Back when I was in London in 2011 with my friends Nidal and Jen, I made three visits to Maison Bertaux, a place I’d looked so forward to visiting because I knew that Noel Fielding (I’m trying to think of a concise way to explain Noel Fielding to anyone who doesn’t know who he is, but the best I can do is “surrealist comedian/artist/all around amazing and ridiculous human,” and that doesn’t even begin to do the trick) had had his last two art shows there, and that some of his paintings remained. I’m obsessive by nature, and the place seemed to me as someone who doesn’t generally go for religion as… well, a place that could invoke the feelings in me that a really rad church could in others. What I’m trying to say here is, I needed to get there, and then I did on my 25th birthday, and I fell in love.
The actual paintings were mind-boggling to see, all bright colours and ridiculousness, but equally exciting to me was the writing all over the wall, done in sharpie. Little, engaging stories about this and that. And, after a visit to the washroom, Nidal excitedly told me and Jen about how the toilet door said “wee wee hut”. And on the wall there was Chav Ghost.
It’s hard to actively be a fan of someone like Noel Fielding and not know about these things and so I’d seen photos of Chav Ghost on Tumblr, but this was gloriously exciting all the same. On my own visit to the wee wee hut (a name I’ve not stopped using since, incidentally), I stopped to take a silly photo with the drawing, just because I felt the need to.
And then, I like to say, it became a love story.
Three visits and three photos. The initial meeting, getting to like one another, and then having to say goodbye. Hey, at least I entertain myself?!
That visit to London was, of course, when I made the decision to move here. As such, I knew going home would be difficult because not only was I leaving a city that somehow made me feel more complete as a human, but I knew that when I did return, it’d be because I’d had to accept the idea of living across the world from my family and so many of my friends. As much as my photos with Chav Ghost were ridiculous, and as much as I feel silly using a sharpie drawing on a wall as a great metaphor for my life experiences, I’m going to do it anyway. So here we go!
Chav Ghost has become to me a sort of touchstone, a very small symbol of something much bigger. Like, hey, I made it here! I really did it! I for whatever reason became so focused on that drawing on a bathroom wall the last time I was here that, naturally, I needed to see it again in order to start to believe that I was actually back, that I’d really managed to follow through with this thing I said I was going to do. I can’t predict my own future, nor would I want to if I could, but I feel like maybe when I’m feeling down and I need something familiar and comforting , there’ll be Maison Bertaux and there’ll be Chav Ghost.
And if I can live in a city where I can pop down to a delightful cake shop and see silly little scribblings done by someone I admire as much as I do Noel Fielding, then what can’t I do?
Hello again, old friend.