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If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…

Now a few weeks on from the Sea of Hull installation people still keep asking me have I gotten all the blue paint off yet. The answer is almost. Something about the lotion based body paint that was used is particularly persistent when it comes to nails, although it comes off pretty easily from skin and hair (thankfully). The nails however seem to cling onto the blueness… And while I faithfully scrubbed the hands until spotless – I was lay assisting the next morning and that might have been somewhat off putting for people taking Communion – the toes still look faintly as though I’ve been moonlighting as a lady called Lola at the weekends with light green toe nails. Oh well, suffering for your art and all that. Nothing compared to the North Sea breezes and walking on surfaces that while they may be cheap and/or look good are not really conducive to being walked on in bare feet (cobbles for example are quite hard to walk on, perhaps surprisingly). While we are on that subject though, I must say that the street cleaners of Hull did a great job – considering they had to clear up the inevitable broken glass debris of Friday night in a Northern town – at an even more stupid time in the morning than I had to get up – as the place was spotless. Well done folks (as usual, the people who do the real work very rarely get a look in).

The other thing that has struck me is the (relatively small, but vocal) negativity strain that seems to exist about such things. What I find odd about human nature is not that negative views exist – everyone has different opinions, although I am not convinced they are always ‘entitled’ to them, but that is a different debate – but instead holding the view that anyone is interested in their small minded little dribbles. You might not want to every take part in a large scale nude art installation (indeed, the Lovely Wife would happily inform you that this is the case) but you do not have to. Nor do you need to go to the exhibition next year. In fact, you can largely ignore it. There are somethings far more important that you should be spending your time and ire on – our inability to deal effectively with poverty or our continued wanton destruction of the environment for example.

I’m overweight and have very low self-esteem. I run when I can in order to stay as fit as possible and have had to endure any amount of abuse from people who think it is funny to call fat people doing exercise rude names. Some people are not bothered with that – after all I know perfectly well that the loudmouths are by definition only slightly evolved from bacteria (and there are bacteria I’d rather spend time with) – but I’m not one of them, it hurts. I get it less now, but I think as you obviously age there might be just a tiny inkling in what passes for a brain that I might actually stop, run over and punch the little twonk in the nose. It has been close.

But why do, as Miss Swift correctly points out do the ‘haters gonna hate’? Ego probably – certainly rarely do you get abuse from one person on their own (unless they are drunk, in which case they probably have a huge imaginary throng of an audience in that vacant wasteland of a head). Sometimes I feel, certainly with the running lip, that there is an element of guilt there tow – which they kind of know they should be doing something similar but the pull of the TV is too strong and therefore they have to try and drag someone down instead. Some people are just sick.

I run because I enjoy it and it has kept me fitter over the years than I could ever hope to imagine considering the complete lack of voluntary exercise that was present in my childhood. I took my clothes off a few weeks ago because I like the artist’s work and I thought it would be a laugh, which it was, and I’d happily do it again. It reminded me that we are far, far too hung up about nudity in Western society and it is not healthy as it sexualises it on one hand and makes hung up about our bodies on the other. We seem to have lost the concept of modesty, in judging what is appropriate at what juncture and therefore seem stuck at the extremes and not just on this topic. Which is a shame.

If you ever have abuse from someone when you are making and effort or doing something that matters to you, remember you don’t stand alone. Reality is that for everything we love doing there are people out there who, malign intent aside, simply do not understand what you are doing or why. There are many things I see people doing that I do not ‘get’ but I usually manage to have the grace to keep my views to myself. Hopefully I can avoid being hypocritical in future (always the issue when you engage in rant, which I guess this is) and instead remind myself to be respectful of others views and needs and supportive of those suffering verbal abuse for whatever reason – that cannot and should not be tolerated. Being made fun of; being criticised – maybe. But while the difference between these and abuse may sometimes be unclear at the borderline I think if we are honest there are times when it is quite clear that whatever it is needs to stop.


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