Tuesday the 22nd of November 2022
Yesterday, it seems there were numerous performances of Tenzing Scott Brown’s play No Music Day.
One was performed by Graham Woods’ guitar which spent the day with a towel over it.
In The Republic of Užupis random individuals selected by Gleb Divov performed No Music Day without evening knowing they were performing it.
In Austria, as hinted at in my previous letter to you on the subject, Scharmien Zandi was performing No Music Day, with the Internationale Akademie Der Künste Wien
And one year ago yesterday, a performance instigated by Toby Lloyd was being performed by the UBI Labs
As for me…
The highlight of the performance of Tenzing Scott Brown’s play for the day, that I witnessed, happened just after seven o’clock yesterday morning, while I was sitting at my kitchen table in the darkness watching and waiting for the creeping dawn.
It was then…
A late Autumn flock of Long Tailed Tits began to gather in the now fruitless and leafless branches of the pear tree in my neighbours’ garden to the east.
One after the other, they started to dart and leap across the empty space between, to the loose ariel hanging off the wall of my neighbours’ house to the west.
Almost as an encore these Long Tailed Tits leapt again into the broken day beyond. Leaving me alone again.
It was time to put the kettle on.
If you know of any performance of this play planned for 21st of November 2023, please let me know, in good time.
And of course all Amateur Dramatic Societies welcome.
The Elderly Gentleman
Is NO MUSIC DAY a Play?
No Music Day is a play…
Tenzing Scott Brown was never sure if it was a play himself…
If it were just a play that came into being under its own self-will to be a play.
Tenzing Scott Brown did not conceive of No Music Day being a play until after it had been performed in Vienna on the 21st of November 2020. This performance of No Music Day, that had not already been conceived of as a play by Tenzing Scott Brown, had been directed by the Austrian composer Scharmien Zandi.
Scharmien Zandi, has since directed performances of No Music Day on the 21st of November 2021 and the 21st of November 2022.
No Music Day has no given manuscript…
No Music Day has history…
On the five consecutive 21st of Novembers between 2005 and 2009 (inclusive), Bill Drummond did not make, play or listen to music. He also encouraged others to not make, play or listen to music. He also created the website that no longer exists except as an archive at the Penkiln Burn site that can be found at…
Originally this website existed to document what had been done on the five consecutive 21st of Novembers between 2005 and 2009 (inclusive) and encourage others to document what they had done. This website still exists as a museum piece as to what websites looked like in the early years of the 21st Century.
If you want to perform the play No Music Day, please visit this museum artefact of a website and interpret how you think your performance of the play should be performed and then perform it on the next 21st of November in your life.
Websites are precarious things…
Websites fall apart…
The centre has never held…
The internet may not exist when you read this…
If that is the case, please read the text on the following poster…
ON NO MUSIC DAY:
NO HYMNS WILL BE SUNG
NO RECORDS WILL BE PLAYED ON THE RADIO
iPODS WILL BE LEFT AT HOME
ROCK BANDS WILL NOT ROCK
CONDUCTORS WILL NOT TAKE TO THE PODIUM
DECKS WILL NOT SPIN
THE NEEDLE WILL NOT DROP
THE PIANO LID WILL NOT BE LIFTED
FILMS WILL HAVE NO SOUNDTRACK
JINGLES WILL NOT JANGLE
MILKMEN WILL NOT WHISTLE
CHOIRBOYS WILL SHUT THEIR MOUTHS
RECORDING STUDIOS WILL NOT ROLL
MCs WILL NOT PASS THE Mic
BRASS BAND PRACTICE WILL BE POSTPONED
THE STRINGS WILL NOT SERENADE
PLECTRUMS WILL NOT PLUCK
RECORD SHOPS WILL BE CLOSED ALL DAY
AND YOU WILL NOT TAKE PART IN ANY SORT OF MUSIC MAKING OR LISTENING WHATSOEVER
NO MUSIC DAY EXISTS FOR VARIOUS REASONS, YOU MAY HAVE ONE
And then read the words on this following poster…
NO MUSIC DAY IS
AN IMPOSSIBLE DREAM
NO MUSIC DAY HAS NOTHING TO SELL
THERE ARE MANY REASONS FOR OBSERVING NO MUSIC DAY
NO MUSIC DAY IS ON THE 21 NOVEMBER 2005 – 2009
A FIVE YEAR PLAN
22 NOVEMBER IS SAINT CECILIA’S DAY
A DAY TO CELEBRATE THE EXISTANCE OF MUSIC
And then interpret how you think your performance of the play No Music Day should be performed and then perform it on the next 21st of November in your life.
