Esther Windsor

Outline for a novel: The waiting room

Monday 8am Sarah had left. Snowdrops he’d waited for in winter, felt like glass under skin and the moist earth fecund with shit. Abraham Sternberg composed himself before his first patient, whose mother had sewn a pink pillow with grey kittens and pussy willow, before swallowing turquoise pills in her daughter’s bed. The patient had suffered catastrophic loss of control and self-respect through alcoholism. How would she deal with this new loss?

Tuesday 9am. Anita Ermin Goldiamond. Perched on the Eames chair in the waiting room, she flicked at her Apple to do list: ‘Tell Chloe to chase the new Balenciaga bag and Celine sandals in the cruise collection, and to book the jet for the Venice Biennial and the Cipriani.’ She felt unaccountably nervous about this therapist; he was not expensive enough for a start, and working from his home. But everyone wanted to see him and he was much lauded in the art world. Would it be face to face, or on the couch? She pulled down her skirt and noticing a chip on her nail polish, wished she'd had a manicure. It was like the Doctor seeing you in your underwear, you could at least look good while being exposed.  She distracted herself, updating her art diary:  ‘21 March 2011. The NSPCC bash in the Whitehall Banqueting Suites was utterly magnificent. With the panache of Harry Blaine as chairman they managed to hit it off. Everyone was dressed really surreal. Then the Whitechapel Art + Drama event followed closely on its heels. I did also manage to check out some art as well as party all week. The stars of the show Harry Blaine and Kim Hersov. Keith Tyson, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Tim Noble and Sue Webster all very generously donated some magnificent works. Damien’s work went for over a million pounds, bought by a young man no one had ever seen before from Paris, very mysterious. 11 April 2011. We head to a lovely little gallery called Supplement and acquire for the collection, in the blink of the eye, an extraordinary work by a new young artist. We drop into Yinka Shonibare’s studio and Guest Projects. Yinka was munching away on a sandwich. He reminded me I was one of the first ever to take interest in his work and we have a key piece of his in our collection, called Cha Cha Cha. I managed to fit in a visit to Birmingham and I was very proud to see at the Walsall Art Gallery, our installation reinterpreted by Toby Ziegler. He had very much become very attached to aeroplane containers. Afterwards we had a lovely dinner at a pub, which looked like an English version of a Ski Chalet. I loved whatever I was eating it was delicious especially the mushy peas. Then it was off to Israel for Jesus’ last Supper the Jewish Passover. It was an uplifting trip to cool young emerging Tel Aviv. My lovely husband had donated a whole hospital to the town and Lizzie and I had put together a lovely collection for the hospital.’

Wednesday1pm. Scarlet Wood. Hugging her charity shop Whistles coat around her, she gazed at high trees and Mansion houses from the window of the waiting room.  The blood was stopping now but she worried she'd leave a stain on the couch. Her swollen breasts grazed her thigh as she leaned into her bag feeling for foundation, no make up on again. Her arms felt empty and she held her wound tight, as tears pricked. Would she get back in time, she couldn't afford this, what good could it do? What she had was enough to balance the pain of loss, surely? She thought of the white folded sheets, she'd piled in the airing cupboard this morning, warm, starched and smelling of the work of home, the scorching earl grey and chocolate digestives, in the 5 minutes leftover. Scarlet felt still for a moment before her throat constricted with the memory of weathered and silent ladies tending at the church she’d stopped in, early for her session. Years of scrubbing the stone floor, that was soft with kneeling, hardened hands and silver polished with longing.  One hummed, 'I know that my redeemer liveth...' then, ‘Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy, Whose trust, ever childlike, no cares can destroy, Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray, Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day....'. All that aching hope, for the comfort of God. Is this how it would be now, alerted to all tenderness, always reminded?
Thursday 1pm Charles Jay Hearse. Gurning his jaw, Charles put a reassuring hand on the wrap in his trouser pocket. Only 50 minutes.  Fuck he felt so hung over, a line would sort him out.  Got to get though this clean.  Get back to the studio and close that deal. Therapy was damage limitation; he didn't want to end up in rehab. He had his problems under control. His mind drifted to his assistant sitting opposite him earlier in the studio. One knee pulled up to her chest, swinging her swivel chair and shiny hair, slowly, from side to side, while reading e e cummings. That last line ‘and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you quite so new’. Thank god for success.  Girls loved it, loved him. Better than any bloody therapy. No one could pity him now.

Friday 10am. Dave Hunt
Fucking hell, was this part of the ideology of therapy, making you wait, along with making political problems into individual ones?  What about the ability to pay or have time off work? Why do so many Marxists turn to Psychoanalysis? A cult by any other name.  Being in a collective, Dave and his collaborators were working on cultural strategies for a counter-hegemonic art.  Their practice was concerned with the tension between function and autonomy in art, reflecting on the history of avant-garde strategies, in particular questions related to the reconciliation of art and life and the transformation of the social relations of art. Dave lived his work. He didn’t need therapy; he’d done the anger management course. There was no time to waste. Radicalism was the only way.