Have you ever caught a glimpse of something and for no logical reason, really wanted it? I have.
This weekend was a bit of a wash out. It wasn’t convenient for me to collect Dominic this weekend which was a huge disappointment. Still, I was still looking forward to golf with Alex followed by lunch at the Mangais restaurant. The first F1 race of the season was kicking off in Australia so, with them being hours ahead of us, it looked as though today would be an early start, Formula One over breakfast, golf and then a leisurely lunch. Not a bad way to spend a day.
It started raining last night and it chucked it down all through the night. Alex woke up half way through the race so I made him breakfast while we sat with faces glum as the rain thumped the roof and Hamilton drove 58 times round Adelaide. With one Ferrari out, Alex was only half interested so spent his time running in and out of the cottage to prove to me that he wasn’t getting that wet. He really wanted to play golf and I think he has the right temperament to be good at it; only a madman would want to go out in a torrential downpour and knock a ball around.
For his sake, I was praying it would stop raining but had given myself a deadline of nine-thirty; if it hadn’t stopped by then, I’d call the instructor and confirm what he already probably presumed, we weren’t coming. We got ourselves dressed and at the appointed time, the rain stopped. We hadn’t even made it to the main road when, with an almighty clap of thunder, the heavens opened again with a real vengeance and suddenly we weren’t riding bikes, we were navigating a river. Alex rode into a pothole and was stuck. I tried to turn round, caught my front wheel in a submerged rut and went over the handlebars grazing ankle, knee, shoulder and head.
‘Oh dear,’ I said.
I wasn’t going to quit first, though. I remember once really wanting to do something with my father, we had tickets to the Motor Show at Earls Court but the weather was so bad, so atrocious, that he had second thoughts. The forecast was for freezing fog, black ice, downed power lines, jack-knifed lorries and closed roads. I think they were even thinking of calling the Army out. When my dad cancelled, I thought he was a wimp.
Alex and I made it onto the dirt road on the Golf course before he bogged in again. I was finding it hard going but not even in the lowest of his eighteen gears could Alex make any headway at all. We couldn’t even walk in the stuff, two steps and the morass had sucked our shoes off. Even though he looked miserable as hell with the conditions, he still left it to me to suggest we knocked it on the head and went home.
Alex went straight in and I rinsed the mud off the bikes under the deluge cascading off the roof. Marcia came out onto the veranda, obviously having made none of the preparations women usually subject themselves to if they know they will be seen in public.
‘Are we still going for lunch?’ she asked.
‘Of course, darling, I’ll just get changed’
Somehow, the thought of sitting in an air-conditioned restaurant in the middle of a thunderstorm didn’t really appeal to me, half the fun was being able to sit on the deck over the river and enjoy the scenery but if they really wanted to go, we would.
By the time Alex and I were showered and dressed again, Marcia had changed her mind (come to her senses, more like). This suited me fine, now Alex was blaming her instead of me. I rustled up as nice a lunch as I could and afterwards listlessly read a book. Even though I had selected a Frederick Forsyth, staple fare for anyone bored out of their skull, I couldn’t get into it, instead becoming increasingly annoyed with every technical error: ‘A shaped charge only blasts forward…’, bollocks, try standing behind a High Explosive Anti-Tank shaped charge when it goes off, it’ll do a bit more than ruffle your hair. It’s like Hollywood when the hero fires a recoilless weapon from inside a car. Jesus, they’d only do it once in real life.
So I started to scroll through past auction results and realized I had just missed Maximilian Schell’s old car. Maximilian Schell was a fantastic stage and screen actor, one of a bunch of post war German speaking actors who starred opposite American and British counterparts in every classic war movie as either snarling Nazis or, usually in Schell’s case, reasonable Wehrmacht or Luftwaffe officers coming to terms with what was turning out to be a bit of a losing streak. When, in ‘A Bridge Too Far,’ the characters of Hardy Kruger and Maximilian Schell were discussing where and why all these British paratroopers were landing and the possibility they were after the General, Hardy Kruger said, in German, ‘Perhaps they’ve already landed in the General’s soup’ to which, with an impeccable delivery Schell replied, ‘Yes, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?’ Brilliant.
Now I wouldn’t pay a premium to own a car just because a famous bum had nestled in its upholstery but I would be interested in a one owner, molly-coddled example of an R107 Mercedes SL. The car had been bought for Herr Schell new by the MFG film studio in 1977 and he had kept it ever since. He took it for its last outing aged 82 when he married his long-time girlfriend who was 35 years his junior. At the time this induced a bit of friendly speculation as to which was older, the car or his bride. Clearly he loved both. The thing that made his SL special for me was the trim, gorgeous blue coachwork over a saddle tan leather interior. I would have enjoyed Maximilian Schell’s car knowing that he and I had the same taste.
|The exquisite taste of the late Maximilian Schell, a Magnetitblau-metallic V8 Mercedes SL
with saddle tan leather upholstery and an opera singer.
The auction house which handled the sale of this car also does fine art. I know nothing about fine art except that I can’t afford it. Still, it’s nice to look at so I thought I would scan the lots in their forthcoming Easter sale. They give you the choice of either downloading their pdf catalogue or just scanning an excel style list with thumbnail images. I chose the latter, hardly the best way to appreciate what I was looking at but I pay per Mb here so I am tight.
The sale is in Salzburg so there were the expected religious paintings, mountainous landscapes and figures in lederhosen and I was scrolling faster and faster when my eye was caught by a quite unremarkable painting. It appeared to be a group of five figures standing somewhere forlorn but it was the way the subjects were arranged, almost in two distinct groups that attracted me so I clicked on the link to go to the more detailed page. With a much higher resolution I could see that there was definitely something going on there. This was a depiction of two groups, together in space and time but separated by some strong emotion. I could see in posture and expression, the bleakness and lack of detail in the landscape, the pile of discarded garments the strength of feeling between the participants. There was a story here, raw and savage. Then I looked at the title of the painting, ‘Duel on the Beach.’
I have no idea who Alfeo Argentieri was. He may be considered a painter of daubs, a waster of good canvas and paint but in my opinion here he has caught men at their most intimate, when they are about to try and kill each other.
It isn’t a large painting, only 40 x 60 cms, and he has been a bit mean with the paint in places. It is described as ‘Krakelee, Reinigungsbedürftig’, which means it is dirty and the paint is cracked but I like it. I like it so much I’m going to have a punt on it. I may be buying what the knowledgeable would be too polite to describe as a heap of shit, I don’t care. And I suppose that’s what art is all about. It isn’t to brighten a room up or cover an unsightly patch in the plaster, it isn’t to fit in with the décor, it is something far more personal. Even as a 200 pixel wide thumbnail, it caught my eye and I have been staring at the high resolution image of it I downloaded all afternoon. I know that if I am lucky enough to own this painting, it will give me pleasure every time I look at it.
I know exactly where it is going to go, right above my desk.
I know exactly where it is going to go, right above my desk.
|One of these gentlemen has seen his last sunrise.