We slouch on towards Bethlehem
Hoping to be born
AS OF NOW…
Monday the 14th of November 2022
As of now…
The remaining 360 copies of…
Semaphore Signals by Tenzing Scott Brown…
Are now on sale via Alimentation
The Elderly Gentleman
Seven Days is the collective title of the first six of the final 40 letters that The Elderly Gentleman will ever write to you. They were all written in a period of seven days between the 4th and the 10th of November 2022.
The 4th of November 2022
My tea is nearly ready, and the sun has left the sky;
It’s time to take the window to see Leerie going by;
For every night at teatime and before you take your seat,
With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street.
You know when two chains of thoughts cross paths?
I think that is what might have happened today.
Right now, I am on the top deck of the 63 heading up from Clerkenwell to King’s Cross. I haven’t got much time to get down what happened when those two chains of thought crossed path. But here goes…
I was on the first chain of thought this morning. It sort of went like this…
My inner Scissorman is wanting more control. Yesterday He took the photograph of the former Bill Drummond doing his Life & Death of an Artist thing while standing in a field of borage, and Scissorman cut the photograph diagonally in half, from one corner to the other. Then He did the same from the other two corners. Then He had my mobile take a photograph of the result on my dining room table. And He liked the look of it. In fact, I think the liking of what He looked at went to His head.
This morning I awoke to find Scissorman front and foremost in my head, demanding to command my full attention. Basically, He’d, had enough of me, as in The Elderly Gentleman writing all these letters to you. He wanted that to stop. Not that He would have used the term “over sharing”, but that is what He wanted stopping – the “over sharing” business. He wanted me to cancel all these endless words in countless letters all addressed to you, whoever and wherever you are. And He thought whatever energies that I might have left in this life, should be given over to spraying His tag on walls under bridges across the land. He could, and He knew, He had to go one better than 10 Foot. As in not have to use the written language or even numerals of any sort on His tag, just a sprayed painted tag of his open Scissors. And everyone who notices these sort of things, would know it was Him. As in Scissorman.
As I lay there in bed, I could feel the stakes getting hirer. I knew where these things might lead to. And they did. My right hand may have failed to chop of my left hand back in ’92, so it had to come to this, it was only a matter of time – Scissorman was going to cut off my bollocks in the here and now, or at least in the very near future, if I did not agree to stop everything that I was doing, that involved writing words immediately, or at least in the very near future. And from here on in, with whatever life was left in this spent body, would be given over to spraying His tag on the walls under bridges across the land.
I used the excuse that I had to get up to feed the cat, to get out of doing any more of these negotiations. I mean I am not Mick Lynch. And the cat did need feeding.
Then it was in the rain while walking to Southgate Tube just after nine (Freedom Pass Time), that Scissorman was back there in my head wielding His massive scissors. “One more of your pathetic Dear Reader Letters and it is your bollocks. I mean you don’t even need them anymore.” The thing is I could see his point of view, even from a career point of view, it would be a winner, maybe not quite Vincent with his revolver in the field, or Ian with his rope in the kitchen.
But my inner Mick Lynch came to the rescue before I arrived soaked through at my beloved, Southgate Tube Station. I love getting soaked through, it always makes you feel that whatever you are doing must be important or else it would not be worth getting soaked through for.
As I am on the escalator going town to the Tube, my inner Mick Lynch seems to have hammered out a deal.
And this is, or at least it was the deal this morning as I got on the tube at the very door that I always get on:
The Elderly Gentleman is allowed to carry on and complete his 25 black & white paintings under Spaghetti Junction, but he must have them done by the 29th of April 2023, as in the day Bill Drummond turns 70. And one of those paintings must be a painting of Scissorman’s scissor tag.
The Elderly Gentleman agrees that he will not write any more than 40 more of these letters to you Dear Reader, whoever or wherever you are.
In exchange Scissorman will be allowed to spray in black his large-scale scissor tags on the walls under bridges, between tomorrow night and until there are no bridges left on this distant planet, we call Earth. As in Scissorman is not just in Bill Drummond. As in when Drummond’s aging bag of bones and aching flesh packs up, Scissorman will leap into the soul of another passing stranger and He, She or They will become Scissorman. As in They will continue the work of Scissorman spraying Their tag on walls under bridges. And this will carry on until there are no longer any bridges left on this planet.
