Belfast Telegraph

'There was silence at the table so I carried on my attack. The artist started crying and acting all hurt'

By Cooper Brown

The Cooperman is still in deepest doo-doo. Since Victoria caught me visiting an obscure part of Ukraine she hasn't been in contact, apart from one phone call where she screamed obscenities at me and told me that Mr Himmler was going to come up to London with a gun and kill me. I figured that the only thing to do was take all the abuse she can throw at me and hope for an opening. She hasn't called me since and every time I hear noise in the corridor outside the Cooperdome I imagine Mr Himmler loading his 12-bore... these are stressful times indeed.

Things weren't helped by the arrival in town of an old friend – Mr Dennis Hopper. I worked for him for two crazy years. He was over to present the Turner Prize up in Liverpool. I called him up and arranged to meet him at his hotel. In the bad old days, an evening with Dennis would have turned into a week of sustained debauchery that would have cleared my weary head of any unhappy thoughts. Nowadays he's as clean as a whistle but still loves to walk vicariously on the wild side through other people's exploits.

He laughed like a hyena when I told him about Victoria catching me with the nanny. He asked me for her cell number and said that he'd invite her over right now and sort this shit out. I didn't think that this was too good an idea and stalled him. He was going out for dinner with a couple of art bigwigs and he asked me to come along. I wasn't exactly in the mood but didn't want to be alone either so I jumped into the tinted Merc that was purring quietly outside his hotel.

The Mercedes had a little fridge that was stocked with good things and I started necking glasses of champagne like there was no tomorrow. Dennis never said a thing – didn't judge me, because he never gets preachy, unlike most ex-drinking assholes.

By the time we arrived at the restaurant (Nobu, a seriously expensive, minimalist Japanese joint), I was feeling a lot better. We sat down at this big round table and waitresses floated up to us with little plates of nothingness to sample. The people we were with owned some trendy gallery and really wanted Dennis to come and see some new artist that they thought was going to be the "next Damien Hirst." Dennis is a serious collector and knows his shit, so to get him to invest in an artist is a serious coup for an artist's "career".

The bigwigs were on hard-sell mode and announced that the artist in question was coming to join us at the end of the meal. This pissed Dennis off and we gave each other a look that I knew only too well. We sat through course after course of un-manly, papery things on plates – nothing that would sate a normal appetite. No wonder that German tennis player ended up in a broom cupboard with one of the waitresses here – a man has a certain appetite... I looked at the waitress serving us. She was gorgeous but I had to kick myself. If I wanted Victoria back then this was not the way to go about things. I couldn't really concentrate on stuff as all I could think about was H-F, Victoria, happy scenes, Mr Himmler staring at me over the barrels of a loaded shotgun, he pulls the trigger...

I snapped back into the conversation just as one of the bigwigs was going on about some thing that had happened at the Venice Biennale. He was describing an outrageous party thrown by this Italian count in his palazzo, where he had hired 30 stunning Romanian girls to act as waitresses but they were totally nude and guests ate the canapés off their bodies. How come I never got invited to parties like that?

I spotted the waitress again, she was bending over and I realised that I must be on heat. I downed a large glass of sake. The warm stream numbed my aching brain for a moment. The "artist" joined us. I loathed him instantly. He was one of those guys who feels that he needs to show everyone he's "different" by dressing like some carnival freak. He had metal studs in about 10 parts of his face and was wearing what looked like a Mongolian tent. He was a joke.

He sat down and started off on some story about how he was late because a bunch of kids had been verbally abusing him while he was walking down Piccadilly. I asked him what did he expect if he lookied like a huge attention-seeking clown?

There was a silence at the table so obviously I carried on my attack. Suddenly everything that was going wrong in my life was focused on this idiot. I asked him whether he wanted everyone to start clapping as he walked down the street? Maybe they should shout things like, "Oh, look how wonderfully he dresses, see how he flouts convention and looks like a distressed Pierrot, how wonderful. Bravo..."

The "artist" started crying and acting all hurt, and the bigwigs were really angry and I didn't want to embarrass Dennis so I got up and left. On the steps, the waitress ran up to me with my coat. I asked her whether she'd like to join me in the broom cupboard? She laughed nervously and went back inside. I buttoned up my coat and hit the cold and lonely streets... where did Catherine Townsend live? Cooper Out.

Belfast Telegraph


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