opening: "When you've been down and out in the artistic world for as long me, it's some small mercy to still be able to lig your way into the soirees of more successful artistic contemporaries."
The Whited Sepulchre Gallery: Ushers first show since relocating to Glasgow.
Trouble getting past brick shithouse doorman. Ushers agent Corinna Cleary sees him. "Ed Allan? I thought you were dead." Then I ought to be right at home at an Usher show. - Yes, darling. Stand near enough to the exhibits and we might get a decent price for you.
Exhibits: stuffed shark hanging from ceiling, belly hollowed, chandelier hanging from belly. Stuffed cow, back smoothed into dinner table. Word FOOD spelled out in neon in mouth, all teeth knocked out. Giant sculpture of a sperm, nails hammered into it (titled 'Fetish, doll'). Grand piano, dead rats heaped on the keys.
Critics thinks its passe, very 90s. Remember when Ushers used to REALLY shock us. One critic in particular - "thought you were dead etc."
Rod Usher amid circle of critics. Youngish - all those injections of other peoples' blood. like a slender white candle surrounded by popping flashbulbs. Critics niggling. Usher: no, this is our best work yet. True artists do one thing over and over again, but do it deeper every time. Only hacks change their approach.
He sees Ed, glad to get away from critics. A long time - thought you were dead. Well, it's a living. Rod went to buy card for cleaning lady - excess of lamb's blood on studio floor. Bought her a Thank You card - Jack Vetriano, ironically. Saw one of Ed's pretty watercolours of Loch Earnhead in a Force 7 gale: how lovely you go your merry way unswayed by fashion or the enormous mixed blessing of success. (Am I thinking of Dxxxxx? Yes, yes, yes)
Where's Madeline? Around - too busy to see you. You're not going to drag her down memory lane, are you? Trouble with third rate artists - memory lane's the only hang out they know. From the crit's response, you'll be joining me there soon enough.
He finds Madeline. Hanger on who runs Usher fansite. She cracks glass. Runs out. Hanger on sways into tray of canapes. Trail of blood spots. Critic saying: "Now THAT is impressive, like Pollock only more minimalist".
Ladies toilet. Bloody handprint on door. She's washing hand at sink, wincing with cold. What are you doing here? I'm a dead man, apparently, so your agent thought I'd be right at home. Helps her. Pulls out shard of glass with his teeth. Need something to bind it. She pulls off stocking. He wraps it around her hand. Smell of foot sweat and Chanel: exquisite. They almost kiss. She spurns him, angry at show: no blood in it, in any of those dead animals, all the blood's in here. She takes out rage on Ed, thumps him with fist.
Rod storms in: what are you doing to fuck up show? What's Ed doing there: it's one of the less imaginative pieces of art on display but that lady in skirt on door tells you its the Ladies. Well, you know us artists - we have to keep in touch with our feminine sides. Keep in touch with your own, not my sisters'. She swallows pills? He shoves fingers down her throat, makes her puke. Pukes over his arm. Have to get her out of here. You take her. Touch her and I'll stuff you and hang you from a ceiling with neon in your mouth: finally you'll be worth something artistically.
Ed guides Madeline out, wiping vomit from her chin and dress: in a state of bliss. Driving through Glasgow in a taxi: the beauty of the city by night, suddenly the same city they were young in.