It is also agreed that now The 25 Paintings have taken control of their own career as paintings, and have entered into the tea rooms business, there is no way that either party – as in The Elderly Gentleman nor Scissorman, can or could have any say in what The 25 Paintings did or did not do.
There was one last clause that Scissorman wanted in this agreement, which was…
Anytime that The Elderly Gentleman refers to Scissorman in writing, using a third person pronoun (he, him, his, himself, she, her, hers, herself, they, them, their, theirs, and themselves), it should be done using a capital first letter (He, Him, His, Himself, She, Her, Hers, Herself, They, Them, Their, Theirs, and Themselves).
I thought this a bit presumptuous on the part of Scissorman, but my inner Mick Lynch told me that it was only a minor thing to compromise on, to make sure my bollocks were not cut off.
The deal was all agreed and my left hand shook my right hand before I got off the Tube at Russell Square Station.
Now Tom would be a driver and Maria go to sea,
And my papa’s a banker and as rich as he can be;
But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I’m to do,
Oh Leerie, I’ll go round at night and light the lamps with you
I was on my way to meet up with Sam.
Sam Funai was my best pal from the age of five until we both flit from Newton Stewart at the age of 11 or there about. This was back in the early mid-sixties. I have written about Sam elsewhere. But if you have not read what I wrote elsewhere, I will give a brief account. Sam, on his paternal side, is of Italian Scots heritage as in ice cream parlours, coffee shops and chippies.
It was because of Sam and the whole positive influence that the Italian immigrants brought to the dour landscape of Scotland, over the early years of the 20th century, that I was going to have The 25 Paintings painted in Italian, for the 2023 leg of their twelve year world tour – as in when it will be arriving in Scotland sometime next Spring to Summer. And although Sam is two generations away from Italian being his mother tongue, I have asked him to do the translations from English to Italian for them.
And while I am on the subject of immigrants…
Immigrants always bring more to the table.
Without immigrants, culture gets stagnant, like a dank pond always feeding on its rotting past.
These islands need more immigrants not less.
Sam now lives in South London. Sam takes me to exhibitions. I take Sam to studio theatre performances by people I have never heard of before. We discuss the politics of the day. We try not to talk of the past. Be it our shared childhood or our different adulthoods. We try to focus on the here and now.
Today Sam was to be taking me to an exhibition at the British Museum. I had not looked up what the exhibition was. All I knew was that we were to meet there at the gates at 11:30am. Sam is a card-carrying member of the British Museum. It means he, and a plus one, can get in for free. It was only after we had met up at the back gates, that I learnt it was an exhibition about Egyptian Hieroglyphics.
Egyptian Hieroglyphics have been with most of us ever since early childhood. Who doesn’t love Egyptian Hieroglyphics. That said, I have never seen any Egyptian Hieroglyphics in real life. Or really read anything about them. But there I was, only a couple of hours ago, standing in front of all these symbols chiselled into rock, over three-thousand years ago. And I was loving it again like for the very first time.
I mean, I have always loved chiselling. But other than when I did the DEAD WHITE MAN thing to celebrate the lives & times of Roger Eagle, I have never really done chiselling into rock. For me it has always been chiselling wood. But I could feel the urge coming on. That urge to pick up a mallet in my right hand and a chisel in my left hand and get to work on a lump of granite or should that be granodiorite. But I suppressed the urge. I have got better at suppressing the urge, over the years.
If urges are not for suppressing, what are they for?
But then I was standing in front of the Rosetta Stone, comparing, and contrasting the three different languages, and I could see these glints of light in the freshly chiselled quartz as if it had only been chiselled yesterday. Like I could almost smell the sweat of the man who had been chiselling it.
And then I was back looking at the images used in the Hieroglyphics. And I am wallowing in the wonder. And I start thinking how the 25 images contained in the 25 black & white paintings that me, as in The Elderly Gentleman, are doing on my wall under Spaghetti Junction. The ones that I must get all 25 done before I turn 70. And I think how they are in reality, my version of Hieroglyphics, but like the ones that I was standing in front of a couple of hours ago, I had no idea what they really meant. And I would die not knowing what they meant. Like I don’t know what I am writing now really means.
This is when the two trains of thought crossed paths. I mean, there was no terrible collision or anything, it was quite a pleasant crossing of paths. But this was it. And this is what this crossing of paths brought to me. I learnt today that there are over 700 images used in Egyptian Hieroglyphics. In the Scissorman’s Hieroglyphics, there is only one image used. And that is the that of the open scissors, ready to cut. A whole lost language expressed through one image. And I have no idea what it, or any of it means. Or maybe it means everything. But all its meanings have been lost and will not be discovered again until there is a new Age of Enlightenment, like back in the late 18th Century when the Egyptian Hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone, were deciphered in that first Age of Enlightenment.
