This morning the Major asked me to create him a book about a chocolate zoo, which is the sort of commission I can get stuck into.
The contents of the book that we eventually produced together probably relates more truth about our relationship than anything that I could write down.
Once I’d been given the brief, I conceived the story as a cautionary tale about the folly of attempting to build a zoo out of chocolate. We never got that far.
The first step was to make the book itself, a botched job of binding with a hole-punch and string. Then the cover. Partly through wanting to live up to the exacting standards of the Major and party through a lack of creativity the book was titled “A Chocolate Zoo”.
Most of our art projects happen in the same way. I become too ensconced in my own activity and the Major and Minor become bored and drift away. I decided to sketch a gorilla eating a Mars Bar on the cover but I fucked up the arm and improvised a meerkat instead. The Major took control and began working on a flamingo instead.
He then asked me to write some words down. I still hadn’t formulated a plot but I sensed an opportunity for us to collaborate on some writing. I tried to teach him using the classic ‘up-and-down-and-round-and-flick’ from the seminal Word and Pictures programme. The Major chose to disregard this, preferring a more freestyle method with the letters above each other in Japanese style. Again we aborted partway through so instead of two exquisitely crafted ‘flamingo’ on top of each other we had some that resembled more ‘flamin’ Koq’.
The Major now seized the pen and began etching out the remainder of “A Chocolate Zoo”. First of all something called a ‘bird-goat’ which I’m pretty sure once visited me during a night terror. Then a ‘bird-Dalmatian’, appended to which I thought was a well-rendered tail with a tasselly bit at the end. The Major set me straight and it turns out it was the bird-Dalmatian’s penis and the tassel was a robust sprinkle of piss (not his words).
Things got weirder after that. A surrealist image of his little brother and then a picture of me and him together, which I considered was a fitting end to the book, a symbol of the camaraderie we’d shown in putting it together.
Until he explained that he’d imagined us with our willies out, weeing on the ground. I stress that this was not created from an actual memory. Like much of the Major’s material I find this violently amusing but vaguely disturbing also. The serious point here is at what point does a parent step in with this sort of stuff? I know that lavatorial humour is part of the lifeblood of a small boy (and some larger ones as well) but also don’t want the Major be that child at school. And again ‘the cross that bridge when we come to it’ that underlies so much of my parenting philosophy kicks in again. Besides, he’d been very generous in his depiction of me.
The upshot of all this is that of course that the Major and I have got a publishing deal for ‘A Chocolate Zoo’ so soon it will be available in all good bookshops. And some really fucking weird ones as well.