A CONVERSATION

“And where did you learn about this existential threat to our nation’s statuary?”

‘Charity’ by Damien Hirst, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Image: Louise Houghton

Continuing the conversation between Tim and Steve. Catch up on the first six installments via Steve’s author page.

 “What’s grinding your gears this week, Tim?”
 “How d’you mean?”
 “You’ve a face like a wet weekend, mate.”
 “I’m a bit pissed off, truth be told.”
 “The car, is it?”
 “What?”
 “Living in the car getting you down?”
 “No.”
 “Really?”
 “You don’t know what you’re missing…”
 “I don’t?”
 “Living close to the elements…”
 “Freezing your nuts off, you mean.”
 “No such thing as bad weather, Steve.”
 “Is that so?”
 “Just bad clothes.”
 “Right…”
 “Toasty warm in there, I am.”
 “If you say so, Tim.”
 “I do.”
 “So it’s not the car?”
 “No.”
 “Crisp butties losing their appeal?”
 “Never.”
 “Sure?”
 “Sure.”
 “So…?”
 “Statues.”
 “Statues?”
 “Yeah. Statues.”
 “Any aspect in particular?”
 “They’re under threat, Steve…”
 “They are?”
 “From woke mobs and antifa.”
 “Really?”
 “Yeah.”
 “And since when have you cared about statues, Tim?”
 “Well…”
 “My memory of our visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park…”
 “Yeah?”
 “Is that you spent all day looking for ‘shrooms.”
 “With considerable success, Steve.”
 “Indeed. It took me half an hour to get you back in the van…”
 “It did?”
 “Because you were busy communing with a squirrel…”
 “Happy days, mate…”
 “And talking to a tree…”
 “Had to be done…”
 “But you showed no interest in statues.”
 “Well…”
 “None whatsoever.”
 “Different times, mate.”
 “I see. And where did you learn about this existential threat…”
 “Eh?”
 “To our nation’s statuary?”
 “Well, Spaffa was round…”
 “I should have guessed…”
 “And his mate Jen mentioned them.”
 “Jen?”
 “Yeah.”
 “Who’s she?”
 “He, Steve.”
 “OK. Who’s he?”
 “I’m not really sure, mate.”
 “I see.”
 “He just hangs around with Spaffa…”
 “Right.”
 “Doesn’t seem to do much.”
 “Figures.”
 “Statues, Steve.”
 “Huh?”
 “They’re similar, but different.”
 “Really?”
 “Yes. A figure is a drawing or a diagram conveying information…”
 “Is it now?”
 “While a statue is a three-dimensional work of art…”
 “Uh-huh.”
 “Usually created by carving, sculpting, moulding, or casting.”
 “You’re quite the expert, Tim.”
 “Thanks.”
 “So when did Jen tell you all this?”
 “Couple of days ago.”
 “No…”
 “It was, Steve.”
 “I mean…”
 “Sunday morning, to be precise.”  
 “At what point in the conversation, Tim?”
 “Oh. I see.”
 “Thank god.”
 “It’d be just after I asked Spaffa about getting on with the car…”
 “How very convenient.”
 “What?”
 “As you’d say, Tim. How very convenient.”
 “I’m not with you…”
 “Well, you ask Spaffa to pull his finger out…”
 “Not exactly…”
 “And Jen runs interference…”
 “I don’t think he’s run anywhere for a good few years, Steve.”
 “By distracting you with statues.”
 “You think?”
 “All because Spaffa’s done nothing to sort your car.”
 “But he has.”
 “What?”
 “Spaffa. He’s been busy. Look.”
 “What, Tim?”
 “The car.”
 “I’m not really seeing a huge step forward…”
 “Look!”
 “I am looking.”
 “Look harder!”
 “Looks the same to me, mate.”
 “But…”
 “Tarp, plywood doors…”
 “Yes, yes, but…”
 “But what?”
 “The bricks, Steve!”
 “The bricks?”
 “The bricks!”
 “What about them?”
 “The bricks are painted!”
 “That’s the big news?”
 “Yes!”
 “Spaffa’s painted the bricks?”
 “Great, isn’t it?”
 “I’m a tad underwhelmed, Tim.”
 “But Steve…”
 “Yeah?”
 “The colours!!”
 “I can’t quite…”
 “Wonderful, aren’t they?”
 “Oh, Tim…”
 “Red, white…” 
 “And, let me guess….”
 “Go on!”
 “Blue.”
 “Brilliant, isn’t it?”
 “I’d hoped for something more, if I’m honest.”
 “No pleasing you, Steve.”
 “It’s not that, mate, it’s just…”
