Interview: Nicholas Serota
The contemplative silence in the gallery is broken by Sir Nicholas Serota's noisy entrance. He doesn't declare his arrival with a bellowed salutation; that would be vulgar. It's the click, click, click of his shoes on the bare wooden floors of Tate Modern that heralds his appearance.
His presence at Tate, where he has been in charge since 1987, is such that the disembodied sound of his shoes has the same effect on his staff as the clock-eating crocodile has on Captain Hook (I know - I worked for him for 7 years).
Interviewing him now, just a few months after receiving a generous Serota send-off, is a bit weird. It is the journalist's stock-in-trade to ask searching and personal questions: to be a dispassionate inquisitor. Giving your old boss the once-over while the ink is still wet on your leaving card feels plain impertinent.
Still, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. In this video, Serota talks about the past, present and future of Tate Modern.
Then off he goes, the echoing timbre of his shoes leaving a reminder of his recent presence like a vapour trail.
I suspect the sound that Serota's shoes emit is produced by blakeys, those half-moon metal strips that attach to the heel of a shoe to prevent it from wearing down. They give more away about him than he himself ever would: they are quintessentially public-school, British, officer-class, authoritative, hard-wearing, cost-effective, sensible, singular, frugal, practical and in a low-key way, ever-so-slightly flamboyant.