“It’s spot on. I love it!” says my client.
“I’m glad you like it,” says I, knowing from long experience that he does indeed like it now, but his wife hasn’t seen it yet, or his daughter, or her boyfriend, or his brother-in-law, or the woman next door, or the guy who cleans the pool, or whatever Tom, Dick of Harry will be dragged off the street in the days ahead to judge it.
I don’t mind. By this stage in my largely unsuccessful career as a portrait painter, at least I know the score. As early 20th century American portrait painter Eugene Speicher once observed: “A portrait is a picture in which there is something wrong with the mouth.”
This time it’s the left eye. Sadly, I failed to spot the mistake, as did my client, but his wife’s sister-in-law’s noticed it immediately.
“The left eye is wrong!” she shrieked as soon as she saw it. “Can you not all see that? It’s totally wrong!”
“Well, it looks okay to me,” said my client. “That’s the way the eye is.”
“It certainly is not! Just look at it! It’s nothing at all like the other eye. Here, gimme a photograph and let’s compare. I bet it’s different.”
The photograph, taken under different lighting and from a different angle, proves that I made a hash of the left eye, while the merest glance at the portrait itself shows it to be different – as all eyes are – from the other eye. It takes the loudest and most opinionated of the group to convince the rest, and despite the evidence before their own eyes, they are gradually convinced. I get the call from my client a few days later.
“I hate to have to ask you to change it, but we are all agreed….”
I tell you this, not so you can commiserate or send pennies to my piggy bank, but because it reflects the essential problem with the Lisbon Treaty.
Any treaty involving twenty seven countries is twenty seven portraits in the painting. It will never be right. Oh yes, it may delight the Germans and the French, and it may be touched up to suit the special sensitivities of the Irish, but somebody out there will find something wrong with the left eye. This time not the Irish, who signed the wrong treaty and left me out of the Schengen area.
Now it is the turn of the Czechs. I’ve never known one intimately, but any nation whose language can czallenge us with sucz an awkward spelling of its very name, and which can have up to four consonants in a five-letter word, has to be suspect, The result is anybody’s guess.
Not that it matters. If the Czech president signs, somebody else will not. And if, by some miracle, all twenty seven nations agree, then somebody – the loudest and most opinionated of the group – will find something wrong with the left eye and convince the rest.
Filed under: General by Vivion O'Kelly