Incognito in dark glasses and a wide-brimmed hat, George Osborne sits in Standard Class on the 05:49 Bedford service from Brighton. He will pull his scarf up over his mouth before alighting at London Victoria. The station refreshment booths do not open for business until 06:00 so he is not drinking coffee, a fact causing grave irritation; the only genuine emotion he has retained the capacity to experience after the initiation process. Inspecting his hands, George notices the evidence: a small amount of dried blood under the nail of the left forefinger. No matter, she won’t be missed before Wednesday; The Agency will ensure there will be nothing left by then.
Lately, I haven’t been capable of engaging with poetic sadness in art. When it comes to focussing on society’s ills, I’ve felt more like ripping up newspapers in corner-shops with my teeth, throwing my hands in the air and swapping my tactical vote for a shit-stained ballot-paper. Perhaps that’s why I’ve waited so long before going to see Marlene Dumas’ major exhibition at Tate Modern; I know I’ll need to drop my current personal force-field of anger to empathise with her sensitive portrayal of subjects vulnerable to socio-political agendas beyond their control. Art exists in that space between the object and the viewer; the subject defines their experience of the object – and I want to be moved, not have my fire stoked. With Dumas, it’s going to be a fine line.
Venue: Lighthouse, Brighton. Event: Progress Bar # 2.
Elizabeth Bernholz (aka Gazelle Twin) speaks openly about her hyper self-aware creative process and the perks and pains of neurosis, before performing a set from 2014’s critically acclaimed album ‘Unflesh’. If you don’t know Bernholz, imagine a demurely dressed, eloquent thirty-something with a political mindset and an aggressive artistic drive. If you don’t know Gazelle Twin, picture a demonically possessed teenage girl, slow body-popping to dirty synth beats in her school P.E. kit.
I have been an admirer of yours for many years. Your sense of humour is out of this world, and often, after a tough day at work, I can find no better way of cheering myself up than by donning my silk kimono, turning off all the electric lights, and tucking into a soothing bottle of absinthe whilst watching Fire Walk With Me. I’d rather disappear into one of your films than go to a party any day. Except for the Straight Story. I’m sorry to say that I really didn’t feel the magic there and would much rather have spent my one hundred and twelve minutes embroiled in a family-sized cake, crisps and wrapping paper nightmare. Recently though, I did attend a debauched birthday gathering that seemed to set in motion the chain of events that led me to writing this letter:
Over the last six months, I’ve inadvertently transformed from Luddite to digitally obsessed data-fiend. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not become a trained analyst (yet), but I have embarked on an exploration of the astonishingly broad implications of us living more of our lives online. Access to education, ease of data-sharing for scientific research purposes, social networking to aid political movement, the ease of online shopping for people with physical disabilities are all fantastic things. And online gaming. Bafflingly, that seems to bring geeky joy to a hell of a lot of people. Lack of privacy (coupled with diminished trust in international security agencies – thank you for shedding some light Ed Snowdon), individually targeted marketing, social pressures on youth/online bullying are not quite so warmly welcomed into our day-to-day reality. Okay, I still have fears about the future looking like an Orwellian dystopia (with more robots) but have reconciled myself to believing that the Internet is being used both for and against that happening. It is the best political tool we have as it unites like minds. But how is our use of digital communication changing the way we regard one another?
It was slim pickings at the club that night. Some new band from Camberwell called ‘The House of Love’ had played to an exceptionally poor turnout, leaving the room as hollow and depressed as when they’d arrived. Dave’s lot occupied a table at the back. The lads hadn’t bothered joining him by the stage to watch young Terry Bickers shaggy hair swishing along to his soaring neo-psychedelic riffs, because staying seated usually meant that the pussy came to you.
“Honestly mate, sometimes I dunno what’s up with your ears. That band are gonna be massive.” Dave addressed the table non-specifically. One song had cut straight to his heart, and not just because it was about a girl called Christine: the name that made him dig his nails into his palms to stop the tears from forming.
Despite having read the Sick Festival blurb, I arrive at Fabrica to see Christopher Green’s ‘Prurience’ with two minutes to spare and the invented notion it will be an informative lecture on the evils of Internet porn. And to add insult to flawed logic I’ve decided the event must be billed as an ‘interactive performance’ due to the usual bit of Q & A audience participation thrown in at the end of such things. Oh no, it’s going to be a far less comfortable experience. Confusing, anger-inducing and at times excruciatingly embarrassing immersive theatre – set in a ‘fictional self-help group’ – that’s what I’ve inadvertently paid for.
Curse my last minute ticket purchase! – Resulting in ‘worst seat in the house’ at Brighton Dome Theatre; Row Z, half behind a pillar. Even with glasses, I can’t quite get the nuances in Stew’s facial expressions. It probably won’t matter. I’ve had a crush on him since the Fist of Fun days and should be able to predict exactly where the eyebrow raises, denoting the commencement of each carefully monitored pregnant pause, will lie within his material. After all this time, his stand-up may be formulaic and predictable in flow, but Stew is the original creator of a winning recipe and surely, inimitable in the flare and precision with which he delivers it, every time…
For me, ‘best gig of the year so far’ goes to Joe Watson, performing in a pub basement to twenty-odd randoms and acquaintances. Experiencing his work made me feel a bit like a child on discovering that Santa’s grotto has suddenly appeared next to BHS in the shopping mall. Not only was I able to lose my sense of the room at certain times within the euphonic electronic noise but when I opened my eyes again there was the visual treat of an enlarged projection of Joe’s hands fiddling with parts that might have been nicked from a space-ship flight deck.
I like medical things; the smell of disinfectant, a surgical glove stretched over a cold tense hand, stainless steel speculums with their smooth finish and seductive shape, the resistance caused by application of pressure to the plunger of a fluid filled syringe… and the glide and squirt of liquid from the tip of a long, hollow needle. Of course, I don’t perform surgery with my impedimenta, I just keep it in a box under my bed and every so often I take it all out, examine it and then hide it all away again.
Your line, ‘lick and finger every other mortal with whom he comes into close proximity in this sacred space’, did you nick that from Sade? You devil you!
My only shenanigans tonight have been eating homemade chocolate brownies at a friend’s house just up the road from my own. Out-of-this-world tasty. Oh wherefore art thou self-control? I can’t stop feeling horny. I literally cannot stop…
I hadn’t heard these before. Very entertaining. I just listened to them in the kitchen with my housemates whilst we attempted to make three separate meals in one square foot of space. It lifted the atmosphere, which had been charged with frustration and exasperation from all the clambering over each other and fighting for utensils. Sometimes I wonder if it’s every British mans destiny to end up a dirty old perv, having surreptitious lonely wanks over the sprawling tits of brainless, hapless females they will never meet.
Illustration by Rachel James
You might not consciously think you know what the future holds for you personally, but I’m guessing that your unconscious mind has a better idea. It may not be so very hard to access the reality you are moving towards. The other day, as part of a very basic introduction to the Psycho-therapeutic modality of Transactional Analysis, I participated in a group exercise that partially demonstrated the idea of ‘Life Scripts’… and ol’ bigmouth here enjoyed it so much she wants to get you all on board.