Short story 15

George bumped into Sue whilst shopping. “I’ve told Victor about your paintings, and he would like to see some.” “What! The chap who owns Gallery One.”

“Yes. He says if you could take some down to his gallery and show him. He will be there all day Wednesday.”

“Don’t I have to make an appointment?”

“No. Just drop in.”

George phoned up his mate Bernie. “Are you busy next Wednesday? A chap wants to see my paintings, and as your car is open I wondered if we could stack some of them on the back seats and take them down to show him.”

“I can make myself free. You must not miss an opportunity. You deserve to be seen.”

Bernie owned a 1909 Mark 1 Riley; ‘sit up and beg’ type, with artillery wheels, an outside hand break, and a cone clutch. It always caused a sensation when they pulled up at traffic lights. Children leant out of their car windows and jeered. They did not know that Bernie was a gifted car mechanic, and had tuned his love up with a separate carburettor on each cylinder, and a higher compression ratio. They would zoom away leaving the modern cars standing, much to Bernie’s amusement. With paintings in the back however, they were more sedate.

On the Wednesday they piled the car high with paintings of every shape and size. It looked extraordinary. They pulled up outside the gallery.

“This is a famous gallery”, said Bernie. Although working class, Bernie was highly self educated and knew a lot about the arts.

George entered the gallery with a certain amount of trepidation. A tall intimidating looking man looked up.

“Sue said you were willing to look at some of my pictures.”

“Yes. Where are they?”

“Outside in the car.”

“Well bring them in.”

Victor looked out of the large front window, and was amused by the two youths struggling to get some very large canvases off the car and carry them into the gallery. They set them up in a large semi circle round the gallery, luckily half empty.

Victor scratched his chin. “Yes. Well. They’re interesting but they’re not my style. The gallery has its own house style; Bridget Riley, Colin Cina, and X and the like. Your paintings would not fit in.

George looked sad. Bernie felt for him.

“I’m sorry, but I am really into Op Art.”

George and Bernie struggled to carry the pictures out again and onto the car. They seemed somehow heavier than when they took them in.

“Don’t be too sad,” said Bernie, “We tried.”

It was several months later when George went down to the Witches Caldron to get some lunch, and Peter, the jeweller greeted him with “Congratulation on getting an exhibition.”

“What exhibition? I haven’t got an exhibition.”

“Yes you have. Look at this advert here in Art and Artists. That’s you isn’t it? “

“I don’t think so. I know nothing about it.”

“You had better find out. It’s a prestigious top level gallery. Not everybody manages that.”

George walked home, very confused. ‘There must be some mistake.’ he thought.

When he got home he rang the gallery. “I see you are advertising an exhibition next month by a painter called George Collins. Can you tell me something about him?”

“Oh yes sir,” a rather posh voice said on the other end of the phone, “He’s an up and coming young painter, getting a lot of attention and acclaim in the art world at the moment. We really like his work and think he has a bright future.”

“A young artist with a lot of acclaim?”

“Yes. He has a very bright future.”

“What are his paintings like?”

“Well. Err. I’ll have to go and talk to my partner. Why do you ask? Are you interested in his work?”

“Well my name is George Collins and I’m a painter. I wondered if it could be me.”

“What! We’ve been looking for you everywhere.” The posh voice had gone and was replaced by an aire of slight panic. “Where have you been? Victor Musgrave recommended you. Where is your studio?”

“I don’t have a studio. I can’t afford that.”

“What are your paintings like? Oh, that doesn’t matter. Have you got enough work to show?”


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Thank you, Keith Beal