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Thursday, 8 December 2011

What with trying to produce the daily word ration, get into gear for Christmas, and write copy for the new website, I find myself under pressure. It’s nothing new. Every year, without fail, I let November slip by, thinking, ‘Yeah, bags of time.’ Suddenly the second weekend of December is looming and it’s all to be done. Still, today I cranked out 1300 words, dashed for the bus at four o’clock, took the train to Newcastle city centre, and within ten minutes of arrival was utterly lost in the vast indoor shopping complex that is Eldon Square. I could make a pun here about Hell, but I won’t. Anyway, I emerged ninety minutes later, sanity intact, having bought a couple of rather extravagant presents for someone close to me. Time to scuttle home before a successful grab-and-go raid turned into a late-night shopping horror story.

Well, my daughter’s art exhibition. She graduated from London Metropolitan University last summer, and, with a group of friends, decided to exhibit regularly under the brand 171 Days. They hired a large white-walled space down Brick Lane and mounted their first show over three days this past weekend.

I enjoyed it - although despite taking a huge number of photos of her work, as displayed, I failed to get one that showed it off to full advantage. She had two pieces, and to be honest I hesitate to say what either one is. To me this one, formed out of polystyrene containers and clad in strips cut from plastic waste-bags and woven into a chicken-wire frame, seemed to lie somewhere between a piece of topiary, an item of Victorian furniture and something vaguely monumental. But then again, the little hole tucked away around the back at ground level suggested that I might be looking at a tree-trunk. It feels a dangerous business, speculating upon the ‘meaning’ of a piece like this, but the good news is that when I talked to her about it my daughter explained that she has no desire to ‘explain’ any of her work. ‘I’m more interested in what you the viewer thinks about it,’ she said.

And so to the graduation ceremony on Monday afternoon, which took place at the Barbican Centre, a concrete jumble of a place that was the Eighth Wonder of The World when it was opened in the late 1960s. I think the pictures show why Britain, with its damp atmosphere and cloudy skies, is no place for bare concrete.

Inside, the place was… heaving.

But the auditorium was, to my surprise, airy, spacious, comfortable and rather elegant.

My daughter was up on the stage quite early, leaving us the thick end of two hours to sit and applaud a couple of thousand of her fellow graduates in art, fashion, graphic design, jewellery design, and various arcane branches of computing science, before we were able to slip away into the foyer. I’d been snapping away incessantly, but came up with one good picture. Here she is, offspring no. 2, B.A. in Fine Art (First Class Honours). So so proud of her.

One more writing day this week, and then it’s Friday night. We’re off to see my favourite band, Hank Wangford and The Lost Cowboys, at a village hall in North Yorkshire. Good locally brewed beer will be served, and we will have as much as we want. We’re booked into a hotel right along the main village street. Expect a report and plenty of blurred photos on Sunday or Monday.

I cannot resist a football update. York drew 0-0 at Telford, remain unbeaten in 12, and are up to third position. Both of our vastly rich Manchester clubs, United (who inspire such loathing that I was prompted to write the book Yesss!!!! United In Defeat) and City (owned by a ludicrously wealthy youth from some oil-rich state in the Middle East), were ignominiously dumped out of the premier European competition last night. We ABUs (Anybody But United) haven’t stopped laughing yet.

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