But tonight, or maybe tomorrow night, I will go out and find a wall under a bridge over the North Circular and spray the Scissorman tag up as bold as I can.
Yeah, maybe that is it. So instead of Scissorman cutting off my balls, the Scissorman in me can spray up his forty tags on the walls under bridges around both the North and South Circular roads of London. And in so doing I will have the City surrounded and will at the same time have cut of the balls of something far greater than those on my aging and failing body. It will be my way of celebrating something far more than Bonfire Night. As in tomorrow night.
When Sam and I retired to the Members Room at the British Museum, for a light lunch and a chat about this and that. And I was to go through the whole translating the words on the English version of The 25 Paintings into Italian. And maybe even mention the character, in the film idea that I have been developing, that is sort of based on Sam.
We did find ourselves talking about the past like any pair of old men can’t stop themselves from doing. We were talking about the Halloween when we were young. How we would dress up and learn some lines of poetry or a song that we would sing. For back then, on Halloween, we would go from door to door with our turnip lanterns, singing songs or reciting a poem. The Lamplighter by Robert Louis Stephenson was always my favourite. And whoever had answered the door to us and heard us sing or recite a verse or two, would then let us dunk for an apple, or if we were lucky, some freshly made tablet.
And then a week later it would be Bonfire Night (us being ‘Proddie Bastards’, even Sam with his Italian heritage was a ‘Proddie Bastard’ from his maternal side).
We would have made a Guy from whatever rags our mum’s let us use. And we would collect broken branches for the bonfire. And maybe we would get some penny bangers and a couple of thrupenny rockets from Mrs Hinton’s. And our mums would have the sparklers. And we would light the bonfire with our Guy Fawkes on top. And we would watch him burn. And it was wonderful.
And other than the few penny bangers, and a couple of thrupenny rockets and the sparklers, none of it was commodified. No one was making millions out of what we were doing. And it was all fantastic, and warm, and the stars twinkled down upon us.
But now every last thing in our lives from our first breath to our last splutter has been commodified. And owned by someone else.
And whatever Elon Musk is doing this week cannot be good. Maybe he should be burnt on the bonfire. No, forget I wrote that last sentence. Sounds like something that a bloke my age would say on Twitter.
But tomorrow night, as in Bonfire Night, as the sky above this city is filled with rockets and explosions, Scissorman will be out with his can of black spray paint. The first of forty. His one-man war on commodification.
As I was about to press the button, for the bus to stop, I have this other thought, so I decide to stay on the bus for one more stop, so I can get this thought down in my notebook. It is about what might be the words for next year’s Step, As in one of the Twelve Steps, that I will paint up on my wall under Spaghetti Junction. This year’s Step has been THE PAST IS NOT FOR SALE…
Maybe next year’s Step, as in 2023’s, should be…
ART IS LIKE SEX
IF YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT
IT IS NOT WORTH HAVING
And now back for that last verse of The Lamplighter…
For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;
And O! before you hurry by with ladder and with light,
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him tonight!
The Elderly Gentleman
*My youngest son (10) starts almost every sentence either with “Like” or “Also” followed by a question. He never waits for the questions to be answered before ploughing on telling you whatever he has learnt from the virtual world that morning. There will be no need for him to be quoting Robert Louis Stevenson if he ever makes it to be careering uncontrollably towards 70.
* *. *
THE FIRST POET
Sunday the 6th of November 2022
When the revolution comes
Some of us will probably catch it on TV
With chicken hanging from our mouths
You’ll know it’s the revolution
Because there won’t be no commercials
When the revolution comes
Some of my best friends are performance poets.
At least some of my favourite artists are performance poets.
It seems part of me has issues with performance poetry.
Or at least that part of me that is demanding to go by the name of Scissorman.
I thought Scissorman just wanted to cut things up.
Cut my balls off.
Scissorman now thinks he is a poet.
Has always been a poet, for hundreds if not thousands of generations.
It was bad enough that…
Bill Drummond thought he was a milkman, or an apprentice trawlerman, or a carpenter, or a stage set designer, or rhythm guitarist in a band that were never big anywhere, or an indie record company co-founder, or a band manager, or a singer songwriter on Creation Records, or whatever.
King Boy D thought he was a rapper.
