When I lived in Liverpool in our house 'Overstrand', The Esplanade, Cressington Park, there was a print of 'Old Junior's Cart' by Rousseau on my bedroom wall. A few images that we had in our house have had a residual impact: Dürer's primrose clump, Picasso's bare-breasted ladies running along the beach, Gauguin's white horse painting, and other's a pair of prints given to my mother's first husband for storing dope in their reinforced underground garage in Switzerland, a muddy stick painting of the Fens, again belonging to my mother's first husband, Jeremy. A beautiful glazed portrait of a house by a lake, that depicted a house in my mother's first husband's family. Everything beautiful, of taste and high class belonged to Jeremy. My father was from West Ham and my mother despised his taste. He bought her an expensive set of Lowry prints for Christmas, to say sorry for a violent argument they had had, where as usual he had threatened to kill himself. My mother cried, not because she was touched, but because she thought they were so awful. I quite liked them but I suppose I had his genes.
My father also had one or two boaty-type knick knacks and a truly hideous (I will concede) print of a coach in a foggy London street, the kind of thing that would start as a painting and turn into a real scene at the beginning of a Jeremy Brett, 1970's Sherlock Holmes. Brilliantly, Jeremy had owned the original painting of my father's painting and I presume this must have confounded his inferiority complex still further. My father lived to be Jeremy and kept his Trinity College scarf and silk necktie in a special drawer of his 'valet case'. In fact, so enamoured of the ghost of Jeremy-on my first meeting with two sisters I discovered I had, a few years ago, one of the first things they told me was that they knew virtually nothing about me but an awful lot about a person called 'Jeremy'. Our neighbour's youngest son is called Jeremy and I enjoy hearing his name being shouted through the wall as if the ghost continues to haunt East Anglia.
So the thing that used to puzzle and perplex me about 'Old Junior's Cart' although, actually there are a lot of perplexing things...but my focus was and continues to be on the grey koala-bear figure in the middle of the cart. What is it? I found a dog book the other day and wondered if it was a Bruxelles Griffon? or an old lady? a deranged member of the family who only came out from the coal cellar on Sunday afternoons for a perambulation in old Junior's cart. Can you see it? It's the grey wolfhoundy thing in front of the lady in white. Any suggestions gratefully accepted.