Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Actually Artistic Auriel Roe

     I stood victorious, atop a pile of variously dismembered and broken bodies, the bloodied sword in my hand held aloft.

“How much longer must I hold this position?”  I called down to the figure at the easel below.  “This sword is heavy, my arm aches, and I am sure that I have put my foot through a rib cage.”

“Not too much longer.”  Came the reply.

It had been a long day.  

I had been awoken, as normal, by the butler carrying a silver tray containing coffee, orange juice, four pan au chocolat, and a copy of ‘Villains, Murderers and Dictators monthly’.  I had just finished breaking my fast and was thoroughly engrossed in reading an self help article within the magazine ‘How to find peace and contentment by slaughtering your enemies and their families’, when I was interrupted by a short cough from the bedroom doorway.

“What is it, Manson?”  I barked.  “Can't you see I’m reading?”

“A reminder, Lord.  The artist you called for will be arriving at ten.  I have created the scene that you requested in the drawing room and it is imperative that the initial paintwork is created today as we will soon have a problem with flies.”

I grumbled somewhat, but got out of bed all the same, removing my pink Jigglypuff onesie, and stepping into the en suite wet room.  After twenty minutes of being hosed down and scrubbed with a wire brush by Manson, I felt suitably clean and ready for the day.  Clothes had been laid out, my finest mail shirt, a cape of deep crimson, and a crown adorned with the shrunken skulls of the Carol Singers who had interrupted an episode of Morecambe and Wise, last Christmas.

It took a hastily arranged pulley system to haul me up to the top of the soggy pile of ex-neighbours from the nearby village of Nether Stinkhole.  It would seem that no matter how many times I culled their number, the village continued to be steadily populated, a fact that only confirmed to me how important the continual management of my neighbours was.

And now here I stood, a full two hours later, arm aching and the blood of others seeping into my favourite pair of moccasins.  I had had enough.

“Manson!”  I shouted.  “Get me down from this infernal mess, it must be lunchtime and the smell is making me hungry.”

The figure at the easel below tutted to herself, but knew that it was not worth the argument.  The last time I had commissioned a portrait, the artist had found himself impaled upon a spike by the drawbridge; a warning to all those who dared challenge me.

It was over a lunch, that I decided to engage in conversation with the artist.
The details of our discussion are recorded, and can be recounted as follows;

So you paint do you?  Is that all you do? Tell me about yourself?

I’m Auriel, an Art teacher, Art examiner, Artist and now Author (I am only things beginning with A). I’ve spent most of my working life abroad in international schools. My favourite postings have been Egypt and Turkey (where I am now). I like the UK but they work you too hard in schools there, 30+ in a class, etc. plus the weather’s generally naff. 

An Author? Written a book have you? I like books, especially funny ones. 

Unfortunately I have the mind of a broken sieve and cannot retain information. Can you sum it up first in 50 words, then 15 words, then 5 words, and then 2 words? 

A Blindefellows Chronicle is a comic novel, comprising thirteen interconnected stories that take place over forty years. Its setting is Blindefellows, a second rate public school in the West Country, founded as a charity school for poor, blind boys, but long since converted into an ‘elite’ educational institution for anyone who can pay.
Central to this is the friendship between man-of-the-world Japes and wilting violet Sedgewick.

Sedgewick will not be tempted into an extra-curricular romance…

Or will he? 

2018 has been a hell of a year; Trump impeached and imprisoned, May sent to the Tower of London, El Presidente Farage boots the Queen off of the throne to take his rightful place as head of state, and to cap it all off, the new leader of the free world, President Chuck Norris, takes it upon himself, in his first day of office, to give Vladimir Putin a bone-shattering roundhouse to the face. 

Putin is not a happy man to say the least. From his hospital bed, in a rare show of generosity, he has given the USA and Europe 4 hours until he crushes us with his nuclear biceps. How would you spend the last four hours? Make it fun, we’re all going to fry!!

Picture this, a deckchair in a shady spot with a low Turkish table just within reach, upon which there are at least four flavours of Ben & Jerrys and an array of silver spoons (in case one of them gets sticky which is a bad feeling to have just before you die). 

