on Brook Street – that’s where the window is. It’s brightly lit by striplights, and this evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday evening you’ll find me standing with a friend in the window. Or sitting. Or crouching. Or lying. Or attempting to ride an inflatable horse.
I’ll be wearing fashionable clothes, brand new Nike trainers, and one of a selection of great big animal heads. I’ll be rolling on inflatables, or holding up messages, or bothering inflatable animals, or preening myself, or dancing. I’ll be trying to see anyone who stops and looks in the window, and to respond to them, although observers have the advantage of me. My visibility is awful through the mask and dwindles with the light until I just have to guess what the owner of the moving white thing might be doing.
By the end of my first shift on Friday night I was knackered from squinting but happy to be back doing what I do best – something completely random and high energy. This whole business of saying “Yes” first and then asking the details – it occasionally gets me into trouble, but it also brings great joy. This is one of the joyous ones, particularly coming at this time, when the whole world is reeling and employment is as hard to find as joy. I get both. Lucky me.
I knew I was in the right place for me when I arrived at a very big formal looking building in the heart of Mayfair and saw some people throwing an inflatable blue tyrannosaurus out of the window…