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Louis Greenberg

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

That’s brun-koosh, you pleb

Paul Bailey (writer) writes about Constantin Brancusi (sculptor), “How pleasing it is for me to write of an artist who loved his work, and working, above every other distraction or temptation. The loss of integrity, the desire for praise or fame, were matters for lesser spirits to cope with or combat.”

Sometimes my wife says to me, “You’ve woken up in a mood today,” and I reply, “I am a struggling artist, and have weighty matters with which to grapple.” I shouldn’t really. I don’t really have a right. I have no integrity; my spirit is low and sullied.

Perhaps in the medieval days there were painters who didn’t eat or get horny, or writers who didn’t worry about how their children would stay warm and fed. Perhaps back then writers and painters levitated soulfully as they composed and the common folk warmed their hands by the glow of their auras, but I’m not sure; I’m no historian.

Okay, sometimes I love my work. But which work? I have so many jobs. My days are constantly distracted, whether it is the winter sun on the veranda, the barbets excavating a nest in a stump outside the study window, or the whiff of muffins from the kitchen. Or The Amazing Race. Or the Rat Race. I’ve even weeded the garden to avoid work. I’ve even gone to work to avoid work.

I touched on my imperviousness to flattery and the desire for fame last week. I have the clippings to prove it. And don’t let’s get started on temptation. I’m in enough trouble already.

Poor Paul Bailey (writer) will have to remain displeased by the likes of me – low-expressers-in-public – and all those who similarly didn’t know that (as Bailey is at geoethnolexicographical pains to explain) it’s pronounced brun-koosh, you lowbrow plebeian.