Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ten Umbrellas.

I plod along. All the other kids around laughing, what's funny? I'm concentrating on the lines. The lines and the cars. Cannot step on the lines, and need to count the cars. Not parked cars, but cars in motion. So far no yellow, no green, no white, only one red, three blue, six black and fourteen grey. Grey always comes out on top, I don't know why. Red is the best colour. Clever people should know that. The Red Planet, Mars looks red because of the iron oxide there, plus there's the great red spot in Jupiter. It's the colour of blood, warns of danger and people say the colour of love, which apparently is a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. There's two more silver cars zipped by. The first is definately going over the 30km limit, but I didn't manage to catch the reg of that one.
'Careful now, Conall. Keep walking'. Anne's hand shunts me along. Some of the other kids have passed us out. One yellow and another black.
'We're nearly there now. You're doing great!' I could have got the reg of the first car, if only that second one didn't follow so soon behind. I step on the road to avoid a network of lines on the path.
There's the gallery, in front. I was there once before to see an exhibition called 'Wheels of Motion'. There was an installation that used water to move a wheel, that moved pebbles that went back to start the water flowing. It was obvious that the pebbles were too small, and were stilting the movement. I was just fixing it, but Dad dragged me off, apologizing.
'Why are you sorry?' I asked.
He shook his head and didn't tell me why. I still don't know what the problem was.

The building is good. Corinthian columns, but not original. The first documented was the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, erected in 334 BC, but this is a pretty good copy.
Thirty four steps to the door, that means fifty one for me. Left, right-left, right, left-right...
'Come on now, Conall. Try to walk properly'. Anne's hand firmly takes my wrist, and tries to make me go to her pace.
'No!', I think, but don't say it.
I plant both feet on step 13, pull my arm away and fold my arms. I look up and notice all the kids are already gone in.
'Nnnnnneeeeeaaaaa'. I block my ears with the heels of my hands, but the noise is just as loud! I look up and see it overhead. I jump down, wrap myself up small, ears still covered. I pull my hood tightly over my head.
I see Anne's foot just beside me.
'Ah, Conall, come on now, it's only a plane. We talked about this.'
She crouches down close to me. I pull away, start rocking.
'Don't worry, Conall, I'm not going to touch you.'
A pair of footsteps pass by, black pointy business shoes and clip clop high-heeled boots.
'Count to ten slowly, take deep breaths, just like we practiced'.
Don't like the number ten. Instead I breathe in and out for seven seconds each. Big blowey breaths, like Mummy practicing her yoga.

We are late for the guided tour but that's fine by me. I prefer to just look at the pictures anyway.
'Oh, we've missed the tour, what a pity'.
'Is it a pity?'
I walk off away from the noise. I look in the door of one big room.
'Oh, lovely! The Impressionists', comes Annes voice right beside me.
I scan the pictures quickly. All fuzzy and mute, like a photo not in focus. I keep walking.
'Oh Conall, wait. Look at them properly. Here, can you see the church?' Anne is clutching my wrist, so I shake her off.
I look for about thirty seconds to keep Anne happy. I edge away, Anne following closely, and I go through a glass door. It's quieter here, darker too.
This exhibition is called Fifty Shades. They are mistaken though, there's way more than fifty shades. And technically a tint is the mixture of a color with white, which increases lightness, and a shade is the mixture of a color with black, which reduces lightness. So looking at most of the pictures in this room, it's more about tints than shades.
'It shouldn't be called Fifty Shades you know'. I start to explain this to Anne, but she just gives a half smile, half grimace.
'Ah don't worry about it Conall'.
'I'm not worried about it. I was just saying...'

Later, back at school, we have to prepare a report about what we saw at the gallery. Ms. Newman is asking us all about the pictures we saw.
'I want you to really look at what the artist is trying to say, what message are they giving in their painting'.
I'm working out some tricky maths problems. But I am listening a bit too. 'Keeping my ears open', as Anne says, though I really can't imagine shutting them, locking them up with a key.
'So what drew your attention, Conall?'
'The name of it was Rainy Day at my university by Maja Wronska'.
'Lovely! And what was it in this picture you liked?'
'I didn't say I liked it'. I shake my head.
'Well...what was it that drew your attention, then?'
'There were ten umbrellas. Ten is bad but the tessalating tiles were good. So that cancels itself out. But umbrellas give shade too. The exhibition was 'Fifty Shades', So Anne thinks the artist might be having a bit of a joke. Ha ha!'
'Ah...well, thank you Conall. That is indeed...interesting. I will look forward to reading more in your report'.
Anne is beside me, cutting out stuff. She winks at me. I get back to my tricky problems.

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