Monday, 29 September 2008

Days 7 & 8 - THE PARTY'S OVER

(originally posted on myspace here)


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... and supply teachers on the happy lash have been allowed to keep the portraits of Our Beloved Leader that they took from the stand on the stage in place of the bands we had to send away when it turned out our license no longer covered music or dancing, which is a shame as a number of those teachers had asked me for a dance, and to try on my hat. They were charming, Saturday's lot. It turns out it's only the Friday nights that are full of... hmm, what's a nice word for them?... scrumpers. City scrumpers. Fucking apple thieves.

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No, contrary to what the signs newly sprayed outside the town hall might suggest "It's only the rich who fucking steal" according to Eleanor around whose fake 'tache and bustier the exclusivity of Shunt's Red Klub came rapidly crashing down that first Friday: "I swear to God they don't know what it's like to fear losing something! They've no idea of property, one of them's just tried to nick me radio! My shoulder's rubbed fucking raw wi' this chip! - Oh, don't drink the Ribena from that fountain, it's got flies in."

And she's right. Not just about the flies. After all it was a suit who tried to steal my apples the Friday following... a suit who saw me lose it that one time (although I never called him a "crumb-bum". And I didn't so much lose it as "it" found me.) And it was Eleanor's charges that I bellowed at him. Quite a crowd had gathered outside by the time it came to turf him out... Did I cross a line? Bearing in mind what I later found out was going on up at the entrance, nah.

Anyway the Party's over now, and what got better? I learnt early on not to split hairs because that's exactly what the interviewees expect; point out instead how guarded their answers are. Don't sit there stroking your lobe like Duncan Bannatyne; be Trinny, be Susannah, be Nice...

The party's over, and long live the party. We've had another beautiful weekend, the roadworks outside Brixton station turn out to be kinetic sculpture (I can't find anything out about this, but there were definitely water wheels fashioned from hard hats and road cones skidding around the pavement of their own volition) and I've just come home to find bananas stuffed with chocolate being roasted over a newly dug hole in the garden - And now I've just been handed one.

And I get to keep the hat.


(No Dancing)

Saturday, 27 September 2008

SOMEONE WHO PLAYS THE PIANO- Day 6

(originally posted on myspace here)



Second Thursday. Female. Relationship Status: Confusion.

"Confusion?"
"Yes."
"Care to clear up this confusion?"
"We're going in parallel lines. They will never meet."
"Straight lines."
"Yes. Straight if you look from above. But from the side, up and down."
"But never in and out."
"No. That would just be being stupid. That's just wavering."
"You'd have more chance of meeting though. If I were to draw -"

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"No."
"Okay... I'm going to show you some pictures. I want you to stop me if you see anyone you recognize."

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"No."

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"No."

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"No."

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"Yes. Him."
"Who is he?"
"That's my father."
"What's his name?"
"Nothing. He doesn't have a name."
"What's he doing here?"
"Surviving. It looks like he's trying to survive I think."
"Is that why he has a gun?"
"No. It's why he has all the lines."
"Cables?"
"Yes."

"Do you play the piano?"
"Badly."
"Please..."


"Thank you... Is there anything else you want to say to me?"
"Yes. Have you ever been interviewed like this?"
"Like this? No."
"Have you ever been in prison?"
"No."
"I have."
"You have."
"I have been questioned like this and I have been put in prison."
"Where?"
"Iran."
"When?"
"When I lived in Iran. Exactly like this and they put me in prison for one day."
"Why for one day?"
"Because of my father."
"Your father?"
"He is well connected."

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"What's it like in Iran?"
"Everyone's very happy."
"Really?"
"Yes."
"You weren't."
"No. But if you don't care you don't notice."
"Did you not have friends who weren't happy?"
"Yes. In prison."
"... So what did I get wrong?"
"Nothing! You did it perfectly."
"What was I doing right?"
"You were nice..."

"Oh, and it's called Golden Dream."
"What?"
"What I played."

Which is how I found it. Thank you.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

OCCUPATION: NUN - Day 5

(originally posted on myspace here)


Case 4. Second Wednesday. Female. Third Visit.

