I think I’ve mentioned before that I have made a habit of encoding secrets and stories in my art work, on one occasion this backfired massively. I think I came off worst on that one shortly followed by the person to whom the message was for, who foolishly shared the explanation with her ‘friends’ who shared it everywhere. There really isn’t any justice in this world except for that you make for yourself. This little tale is all about that I guess. I mentioned a few blogs back how I did some public artwork in the Observer Building in Hastings. One in particular being an underwater scene on the toilet block. I suffered quite badly doing that, both physically and emotionally. I also, unbeknownst to myself, was having the piss taken out of me as well. I mentioned previously how my then girlfriend had spectacularly failed to mention to anyone that we were back together and had been for a long time. So whenever I mentioned her I was getting a lot of funny looks and in retrospect they must have thought that I had gone mad(er). I was also civil to a number of her friends who, under normal circumstances, I would have taken much pleasure in telling to go fuck themselves. On top of this it was cold and I spent the last day lying on a freezing concrete floor. As the people who commissioned this work have moved on and the new managers seem to be a soulless lot who are taking the place in a very corporate direction and with that will probably gut the place soon and my mural with it, I think it’s safe to tell this little story….
My brother is not a nice person, I have to be careful what I say as, as well as everything else, he is very litigious. He has got through a lot of women in his life and he is someone who I would describe as scary which is odd because that was how someone described me recently. Funny old world! Anyway, the mother of my nephews was wife number four, of course my brother never mentioned wives one through three until the night before the wedding when she was many thousands of miles from her homeland of Cuba and eight months gone with their child. He made her life a misery and bullied her six year old son and eventually left her in a strange country bringing up three children with little support and a lot of harm. I sided with her and have not spoken to him since and that was over ten years ago now. It was one of the best decisions in my life looking back. The best thing about many people in this world, sadly enough, is their absence. She had a rough old time of it, my sister in law, but she has always been a worker, still is. Then along came Mr S.
Mr S was ex army, Royal engineers Corp I think, the reason for the vagueness of name will become clear later. Mr S was just what my now ex sister in law needed. He was supportive, kind, he was level and had a great sense of humour. I don’t think he thought much of me but that really didn’t matter as she was happy and bloody hell did she deserve it. My brother is extremely volatile, you could do something one day and he wouldn’t bat an eyelid but on the next the same thing would send him flying into a rage. I had to talk him out of doing terrible things and the only way I could do it was to relate everything back to him. There was no sense of morality or right and wrong, just how it would effect him. The only worry I had about the situation was that one of my nephews was becoming interested in joining the army and, being a confirmed pacifist, that worried me. Mr S had joined the army to escape a crappy home life and had taken a path that had worked out well for him. For others it hasn’t worked out that well and a large proportion of the disabled and the homeless are amongst ex army personnel. It’s always a scary time with young people when they get ideas in their heads but I think it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be that age yourself. I try and remember. Take the incident that backfired at the start of this blog, I remember distinctly being twenty and I was definitely a man by then and there was no way in the world I would has been making the grotesquely selfish demands of the main subject of that fated drawing and I certainly would not have been dictating how and where they lived or what they would do or costing them vast amounts of money. Anyway, my ex sister in law and Mr S made plans to open a diving school in Spain. She being a fluent Spanish speaker and he being a trained deep sea diver it made a perfect combination. Well it should have done….
The version of this story that is recounted in the inquest is not exactly what happened. It’s outside the international water limit though and I’m being as vague as I can be… Mr S was diving with a fellow diver when his rebreather failed. This is a piece of kit that partially recycles the mixture of gases that a diver breathes . It’s bloody complicated to explain exactly what went wrong but what did go wrong was at a depth of around ninety metres. You know when you see those old films where they do buddy breathing? Where James Bond and the lady fodder air snog as bullets rain down from a despot’s boat? Well that doesn’t happen certainly not two hundred and seventy feet below the waves. If you remove your mouthpiece water rushes into your lungs and they explode, barotrauma is the technical phrase as every cell of your body starts to rupture and turns you to mush, it’s a hideous way to die. Or you could drop your weights and head to the surface where you will get the bends which is where all the blood gasses expand in you veins and again your lungs explode and from that depth a decompression chamber won’t help you. There is a third option though but the final outcome is exactly the same only less painful and that is for your diving partner to clamp his or her hand over your mouthpiece so you resist the urge to tear it out and you eventually pass out from carbon monoxide poisoning and oxygen starvation and that is what happened, this guy had no choice but to assist in the death of Mr S some ninety metres below sea level. My seventeen year old nephew told me that story and it didn’t do him much good experiencing any of this as he was back on land nearby when it happened and was privy to every detail. He had to grow up too fast, mind you so did I and so did my dad for that matter. I remember as I child sitting with my dad watching some crappy war film, there were a lot on the television back in the seventies. I was maybe seven years old and I asked my father if he killed anyone during the war and he told me how when he was nineteen he had to sweep the bits of his best friend off the side of a boat after he had been hit by shrapnel and been torn to shreds. There wasn’t any pieces large enough to send home. Suffice to say I didn’t ask about the war again.
Once Mr S died my brother used his ex wife’s traumatised state to his advantage to the point where he eventually got custody of his youngest son and took the child benefit money with him. All this was on my mind when I started the undersea mural, I would have preferred it if it wasn’t on the side of a lavatory but large scale public spaces don’t come up that often and it was in a spot where it would be highly visible. So there, in public view until it gets torn down is Dweebling Mr S at the bottom of the sea without a rebreather or mouthpiece. Drowning, not waving.