Wednesday 25 January 2012

The Leonardo exhibition

'I went to see the Leonardo exhibition,' I tell Dan, who's driving home after buying a digital box. 'It's the hottest ticket in town.'

'I assume we're talking about di Caprio,' he says, deadpan.

I burst out laughing. 'I wonder what an exhibition on di Caprio would actually consist of?'

'A lock of hair, a pair of boots...' suggests Dan.

'The broken handcuffs from Titanic...'

'That bit would be interactive - you'd have to test your skill at bringing down the axe in just the right place so as not to chop off the out-of-work actor's hands.'

I'm warming to the idea. 'Maybe they could do a simulated flight over Beverly Hills where he crashed into all those houses when he was playing William Randolph Hearst or Hugh Heffner or Howard Hodgkin or whoever he was.'

'Speaking of which,' Dan says, 'I don't actually have Hodgkin's lymphoma, you'll be pleased to hear. But I can't remember the specific symptoms that after a lot of testing I didn't actually have.'

'That's nice,' I say. 'Anyway,'

'I think it was just a pain in the armpit.'

'...who was that bloke who was flying the plane?' I splutter.

'Douglas Bader?'

'No! In The Aviator.'

'Do you mean Howard Hughes?'

'Yes! Who exactly was Howard Hughes again?'

'The bloke di Caprio was playing when he crashed through the ceiling of that old bint's house.'

'Anyway, there'd have to be movie clips capturing those key moments...'

'Oh yes,' says Dan, 'they'd be the glue that held the exhibits together.'

You see, Dan and I could go into business together creating marvellous interactive exhibitions, as part of my portfolio of successful and fulfilling careers. Oh, except, Howard Hughes, who I'm just checking out online, said, 'Never have a partner.' And he was a billionaire. Mad reclusive, though.

'Anyway, the good news about the Leonardo was,' I say, trying to remember what it was about da Vinci that I thought was a good message to take home...

'They had his missing ear!'

I'm gasping for breath. 'No! The good news was, he was highly distractible, and hardly ever finished anything, so despite only...'

'So really that painting of him without an ear was just an unfinished painting?'

Oh God! My ribs hurt. 'So despite only completing a handful of works, he still went down in history as one of the most...'


I battle on. '...brilliant, seminal... influential... amazingly clever... I'm struggling here... peers of the realm... no, you know, Best Painters Of All Time. And the blueprint ... what is the word I want? Embryonic.... No...'


'Spearheading.... No. Archetypal! No. I nearly had it then. Forerunner. Oh God, what is it? The... the...  I'm trying to describe that he was the-one-that-began-it-all-and-encapsulates-it-all Renaissance Man.'

'Trouble is, by throwing all those words at me you've done my head in too. Didn't it say in the exhibition?'


'Didn't he design the aeroplane that Howard Hughes crashed?' asks Dan before I can look up the exhibition booklet. 'As well as designing the theme tune for... it wasn't Civilization? Men at War. World at War. World at One. What was that programme?'

'Give me the tune.'

'It wasn't a tune! It was a man on a circle doing star jumps...'

'Hang on, hang on... yes, you're right, he did design that ... that...'


'No the... credits for...'

'...the credit crunch...'

'Oh God!' I'm weeping and I can't breathe. 'Please let my brain catch up!'

'Didn't he design a helicopter? I'm sure he designed a helicopter and then he went on to design an aeroplane that Howard Hughes crashed but he didn't quite finish it, that was the problem. He left out the landing gear...'

'World in Action!' I say, triumphant. 'It says here, the centrepiece of the World in Action theme tune...'

'It wasn't a tune!'

'...titles was Leonardo...'

'...di Caprio doing star jumps.'

Thank God. Dan's gone out of range. Deep breaths, deep breaths. Haaa. Deep sigh. Composure. Now, let's look at my Leonardo exhibition booklet. Oh. It doesn't say he was a Renaissance Man at all. It says he was a polymath.

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