“For the time being I am content that it lay there, open to the gaze. It is not necessary that people should leap about excitedly, throwing themselves about in a frenzy and exclaiming my genius to the heavens. In this case that would be entirely the wrong reaction. What I see in the eyes of the masses is a questioning, an understanding that something is going on here far beyond their ken. But they will grope their way toward enlightenment and they will find the journey worthwhile, of that I am sure. Except possibly the Brazilian gentleman who questioned both my sanity and the direction in which my art is leading me - a reaction which I fear shows a more philistine attitude than that I have come to expect from the Tempest End. But no more of that…I have a question of you. Please, would you care to tell me what you see in these pictures?”
Fleydon leaned back in his bath chair, rested his chin on his folded hands and fixed me with a gentle but querulous look. Caught unaware I could only make some ineffectual remarks about ‘Knights in armour’, some fairly inflammatory titles and then, in a stroke of inspiration, I recalled and remarked on his boyhood fascination with tales of Agincourt and other Mediaeval battle mentioned in our first ever interview. I was immediately rewarded by his craggy countenance softening into a smile.
“Well done, you are making a start. But only a start – forget the rest of your nonsense and concentrate on the mystical power of the mediaeval tale. The first flowering of the narrative. Often based on Latin, or ‘roman’ texts what you are seeing is a true ‘romance’ writ large!!”
Fleydon staggered to his feet and threw his arms open wide as though to embrace his work before the sudden exertion took its toll and he slumped back into his chair
“For many acolytes AFC Wimbledon is so much more than a team - it is a ‘romance’ in the deepest sense - and what is more, it is a ‘pure’ relationship, unsullied by the degradations of the physical – well, with some unfortunate exceptions anyway. And what better analogy for such feelings than that of the chivalric romance with overtones of religious fundamentalism and a dash of righteous fervour? We are all Crusaders here, you know!”
Fleydon laughed a joyous peal of laughter that sounded not unlike a small church announcing deliverance from the plague. He then paused to wipe a fleck of spittle from the corner of his mouth before continuing
“Being inspired by the 'Roman-ces' it was entirely appropriate that they should be painted on old Roman blinds from my front room,, a fortuitous but significant coincidence. There may be questions from some from the 'big is beautiful' school as to their size but what I hope will be apparent is that these are in fact miniature flags, designed as processional banners or khorugvs rather than for flagpoles. Until summoned for their final climactic act they will rest in the Tempest End, the club’s undeniable iconostasis. Come that fateful moment they will be taken down to be carried at the head of a victory procession that will stretch along the road as far as the eye can see. The hushed masses of Wimbledon will finally celebrate Ascension Day, and leave the Rymans (rhymes with 'Romance'?) beneath us. “Next year, Blue Square!” as the traditional toast goes!”
So why three banners? Why spend so much time these, admittedly exquisite, miniatures when a single bigger banner would have sufficed.
“It is a fair question at first glance, but you overlook the power of three – “Three..” as the recent pop hit points out, “…is a magic number”. We can never underestimate the significance of the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Ghost; Faith Hope and Charity; Groucho, Chico and Harpo; the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe all groups of that hallowed number. And most pertinent of all given our play-off potential, THIRD TIME LUCKY! It also allows the showing of three aspects of our crusade, our ‘three-pronged attack’, our ‘three coins in the fountain’ or even, our ‘three faces of Eve’. Three, I need not also remind the purist, is when all Saturday games should commence. One I’m afraid, just wouldn’t cut the mustard.”
Left Panel: Scourge of the Unworthy
“Pure in radiant spirit, clean of attire and looking for something nice to do, here the Spirit of Wimbledon is looking to lead by example. The flowers are symbolic of Dorothea of Caesarea, a martyr who was forced by the authorities to make a foul choice. She chose her own route and was martyred for her steadfastness. I salute and recognise her as a spiritual Don.’
“Dismounted and attired in the away strip, the Spirit of Wimbledon ‘gets down and dirty’ with the Beast of Revelations, a false prophet from whose cavernous mouth spews forth lies, falsehoods and cant. Only the Spirit of Wimbledon can finally seal its fate. Some purport to see the crest of MK Dons concealed in the helm above the painting but that would be a coincidence too frightening to contemplate and surely worthy of further research.”
Right Panel: Purgers of the Unclean
"Armed and dangerous with the banner of the True Faith fluttering above his cross-eyed warhorse Elegius and accompanied by his two war dogs, Nipper and Smudge, the Spirit of Wimbledon is ready for battle. Gentle no more but ferocious in his El Cid-like awesomeness, enemies tremble at his name and the ferocity of his visage - and that's where a spot or two of 'Purging ' takes place as bowels loosen at the merest mention of his name. Actually, technically, I found 'ferocious visages' a bit tricky so I decided to paint him in a helmet instead. Not quite as scary, but I think I pulled it off."
Fleydon then addressed me for a final time
'What I have discussed with you with regard to these paintings is all true and yet...and yet...and yet...it is only part of the truth. There is so much more to them than just that, but I'm not going to do all the work for you. Can I suggest though that you think of the links with Great Feast where the clans were drawn in under the protective walls of the Great Hall, decorated with its tales of gods and heroes. or instead think of the great Tourneys held in the King's Tilt Yard - have you never considered the thread that connects the thrill and spectacle of the joust to the colour-filled flutterings of a Woking cup final crowd? Or then the obvious links to Illuminated Manuscripts and the scholarly and monastic traditions they evoke. And what of Monty Python movies and the "Knights that go Ni!", peasants in the mud and 'brave Sir Robin'? All these resonate deeply do they not, throwing up a mass of links and suggestions, thoughts and associations? The depth of this work, the layers of meaning and of interpretation that are possible...well it astounds even me. That is why I am content that, with time, these works will take their place as the brightest stars in my artistic firmament. Meanwhile, until that day, I am more than happy to continue to wear my Scourge of the Unworthy t-shirt underneath my Don's top. After all, a little bit of hair-shirt suffering is good for the soul, however pure it might be.'
Composition in Three Parts : The Mystic Triptych are currently housed in lead lined caskets underneath the Tempest End, They are ceremonially draped over a number of virgins before being hoisted five minute before kick off as part an 'Incense and Chanting ' ceremony.