The Lone Sweeper thought he was a superhero in his own universe.
Tenzing Scott Brown thought he was a playwright for the people.
But now Scissorman thinks He is a poet – The First Poet.
Has always been a poet for hundreds if not thousands of generations.
I mean I have loved poetry ever since I can remember. All sorts of poetry. Even poetry performed by performance poets.
I have never aspired to being a poet myself. I always knew I did not have that way with words. And even if I did, they would not be clear, or deep, or heart felt enough words for poetry. As in, I would never mean it enough for any of it to ring true.
But then my boyhood best pal Sam Funai took me to see the Egyptian Hieroglyphics exhibition at the British Museum the day before yesterday. And I felt the plates shift, maybe not the tectonic ones, but the ones on the drying rack when you attempt to stack too many of them when doing the washing up.
While I am standing there reading that there were over 700 of these Hieroglyphics in the ancient Egyptian written language, I am thinking, if there were 700, there must have been a first one. And somehow my inner Scissorman grabbed this thought and ran with it.
Then some hours later…
While I am standing in line at the local chippy waiting to order my haddock & chips, Scissorman ran into the Chippie, jumped the queue, and jumped inside my head. He was telling me, it was Him that had come up with the first Hieroglyphic, thus had invented the written language. But it was stolen from Him. And those that stole it, bleached it, and beat it, and compromised it, and used it to tell lies, and suppress those who could not be suppressed by the sword.
But He, Scissorman, had held onto the secret of His written language that only ever needed the one Hieroglyphic to express all the truths and all the literature and all His canon of poetry over thousands and thousands of years. Just one Hieroglyphic, one symbol, one pair of scissors carved into a rock, scratched onto a forearm, dripped onto a parchment, nailed to a door, sprayed onto a wall under a bridge on the North Circular.
And each and every time this poem, in the ultimate canon of poetry, meant something different, to both the poet and the reader of the poem.
And while I am wondering if Scissorman is in the DC or Marvel universe. And is He one of The Avengers? And I don’t mean the Emma & Steed Avengers, but those Avengers we see on the side of busses, saving or destroying the planet while advertising their latest movie.
But it seems Scissorman was disgusted I could even entertain the idea He would have sold out to Disney or Warner’s.
But He was in the same universe as The Lone Sweeper.
This was all getting a bit confusing, especially by the time I got to the front of the queue and I was being told they did not have any Haddock left and did I want Cod and I did not want Cod, so did I want Plaice, and even though I really did not want Plaice, that voice of Scissorman in my head seemed to be blotting everything else out and then they asked what my name was so they could put it on my order and I did not know what my name was. I mean what the fuck is my name? “Tell them Scissorman” said a voice in my head.
“My name is Bill.”
It seemed that I had nodded my head to Plaice, even though no words had come out of my mouth. I mean I like Plaice, especially those orange spots on them, but you never see the orange spots on them when they have been battered and deep-fried in your local chippy.
And I tried to suppress the voice of Scissorman inside my head by wondering if I had ever been a Plaice in my past life. I hope I had been. I would love to have had those oranges spots on me, so much more attractive than a plain brown Flounder.
But none of this trying to imagine a past life as a Plaice, was stopping the voice of Scissorman. And all this canon of poetry that still had to be written using his global language that was and had always been and will always be distilled into one hieroglyphic symbol – the open scissor sprayed onto a wall wherever in the world and by whoever is Scissorman.
I walked out the chippy, it was raining. I looked up into the darkness above and I could see that Light that never dims. And I remembered those opening lines to When The Revolution Comes by The Last Poets, that I used at the beginning of this letter to you. And I say out loud to the Light that never dims in the darkness, that Light that never goes out “For there to have been The Last Poets, there must have been a first poet, as in The First Poet. And I know this to be the call of the Scissorman. The pavement outside my local chippy in suburban North London might not be the Yukon circa 1900s but I can hear those words of Robert Service pulling the Scissorman in me…
Have you gazed on naked grandeur
Where there’s nothing else to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven,
Which the blinding sunsets blazon,
Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley
With the green stream streaking through it,
Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence?
Then for God’s sake go and do it; Hear the challenge,
Learn the lesson,
Pay the cost.
And I felt the rain on my face, and I headed for home with my Friday night fish supper.
The Elderly Gentleman
This is the second of the last forty letters I will ever get to write to you Dear Reader, whoever or wherever you are.
* *. *
SOUTHGATE MEAN TIME
Tuesday the 8th of November 2022
I was thinking of going back on Grinder…
I mean coming off Twitter…
I don’t really know what I mean.
