For reasons that I won’t go into in a newspaper published in the town I live in (although when has good taste or discretion ever stopped me before?), I spent all of last week in a state of extreme rage. Not a cut-off-in-traffic fume. Not the rocketing blood pressure caused by the blatant non-cooperation of your children. No. Angrier than that.
I’m not talking about anger’s limp nutritional sister ‘hanger’, either, which I witnessed in the Tamster when I took my super-ire to her house in an attempt to win the seldom-coveted title of Worst House Guest Ever (hosts just love it when you dispense with the niceties and argue with everything they say). Dinner delayed by an hour and a half while I perched on the ledge of wrath, hunched like a prehistoric carrion bird, ripping fluffy things to pieces with my talons and shrieking at the sky, Tammy changed from the kind of person who signs up for fundraising walks and bakes muffins for the infirm to a starving shrew faster than you could say ‘my carrots are getting cold.’
As the room developed a sudden poltergeist chill, a look of complete terror flitted across the face of her fiancé, who leapt to his feet to cook her a steak touts-bloody-suite. “Does this happen often?” I inquired. We were both whispering. Frankly, the Tamster had scared the piss out of us. “Yes,” he said. “You’re usually OK once the only sound you can hear is her knife and fork against the plate.”
This, as I said, is NOT the kind of angry I have been. I have been much, much, much angrier than that. Blow the buttons off your blouse and turn your skin a nasty shade of green angry. Possessed by a fury so incredibly potent, nuclear fission, Rutherford old chap, is small beer in comparison. Fearing an explosion would leave me with naught but tattered stumps, I did what anyone would do: let my fingers do the talking and Googled ‘anger management’.
Anger the emotion is neither good nor bad, say the experts. Like any emotion, it’s conveying a message, telling you that a situation is upsetting, or unjust, or threatening. If your kneejerk reaction is to go code red, however, that message never has a chance to be communicated. So, while it’s perfectly normal to feel angry when you’ve been mistreated or wronged, anger becomes a problem when you start fantasizing about holding someone’s head under the water using a paddleboard paddle and leaving their body for the sharks.
“Come over,” said Tall Gorgeous Blonde, “we’ll do Drunk Angry Painting.” I’d never heard of this, but Drunk Angry Painting is actually a thing. Having now experienced it, I believe it should be offered as a form of therapy alongside Lacanian psychoanalysis and Gestalt psychology.
Here, roughly (I’m no expert), is a beginner’s guide to this incredibly restorative past time: first, at a dining room table or an equally long, large space, lay out some blank canvases, tubes of paint in every colour, a glass of water to clean your brushes and brushes themselves in a variety of sizes. Open the first bottle of red wine. Slap paint onto a canvas while simultaneously shouting and swearing, or shouting swear words. You might briefly be reminded of Rolf Harris-style pictures made up of random swathes and squiggles: “it’s the Queen!” Further contemplation would be inappropriate. You are not a pervert, you are an angry person.
Should you be the silent angry type, perhaps you might like to express yourself in violent dabs and splashes, press your brush so hard against the canvas the wee metal thing holding the bristles together splits. This is not a judging place, this is an art space. Open the second bottle of wine. Remember to drink from your wine glass not the brush water glass, whose contents are now a similar colour.
Still lives are the best subjects for Drunk Angry Painting, as life models can be confronting. To this end, Tall Gorgeous Blonde set up a vase of fresh lilies on the table, and we both attempted a rendering. Hers was a symphony of loveliness in white and pink, executed by a hand with real talent. Mine was acid green and black and resembled cancer cells painted in absinthe and tar. To look at it was to catch a glimpse of something rotten and ancient, something truly awful, like a clown that lives in the sewer and is really a giant spider. But my god did I feel better.