Last week, I was mostly busy on a splendid creative writing course at the lovely Ty Newydd. Great company, clever and funny tutors (Mavis Cheek and Francesca Rhydderch), generally, a good time. I know not everyone approves of creative writing courses – “why can’t you just get on and do it?” Well, I have been on many and nearly always enjoy them. They get me thinking, and doing something else with my brain. Plus, I’m never sure why it’s ok to be taught to draw or play the piano, but not to write.
So, here is one of the exercises I completed with the group. We were each given a different postcard and asked to write something for 20 minutes, inspired of course, by the picture. I was given this, Titian’s Danae.
And here is what I came up with.
It’s not that I don’t like being an artist’s model. As jobs for women go, it’s up there. I’ve done worse things to earn a living – much worse. Lying on a bed, draped in sheets, bosom out, it’s fine, believe me.
My friends give me a hard time if a I grumble. “Oh, live is so hard, being a muse,” they say. “It must be exhausting.” And I do see that if you’re whoring in the side streets of Naples, earning just enough to keep yourself in bread, this gig does seem like a step up.
Still, musing is not without its challenges. Take this job. I’ve been lying on this bed, turning my neck at this wretched angle for what must be weeks now. I have cramp in my left leg and spent most of yesterday needing to piss, but not daring to say. Titian does not like movement, or speech or anything much.
“Sir, I really need to take a break,” I might say in the end, bladder bursting to the point that I am sweating with the effort of keeping it in.
“I don’t pay you to take breaks,” he will reply, his voice all heavy. “Stay still.”
So, I carry on staring at little Giovanni, who is even more miserable than I am. He’s what, five or six, always hungry, and not at all happy to be wearing wings.
“I’ll look like a girl,” he said to me, while we ate lunch – five minutes to eat, one minute to wee.
“No, you won’t,” I replied, “Believe me, no one will mistake you for a girl,” and I glanced down at his baby penis, smiling sympathetically. Then he understood and,realising that his tiny todger would be out there for all to see, he started wailing.
His mother is a launatic though – literally – so poor Giovanni is all alone, naked and alone.
Much like myself.
We are a pair, Giovanni and I, linked through our naked, misrepresented bodies and the need to pee.
Maybe we can be a team.