In a world consumed by the size of the GOP frontrunner’s penis, an unprecedented spike in global temperatures, frightening tropical cyclones, refugees, viruses, drug wars, droughts and rampant nationalism I thought I might do this month’s dissertation on something lovely.
We all take solace from the world’s woes in our own way — some of us in the smile of a child, the memory of a sunflower or the aroma of grass after a thunderstorm; others in movies, music or online gambling. Personally I dip into a sturdy Russian novel to remind myself that life isn’t too bad.
Now, I know what you are thinking — he’s going to talk about the man who has promised to bring happiness, patriotism, pride and unity back into Thailand by building the biggest flagpole on the planet. Well, yes, I will mention him briefly, because I think the largest flagpole the world has ever seen is something to be rejoiced. But no, that’s not what I am talking about; I have recently discovered that loveliness is actually pottery.
I’m pretty sure I made something out of a lump of clay when I was a great deal younger than I am now — a bowl, or a mug, or a flower pot. I have a vague memory of proudly showing off something gorgeously glazed yet disappointingly deformed I made at school to my mother.
It’s not important because I now realise my early efforts at working clay were but a crude precursor to the utter joy that is, in the proper technical terminology, throwing a proper pot.
If you have ever lived in a house, had friends round for a cup of tea, sat on a toilet, or been flabbergasted by the price of the collector’s edition of decorative plates for sale in the Daily Mail’s magazine section, you have experienced the wonder that is clay. That porcelain tea cup you are sipping from and the plate I imagine you are eating your frosted Danish off as you read this are probably, you’ve guessed it, made of clay. It’s abundant, it’s inexpensive and it’s marvellous.
Unlike popular hobbies such as big game hunting, drag racing or cooking crystal meth, playing with clay is apparently relatively environmentally friendly.
I contacted a specialist in the UK recently to ask him if there was any danger of the world running out of clay, like coal and oil and the polar ice caps and whatnot, and he replied: “Who is this? Erm, probably not. I’m a bit busy right now. Goodbye.” Reassuring, I think you’ll agree.
For decades man has been using mud to improve his lot in life. Before there were iPads, scribes used clay tablets to write on. Before there were cigarettes people puffed on clay pipes, and before there was Imodium, people used to eat Kaolin to settle their tummy problems. Even before there was Pixar, there was Wallace and Gromit.
The language of clay is a joy in itself. Every euphemism of a sexual bent is there. Imagine my delicious joy as I was told: “Just the tip, Tom. Just the tip” as my fingers caressed the greasy insides of my bowl, or “Oops, it’s a bit moist…you want to get your sponge in there”. I could go on, but you get my point, and you still have your frosted Danish to eat.
Pottery is like a box of chocolates, you never really know what you’re gonna get. For instance, when one of my pots collapsed, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had made a plate!
And anybody can do it. I’m usually all fingers and thumbs when it comes to this sort of thing, but fingers and thumbs are precisely what one needs to create something distinctively fabulous that will be yours to marvel at forever, or until you drop it.
So, back to that giant flag pole. I’m not sure why I’m so tickled by the idea that a businessman with some spare cash has decided to erect the tallest flag pole on the planet in the north of Thailand. The philosophy behind the 189 metre erection is reportedly to help bring an end to the political problems plaguing the country, and that’s nice. The project will cost an estimated 250 million baht, and that’s astonishing considering it is a flag pole. And the man behind the idea has put a great deal of thought into his mighty mast. Some simple maths proves that a height of 189 metres is extremely propitious. The position of the sturdy stanchion, betwixt Chiang Rai and the border with Laos, was not simply chosen because it is a pretty place in which to put up a flag pole but spot on according to the laws of astrology and the principles of feng shui. But what I like best is that a deal has been struck with the company in charge of building the massive pillar, and that is that they will never build a taller one anywhere ever again. That’s a promise. At the equivalent of 63-storeys this is going to be one hell of a column, with a flag at the top. In a world where everything seems to be falling apart, building anything, for the sheer hell of it, be it a flag pole or a ceramic bowl, is somewhat pleasing.
As we wait for my pot to be fired and the flag pole to go up, something equally marvellous is just around the corner. Songkran, the greatest water shenanigans festival on the planet, takes place this month. But please remember sexy ‘x-ray pants’, sexy muscles and sexy dancing will not be tolerated by the powers that be at this year’s festivities in Chiang Mai. You have been warned, you sexy things.
For those who fancy erecting their own gigantic flagpole, please visit: www.trident-support.com
Those who fancy throwing a pot might like to visit InClay Studio Pottery’s Facebook Page.
And those who want sexy Songkran pants only have themselves to blame.