I Am Twenty-Two

29th of April 1975 to 28th of April 1976




By Angus Batey

The Twenty Second Year is a Forty Second Play by Tenzing Scott Gray*.

The Twenty Second Year is set simultaneously in a workshop in a cellar beneath the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, in 1976, and inside The Cloud, wherever you are, now.

The characters in The Twenty Second Year are Tenzing Scott Brown, The Travelling Salesman, The Man Who Bangs His Drum, Man Making Bed, The Elderly Gentleman, The Middle Aged Writer, and Bill Drummond Aged 22**.

Tenzing Scott Brown, The Travelling Salesman, The Man Who Bangs His Drum, Man Making Bed and The Elderly Gentleman are alter egos of Bill Drummond, whose public debuts were made in the Twenty First Century. The Middle Aged Writer is a confused journalist wondering how to fulfil a broad yet highly precise brief. Bill Drummond Aged 22 is a theatre set-builder.

Tenzing Scott Brown will ideally be played by a painting (though probably not one of The 25 Paintings, unless the production of The Twenty Second Year is staged as part of The 25 Paintings’ World Tour). The Travelling Salesman is a crocodile-skin suitcase. The Man Who Bangs His Drum is played by a drum playing a man playing a drum. Man Making Bed is a wooden bedstead. The Elderly Gentleman must be played by a young woman. Bill Drummond Aged 22 will be played by a member of the audience whose name has been drawn out of a hat made out of that day's edition of The Financial Times. There are no casting notes for The Middle Aged Writer: the part can be played by pretty much anyone.

The play takes place in the cellar where Bill Drummond Aged 22 busies themselves with paint and woodworking tools, making scenery for a play. The play the scenery is being made for is not specified but the scenery may involve words painted in block capitals. Bill Drummond Aged 22 does not appear to be able to see or hear any of the other characters. The other characters can see and hear each other, and can see and hear Bill Drummond Aged 22, but they exist only in The Cloud.

And this is where the dialogue for The Twenty Second Year begins.

The Middle Aged Writer:

Thanks for getting back to me.
I didn't know if you'd get my messages -
I imagine he monitors all your emails.

Tenzing Scott Brown:

You're welcome. But I'm not sure this is going to do you any good.

The Middle Aged Writer:

It has to!
I have no idea about what he was doing back then. 
I know he told us we shouldn't feel beholden to supposed facts,
but still...
He said to write in the first person, but which one?
And then he said not to mention anything about burning money or The KLF,
so of course, now I can't think about anything else.
You all know him.
You are him.
So, I'm sure you can give me some details,
help bring it all to life.

The Man Who Bangs His Drum:

I don't know about the rest of you,
but I didn't really feel like I existed until I walked across that bridge in India.
It isn't as if I was born when he was, and was waiting to emerge all that time.

Man Making Bed:

You, me and the bloke who cleans the shoes -
we're in the same boat.
Or at least the same Transit van.

Tenzing Scott Brown:

I don't remember anything before that cafe
and something about Strawberry Switchblade.

The Middle Aged Writer:

But where did it all come from?
Surely this was a formative year:
High-concept artworks and manual labour.
It's all there.
You are all there...
aren't you?

The Elderly Gentleman:

If you don't mind me saying
- or even if you do -
this is a very conventional and reductive way of considering art
and artists.
Surely the whole point of this not-a-memoir was to break free from the cliches?
Research and accuracy are for the birds
(Though maybe not the pied wagtails).

The Middle Aged Writer:

I get that, honestly.
and I'm doing my best.
But it's still a memoir.

The Elderly Gentleman:

You could mention Bill Nighy suggesting he go to see a band called Dr Feelgood.
January 22nd, 1976. Liverpool Stadium.
(No, not that one - the boxing venue.)
He went, and it proved very important.   

Tenzing Scott Brown:

Why not use your imagination?
You do have one.

The Middle Aged Writer:

I do.
But for some reason I just end up seeing smoke rising from a pyre of LPs
and wafting over a police car parked in a Swedish field.
And anyway: if I made something up, it would probably cause offence or
Or litigation.

The Travelling Salesman:

It seems to me that you're taking this all too seriously,
and at the same time, not seriously enough.

The Elderly Gentleman:

And you've left out the tea.
And The17.
And Cake Circles.

The Middle Aged Writer:

And the Dead Oak Rings!
Mind you, so has he.
That was one of the best things he ever did
but he seems to have forgotten all about it.

They fall silent, while, in the distance, the opening riff to Echo and the Bunnymen's Rescue is briefly heard, rendered by whatever instrument or process it is that makes the chimes for ice cream vans. As the van moves away Dr. Feelgood's She Does It Right begins playing at bone-rattling volume. Bill Drummond Aged 22 looks up, at first apparently confused, but then intrigued. They are the only character whose reaction suggests they can hear the music.

*Tenzing Scott Gray is a portrait of Tenzing Scott Brown that appears to age during times when Tenzing Scott Brown does not. If Tenzing Scott Gray exists, they will be found somewhere near a box of LPs in a dark industrial unit on a light industrial estate not far from Sizewell B, on the Suffolk Coast.

