A blue—white scape of peaks and pillars and troughs and abysses— and in the distance a tiny contained atomic mushroom. Clean. serene. Let’s stay here fora while.
30.000 feet above the ground. the view is hassle-free. No queues. no fumes. no accumulated daily detritus ofskin and snot and Big Mac wrappers. 'l'he ozone layer'.’ 1 see no holes. The blind eye of scientific ignorance sees only poetry and peace from this pressurised cocoon. I am a 20th-century animal whose habitat is perpetual motion. with a neolithic intelligence whose options are Fight or Flight. And right now we're Flying.
And yet it‘s still not far enough. There are days — more and more. worryingly — when the urge to be free of the whole planet and all its mass of attendant responsibilities. four-legged. fronded and foetal. is acute and palpable.
And up here. a mile and a half and a whisky-and-soda up. it seems momentarily possible.
It isn't ofcourse. I haven't got the qualifications. fora start. N'o scientific training. Back in the days when physics teachers rubbed acetate rods with cat furs and pressed their tweedy breeks against the workbench as they did so (as thirty ex sex-and-scandal-obsessed little girls will testify). I turned my face against the higher knowledge. ‘Artsl‘ l shrilled. tempestously. and no one lifted a hand to stop me. I wasn‘t alone. as the Arts Faculty‘s seven-to-one female male ratio indicated. but that doesn't mitigate the fault. Entrusted with responsibility for self at an early age. I chose the woolly wandering path of the artist. above the sweet. pure tram-line to the stars of the honed and whetted scientist.
And now those once-despised spotty geeks in anoraks are uniquely eligible fora seat on the star-bus! And I. shockingly. am not.
Finding out that you're not eligible anymore is one of those rites of passage they don‘t tell you about. As I write. I am celebrating (after a masochistic fashion) a birthday.
Sheena McDonald pits art against science.
‘A signigicant one. is it'." my numerate friends with good memories ask with declicacy and malice. 'All birthdays are significant!‘ 1 bluster. "l'hey signify another year survived despite the vigorous and relentless self-abuse of 365 consecutive days
But what they mean. as we all know. is — ls this one ofthose birthdays after which you are no longer eligible for something luscious and desirable and now unattainable'.’ l lave you now joined the ranks of the unfulfilled and the disappointed'.’ Is it — to put it baldly — too late'.’
And it is. Not only will I now never be a prima ballerina (or even an ultima ballerina) I will never win the Betty 'l‘rask Award for Romantic Fiction. It‘s a sobering thought for an artist. and one which. I dare say. gloomily. never troubles a scientist.
()n the other hand. I am not too old to be a spaceman. according to the specification. Just toostupid . . .
And while I gaze glumly on the tantalising snowy nirvana on the other side ofthe glass. the pimpled anorak sitting beside me bursts into life.
"l'hat's about the most boring sky I've ever seen in my lifel'
I look round. (‘lean fingernails. short back-and-sides. 'I‘-shirt with tour details of'l'he Boss’s last gracious visit to the Iiuropean faithful. Yup. definitely a potential spaceman.
‘Not to me.‘ I muster. pityingly. ‘I see it for what it is — peaceful. clean. pure...‘
lle snorts. ‘Clean and pure'.’ Didn't you know that every single raindrop is formed from a particle of dust'."
()fcoursc I didn't. Artists don‘t need to know that kind of thing. But the metaphoric potential in discovering that the world is an oyster after all (yours. mine. whosever) is engaging: ‘Brad looked back towards the planet Earth. its cloud-layer a milky pearl around the great grit of the globe. Pearls for tears. he thought. and remembered how brave she had been as she kissed him goodbye. Would he ever — 1"
'I‘hat's more like it! 'l’ally-ho for the Barbara (‘artland Award for Science Fiction. And another whisky- and-soda please. Mandy!
Thetrail and faded 78 year-old who hobbled onto the stage atthisyear‘s Oscars ceremony may have been a shadow olthe vivacious. slash-mouthed redhead who won the hearts otMiddle America inthe early 19505 but thetinal public appearance belore her death from a cardiac arrest on 26 April, the comedienne won the , longest standing ovation in a the Academy‘s history and conlirmed her unassailable position as the First Lady of television's Golden Age. That such a reputation rested exclusively upon a show which ran tor only six years is a testament to the universal appeal at “i Love Lucy‘. the show in which she starred with her real tile husband Desi Arnaz asthe archetypal kooky but loveable scatter-head.
With her patented red bow-tie mouth and his oily Latin charm. the pair broke the mould olAmerican sit-cums, translating the love-hate relationship of male duos (Laurel and Hardy. Abbott and Costello) into a domestic setting. creating some wickedly homespun slapstickalong the way. Currently seen on 117 stations throughout the States, recipient ottive Emmy awards and watched by hall a billion people every week, ‘I Love Lucy' returns tor a complete 179 episode re-run on Channel Four, 1 August at5pm. (Allan Brown)
I l l l
EAT YER HAT OUT
A sparkling display olover 1000 pieces oljewellery. including a bizarre line in edible bodywear, is being brought to Glasgow and Edinburgh by a group at design luminaries called Dazzle. The exhibition
which promises to be a visual least. literally. comprises the work 0134 leading British and European designers and has been sponsored by Rowntree Mackintosh who are giving away 500 consumable necklaces. The kind at exhibition you can really get your teeth into.
2The List 28 July- 10 August 1989