I was at a meeting yesterday which began at 10am and its first 2 hours were devoted to an ‘art’ exercise which had no place outside a primary school classroom under the guidance of a particularly witless student teacher. A smiley young arty woman with a wonky fringe and a bullet belt rallied all present to redesign a remote controlled car – to reflect in some way the creative ethos of our organisation. She distributed the cars in small gift boxes to each pair (we were working in pairs, as though at school).
‘It’s just like Christmas!’ she exclaimed as she sent the small boxes around the table. Identical, I thought, if your Christmas is full of forced enthusiasm in the company of people you can barely tolerate and involves the ultimately disappointing opening of over-wrapped boxes.
I sat next to a male colleague, Colin. Colin and I set about the task with an absolute lack of enthusiasm. Around the table others were really engaged - giggling, bouncing ideas around, strapping pens and miniature flags to their cars. I was preoccupied by the stark facts of the situation: this was a room full of professional people gathered together to discuss problems encountered with the Arts Council’s new computer system; the end result of the exercise was bound to be a) poor b) pointless c) a waste of time.
Colin and I took refuge from the giddy enthusiasm around us and gossiped. My ‘manager’ and his ‘manager’ are currently an item. They have been very clandestine about the whole thing – although neither of them is attached to anybody else. It’s all very strange, but intriguing. Colin mentioned that he still didn’t know what our manager looked like. I fed his imagination with various details of her appearance, voice, table manners etc. That way, I thought, I could spare him any trauma associated with an actual encounter.
The finale of the toy car exercise was a race of the redesigned cars around an improvised racetrack on the floor. The track had a paper surface which recorded the movements of the cars (they had pens strapped to them). The end result was a sub-Pollock mess and was rightly toasted as a ‘manifestation of all the creative energy in the room!’