Walter Walter Heres Your Answer

Three weeks ago I went to the Walter Sickert(1860-1942) exhibition at Tate Britain, as I turned off Millbank  I hit the kerb and had  a pretty bad  tumble from the bike. No breaks but blood on the stone. They patched me up and as a walking wounded I cycled home.

The other day I played it safe and went by River Bus which is really the only way to travel. Now we all have around ten photographs of our time, of all time that are in our mind’s gallery of fame. So we have  pictures Mona Lisa,a Monet,a Toulouse, a Turner,a Degas,a Picasso,a Freud, you  pays your money  you takes your pick.

 For me at least competing for places in  my all time top ten are certain Sickerts,his picture of Edward VIII , Aubrey Beardsley, Brighton Pierrots, Miss Earharts Return,the Boy I love is up in the gallery,the Camden nudes all familiar, all worthy of a place.

But as a lover of seaside piers its his love of the music hall theatre which strikes home hardest. The Brighton  Pierrots playing to empty deck chairs because its 1915 and the boys are elsewhere. And his love of the gallery,(Noctes Ambroisianae etc)the cheapest seats, and the whole idea of the boy I love being up there,the star of the show singing not for the toffs in the posh stalls and boxes but for the lad in the sixpenny seat way up there.

For this is one of the oldest themes in popular music. She may be beautiful, she maybe rich,and  has her pick, but she loves the honest boy she grew up with. She may flirt with others but there is only one true love. There is a great country and western song, Teenage Queen. Johnnie Cash sings of the prettiest girl (in our town)who goes to Hollywood but she loved the boy next door, Who worked at the candy store. So she must walk the line,listen to the distant drum and give it all up for the boy next door,who works at the candy store.

 A very old proletarian romance , the successful girl giving up career and or wealth for the lad she grew up with who has no ambition. Sickerts music  hall star was more likely to marry her manager or a banker than go back to the lad in the balcony. But its what made Titanic the film, the fact that love can cross class barriers. Great art maybe  based on life but it isn’t.

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