"Do you sell Quink?" I said to my local stationer."Do we sell Quink? Of course we sell Quink. That's a strange question." "Well, it's the digital age. I wasn't sure that people still used Quink." He snorts with derision and sells me the Quink, while also slipping in some crafty cross-selling and getting me to buy two expensive black ink cartridges for my inkjet printer. I used to do loads of stuff in Quink, until I bought myself a Wacom art pad in 1997. There was a girl I worked with when I first came to London who drew wild landscapes in Quink. I fancied her, of course, but she had an on-off relationship with a Scottish rugby player so I didn't get involved. He didn't play for Scotland or anything, he was just Scottish and played rugby. We lost touch around 1989 but I kept her memory alive by starting to draw my own pictures in Quink. My pictures weren't wild, mostly just sketches of fat people at Walthamstow market or caricatures of my flatmates. The stationer also cross-sold me some nice writing paper. I'm going to stop emailing my friends and write them proper letters instead. Masterpieces of the genre such as: "Howdy. Fancy a pint Thursday? T."
Between two smallish trees in Clissold Park there is a long length of red twine that somebody (conceptual nature artist or mischievous kitten with a ball of wool) has wrapped round and round many times. It's saying "we are connected in ways that we don't fully understand". It's also saying "imagine a world where red licorice grows from the trees. Yum!" It might also be an advert for the wool shop on Blackstock Road. Or perhaps it's saying "look how fragile is mortality" or "look how fragile is the Arsenal back four when a ball is played over the top".
A while ago (I can't remember - was it three years or six months?) a wicker sculpture was placed on top of the remains of one of the old trees that had died after the 2003 drought. It seemed to be saying that the tree could continue to have a life after it had died.
Every day my two year old son and I walk through Clissold Park and go up to touch the Football Tree.
"Football Tree!" my son will say. We'll then both have a quiet think about how great football and trees are, and walk on.
But the Football Tree is no more. The other morning as we approached it as part of our daily pilgrimage, we saw the wicker sphere lying smashed on the ground. Next to it was an iron pole, part of a nearby fairground display. Still fresh in the air was the sense that someone had decided that good stuff was rubbish and had to be ruined. Was this part of the artist's planned trajectory for the sculpture - to hire a gang of bored and drunk idiots to destroy it?
My son said he wanted to fix the football tree. I told him that it couldn't be fixed because it was a metaphor for the world's problems. Or the problems of bored and drunk idiots hanging around in parks at night. Or the England football team's problems. Or the problems of sentimentalising outdoor installation sculpture