How do I write this without sounding pitiful? Ummm ... OK, here goes. A very nice Englishman on holiday walked down my driveway a couple of days ago. The sound of his feet on the gravel took me away from the wheel and the half-thrown serving bowl spinning there. "Hello," he said. "We're on holiday in Hyannis and I found you on the internet, and saw a reference on your website to Warren McKenzie and Randy Johnston."
That much was true. Several months ago, McKenzie and Johnston both had wonderful simultaneous shows in Massachusetts - McKenzie at the Fuller Museum in Brockton and Johnston at the Pucker Gallery in Boston. I wrote about them in a blog post, which is no doubt what this nice man from the Lake District found online.
At this point, we go a bit off the rails, though I didn't realize it at the time. Yes, I said, I'd seen the shows I wrote about. Lovely work, I'm an admirer of both, etc. "Yes, well," he said, "I've bought some of Mr. Johnston's work at the Pucker, but it's terribly dear, isn't it? These pots are so expensive at these galleries, even though the people at the Pucker were extremely nice to me, showed me all around all the upper floors, saw some wonderful pots ..."
Yes, I said, it's a great gallery. They let you look at anything, even if you're unlikely to buy. The conversation went on like this for a few minutes - gallery talk, high price of pots by well-known potters talk, and so on. "Well," I said, "We have two galleries here. One in the back yard where most of the pots are and one upstairs where the special pots from the kiln are. I'm happy to show you both." And I led him to the shed in the back yard.
"Look around, take as much time as you want," I said. "I'll be working in the studio. When you're through here, come on back and I'll show you the pots upstairs."
I went back to work. He was back quickly, after a very brief visit that I have come to recognize as the "ain't nothing I like in here" time period.
But I wiped my hands and brought him to the back of the studio, through the door and part way up the stairs to the pots that I think are my best. "I'm afraid I've made a mistake," he said. "I thought this was a gallery that sold McKenzie and Johnston pots. I see that that's not so."
Aha ... he thought he would find cheap pots here by famous potters.
"Nooooo ... I would never have written that," I said. "Or, I think, even implied it. No, all I have here are my own pots." (I was being polite; I know damn well that nowhere in my blog is there anything that implies I handle anyone else's pots, let alone Warren's or Randy's.)
He got to the top of the stairs, into the room where my pots are displayed. He kept talking about his mistake and about seeing Lucie Rie and Hans Coper pots at Galerie Besson in London, about the high prices at London's Craft Potters Association gallery. He never looked at the pots. Didn't stray from the top step, didn't wander at all in the small gallery.
He talked quite a long time, longer than necessary. And I was polite and contributed to the conversation, and then we went back downstairs and he said goodbye and walked back up the gravel driveway to his wife - not a pot-lover - who waited in the car the whole time.
I went back to throwing my serving bowls. It took a few minutes for me to be pissed.
And I still am.