The Present

To dinner with Graeme and Louise. Graeme says he has brought me a present and he passes it to me over the table.

I say “passes,” but “hefts” would be a better word because the present is quite large and heavy. It is wrapped in carrier bags and jumbo bubble-wrap and I have no idea what it could be.

As I peel away the layers, Samara says, “Do you still not know what it is?” because she has clearly worked it out, but I have’t the foggiest. The only thing it feels like through the wrapping is one of those wooden shields you sometimes see in trophy cabinets, but I sincerely doubt I’ve excelled in a team game.

It’s my head.

Once I get over the surprise, I must say that it’s rather dashing. I should wear no glasses more often. Or perhaps I have aged horrifically since the photograph was taken.

It is not wood at all but a serious piece of metal. I dong it with my fork and it sings.

The head was part of an art installation by our friend Sven at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh last year. Graeme went to Sven’s studio sale last week, salvaged my head, and carried it home.

I pose for photographs, holding the head in front of my face. The couple at the next table find this amusing for some reason.

So the head lives in our spare room now, where it can keep visiting friends company as they sleep. “Not a wink,” is a phrase I expect to hear a little more often in our flat.

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