Tractor Obsessive

Visiting my local library the other day I noticed one of the many books it keeps on tractors had been slipped in among the art books. Now this might tell us several things – that the boy – and you can be sure it was a boy – looking at it simply wandered away from the tractor section and slipped the book into a space he happened upon which was in the art section or he might not have realised library books are coded for easier retrieval or he may not have cared where he placed the books or he might have been making a statement that tractors are designed therefore deserve to be found alongside art and design volumes.

It reminded me of a teacher I know who was taking a ‘please take’ in a country school around here, Kemnay, I think. A ‘please take’ for the uninitiated is the system in schools when a teacher is nabbed by a member of senior staff to take a class for a teacher who is absent, usually again. ‘Please take’ is the polite name for this system. The teacher was asked to take an art class. Not being an art teacher and there being no work left for the class, the teacher gave out paper and drawing materials and told the class to draw anything they liked.
‘Anything?’ asked one young teenage loon.
‘Aye, anything,’ repeated the teacher.
‘Even nekkid ladies? Asked the loon.
‘Aye.’ Confirmed the teacher.
A little later the teacher noticed the boy was deeply engrossed sketching a tractor – evidently he was more familiar with them than with nekkid ladies.

Fortunately for boys who LOVE tractors there are John Deere tractor birthday parties and awfu fine looking cup cakes – only in the States it appears.

My own limited experience of tractors in art was a 16-year old boy who set up his still life with great care for his Standard Grade Art Design exam, with pride of place given to a blue toy tractor. And why not?

So is the young teuchter’s obsession with tractors any different from toonsers who love fast cars? Don’t know. It might suggest a pretty narrow outlook on life but they’re not alone. US artists Steven Binks and Anthony Forster specialise in painting tractors. There is, of course, A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka and there’s Captain Tractor’s Band and The Tractor Song – not unlike The Pushbike song.

Next time I’m trawling through the art books in the Library I might even check out the tractor section to see what I’m missing.

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