• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 12
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The Crack and the Stars

‘I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like it on the programme before,’ says the tweedy expert of The Antiques Roadshow. How did it come into your possession?’
‘It didn’t,’ I says, smoothing the crumpled piece of A4 to give the viewers at home a better look. ‘It was on the internet, for this monthly writing thing. I just printed it off and brought it along.’
‘You just printed it off and brought it along? Yes, well, it’s a striking piece, and I can see from the signature it’s by Mark Basarab. He’s an artist with whose work you’re familiar?’
‘No, never heard of him. But I liked the look of it, the crack and the stars and all that. It’s as if you were looking up at them from within a vast crevice on the surface of an as-yet-undiscovered planet.’
‘Yes, it does rather look like, erm-’
‘Or a Crème Egg.’
‘A what?’ the expert says, sending his glasses for a swing on their camp little chain. ‘Cadbury’s Crème Egg. You gotta admit, it’d give the artist a wonderful perspective – being inside a Cadbury’s Crème Egg. I mean, I don’t know this for sure, but what if the artist is a really small bloke? Really tiny fella, so tiny he climbs inside a Cadbury’s Crème Egg with his paints, his brushes, easel, the lot, and he paints this wonderful night sky...’
‘Milky Way, perhaps,’ interjects old Tweedy, looking at me, I swear, as if I’m some loony just come on the programme to make him look like a complete idiot.
‘No, it’s definitely a Crème Egg,’ I tells him. ‘You can tell by the consistency of the chocolate, where it’s been gouged out. It’s thicker and has a higher cocoa content. Plus, you’d never be able to hollow out a Milky Way by yourself! Need a couple of lads to help with that and, ‘course, most artists are lone wolves. Nah, it’s definitely a Crème Egg. He’s seen it’s a clear night, tons of stars out, very little light pollution –


The Crack and the Stars

probably somewhere that looks best in the dark, say the Midlands – he’s got his Crème Egg, drained off all the yolk, knocked a great jagged crack in it, to make it look all "arty", and spent all night in there, painting away.’
With bejewelled fingers Tweedy makes a swift winding gesture beside his ear to the woman behind the camera, and, looking me up and down, says with that fake TV presenter’s chuckle, ‘Well, it’s certainly a colourful interpretation! Either way, it’s a terrific painting, even on this rather crumpled piece of budget printer-paper. But tell me, isn’t the purpose of this exercise to write 500 words inspired by this painting, not to have the painting valued by The Antiques Roadshow?’
‘That’s right,’ I says. ‘That’s the general idea.’
‘And with how many words has this pointless diversion provided you so far?’
I looked down at my word count. 'Still two words short...'
The. End.