Set in Glasgow, Scotland, a poor portrait painter acquires cash by nefarious means, then uses it to open his own art school for disadvantaged teenagers. But even he doesn't realise just how dirty his cash is until a revelation knocks him for six and we rush headlong into a tragic finale.
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The Pied Patron
Set in mid “noughties” Glasgow, The Pied Patron tells the story of Danny White; an impoverished portrait painter whose beautiful girlfriend has left him for his more successful best friend. On top of this, his staunchly socialistic mother dies, leaving him to re-evaluate his life and the inherited morals which he concludes have been holding him back.
So, staring down the barrel of homelessness, he decides to lead a more pragmatic life and commits blackmail; using the proceeds to open his own residential art school for disadvantaged teenagers, whilst housing himself at the same time.
However, even he doesn’t realise just how dirty the fruits of his crime are, until a revelation knocks him for six, his subsequent tragic response confirming that he has failed to break free of his mother’s crucifying influence.
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This proved the final straw, prompting her to drain her third flute of champagne and leave. As the apartment door boomed shut behind her, though, she stopped suddenly in the darkness, hearing voices coming from the landing above. One of them was definitely Ingrid’s and the other, a broad Scot’s, was familiar too.
“How do you think I felt, having to choose between my mother and my girlfriend?”
“Oh don’t be ridiculous!”
“It’s the truth! You weren’t prepared to stick around coz you didn’t want to be held back. You knew that my looking after mum would prevent you from having all the goodies you were after. I can understand that, she’s not your mother. But how could you choose materialism over love?”
Now Judith knew it was her taxi driver, Danny, no mistake.
“Love?” Ingrid laughed mockingly. “Life’s short Danny and us girls haven’t got time to mope about like you…we’ve got nests to build…babies to contemplate. That’s when romantic love ends and we have to start being practical and sensible. Sometimes you can’t buy the prettiest coat. You have to buy the one that’s going to keep you warm.”
“So you don’t love Bob then?”
“No. The very notion of being in love with somebody else negates what you were convinced was love in the first place. It’s a catch-22. If you’ve only ever had one love then how do you know it’s the most you can be in love? Likewise, if you’ve had several or more then you no longer know how to value it. In other words, there’s no such thing! Love and Communism Danny, they’re just ideals, and you’re just a hopeless romantic. I mean, how many girlfriends have you had since me?” There was a silence. “How many Danny? Over the last eight years, how many?”
“See. Rather than accept that love is just a hallucination experienced by the young, you cling onto the idea, like a religion. To have another relationship — not love, but a grown up relationship — would mean betraying the saintly image you have of yourself. You’d rather martyr yourself to loneliness than be accused of being fickle, just like you martyr yourself to poverty to avoid being implicated with ‘capitalism’. Grow up!”
“Just because you’re devoid of honour, don’t ridicule mine.”
“God, you’re so sanctimonious!”
“Ingrid, you walked out on me coz you couldn’t handle my responsibility for my mother…Yes, that’s right, the very sort of practical, sensible responsibility you said you had to renounce our love for. Then you ran off to Italy with my best friend, coz he didn’t have any baggage, and, more importantly, he’d just released his second album and could buy you the middle-class existence you wanted.”
“No Danny! That’s the version you choose to believe because you’re frightened of confronting yourself…Do you want to know the truth? Do you, really?”
“Come on then, tell me!”
“I’d been plucking up the courage to finish the relationship months before your mother fell ill. Then I postponed my actions because of the stroke. I stuck with you for another six, hard months…and they were hard because I was forcing myself, trying to convince myself it was right so as to avoid hurting you any further. So don’t you dare call me selfish! You’re not the only person who makes sacrifices you know!”
“So it was all a lie then?”
“No! But I couldn’t put up with your ugliness any more.”
“Not physical ugliness, ugly personality traits…traits that were destroying me.”
“Go on,” Danny’s voice was quavering now with emotion.
“Your stubborn inflexibility on love is reflected in your politics, your morals, even in your art for God’s sake. Your all or nothing crusade…well, it’s not natural…it’s suffocating! At first it was really attractive. I was a young drama student and your views helped me to view the world differently — something essential to my acting that I’m forever indebted to you for. But as your opinions kept going round on a loop, while the rest of the world was changing all about us, you started becoming a parody of yourself. You had all this anger at the human race and it was caught up in a non productive, vicious cycle. Put bluntly, you were a miserable bastard and you were making me miserable too. I mean this in all honesty Danny: it disappoints me that you haven’t changed.”
There was a long silence. Judith tensed up, mindful not to make any noise which might betray her eavesdropping.
“So why did you go with Bob then?”
“Some of what you say is true, of course. But again, only you could portray positive things in such a negative way. Yes, Bob’s ambition and success are important to me. We’ve been together for eight years, not because of ‘love’ but because were compatible. We share needs and aspirations. We can travel together. See, Bob’s not an absolutist like you. He doesn’t shout at me because I state an opinion he doesn’t believe in. We have dialectical conversations. We work together...You know, Danny, you’re a very intelligent man, but there’s no beauty in being right all the time. I mean, why is it that all your wisdom is so negative? Most of us ignorant people go hunting for goodness amongst the horror, but you already know there’s no goodness and so you search for horror to bolster your case.” There was an intense silence before Ingrid spoke again, trying to mitigate any upset she’d caused. “Will you come inside for a lemonade or something?”
“No, it’s best I get off.”
“You’ve got to move forward…start being positive… come on, eh?”