Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Money Matters


Just sold a piece to the Daily Telegraph about Jeanette Winterson’s memoir, comparing her experiences to mine. She discovered details about her real mother recently, then met her supported of course by her new lover, super shrink Susie Orbach. You couldn’t do much better than that. I met mine when I was 19 just after I left home to become a student and hadn’t a clue what I was doing. In both cases it didn’t end well.

That money, £350, plus fee for doing some on-line work for Private Banking Magazine, will pay the £500 for the short portrait painting course I’ve just signed up for at Heatherley’s School of Art in Chelsea.

Twenty years ago I was getting £500 a piece and had so much work I never stopped. Now I am living hand to mouth, like a student; just the way I thought I wanted to live when I was about twelve and anticipating life’s challenges as nothing more than exciting adventures. I saw myself as a kind of Tin Tin. I had a white cat at the time called Blossom who could have stood in for Snowy. Be careful what you wish for I suppose, and be sure to marry Captain Haddock at some point, even if you find him boring and his breath smells of fish.

Of course I still believe that fame and fortune follows. I hope I’ve still got enough time left for it!

A friend of mine says that in the photograph of me, on the front of my book, Inside, about teaching in HMP Wormwood Scrubs, I don’t look at all well. Not surprising as I was at the time, unknowingly, fizzing with cancer. Remember myself at that time, all the symptoms boiling and bloating away, and how I just ignored them.

Take a painting, a self-portrait where my head is replaced by a Victoria Sponge, to the vicarage in Ealing as a present for Fr. Bill. He insists on giving me £10 for it. This is my lucky day. He is my Dr. Gachet.

Also take him a quince and apple tart. Try to explain that the quince seemed a bit tough, much more so than the apple so he will need to re-heat the pie slowly so it cooks a bit more. As usual he wasn’t listening.

He was mumbling on about the C of E – and the shenanigans at St. Paul’s. There are of course a few vacancies there now, and there will be jostling for new positions. When one goes we all move up one.

Some lucky vicar will soon be getting more pay and a nice cosy, 17th century vicarage. Fr. Bill won’t be applying.

“The ambition of clerics is terrible in London,” he says peering into his empty fridge. “It’s a shark-pool and very few can get to the top.

“But the important thing is being a good vicar of a demanding parish. What ambition is better than that, and my ambition is achievable.”

I wondered if Ealing, once the golden suburb of the west, is really that demanding.

He says it’s now very big and full of “all sorts,” later he referred to that fact that the parish is now barely Anglican or even Christian.

“You are running hard to keep still,” he said. “There is no money. But in the end the C of E in the diocese of London will be brought down by dry rot.”

Apparently the fabric of the buildings, churches and vicarages is all rotting away, returning to the damp earth, helped along of course by the new voracious breed of metal thieves.


  1. PS Surely, that painting is worth more than £10.00?

  2. Perhaps it is - how can I tell?