Frisking about one’s idyllic spot are two tame lambs. A hoopoe alights upon a nearby branch, not the usual shy hoopoe who flutters off at the slightest flinch, but one who boldly displays his crest for close examination. All this would be enough.

Your book is about a school. Where do you stand on the ‘best days of your life’ view point? Do you agree, or are schools just state run torture camps built for torment, humiliation and numbing the minds of our youth? 

I was really not into school so it makes no sense I became a teacher. I was dropped off on the corner, waited until my mother’s car was out of sight, then went over to my grandmother’s for tea and biscuits. I thought the life of the elderly was the best. I used to do her windows and accompany her to bingo. Ah, those were the days. 

Which do you prefer, painting with words or pictures? And also what are your most favourite things that you’ve ever created in these mediums?

Good question. I properly returned to art about four years ago – I switched from teaching Drama and English to purely Art and sharpened my long-neglected painting skills. I suddenly had the urge to write after this so I think art was a catalyst and homed the written visuals. 

As for writing, it has to be the book I’ve just finished as it sort of popped out of nowhere… it was a heatwave almost two years ago and I was spending a few weeks in an attic flat in Germany with no air conditioning. I had this funny little “What if…?” idea…. “What if a man in his sixties suddenly and rather awkwardly has his first crush….?” I then sat in the bath, fully clothed, and wrote a short story which ultimately became the last chapter of my novel. As for artworks, I really like the giant ram-sized pugs shown above. 

That one has an interesting story… it was in an art gallery in London and I had a call early one morning from the police asking me if I knew how to contact the gallery owner – there’d been a robbery and mine was the only number they could see on the desk (on my business card). Anyway, they’d stolen the Warhols and the Hirsts but not my pugs. I like to think this is because mine was huge and on wood and not because I’m only a minor celebrity. 

I’d find it difficult to choose a preference between art and writing – I’m doing both when I’m not teaching – one or the other suits the moment.
If you had to live inside a painting, which one would it be? I’d choose something by Picasso just because I’d like to have my face all in the wrong order.

Maybe a Cedric Lockwood Morris with some of his friendly looking birds. Definitely not an Escher. 

Would you like something to eat? My larder is quite well stocked at the moment, I’m quite the chef and I’ll happily cook you a three course meal. I promise I haven’t poisoned anyone in weeks. Anything you like, name it?

Anything vegetarian, possibly even vegan. I haven’t eaten meat since I was sixteenish.

I hear you’ve painted Jane Goodall. I’m a bit of a Goodall Geek as I’ve always wanted to work with Chimpanzees. (I work in a school now, that’s called karma). If you could choose a commission from one of your inspirations who would it be, and would you feel the pressure?

    I’m reading Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There at the moment so an excuse to spend some time listening to his stories in person would be fabulous, only I may be laughing too hard to paint.

If you had to live one of the days of your life as a Groundhog Day, which one would it be? Would it end up being a curse?

A typical day at my house in Madrid – I’m there about two months over the summer every year and it’s just marvellous – great nosh, painting, bit of taming of the garden, walking the dogs in an amazing landscape, proper sleeping, finding mantises, etc. It would never be a curse, unless I got stung by a wasp at the same moment every day. 

Where else can I find you on the world wide thingamajig?

I’m the only Auriel Roe in the world as far as I can see – who else would give their child a name with this many vowels – so Facebook 
Or my art site 

“I'm not climbing up on top of those again.”  I said motioning to the already festering mound of corpses which dominated the room, and were frankly making a terrible mess of my favourite rug.  You will have to complete your work without me in situ as it were.  It shouldn’t be a problem, I am not one who can be forgotten easily.

And off she popped, promising to return with a finished portrait suitable for hanging in the entrance hall of Holbrook Towers; something to awe, to inspire, and to strike fear into every visitor.

As I waved her off, I made a note to order her lovely book too and I would advise you to do the same  (Unless you want to appear in my next portrait).

If you have enjoyed this interview and the others which I am posting please do return. I command it.  

If you yourself would like to be a victim at 'The Castle of Despair', then please e-mail me at and I will endeavour to entertain you.

Also please consider visiting my Unbound page here and supporting my own particular effort at literary glory. 

Thank you

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