Lying about myself in order to appear more interesting, 1999
13 minutes 21 seconds, miniDV
Performance to video camera with monologue. Shown as single-channel video with speakers and seating.
This work exists as an edition of 5 (+AP) and is represented in the public collection of the City of Glasgow.
Partial transcript of monologue
“This is the guitar my Dad bought me – my first guitar – when I was twelve. This is what I learnt all my early chops and licks on. Some of which I can still play on this guitar, even though it’s only got one string left on it. Of course I progressed onto much bigger and better guitars after that, going through a bunch of different Strats and Gibson SGs, and getting plugged in to the electrics.”
“This is my Dad’s old hat which he used to wear out in the tropics, when he was serving in the Malacca Straits. And it’s made out of Panama cane – It’s all battered and worn now but I still like to wear it when I go out East and when it’s a nice sunny day here, even. It’s very resilient to the humidity of tropical climates, and… it looks quite good as well.”
“This is my original old ‘squirrel mug’. It’s the first piece of proper crockery I ever had, which I drank my first drink out of. - This had a chocolate Easter egg in it originally. I still drink my espressos out of this to this very day. It’s a very practical piece of crockery… made in England.”
“This is the first picture book I ever had, as a baby, and this contains in it, basically, the first words I learned. The first word I ever learned was ‘egg’, (‘cause that was the first picture I saw). Then it was ‘ice cream’. After that I learned the words for ‘apple’, ‘biscuits’, ‘orange’, ‘bread’. And then I went on to the back and learned the words for ‘tomato’, ‘crisps’, ‘jelly’ and lastly, well - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 – the tenth word I ever learned was ‘banana’. And that was from this little picture book ‘Things To Eat’.”
“This was the first watch I ever had. Given to me by my father, handed down to him by his father, and his father’s father before that. As you can see from its face, it’s a very old watch. It’s got 19 jewels and you can see that it’s very old because all the times on it, all the numbers are Roman numerals rather than todays modern Arabic numerals, as we call them. I’ve changed the strap of course, because I’m a vegan and I don’t wear leather so this is a nylon strap. And it’s wind-up, I’ll just illustrate, proper clockwork. And it’s twenty four carat gold plated. It must be worth a bob or two now, but of course I’d never sell it because it’s the first watch I ever had and it’s a family heirloom.”
“These are my old binoculars. – Very old binoculars, very old case. In fact they’re brass. I’ll just zoom in a little bit so you can see. Quite heavy compared to modern day binoculars, but they’re very powerful, twelve by fifty. And you can see on the thingy there, - ‘coated optics’, that’s quite important. That means that there’s a coating on the glass, which protects them from anti-dazzle and all that kind of stuff. As I say they’re very powerful. If I hold them up to my eyes now I can see a lonnng way, yes miles away. So clear as well.”
“This is one of my most treasured possessions. It’s a solid silver whisky flask, which was presented to my great, great grandfather during the Boer War. And if you look at the name-plate, it’s got his name. And his name also was Alan. Of course it’s worth a lot of money now, and I never take it out with me. Although I do occasionally put some whisky in it and sit at home and have the odd tipple from it. In fact there’s some in it right now, phwar!”
“This was a toy belonging to my great grandmother. It’s so old in fact that it’s made out of tin. It was passed down to me when I was just a child. And it’s wind-up, it’s got a clockwork mechanism down here. - As you can see it’s tin, it’s very old and… it is a collectable item as well, because it’s so old and because it’s tin, and because it’s a family heirloom. It’s a jumping zebra. When you wind it up it goes like that, and jumps. It’s very beautiful, very old, and of course I’d never want to part with this. I’d better put it back in it’s box, before it gets broken. ‘From the 1890’s I think."