So hard these days to know what you mean.
Or if you are in fact being mean…
What with climate change and everything…
Are you mean?
Do you mean what you say?
Does this have any meaning?
I guess none of us want to be mean.
But we all want to mean what we say.
I couldn’t go back on Grinder ’cause I have never been on it.
And I couldn’t come off Twitter because I have never been on that either.
Which is a sort of a lie…
I did sign up Tenzing Scott Brown to be on Twitter.
The plan was that as soon as Tenzing had sent out a thousand tweets he would come off it.
As soon as Tenzing had a thousand followers he would come off it.
I wanted to see which would happen first.
And the sum total of the Tweets would then be one of Tenzing’s plays
But it never happened.
Not one Tweet got sent out.
I guess I never meant it enough to do it.
The Elderly Gentleman
Southgate Mean Time, is the time it takes the tube to get from Southgate Tube Station to Oakwood Tube Station, as in the time it took me to write this letter to you while on the tube between these two station. Where I am then going to walk to the Southgate Van Hire to hire a van for The Travelling Salesman sell copies of Tenzing Scott Brown’s book SEMAPHORE SIGNALS from the back of outside the Breakout, but I guess you knew that already.
And the photograph that my phone took at the top of this letter was on the opposite side of the track down Southgate Tube. It was that poster that made me want to write this letter to you. Underneath this is another photograph my phone took while waiting for the train, of poster that I had no idea what it was trying to sell me. I like it when I see poster down the Tube which I have no idea what it is they are trying to sell me. And this is the third of The Final Forty of these letters to you Dear Reader.
* *. *
Tuesday the 8th of November 2022
Twenty-Six Teapots is the name of a short film of 26 teapots while they were making their way up the Caledonian Road, hoping to make it in time to be part of The 25 Paintings’ Tea Rooms in Scotland in the Spring / Summer of 2023.
These 26 teapots had been exchanged by 26 individuals, for 26 copies of the book SEMAPHORE SIGNALS by Tenzing Scott Brown.
These 26 individuals turned up between noon and 2pm today – Tuesday the 8th of November 2022.
The film was made by my mobile phone.
I do not make films.
I am told…
This film exists merely because the technology exists to make it.
This film exists merely to document and not entertain.
This film is not part of ‘my practice as an artist’.
I do not practice art – art practices me.
Or should that be…
I do not make art – art makes me.
I make tea.
The Elderly Gentleman
And this is the fourth of the Final Forty letters to you Dear Reader
* *. *
FORS AND NOTS
Wednesday the 9th of November 2022
Just stopped at the Blue Boar on the way back from the Junction. I was up there blackout my wall so that I can do the next of The 25 Black & White Paintings there next Tuesday.
As well as the three Ragworts giving me a hard time about there no longer being a Ragwort Week to celebrate their contribution to the culture of the world, Heron was there wondering when his painting will be done. I told him “soon”. He flew off without responding.
While I was driving, I was riffing on some of my thoughts you will have heard me riffing on since I first started riffing on these type of thoughts. I was thinking these particular riffs should be contained in my fortieth, as in my last letter to you.
Just in case I never get to write that fortieth letter to you, I thought I should put those riffs in this letter to you.
ART IS FOR DOING NOT BUYING
FOOTBALL IS FOR PLAYING NOT WATCHING
LIFE IS FOR LIVING NOT WASTING
Also, I have a bit of an admission, as yet Scissorman has not done the first of his forty tags on the walls under bridges around the North and South Circulars of London. I did get to Halfords to buy a couple of cans of matt black spray paint, that’s as far as it got. But I will get the first one done before I send you this letter – promise.
Also, I was thinking I should use my Freedom Pass* and travel to all forty of the locations where he will be doing these forty tags and when it is finished it will be Scissorman’s poem called Freedom Pass Forty. I guess it will be down to you to interpret the poem in whatever way you think.
The Elderly Gentleman
*Freedom Passes are available to anyone who lives in London and is an Old Age Pensioner (over 66). If you have one you can travel free on the buses any time and on the Tube after 9am, as in after the people who are going off to do proper jobs, have done so.
* *. *
ON THE 382
Thursday the 10th of November 2022
I am on the 382 back from Scissorman doing the first of Their* forty tags that will make up Their poem Freedom Pass Forty.
It was done under the rail bridge near the Bounds Green Industrial Estate. Just by the PB petrol station.
