Friday, 10 July 2009

Mosquitoes, Brown Hens and Jimmy Cagney on the Fourth Plinth

I have been bitten by the mother of all mosquitoes; it must have staggered away from my leg with at least a hundred times its own body weight of my blood. I attract things that bite me, I must give off exactly the right pheromone that attracts blood sucking things. Should vampires exist I am surprised they haven’t found their way to my door. I have sprayed myself with all sorts of stuff over the years in an attempt to keep the blood suckers away but nothing really works. Someone once suggested raw onion but I think that would drive everything and everyone away and make me the complete Nelly No Mates. Once bitten , despite the application of various medical preparations I swell up and turn a vivid red , not all of me of course, although it feels like it as I feel I become merely the pale bloodless thing attached to the mossie bite, I am simply its means of transport through the world. The mosquitoes in the USA where built like jump jets, could be heard three blocks away and could penetrate Kevlar. The English mosquito, however tends to use stealth as its main weapon and usually makes its getaway before you start to itch. As I quietly swell I contemplate where that mosquito has dined before, dung heap, dog, cow, the kind of person you wouldn’t want to exchange bodily fluids with. I have wondered whether allergy can be conquered by sheer will power and anti histamine alone, why can some either not be bitten or others have minimal reaction? I am obviously the bug fine dining experience, I came away from a picnic last year covered in insect bites whilst the people with me were totally unmolested. Such things tend to make you paranoid and deeply melancholic about the joys of al fresco summer activities. Picnics usually mean flapping the wasps away from the food and finding sand in your sandwiches. The idyll of lying by a babbling brook in long sweet smelling grass under the shade of a spreading chestnut tree is the sort of ‘happy place’ talked about in all those guided meditations. You know the kind of thing, imagine it is a warm sunny day, you are lying beside a cool river, birds singing etc etc. I can go along with it so far but then something bites me….end of meditation, happy place is transformed to itch and scratch central. It is hard not to take this personally, the insect world no doubt has not got my name on its Most Wanted list but it feels like it some times. The insects over the past few years seem to be more virulent perhaps the eco system is so out of balance that they have had to up the anti to survive. On the other hand it may be that my resistance has diminished, should I make old bones they will be bones placed carefully inside one walking fluid filled mosquito bite. I will now stop my rant about insect bites as you may be eating your tea , dear reader.

I have just applied to go on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square as part of Anthony Gormley’s art project. It was an impulse thing but then I thought this may be a way to combat my very real fear of heights which for one so tall is ironic. I do tend to fall off things and trip over things but if the point of this art piece is to represent Great Britain in all its diversity and strangeness then watching someone try to overcome fear may be interesting. I have thought no further than that, I am presuming of course that given the lottery of selection and the amount of people who have applied I will not even have to put my money where my mouth is and confront my fear. Even the blessed Jill Archer in Ambridge failed to get a place so I tend to think I will not be deemed worthy. I will keep you posted meanwhile I do keep having a peek via the webcam at the goings on the plinth and most of it is quite boring but then so is life so if it is meant to be representative a large proportion of it will be but now and then someone does something rather odd or interesting, I liked one man who sat and sketched very quietly and the woman with the green balloons. A lot seem to spend a great deal of time on their mobile phones , presumably saying ‘Hi, guess where I am, I’m on the fourth plinth.’ Should I get up there I think I would be muttering quietly to myself, ‘I’m going to die, I’m definitely going to die’. Of course sheer exhibitionism will be present why else would anyone be so stupid as to place themselves on a really high small platform in the middle of a busy public place. That’s what I want to know, why would I stick myself up there when I can get dizzy just peering over the edge of a teacup. Is it the ultimate Jimmy Cagney , White Heat moment, ‘Look at me Ma, top of the world’? Of course that film character fell off. I am perhaps engaging in a little bit of Russian roulette, hoping of course that when that lottery draw happens on 1st August I won’t get picked. Do they have insurance for people that go up there? Do you have to pass a medical? Is anyone with vertigo automatically excluded? Is anyone who puts themselves up there who suffers from vertigo automatically excluded on the grounds of sheer stupidity? We shall see, well maybe we shall see.

Meanwhile whilst I await my name not to be pulled from the plinth hat I am happy to inform you that my friend has named one of her new chickens after me. It is brown and rather small and I am egotistical enough to think she will produce wonderful eggs. I hope the fox and the cat will do her no harm and she will be content to just eat, scratch around and roost quietly up on her perch, hopefully she will not fall off it. I don’t think chickens can suffer from vertigo, although come to think of it they don’t seem to like flying a lot.

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