Art. I love it, my wife hates it. So visiting art galleries is often a solitary experience for me (suppresses sob).
A few years ago, desperate for some art-companionship, I suggested to my wife that I could take the kids (then aged 5 and 7) to the Tate Modern and give them the time of their lives. Fighting for breath, her whole body convulsed with hysterical laughter, she managed to wheeze out a reply along the lines of “They’ll be bored in 2 seconds, you moron”. Right, I said, I will take them to our nearest (and best) gallery, The Sainsbury Centre For Visual Art, to test your theory.
So off we go. They are wowed by the vast open space art hangar that is the Sainsbury Centre. They are equally impressed by the spiral staircase inside leading to the upper walkway. But what will they think of the art? We head into the permanent collection gallery.
We start with a Francis Bacon and I explain about his technique and style. The Kids seem stunned and awestruck. We then move on to a Degas. Again, they listen with rapt attention as I explain about his technique and his fantastic draughtmanship. This is going well, I thought, Tate Modern here we come! I then introduced them to an African statuette carved out of wood. He is naked except for a loincloth covering his vitals, but looking pretty fierce with a bone through his nose, clutching a spear and shield. As I start my explaination of primitive art, Joe, my youngest, walks around to the rear of the African warrior. And in a voice only slightly quieter than an nuclear explosion announces “I can see his BUM!”.
The word “BUM” richochets around the vast chasm of the Sainsbury Centre, ripping apart the genteel calm of the gallery, bouncing off unimpressed gallery-goers, their withering looks burning holes into my already red face. Sweating profusely, I swiftly move the kids in front of another painting to calm things down. This works until we meet another sculpture. Even though this one is fully clothed, again Joe wanders around the back and says “Look, that’s his BUM!” This prompts a fit of giggles from the kids, interrupted by either of them repeating the word “BUM” and giggling even louder. I try to calm things down with more paintings, but it doesn’t work. Mortified and defeated, I take them home.
Moral: My wife is always right.