When I got on the bus, it was packed. A young lady offered me her seat. I declined her offer with gratitude. That said I could have done with the seat, but that thing called ‘male pride’ seemed to have prevented me.
But within a couple of stops a load of the school kids got off and I was able to sit down and start writing this letter to you.
And I also will not deny, I feel good that Scissorman has begun Their Freedom Pass Forty poem.
One of the things that I learnt from today, is that Scissorman will do all forty of the tags for Freedom Pass Forty on the inner side of the North and South circulars, and will be doing them all in a clockwise direction, and all facing the same way.
The Elderly Gentleman.
*Even though Scissorman contains the word ‘man’, from here on in I am going to attempt to always refer to Them in the nonbinary form. That said it may sound somewhat strained and affected. But because I am aware that I am only Scissorman for a short period of time in the grand scheme of things, and whoever might have to carry the baton of Scissorman me could be of any sex or none.
Thursday the 3rd of November 2022
The next leg of The Travelling Salesman’s 2022 tour is happening between noon and 2pm, this coming Tuesday (8th of November).
The Travelling Salesman will be in the back of a hired White Ford Transport Van parked up on Blundell Street off Caledonian Road, London by The Breakout, as in across the road from Pentonville Prison. I will be there with The Travelling Salesman to make sure he does not attempt to take advantage of anyone.
The Travelling Salesman will have for sale, forty copies of Tenzing Scott Brown’s book SEMAPHORE SIGNALS.
As stated in a previous letter to you, the price of one copy of these forty books is one tea pot from a charity shop near you.
The remaining 360 copies of SEMAPHORE SIGNALS by Tenzing Scott Brown will be available for sale from https://www.alimentation.cc/penkiln-burn/ from the 13th of November 2022.
The Elderly Gentleman
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS
Monday the 31st of October 2022
Of the hundreds of thousands of words that I have written over the past thirty-three-and-a-third years, the very vast majority of them have been about me. But that ‘me’ is a very one-dimensional ‘me’.
Even if you were to have read every one of those hundreds of thousands of words you would know next to nothing about the non-one-dimensional ‘me’. You would just know that slither of ‘me’ I either consciously or unconsciously chose to reveal.
And even then… I have a suspicion, whatever we write about ourselves and our experiences, is a lie. The very process of writing about ourselves and our experiences, is done to present ourselves in a certain light – be that a flattering or not flattering light. It seems we cannot stop ourselves from doing this.
I have stated at several junctures, in those hundreds of thousands of words, that I have wanted to keep my ‘private life’ out of those hundreds of thousands of words. This being done to protect my family, or at least not drag them into my ‘professional life’.
The reality is…
I have just used that ‘protect my family’ thing as an excuse. The real reason is probably that I never wanted to reveal to you Dear Reader, the guilt, the affairs, the lies, the deceit, the bad parenting, the broken promises, the breakups, the heartbreaks, the children left behind. Then there are the failures, as in the ones that were not glorious. And the jealousies, and the squabbles that would show me in a bad light. The bickering. And the bitterness.
Which sort of brings me back to my whole thing about memoirs, and my current issues with them. As in, they all seem to follow the same format. And once you see the format in something, it loses any sort of meaning. It just becomes another genre in the pack to choose from. Something that can be done by following the step-by-step rules.
To repeat myself, as in state what I have stated numerous times in the past…
Once a music can be defined as a genre it is dead, as in with any art, it is only worth having, when it does not know what it is.
At that point in the history of music when someone could say to their mates “Let’s form a punk band” punk was already over as a living breathing thing of any real value.
But back to genre of memoir…
As in the genre that the book publishing industry can most easily monetise at the moment…
It always starts with poverty.
That poverty can come in many forms. It might be traditional poverty as in lack of food, clothing, heating, place to shit, place to call home. Or it could be poverty through lack of love, or being sent to a distant school, or your dad was Prince Charles, or it felt like your parents didn’t give a shit because they were too wrapped up in their own wonderful lives, or your parents were dead.
Lack of identity, as in mixed race, or you were adopted, or wrong race, or even wrong religion. Or lack of freedom as in poverty by being trapped in some sort of religious fundamentalist group. Or just a general disadvantaged background, far from where you imagine things are happening.
Or for some other reason that made you feel like an outsider.
Being an outsider is a must.
There is no point in writing a memoir if you are not an outsider.
Rule one find your deepest poverty.
Rule two find your inner outsider.
