An Extra in the Blaydon Races; a Painting by William Irving
This painting is displayed along with a key and sound commentary at the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead.
I’ll be reading this poem of mine as part of the Late Shows on 14 May at the Shipley.
I told him I wanted to be recognised, immortalised –
why he painted that bloke with his upside-down pipe
and starving whippet on his arm beats me.
He’s stealing my thunder, elbowing me out of the way,
I’m barely visible. I told him to paint my new hat
with the betting slips prominent but I’m too far away, more
an extra rather than a leading player. Surely as manager
of Spencer’s Iron Works I should be in the foreground.
My nether regions have gone; obliterated, why I don’t know
my legs and feet are up to scratch, I’m only half the man
without my twill trousers and brown leather shoes.
It’s just not on; he should have shown me his sketches
before lashing out in oils. Anyway sitting here isn’t fun
the bairn behind me’s bawling its head off; The Punch
& Judy man’s slipped in the mud for the third time.
That’s Nancy in the pink dress sitting on the grass
with her bairn asleep on her lap; hope she doesn’t
recognise me – she can talk the hind legs off
the proverbial. A newspaper’s handy that way – you
can hide behind the small print. Why did he have to
have so many bumpkins -look, there’s goggle-eyed Mally
and Fester the Jester doing a jig; centre stage please note!
There’s some right low life here, a pick-pocketers
paradise to be sure. I don’t trust that card sharper
or the Dick Turpin character on his horse. I wish
the Scots Piper would go and blow his bags
somewhere else or leg it back to bonny Scotland.
It’ll soon be time for the three o’clock – I’ve backed
William Irving three ways, lets hope I win some notes!
As a betting man you can bet your bottom dollar
I won’t be recognised in fifty years’ time; no I’ll just be
another extra – a portrait in oils my foot!