"What's your real name then?"
"It's Kate. Kate."
"Occupation?"
"None."
"You're a Nun?"
"I'm a nun."
"And your Relationship Status?"
"Married. To God."
"Could you fill this in please with a picture of God?"

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"This goes against everything I believe in."
"Kate, I'm getting a little impatient - "
"Do you have any invisible ink?"
"... I'll ask."
- "Interview Room 8."
"Hello Interview Room 8, this is Interview Room H. Do you have any invisible ink?"
- "Let me see. Sorry no. Have you tried not taking the top off the pen?"
"I haven't. Thank you. Protect the Revolution."
- "Protect the Revolution."
"Just don't take the top off the pen, Kate."
"Very well...

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... There."
"You've just done a squiggle."
"Those are God's tendrils."

FRISSON, QUANDRY AND PAYOFF - Days 3 and 4

(originally posted on myspace here)


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Case 1. Female. Friday. Single. Musician. Or advertising or something.

"What would you say is a specifically male characteristic?"
"Avoiding confrontation."
"You don't think women avoid confrontation?"
"I think men tend to brood. Haha."
"Why are you laughing?"
"I'm enjoying the feeling of being uncomfortable?"
"You enjoy being uncomfortable?"
"Yeah. Yeah I do. And not being able to breathe."
"Mm... Have you always... When - Did you -... Was there a point where you realized you enjoyed being uncomfortable?"
"Mid-teens."
"... When did you last enjoy being uncomfortable?"
"My chiropracter said 'My God your buttocks are extraordinary!' I enjoyed that. He was talking about knots."
"How's your back?"
"I broke two vertebrae when I was fifteen."
"How?"
"I was doing hand-stands."
"Can you still do hand-stands?"
"No."
"Was that the same time you realized you enjoyed being uncomfortable?"
"No it wasn't."
"... Is there anything else you'd like to tell me?"
"Can I ask you something?"
"..."
"What's your name?"
"No."
"Is it alright that I took a bite out of your apple?"
"No."


Case 2. Friday. Female. Single. Not a vet.

"Tell me about the last film you saw."
"Knocked Up... It's errrr, about a woman who finds she's pregnant from a one-night stand but then falls in love with the guy and then they live happily ever after."
"... You're single?"
"Yes."
"... You're a vet?"
"Yes."
"Where did you study?"
"Australia."
"How many balls have you cut off?"
"Seven. Can I try on your cap?"
"No. Seven?"
"Yes."
"From which animals?"
"Oh animals! I though you meant from people. None."
"You haven't - "
"No."
"But when you're studying to be a vet, isn't the main thing you do - "
"Okay, I'm not a vet."
"I see... I wanted to cry last Friday - "
"Okay."
"And I was in public. And I was looking for somewhere I could cry, I was in the park, but I couldn't find anywhere I could cry. There were trees but they were so centrally located that I couldn't go behind them. And suddenly my predicament reminded me of... Do you know what I'm going to say?... Needing to pee. For example there was a stall selling coffee and I thought 'Well if I drank some coffee then I'd REALLY need to pee, but similarly the kindness of the woman serving me coffee might set off my tears.' So I thought more and more about the parallels between wanting to pee and wanting to weep, and after half an hour I realized that I'd been thinking about this so much... that I no longer wanted to cry. But I did now really need the loo."
"Right... Yeah. I've been feeling quite weepy for the past two weeks."
"Really?"
"Yeahhhh."
"Why?"
"Oh... it's a long story. Why did you want to cry?"
"Why did you want to cry?"
"I just found out that I'm two months pregnant. And I don't want it."
"..."
"So why did you want to cry?"
"I didn't."
"Oh... Can I try on your cap now?"


Case 3. Saturday. Male. In a relationship. (Sitting in for this one: my mate Ella Smith) in a corner, fanning herself.

"Is there anything else you'd like to tell me?"
"Not in English."
"In what language then?"
"Welsh."
"... Ella?"

Ella speaks Welsh. A very happy coincidence. Man baffled. High five. Big improvement on Friday.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Modernist Holutherian Interlude

(originally posted on myspace here) 

 

"Take a seat please, place your papers in front of you on the table. The following interview is taking place under controlled conditions and may be recorded, have you understood everything I've just said."



