Artist Melinda Scwakhofer visited over the weekend as planned, and it was grand.
One of the great things about having her here was the brilliantly positive way people reacted to her. When she explained she was an artist from out of town who likes old stuff, people felt compelled to share their treasure troves with her.
On Friday we went to The Spotted Dog, and before we’d finished our first drink landlord John Tighe had dug out the original old deeds to the place:
Nowhere else could you touch an old parchment like this with your bare hands, let alone on a damp pub garden table covered in drinks and ashtrays. The Old Crown keeps theirs well hidden and customers only get to see a colour copy from behind a glass frame on the wall. However John did lend me some reading material that will let me delve deeper into the old Tudor pub:
I can’t wait to learn about the traditions of The Old Crown House in Der-Yat-End.
Melinda bought the second round of drinks with Art Money, after convincing John to become the first pub in Birmingham to accept it. Art Money is original artwork that works as a global, alternative currency and is a lovely idea. Thanks to Melinda taking a shine to a broach I was wearing, I ended the night getting some of my own (I did try to give it away, I promise):
Now I just need to try not to get drunk and desperate enough to use it for drinks in The Spotted Dog.
It’s strange how an outside eye can make you aware of things that have been under your nose for years. I’d never noticed these pretty, blue-tiled art-deco toilets hiding behind a billboard on the High Street, but Melinda clocked them straight away:
These were the ladies backing onto the River Rea, whilst the mens opposite are about to be knocked down as part of the building work next to the Irish Club:
By far the best aspect of Melinda’s visit was seeing a healthier approach to approaching people. When she told people she was interested in them, their places and their things they were naturally pleased as punch and I realised how stupid it is of me to sometimes feel awkward about indulging my curiosity. It’s a lesson learnt, I’m now determined to swallow my fears and be more intrepid with strangers. If I start talking to you, please be nice!