It is said to be easier to draft 8,000 words than 800. Brevity is a virtue, concision in writing a skill enjoyed by too few. So what was I to do when the ‘phone rang and a rather fetching Spanish voice urged me to write a short [a mere 750 words – a snip!] but entertaining piece [oh dear, a little less easy] that combined three rather disparate topics. Yes, you guessed them: Soccer, Copyright Law, and Banksy. Really? How could I said no? Or ‘nada’. Or whatever the word is in my broken Espanol.
The invitation came from the editor of a well-known Spanish Soccer Fanzine. Well known in the stands of the Nou Camp, anyway. The editor had obtained a terrific image.
A classic Banksy: street urchin, foot on a copyright icon instead of a ball, the print framed behind a sheet of [printed] broken glass. Priceless. They had even secured the permission of Banksy’s office. Yes indeed, Banksy does have an office run by some impressively business-like people.
With some effort I was able to weave a tale that united the world’s most famous unknown artist with the world of soccer (‘Banksy once played in goal for the Easton Cowboys’) and the strict laws of licensing images and text (Banksy once wryly commented, ‘Copyright is for losers…’). I penned a few wise words of witty reflection, some throwaway lines about the essentials of stencilling and the basics of the offside rule, and voila [or ‘ola’ actually] ‘twas done. Slam dunk. Into the back of the net. One-nil.
Despite the editor’s eager assurances, a glossy copy of the fanzine never did arrive. By accident, I found it online. The image looked terrific as I knew it would; the text was a melange of me and my sporty Spanish amigo. The online translation tool produced the usual array of hilarities: IPR was mistaken for QPR [an abbreviation for Queen’s Park Rangers, an English soccer team]. The ‘street scene’ became ‘alley art’, or was it allez-oo? But best of all was the misspelling of my name.
While it was nice to be described as ‘El Professor’, the misspelt appellation ‘Paul Glough’ was a new one on me. Perhaps it was an homage to the Nottingham Forest supremo of the 80s ‘Brian Clough’? Who knows.
And despite the many entreaties, despite the permissions from the street artist’s office, despite the clamour, I still won’t reveal the true identity of the artist. Indeed, in this instance, it’s most definitely a ‘Blanksy’.