 “Just what?”
 “How long’s Spaffa been working on this car?”
 “Er…. a couple of months?”
 “And what’s he done?”
 “Well…”
 “He’s cut the roof off…”
 “Yeah.”
 “Removed the doors…”
 “Yeah.”
 “Taken away two of the wheels…”
 “And replaced them with bricks, Steve.”
 “And replaced them with bricks, Tim.”
 “And now he’s painted the bricks, Steve.”
 “Indeed he has.”
 “Progress, Steve.”
 “Tim?”
 “Yeah?”
 “Tell me the truth…”
 “Of course, Steve.”
 “Good man.”
 “Always do.”
 “Excellent.”
 “Almost always.”
 “Well, that’s almost excellent.”
 “Sounds like my school report, Steve.”
 “Let’s not go there.”
 “Yeah. They said that, too.”
 “Tim?”
 “Yes?”
 “Are you happy with Spaffa’s progress?”
 “He’s doing his best, Steve.”
 “That’s not what I asked, Tim.”
 “But he is.”
 “Maybe so.”
 “He’s really trying.”
 “And are you happy with what he’s done?”
 “He’s doing his best.”
 “And so what?”
 “How d’you mean?”
 “Spaffa’s doing his best…”
 “Yeah.”
 “And it’s still shit, Tim.”
 “That’s a bit harsh, Steve.”
 “Let me explain…”
 “Go on then.”
 “Remember when I tried to sort the clutch on my Kawasaki?”
 “God, yes. It was a disaster.”
 “You’re not wrong.”
 “Never ran properly again, did it?”
 “No, Tim.”
 “And how long did it take the swelling to go down?”
 “Weeks, mate.”
 “Five weeks, as I remember…”
 “Makes my eyes water just thinking about it.”
 “I still don’t think you walk properly, even now.”
 “A surgical truss can do that to a man, Tim.”
 “I imagine it can.”
 “So it was a disaster…”
 “Of epic proportions.”
 “Thanks, Tim.”
 “Monumental, even.”
 “Steady on.”
 “Am I wrong?”
 “No. No, you’re not.”
 “A total disaster…”
 “Yes. A total disaster, but…”
 “But what?”
 “I was trying my best, Tim.”
 “It was pretty piss-poor, to be honest.”
 “I know.”
 “I mean, I’m saying that as a mate, Steve…”
 “Thanks.”
 “But a chimp with a spanner could have done better.”
 “Which brings us neatly back to Spaffa, Tim.”
 “It does?”
 “It does.”
 “He’s doing his best, Steve.”
 “That’s as may be…”
 “There’s a ‘but’ coming, isn’t there?”
 “But…”
 “I knew it.”
 “You’re living in a car with no doors…”
 “Ply doors.”
 “No roof…”
 “What’s that tarpaulin, Steve? Scotch mist??”
 “Two wheels…”
 “For reduced friction.”
 “And some freshly painted bricks…”
 “Look good, don’t they?”
 “It smells of rotting fish…”
 “That’s the trout in the boot…”
 “And you’re sleeping…”
 “At least, I hope it’s the trout in the boot…”
 “Under a blanket on the back seat…”
 “It’s got to be the trout.…”
 “Are you really telling me you’re happy with this, Tim?”
 “Not exactly…”
 “Hallelujah!”
 “But they’re just bumps in the road.”
 “Bumps in the road??”
 “Yeah.”
 “Tim?”
 “Uh-huh?” 
 “You’re stuck on the drive…”
 “But…”
 “Outside Cassandra’s…”
 “There are a few…”
 “Going nowhere.”
 “Teething problems, it’s true…”
 “Bumps in the road…”
 “Yeah?”
 “Only happen IN the road, Tim…”
 “That’s low.”
 “Not on a driveway.”
 “I admit it’s not ideal…”
 “No kidding.”
 “And it’s not how I expected to start the year…”
 “I can imagine.”
 “But I’m doing my best…”
 “OK, mate.”
 “And I’m not the one wearing a surgical truss…”
 “Easy…”
 “After an incident with a Kawasaki."
 “It might sound odd, Tim…”
 “Huh?”
 “But I miss that bike.”
 “I miss the pub, Steve.”
 “Me too.”
 “I could murder a pint…”
 “Tim?
 “Yes?”
 “How about I nip up the offy…”
 “Right…”
 “Get us some cans…”
 “Sounds good…”
 “Have a session…” 
 “Great idea, Steve.”
 “We can chat about statues…”
 “OK.”
 “And the sculpture park…”
 “All right.”
 “And you can tell me all about the squirrel.”
 “Smartest squirrel I ever met, mate.”
 “Back in a minute, then.”
 “And Steve?”
 “Yeah?”
 “Get us some nuts.”
 “Nuts, Tim?”
 “Yeah. I’ve had it up to here with sodding crisps.”

Can you help us reach more readers?