The tale of Burt Picasso 

This week has been getting a tad stressy in Chris world, I’ve been designing this and that, pulling long days and been feeling exhausted and more than a little sorry for myself at times. I have often wondered why I even bother as I hit so much inertia (and even open hostility) along the way. Whenever someone tries to throw a spanner in my works or makes a seemingly reasonable suggestion about how I could make something more accessible or how I should really be doing such and such instead of whatever. I think back to the years before I had a breakdown and all the things I used to do for a quiet life and to make people happy and how, in the end, it nearly killed me. Mad as it may seem to others sometimes, there is always a reason, some (possibly flawed) logic to why I do what I do. I have discovered along the way that when I try to do the sound, sensible, tried and tested thing, it goes horribly wrong but when I work by feel, wing it if you will, it turns out ok in the end. But, that said, I do get down and I do get very tired. Fighting upstream against a constant tide of petty spite, resentment, vested interests, grandiose egos and ineptitude that counts for the modern world can be very draining. When it gets too much I remind myself of the tail I have created below and remind myself what the alternatives are to what I’m doing…

Not a lot of people know this but Pablo Picasso had a cousin called Burt, or more accurately, Betrum Archibald Picasso. Burt was also an artist of sorts but his work is a lot less well know. Burt grew up in London after his father, a travelling salesmen,  had a dalience with a chamber maid in a lodging house and did the decent thing and married the girl. Burt had a natural talent for drawing , just like his famous cousin, but his parents forced him into working in a bank instead of going to art school.

Berty Picasso did anything for a quiet life. He didn’t like the thought of upsetting anyone and, where any attempt to get Pablo to do anything he didn’t want to would be met by a cold steely gaze that would shut up whoever had asked him to do said thing, Burt would just pull a tight fake smile and acquiesce to whatever the request was. So whilst Pablo was in Paris painting backdrops for the opera and chasing after ballerinas, Berty was writing up the minutes for the allotment society’s annual general meeting. That’s not to say Pablo wasn’t civically minded, he produced Guernica, one of the most raw and powerful responses to the evils of war for example but he knew where his time would best be used and that wasn’t designing posters for the Bermondsey Mutual Society’s annual dinner dance like Berty did.

Burt was good at designing posters, you could see the innate family talent in his flare for colour and flowing lines. He may even have got a little carried away sometimes with the artwork but when people who knew best pulled him up on his handiwork he would pull a painfully forced smile and quietly do something that was a bit more suitable to the occasion , whatever that was.

Burt Piccasso was a lot better liked than Pablo, he didn’t, to his credit, go in for the whole bull fighting malarkey for a start and where as some people absolutely despised Pablo, nobody had a bad word to say about Burt. Burt would turn up to your birthday do without fail, Burt would buy a book of tickets to your church fete raffle and then turn up at the church fete. 

Dear old Berty Picasso died at some point in the 1950’s. His heart gave out on stage in the village hall. He had been roped into a production by the local Gilbert and Sulivan society (non singing extra) and had been carrying a heavy staff all evening as Stout Yeoman and his heart just gave out. His death made the local paper, well it was buried amidst the other news on page ten, and some discussion was had about his strange surname. 

The last of Burt’s posters was thoughtlessly torn from the notice board at the village hall and replaced with one for quiz night and, along with a few bits and bobs that were thrown away during the clearance of his rented rooms, that was the last that was heard of Berty Picasso. He was talked about fondly by his work chums at the bank for a while and the allotment society struggled to match his penmanship in the minutes of their meetings but he was soon forgotten. 

As for Pablo… well…


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