Actually I'm going to take a break from the paperwork here (and the frisson... oh the frisson... If this totalitarian interrogation gig teaches me nothing else it's taught me how slugtrail-low a threshold I have for frisson...) to plug the written works of Erik Satie.

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This afternoon I went to an architects' tea party in Stoke Newington, the same party where last year I'd finally had Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle explained to me (and more importantly, the principle behind the principle, which is that reality does not necessarily SPEAK OUR LANGUAGE). Today I'd rolled up with a far more basic question to which I'd suddenly realized while fuming about creationism the night before I could not begin to provide an answer, namely "Why IS the center of the Earth hot?" And while none of the architects this time could give me an answer (it might have something to do with once being part of the sun... I should really know) I DID learn that Erik Satie once wrote poetry - because somebody had brought some along - and that these poems had been collected in something called A Mammal's Notebook, and that they were hilarious, and that they read a lot like Ivor Cutler... really, an awful lot. What a guy! Here's an example filched from the internet, see what you think (image courtesy the echinoblog. Oh P.S. I'm very excited to hear that tomorrow sees the location filming of my Abraham and Isaac sketch. I won't be seeing it - I'll be in the Dungeons - but I'll be keeping an eye open for cloudy skies):

Dried Embryos

1. Of Holothuria

Vulgarly known as "sea
cucumber." Holothuria generally
climbs on stones or pieces of rock.
Like the cat, this animal purrs; it also
spins a revolting kind of silk. The
action of light seems to upset it. I
observed an Holothuria in Saint-
Malo bay.

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Out in the morning. It is raining.
The sun is in the clouds.
Little purr. What a pretty rock!
It is nice to be alive.
Like a nightingale with
toothache.
Back home in the evening. It is
raining.
The sun is not there any more.

As long as it never comes back.
Mocking little purr.
It was a really good rock. Nice
and sticky.
Don't make me laugh, bit of
foam: you are tickling me.
I haven't any tobacco.
Lucky I don't smoke.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

HATS, FACES, BRAINS AND BODIES - Day 2

(originally posted on myspace here)


Last night my assistants sent me drama students, philosophers and sex therapists. None of them played the piano. All of the women wanted to try on my hat. Why? In films Nazi Germany seems full of parties with women doing nothing but trying on soldiers' hats. Maybe that's why we wear them. Actually I wasn't at my desk much, it gets hot under that bulb. I hung around the bar and the doorways to lecture halls, quiet and inherently objectionable. Somebody was presenting a pretty crappily-prepared argument with a lot of clips from youtube about the future of privacy ("Here is Tom Cruise's eyes, in the future, being scanned in GAP, and that is in the future, and will happen in ten... twenty years, yes") but his central idea - that most of us don't actually WANT privacy - I found pretty interesting, particularly as I've just left facebook.

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(Heather made these out of industrial concrete, using sex dolls as moulds. They've been removed now to make way for the People's Republic.) Quite early into this second evening of interviews I realized I had to make more of an effort to curb my automatic impulse to GENUINELY engage with the interviewees. There has to be a distance. So I introduced a little monologue from a later draft from "Iago's Little Book of Calm" about confusing the need to weep with the need to pee - just threw it into the interview, like the kind of thing Derren Brown might hold your attention with while making you forget your own name. And two of the interviewees started weeping. Not sobbing, just weeping, and they smiled as they wept. But it wasn't really the pay-off I was looking for... I don't know what I'm looking for. I should probably read the KUBARK files for some tips, although I'm beginning to doubt their authenticity - Oh! By the way! Googling "kubark" and "hoax" (good Martian law firm: Googling, Kubark and Hoax) I found this: another crappily-assembled non-argument using a lot of clips from youtube, but stuffed with esoteric government goodies for those of you who like that sort of thing, particularly the CHARMING Russian cover of "Let It Be" at the end (the more astute might recognize the humming lady from Ken Campbell's "Brainspotting"):


When I got home there was was a late-night movie I hadn't heard of before called "The Final Cut", in which Robin Williams, in his underrated "wrong 'un" mode, plays a futuristic funeral director charged with splicing together compilation reels of dead people's memories using footage from the cameras implanted in their heads at birth by rich parents. It was good, and made me think some more. Then I bunged on Christopher Hampton's mainly not-good adaptation of The Secret Agent, in which Robin Williams turns up again, uncredited, as a greyish, Victorian suicide bomber. He's the best thing in it, which is one of the reasons I want to see it remade (I'm also keen on the idea of steampunk brainwashing). Here's some more of Heather's concrete sex dolls, now destroyed:

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Protect the Revolution! Try on My Hat!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Interview Room H

(originally posted on myspace here)


I like having my own room.