** As you will have noticed, being not only a Dear and Attentive Reader, this play takes place in Bill Drummond's Twenty Third Year. But calling this The Twenty Third Year would not have underlined the chapter's debt to T.S. Brown's Twenty Second Plays. The author has therefore used Artistic License in blurring science and chronology for creative effect. This kind of thing goes on all the time in the dominant cultural output of our times and it seems The Penkiln Burn Universe is not free of it either. Anyone wishing to call for the revokation of the Artistic License can make representations to the appropriate authorities.


By Kaavous Clayton

Oh fuck. It’s happening again. The voice is back. I don’t hear voices; I just hear a voice. And it’s my fucking voice. And it’s in my fucking accent. And it swears a lot. And it pishes me off. Always having a fucking go.

“Do something useful you useless fucking prick” seems to be its most common goad. “Nothing you do fucking matters.” “What the fuck are you doing with your life?”

The voice is provocative. Always pushing me. I know what you’re probably thinking. You’re probably thinking the voice is me. And I know it. I know the voice is me. Me goading myself. But it feels like an ‘other’. It feels like an external force that I have no control over. Even though it’s saying the things that I think, it still doesn’t feel like me.

And I have to act on it. I have no choice. I feel like an automaton that’s being controlled by some malevolent being - forcing me into situations beyond my control and outside my choosing.

And the voice has opinions. Strong opinions. Aggressive opinions. Opinions like “Most music is fucking shite.” “The music business is definitely fucking shite.” “The music business is fucking corrupt.” “The system is fucking shite.” “The system is fucking corrupt.”

On an on. Everything is “fucking shite”. And everything is “fucking corrupt”. And I know it’s right. Of course, it’s right. Because the voice is me. So, it has to be right. We all think we’re right, don’t we? Not that right is necessarily a good thing. Sometimes the right thing to do is the wrong thing - if you get my meaning - you learn more from being wrong. I don’t really trust ‘right’.

And the voice wants me to do something about the shiteness. It wants me to make a difference. It wants me to be heroic. Whatever that means.

“Do something worthwhile you worthless piece of shite. What’s the point of being here otherwise? You might as well just walk out of the picture and disappear if you’re not going to do anything that fucking MEANS something.”

I say it’s happening again, that the voice is back, but to tell the truth it never went away. It’s always been there. It never rests. Always in my ear, always on my back, always in my head. I know it’s not going to stop and it’s not going to let me rest. It will keep pushing and poking and prodding.

When I was a milkman, the voice was there. “What the fuck are you doing with your life? It might be useful for someone who wants some milk, but it’s not going to change the fucking world is it?”

When I was a gardener, the voice was there. “What the fuck is this shite? Messing about in the earth? Sure, nature is all very lovely, and gardening makes you feel good, but it’s not going to change the fucking world is it?

When I was a steel worker, the voice was there. “Jesus Christ Drummond. What the fuck is this? A fucking steel worker? Do you think you being a man of the people will change the fucking world? Sort it out you fucking waste of space.”

When I was a nursing assistant, the voice was there. “What the fuck are you doing Drummond? This is all very worthy, but is it fucking worthwhile? It’s not going to change the fucking world, is it?”

When I was a carpenter, the voice was there. “Fucking hell Drummond. Who the fuck do you think you are? Joseph the fucking carpenter? Do you think you’re going to bring up the next fucking Jesus just because you’re making things with wood? You’re a sad delusional man Drummond.”

When I worked on a trawler the voice was there. “For fucks sake Drummond. A fisherman now, is it? You think you’re Saint fucking Peter, the fisher of men, do you? Well, you’re not going to catch many men doing this are you? Do something useful for fucks sake.”

The only time the voice seemed to give me any kind of respite was when I was at art school. Then the voice seemed a little interested. “Now this seems interesting. This could be something. Not the kind of art you’re fucking making, but this could lead to something. At least you’re bringing something new into the world, however fucking shite it might be. Bringing something new into the world - now that does change the fucking world - that’s fucking undeniable. Now you just need to make sure that what you bring into the world is fucking good, that it fucking means something, that it changes the world in a way that makes it fucking better.”

And as always, the voice is right, or at least I think it’s right. Which causes me a problem, as I’ve said before, I have issues with ‘right’. But I think this is the right kind of right, because it allows me to be wrong - it allows me to make mistakes. Making art is about making mistakes and learning from them. And I never want to stop learning. If you think you’ve learned it all then what’s the point of carrying on?

And I have a very strong feeling that the voice is always going to be there. It’s always going to be pushing me to do something useful - to make a difference - to be ‘heroic’ - to bring something new into the world. And to be honest, I’m okay with that. I’m kind of reconciled to it. At the age of 22, I think I’m ready to accept my fate - to live the rest of my life with the voice. And to be honest again (I like being honest) I’m kind of excited to see what the voice makes me do.