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  • I don’t know why he bothered. I certainly wouldn’t have. He had some vision, some idea that the conflicts of identity can be overcome if only we cherish our similarities and respect our differences. Damned hippy. All those weeks orchestrating that inane experiment, what a waste of time. All his life, all those days spent dreaming rather than making money. He could be rich right now if he’d listened to me. Instead of being arty. Instead of concocting a ludicrous project with five people all over the world of different ages, sexualities, faiths and nationalities. Who does he think he is? The U.N.?

    He had it in mind that it’s our relationships that make us human. What rot. What makes me human is my desire to dominate, to survive, to demonstrate that I am better than all the rest. But he doesn’t see how I can help him be me. He doesn’t see how stepping on other people to get what you want is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s survival of the fittest, I tell him. He stares me in the face with that drippy benevolent expression of his and tells me that no man is an island – we all need each other to make sense of our lives. Fetch me the sick bucket. Bloody artists.

    Even when he’s ‘creative’ he refuses to dominate his art. He shares the stage with four others, their stories linking in to one another in a full circle, like they’re all in harmony, like they all recognise the bonds that tie them together. He’s proud of the work they’ve done for this project, though it amounts to nothing. No profit, no prestige, just a statement. He thinks it's a profound statement too, thinks it's 'cool' that of all the portraits in the collection, not one of them is clear and unobscured. God knows what that's about.

    And it gets worse. He let them speak for themselves, the commie. No censorship. No editorialising. No demands. Oh, yes, and let's make sure we're all happy with what's been written about us. God forbid anyone gets hurt. 'Everyone approached the tasks in their own way,' he says. 'Brought something special that was shared, but was theirs alone to share.'

    It makes me sick.

    Really, who cares? But I have to admit, I find his optimism infectious. Though I fight it, he consumes me. For a moment I see the world through his eyes. I see Gina's wisdom, Robert's good heart, Frederick's faith and Shumaila's empathy. But then, seeing them through him, I start to lose myself. I try to twist his words, turn his argument back on him – I tell him ‘You want to walk in other people’s shoes? Why don’t you try being me for a while?’ For a second he is tempted, then he turns away.

    Well I don't know what you're smiling at dear reader. I guess you’re one of them aren’t you? ‘Artists’. The word leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If you’re anything like him, nothing I say will have any effect. Well, good luck to you wasting your life creating things. The links for the stories are below, for what it’s worth. I resign. Community wins.

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