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On London: Bedwyr Williams

This autumn acclaimed Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams leads us on a quest through The Curve, encountering a pair of singing running shoes, a depressed hypnotist and a talking goat. Here he reflects on his former years in London with a series of curious anecdotes about the city…

I noticed that there were microphones hidden in the bonsai trees…

Once when I was living on Brick Lane, because of a mix up, some guys from ‘Happy Nightmares for Beds’ came to replace my mattress on behalf of my landlord. Not expecting the flat to be occupied, they let themselves in while I was still half asleep. I shouted, ‘Who’s there?’, and they said, ‘We’ve come for a bed’. Because people call me Bed or Beds I thought they had come to give me a hiding. When I explained why I was so jumpy they said, ‘If you’re that nervous, maybe London isn’t the right place for you?’


Whilst putting some conference tables in position one day when I was a porter with the civil service, I noticed that there were microphones hidden in the bonsai trees that were dotted around the room. I enjoyed working there, it was like time stood still, although I wasn’t allowed to drink in the civil service club for some reason.


My brother and I shared a basement flat in Bethnal Green in 1999. Our neighbour above used to play ‘She’ by Charles Aznavour over and over all night at crazy volumes. We never saw her only heard her. She once threw a few stale bagels out of her kitchen window into the backyard, 1… 2… 3…


I once saw an episode of road rage on Commercial Road escalate to a full-on kung fu fight with flying kicks.


I was a very clumsy apprentice picture framer in Vauxhall. One day whilst delivering mirrors I ripped the whole seat of my trousers getting out of the back of the transit van. I had to finish my deliveries without letting anybody see my bottom.


I once saw Frank Bruno being interviewed on a sofa on the South Bank for a Breakfast Show. I cycled behind him with an urban fox following my back wheel.


I was caught up in a nougat charity scam with a beautiful but deceitful French woman near Liverpool Street.


I lived for a while in Tooting Bec as a lodger. One night when I came home an anonymous black dog followed me into the house as I let myself in. It howled and crapped in the hallway and the RSPCA had to come and take it away. Later my landlady told me that a previous owner of the house was called Mrs Bones and that there had been some witch-based stuff going on there.


I was once part of a small human pyramid that was constructed to reach an open window to gain entry into the artist Charles Avery’s uncle’s house in Ealing as we were locked out.


Before I had any kind of IT skills I worked as kitchen porter in London. I saw some vile things. I once overheard a supervisor who wore an awful trouser suit in the walk-in freezer singing most of Bizarre Inc’s ‘I’m gonna get you baby’.


See Bedwyr Williams’ The Gulch in The Curve from 29 September–8 January 2017.

Originally published in the November 2016 Guide.