Elizabeth Wright
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Open Day

“This is a huge place, Fred, look at the height of that ceiling.”

“It’s a museum, Edith, Now we couldn’t come on holiday to Italy without seeing a museum, they're famous for those, seeing as this country’s got such an ancient past. Anyway, these tickets from our hotel were free for the opening of this one. Says on them something about displaying diversity of the world. Don’t know quite what that means, but we couldn’t pass up such an opportunity, could we, old girl?”

“Shall we sit down on these funny looking seats and eat our sandwiches first, Fred?”

“I don’t think they are seats, Edith, I think they are part of the exhibition. Look there’s a card with a number two on it.”

“But they’re just a collection of white boxes stacked up, they can’t be part of the exhibition. It looks as if someone’s not got around to unpacking them.”

“Says here in the catalogue – ‘they represent a condensing of time and space into simple objects.’ ”

“They still look like a pile of old boxes to me. Let’s go on into that next room, I can see some benches there. We’ll have a sit down, eat our sandwiches and admire those paintings. ……...Well, these must be daubings by children. Aren’t they weird?”

“The catalogue says these are the works from students from the school of Picasso.”

“Must have been a poor teacher. Look at that flattened face on that picture, with a parsnip nose and only one eye.”

“Well, maybe the sitter did only have one eye and had been run over by a steam roller. The catalogue says they are all worth millions between them.”

“Well, I wouldn’t hang any of them on our sitting-room wall. They’d frighten the cats. Look at that one – a half open window that’s not even square, with a table underneath and a vase of droopy flowers slapped on the top. Who’d want to buy that? And over there – did they throw a pot of paint onto the canvas and then ride a bicycle over it. A nonsense of colour.…………..Tomato and cucumber or cheese?”

“Cheese, please Edith. – Well, we might not want to buy them, but some people are willing to part with lots of money for those.”

“More fool them, Fred. We’d better put these sandwiches away, there’s a man in uniform over there making gestures to us. You haven’t been dropping crumbs again?”

“Come on, old girl; let’s have a look at the next room. This one is about gladiators and fighting each other in the arena. They used to get dressed up in these special clothes, and using those fearsome long spiked staves, try to kill one another.”

“Nothing much has changed over the years then. Now we’ve got football hooligans with baseball bats, chairs and bottles.”

“They’re just supporting their teams with great enthusiasm.”

“Not when they are bashing each other to bits. Let’s move on. Did you put those sandwiches back in their container to keep them fresh? They’ll do for later.

Talking about food, what’s a cut up pickled pig doing in those two glass containers?”

“It’s a Damien Hurst display, Edith – some statement about feeding the world.”

“It looks more like he didn’t know how to handle a bacon slicer. And as for feeding the world, why put it into two glass boxes? That pig would have kept our over 60’s club in roast dinners for months.”

“Right, into the next room, old girl.”

“Fred, Fred, there’s a statue of a man in here with no clothes on and he’s showing all his twiddly bits.”

“It’s only a statue, Edith, probably thousands of years old. That’s how they represented people in those days.”

“But he’s missing an arm.”

“Maybe it dropped off when they dug him up. Anyway if they found his limb, they couldn’t just fix it back with a couple of long number 8 screws and a few drops of superglue. This is a priceless treasure, it doesn’t work like that. It needs experts to put him back together. I say, old girl, are you all right, you’re shaking. Hang onto your zimmer frame a bit more firmly, or do you want to sit down?”

“It’s him, in his masculine muscular finery, he’s making me go all unnecessary. What a handsome hunk, even with an arm missing. Look at those powerful muscles; I’d just love to run my fingers up and down those strong legs. Hold onto me, Fred, I think I’m going to pass out.”

“Edith, what’s come over you, you’re not usually like this. That man in uniform is watching us again…….. Look, there are some statues of ladies along here. They’ve only got a few clothes too. My, they’re what you’d call voluptuous; they’d have needed bigger bras than yours, old girl, hammocks even."

“Don’t be rude Fred, you’ve never complained about my figure in the 40 years we’ve been together.”

“You’re all right, old girl. ……This one’s a corker. Venus de Milo. Say’s here she’s the perfect representation of womanhood.”

“But she’s got no arms either and her fancy knickers are almost falling off. Mind you, with no arms she couldn’t pull them up. She looks a bit of a floozy………. Put your eyeballs back in, Fred. I think we’d better go.”

“I wonder where they serve a decent cup of tea around here.”


Prize winning entry for Anderida Writers, Eastbourne, competition. 2010.


© Elizabeth Wright