The final bits of wall were nailed on half an hour before we opened, thin enough to hear our National Anthem in the re-education space next door. There was a working phone and camera, a bare bulb, desk, a stripped upright piano that nobody could move and a small portrait of our leader glued to a board. I also smuggled in two apples to give the place a bit of colour and, since there wasn't clock in the room, took a bite out of one and rammed it onto a stray nail where its slow browning could mark the passage of time. I was handed the key and a sheaf of blank papers at 6, and made myself comfortable. It felt good to have an office, and a cap. If they're not going to get round to building that front half of a tank next door I might even come here to write.

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I'm not sure the interviews themselves went particularly well. All the questions Tom had asked in the cafe the week before: "What exactly are we trying to get out of them? What's in it for them?" turned out to be incredibly pertinent, and I don't know how he got on in Interview Room 8 next door, but as for me once somebody's correctly identified a picture as Mr. T. and told you they're from a show called the A Team there's nowhere really I can go. And there's no fun for anyone in pretending to be angry if you've no idea what you want, it's the naffest form of hoaxing. More is needed from me, more "stuff", although I did at one point pretend to choke.

I might also suggest to my assistant he cast his net a little wider in the search for interviewees. Last night he brought me nothing but drunk and glamorous women. Now while this policy has its virtues it is also PRECISELY this section of the community who are most likely to notice and then point out during interrogation that your National Anthem's been nicked from the film "Dirty Dancing"...


It's still stirring stuff to hear through a wall though. Sat at a desk. Wearing a cap.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Check out this event: The People's Republic of Shunt

(originally posted on myspace here)

 

"Check out"?

I'm using a machine today to see if that takes any of the time and perilous self-enquiry out of keeping a blog. But what an embarrassment! "Check out this..." It's like a robot butler trying to high five you. And every time I close my new phone the phrase "Have a good time!" now flashes up. Thanks, phone. Actually I suppose that's quite polite. Better than "Goodbye". It might even be construed as pertinent given you're either hanging up on someone or displaying a degree of indolence so profound you can't even be bothered to continue playing Wallbreaker (yeah, it's a Wallbreaker now, not Snake): "Get off the phone! What are you thinking! Have a good time!" Okay... In that vein let's give this post another go. Take it away, generic streetbot:

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Hosted By: Shunt
When: 17 Sep 2008, 19:00
Where Shunt Lounge
Joiner Street, underneath London Bridge Station
London, SE19RL
United Kingdom
Description:
Shunt

Click Here To View Event

... Well, I've clicked... Pff... It doesn't work, does it. No. Right. I'll do it. Thanks, "the system". Okay, try mm here that should hopefully take you to the event. It's all Heather's idea. She's even had badges made:

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That's a kiss in the middle (I've been pushing to have assistants in black lipstick pucker up in place of a rubber stamp). I'm going to be an interrogator (again), a bad cop to Tom Lyall's good. According to the recently released 1963 KUBARK FILES the CIA called this a "Mutt-and-Jeff" technique. Which is sweet. Here's an illustration (this is real advice):

"The angry interrogator accuses the subject of other offenses, any offenses, especially those that are heinous or demeaning. He makes it plain that he personally considers the interrogatee the vilest person on earth. During the harangue the friendly, quiet interrogator breaks in to say, "Wait a minute, Jim. Take it easy." The angry interrogator shouts back, "Shut up! I'm handling this. I've broken crumb-bums before, and I'll break this one, wide open." He expresses his disgust by spitting on the floor or holding his nose or any gross gesture. Finally, red-faced and furious, he says, "I'm going to take a break, have a couple of stiff drinks. But I'll be back at two -- and you, you bum, you better be ready to talk."

