The benchmark by which I measure disappointment in life is ‘Caravaggio – The Final Years’. The 2005 National Gallery show featured just 16 late works by one of my favourite artists, the master of dark shadows and searing light. The exhibition was lauded, applauded and generally agreed upon by all and sundry to be really rather good.
But I never saw a single one of the paintings in that show.
Days and weeks floated by, somehow I just couldn’t find time to go along. On the very last day I decided to put an end to the madness. I awoke early and headed off to queue for a ticket. When I arrived at 8am the line of people had already weaved its way around the building but after two and a half hours standing in the howling gusts and drizzle I finally reached the front of the queue, ready to pay for my ticket.
I hit a snag. My wallet was not in my bag.
But then, oh! sweet relief I had my cheque book with me.
Then a final insurmountable obstacle: gallery policy was not to accept any cheque without a guarantee card. No exceptions. Despite my desperate pleading, complete with smarting eyes and quivering lip the stone faced cashier was unrelenting.
I remain convinced his veined marble visage was only in place to cover an unbeating heart of black obsidian and have forgiven errant lovers more readily than I could forgive that horrid jobsworth.
I freely admit that my short cycle home was a blurry mess of tears. I’d blown my last chance of seeing this once in a lifetime show and other than the despised cashier, really only had myself to blame. Even now, when referring to events unattended, missed opportunities and suchlike I am likely to conclude that at least it wasn’t as traumatic as ‘The Caravaggio Incident’.
It has taken these six years to experience a similar disappointment.
Pitt Cue installed their shiny food truck under Hungerford Brigde where they have been peddling pulled pork, brisket and other smoked delights over the whole summer. It has been received with rapturous delight and universal acclaim. I’ve been several times, but they’ve either been closed, or sold out. Someone’s timing totally sucks. Probably mine.
Yesterday I decided enough was enough, got up rather late and winged my way to the South Bank for I knew it was the last opportunity to savour the delights purveyed through the serving hatch of the Pitt Cue trailer. I stood in the queue. There was a bit of the howling gusts, but the drizzle had passed. I got to the front of the queue after not too long, money at the ready, wallet in hand.
And then. The crushing blow.
The boy ahead of me in the queue, whose fine face I had been admiring to while away the waiting time, had been served the very last portion of food.
I didn’t weep. I don’t hate the cashiers or the pretty queue boy. But I am sad.
There is something to take comfort in however: that the logistics involved in organising repeat ‘showing’ of the Pitt Cue trailer are not quite so insurmountable as the gathering together of the fragile precious artworks of a certain moody, mysterious, even murderous 16th century painter.