Abstract expressionism and the harmless house painter

I bumped into my neighbour recently. He was covered in paint and waving his arms about aimlessly like a bookie in a maggot farm.

What the fuck is wrong with you? I inquired without much neighbourly empathy. I never liked him anyway.

I’m worn out, he shouted. Worn the fuck out.

Are you now? I snidely remarked, since I know for a fact he never worked a day in his life. Worn out, by Jesus?

I am, he panted. I am for sure, and it’s all the fault of that witch, the Truffle Cream Woman. The evil sorceress.

Surely you mean the Red Woman? I suggested.

Oh, if only it was as simple as dealing with the Red Woman, he replied with a ghastly stare. If only I hadn’t given my home over to the horrors of food colours.

What? I was shocked. You don’t mean ..?

Yes, he said, holding the back of one hand against his fevered brow. ‘Tis true. I forsook the world of men’s colours and invited in the Truffle Cream Woman.

Poor wretch, I shook my head. There was nothing to be done for him now.

Are you saying the walls are covered with Crème Brûlée?

I am, he sobbed. I am. I am. I am!!

The food colours. That which no man understands. The fearful food colours, now all over this poor man’s house.

Lemon Crush.

Wild Sage.

Soft Mocha.

Abstract expressionism

You mean there’s no longer any red or yellow or green or blue?

No, he wailed. Nothing but salmon and avocado. Porridge, Halibut and Prawn Vindaloo. Muted Rhubarb.

Dear God. It was worse than I thought.

Are you saying there isn’t even a touch of white in your home?

Not even a bit, he sobbed. I thought white was white, but no. Now all the ceilings are Natural Calico or Almond.

What have you done to resist this? I demanded. Come on man, don’t be a worm all your life!

Ah, he groaned as he lay back against a rock. It’s easy for you to talk. So easy.

I could see the strength was deserting him and for the first time I began to feel a little sympathy.

Here, I said. Have a swig of this Caribbean Porter, brewed by one-legged hipsters from Shoreditch.

You’re a good man, he murmured. A good man.

After a long hard slug of Caribbean Porter, the light returned to his gaze and he fixed me with a glittering eye. I did my best, he whispered. I did my best but it wasn’t enough. I needed art-work to set off the bland colours but I couldn’t afford it so I ...

Tell me! I caught him by the lapels and shook his withered frame. Tell me, damn you! What did you do?

I went, he coughed a long, agonising choking rasp. I went to Guineys and I bought …

What? I demanded. What did you buy?

I bought some pre-stretched canvases for €4 each. And then I went out to the shed and I found some …

Dear God. What was the wretch going to say next?

… some half-used cans of paint. Men’s colours. Red and yellow and blue and green.

The Devil you say? I was taken aback.

So I splashed the paints all over the canvas from Guineys and I made patterns and then I splashed them some more and then I rode a bicycle over them and then I threw them at a wall. And then I put salami on them and flung them to the dog.

You poor man, I said, overcome with pity for my neighbour even though I never liked him. You seem to be suffering from a severe case of Abstract Expressionism Fake Painting Syndrome.

Not at all, he replied with a grin. I’m just worn out from counting my money. Sold the whole lot to the Tate Modern for €50 million. Now if you wouldn’t mind fucking off, that would be great. I never liked you.




Our lives

House painting

I hate painting. I hate it with a passion normally reserved for Brussels sprouts and Enya albums. I hate it more than listening to Brian Lally commentating on a GAA match. I hate it more than I hate the Late Late Show. More than I hate bad hip-hop. More than I hate having an itchy scalp on a hot sweaty day.

More than boils. More than piles. More than fake smiles.

That’s how much I hate painting the house and yet I still do it.

Why? Because I’m stupid. That’s why. Because every time I decide to paint the house, I’ve forgotten what an absolute shit I made of it the last time.

House painting

I am the world’s worst painter and I know it well. I’m terrible. Police should come and arrest me if I’m seen with a roller in my hand. Militia should taser me. Snipers should terminate me with extreme prejudice.

As a painter, I’m a disgrace. I bring shame to the world of incompetent painters. Bad painters point at me and say, Well, I can’t be worse than him.

I’m shit.

I can’t work the paint into the little woodwork details. I can’t cut in the colours between the ceiling and the wall. I can’t decorate anything without leaving a slather of paint across the walls, the floors, the furniture and any hapless animal that wanders past.

I can’t paint anything without painting everything else around it as well.

I’m the world’s worst painter, and yet here I am, failing once again to learn from experience.

Will I ever learn?