"Crumb-bum"?

"Jim"?

I don't think I'll shout though. I'll just quietly judge people as I ask them to describe the last film they saw. I popped into the Vaults this afternoon to record some propaganda for the tannoys. "Work makes you smell" managed to sneak under the radar. And Heather told me how the Stasi used to drive around checking that everyone's aerials were pointing in the right direction. If it looked like you were trying to pick up Western television you were paid a visit.

... And I presume the same went for anyone found in possession the following images:
(Ta-daa! Heather today suggested actually using these in the interrogation - "WHO IS THIS MAN?!! HOW DO YOU KNOW HIM?!" - Great idea, yes, I will do just that.)

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And my favourite...

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Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Hello, Goodbyes (status update)

(originally posted on myspace here)


love is all i can bring and ting

Oops, wrong paste. That's something I pasted into Google trying to find out the name of that song (turns out it's "Uptown Top Ranking" by Althea and Donna). Hang on, this is what I meant to paste:

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It hangs in Uncle David's House, or did a year ago.

But I can't pretend to any continuity with my last post really. It's been almost a month. Of course this always happens when I end a previous post on a cliffhanger - Jonah, Contains Violence, Hamlet, the funeral... Every time I go "So this important thing is happening next and I'll tell you about that - " like I'm writing some book or, worse, like I'm living some bloody book... Well of course I had no idea what to write about the funeral: the Garden of Remembrance was nice, rose bushes and wind chimes and little terra cotta figures and space for many more bushes and chimes, I don't know, David's life was extraordinary, well no it wasn't, just exquisitely-lived, he lived through the Blitz as a child but so did everyone, do I rattle on about church some more, or numbers, or the eclipse of '9(9?) that he'd waited to see ever since he was seven - No I had no idea what to write about, or at least what to write about HERE. Sorry... here. Anyway there's the dear man, standing on the right.

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And since, Geoffrey Perkins has died, and I'll never get to work with him, and Ken Cambpell has died, and I'll never get to work with him (and feel a little like the world's been expelled). Since, the switch has been flicked on the Hadron Collider at CERN (or the voice-command given or the knob turned or the button pushed and held down for two seconds or whatever it was. "THAT was a nice day!" to quote Bill Murray). Since, I've seen every episode of "Arrested Development". And "Xanadu". Since, I've visited my parents again in Languedoc (it was through Ken Campbell's stuff in fact that I first learnt of the existence of either CERN or Languedoc - SEE "Reality on the Rocks"! READ "Violin Time"! - you see, that would have been a good post - most of the more interesting ideas posited on this blog I'm pretty sure are trains of thought set into motion by that man). Since, Zoe's visited from LA where she writes movie scripts now for Stan Lee (it's fine that I felt so little at Uncle David's funeral, that doesn't make me a sociopath, she said, maybe just a narcissist, and suggested I look it up, which I did, and I am, look it up). Since, the Republicans have wisely plumped for a Despair ticket yet again (the WHOLE POINT being to find a candidate who stands for everything worst in America to terrify the Democrats into another coma). Since, I've learnt that the Mitchell and Webbs will be filming a whopping four sketches of mine for the new series (three of which I have written about here, which is pleasing to me). Since, I've played a magic baker on Southwark Bridge.

What else, since, in the public domain? I've given up smoking for a month. And I've given up drinking until I finish a screenplay (I wanted to write something about Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Agent" I said to Zoe. Oh, she said, Warners want to make a film of that. Write it.) And also, as of tonight, I've given up

facebook

No more "friend requests", "relationship status", cryptic misreadable messages snuck into "status updates", not for the time being. This isn't the fucking sci-fi channel. Actually it's me that's the problem, not it. I am a newly self-diagnosed narcissist and the last thing I need is another empty inbox. If I feel like issuing a status update I'll just have to post it here now, which is as it should be. Status update: Simon Kane has a new phone fit only for happy-slapping. That kind of thing. Let's see if my next post is any more pleasant. I found this great A Team colouring book today for 5p on a stall at the Thames Festival so maybe I'll just put up some NO! NO CLIFFHANGERS!!!

Hh. Still, hello. Oh it's just not been the same since they got rid of the Scrabble. Night.