Monday, 2 March 2009


“What are you doing today?” asked my brother on the other end of the phone. One of the many ‘victims’ of redundancy, his ebb is definitely at a squat at the moment and he was needing a little hoist up – both mentally and spiritually and was wondering whether we could go out to play.
“Sorry little bro but I’m a bit busy”, I said, “And you would never guess in a million years why”.
He tried facetiousness i.e. was I spring cleaning, or ironing, or wiping down the windows?
“Nope”, I said, “None of those, even though those activities are, I agree, rarely indulged in”.
“What are you up to then?” he asked. When I told him he guffawed.
“Bloody hell Alice, you were quite right, never in a million years yet bizarrely, having known you all my life, I am not in the least bit surprised. I’ll leave you to it then. Keep your vest on, you don’t want to catch a chill”.
Only a few days ago, I was minding my own business over a coffee and a copy of Heat magazine when the phone rang.
“Hullo?”, I said absent-mindedly, more intrigued by ‘Stars without their make-up’ than chatting.
“Hi Alice!”, said a blast from the past, “Long time, no see”.
Louise? Can that really be you?” I replied with hyperbolic astonishment.
“Ok, very funny. I know I haven’t been in touch lately but we did see each other just before Christmas and I do keep meaning to pop down”.
My friend, the lovely Louise Dear celebrated artist, who paints extraordinary portraits, some of women of such exceptional beauty and artistic eroticism that I’ve often looked at them and sighed ‘If only’ wistfully. Louise has a lifestyle I have often envied too and a figure that Hubby has often desired. She always looks a million dollars whether in fabulous, flowing clothes when out or equally gorgeous, when in her studio in paint spattered shirts and threadbare dungarees. Where she succeeds in looking bohemian in such attire, I look homeless.
“So, what’s occurring?” I asked her, tearing myself away from my magazine, “Are you coming to see me?” Her gallery is only in Totnes, so to be fair, I could just as easily go and visit her, but with so many lovely shops to tempt me I try to avoid the town unless I have a few quid to spare.
“Actually, yes I am. You looked fantastic when I saw you last, how do you fancy being Gok Wanned?”
“C-come again?”, I stammered.
“Look, my paintings of nudes sell very well but I need to show to my collectors that I can also make real women look fabulous”. I dismissed her stress of the ‘real’.
“Louise, I want to be flattered that you have thought of me as your muse, but it does beg the question, am I the only person you know who is a generous size 14? And even then it isn’t a taut 14. My flesh shifts depending on my position. Were I to roll over, my belly would go first, eventually followed by my bum. We don’t travel simultaneously, more consecutively”.
“Alice you are just what I am looking for. I promise you”.
With that pledge still hanging in the air, she arrived in a fluidity of white linen and chocolate brown cashmere, armed with a Nikon.
“What’s that for?”, I asked suspiciously, “This isn’t going to end up in Reader’s Wives is it?”
“No, I just need some pictures first so that I can work out what style to paint you in. It will all be done in the best possible taste”. I suddenly had visions of Kenny Everett in plastic boobs and spread-eagled legs and started to get nervous.
“Don’t worry”, Louise tried to reassure me, “Just take your clothes off, put some subtle jewellery on, a little bit of make-up and a dressing gown”. When I came back downstairs, she had arranged white sheets on my sofa and extra cushions.
I was horrified however to see my dad’s gardener waving an empty mug at us through one sitting room window, the builders doing the same from my garden at the French window.
“Oh my God. I’ve an audience. And they’re thirsty”. I went into the kitchen to refill their mugs and they must have wondered why the hell I had suddenly changed out of my school run garb of jeans and pink wellies into a pink kimono and pearls. Trying my best not to blush, nor look like a character from a Channel 4 drama, I went back into the sitting room to find that Louise had half closed the shutters.
“I don’t know what’s worse, whether to let them know what’s going on or, in my boudoir clothes and half-shut shutters let them think subversive thoughts”.
My mother always threatened, when I didn’t study hard enough at school, that nothing would become of me and I’d end up as a stripper in Cairo. Prophetic words mum. I took to it like the proverbial duck to water, transcending myself from saggy housewife to the muse of the Greats. In my mind, I was in a fur wrap with Rubens rapturously calling out “Bellissimo” (or its Flemish translation), with every stroke of his paint brush.
The white sheets were artfully arranged to cover my half-acre as my brother so succinctly put it and I posed hither and yon until Louise filled her memory card.
“Awright me lovers? We’ll be back drekkly”, said one of the builders, bursting through the French doors, before his eyes popped out like a robber’s horse and he just as quickly turned on his heel and fled.
“Oh my God”, I wailed, wrapping the sheets, now all too late, around me like a Mummy, “Would that it were as easy to delete his memory card.”


Caffienated Cowgirl said...

You're brave!

Mary Alice said...

"Were I to roll over, my belly would go first, eventually followed by my bum. We don’t travel simultaneously, more consecutively”.

That is soooooo funny...but mostly so true...stop talking about me!

sally's hubby said...

Photos going up on Facebook, then?


It's just me said...

Fantastic thing! I'm jealous...

Sally said...

I was on my way to bed....
I thought that I would read it tomorrow as I wanted to give it my full attention.... and then it suddenly gripped me and i couldn't go to bed until I'd finished reading.

Hilarious!!!!!! Poor you though. I did go red for you. (Ignore Hubby btw...)

sally's hubby said...

Story of my life!