And then the journey begins…
The climbing out from whatever form your poverty or outsiderdom took. And the breaking free form the imprisonment. And the beginning of that search for identity, be it sexual or creative or ethnic or class, or just “Who the fuck are you and what purpose were you put on earth for?”
The bulk of the memoir is taken up with the journey. And on that journey, there must be numerous barriers on the way. But each barrier is either broken down or crashed through or circumnavigated. But all the time the stakes must get higher. Even with what might look like success to the outside world, you must reveal those dark holes, those cliff edges that you are teetering on, cliff edges that only you might see.
Maybe a marriage breakdown, or a child dying, or that lump that became a cancer. But you get through them.
And the memoir ends with some sort of coming to terms with life, even if life did not deliver the success and rewards that one might have hoped for at the beginning of the journey.
And all the time, you…
And when I say ‘you’ now, I don’t mean ‘you’ the writer of a memoir, but ‘you’ the reader of a memoir….
So ‘you’ the reader has just got to sit there doing fuck all but wasting your time, getting your vicarious rewards while someone else is taking your money in exchange for you not living your life to the full extent that you should be.
And whoever it is that is taking your money, might be arguing the case that this ‘memoir’ that you have been wading through will reward you with inspiring you to break free and lead a more positive and creative and life than the one you are currently living.
But in reality, the publisher of the memoir just wants you to buy more similar memoirs.
And the writer of the memoir just wants you to put them on a higher pedestal.
And the manager or agent or controller of the writer, just wants you to buy more of their ‘clients’ products.
And so it goes…
So, I am not about to change, even if I ever could have changed, I fear it is too late in my life to change, thus I won’t be revealing in whatever words I might write, before I write my last word, any of all that negative stuff about the ‘real me’.
As for ‘my memoir’ that you might in part be writing, it is down to you whether you want to include all that other stuff. The ‘kiss and tell’ stuff. The behind the curtain stuff. The real reasons why I might feel I should be given a life sentence for crimes against those who I share blood with, and not just one that lasts as long as it takes to get to the full stop at the end of this sentence.
You can make things up, that I never could admit to.
You can break the stifling genre of memoir in ways that I could never do, if I was having to write it.
And all the time I can hide behind what you have written.
The Elderly Gentleman
There are those that might interpret all of the above as a How To Write A Memoir statement. They would be wrong. Every word that is written in a memoir that is going to grab the hearts of the buying public, must drip with sincerity, and that cannot be faked. No ironic tosh like this can feign that sort of sincerity.
I look back at so much of what I have done and only see the posturings of the white male ego strutting about his global stage unencumbered by wife, partner or family, or any other sort of real responsibilities. It is there perfectly replicated in so many of the photographs you will find of me in that fantasy world presented by Google. Just put the “Bill Drummond” into Google and click on images, and you will see nothing but lies.
Maybe it is the job of Scissorman to cut through those hundreds of thousands of words and all of those photographs.
THE PENKILN BURN LIBRARY
Wednesday the 26th of October 2022
The Head Librarian of The Arctic Penkiln Burn Library has been in contact.
The Head Librarian’s name is Herr Trond Jervell and The Arctic Branch of The Penkiln Burn Library is situated on The Lofoten Islands.
The Lofoten Islands are an archipelago off the north coast of Norway.
Herr Trond Jervell has been the Head Librarian since 2013.
In 2013 The Arctic Branch of The Penkiln Burn Library was a bookshelf in Herr Trond Jervell’s home. Since then, it has progressed in ways that things can only progress within the Arctic Circle.
Yesterday, I received a missive from this Head Librarian, where he expressed two thoughts. Part of the duty of a Head Librarian, of any of the branches of The Penkiln Burn Libraries, is to express such thoughts.
The first thought was, and I will quote directly from his missive:
I know you plan on releasing two separate books, but since the idea is to present two “sides” of your life/memoirs (white/black), would it not make sense to have both sides in the same book? But with them both starting at opposite “sides” of the book? So, after reading one side of the book, one has to turn the book around and start reading from the “other side of the book” Thus meaning that in half of the book, half the text will always be upside down. Sorry, I have a hard time explaining this, but I hope you get the point. This means that there will be two “front” covers, and no backside. Then you could do the white text on black background on one side and the opposite one the other.
And The Head Librarian of The Arctic Branch of The Penkiln Burn Library’s second thought was:
In “Scissorman Scissorman” you talk about cutting square pieces of cloth bought in charity shops and sewing these into your suit. This morning it occurred to me, what if each of your memoir writers sent you a 10X10cm square piece of their favourite clothes? Of course, there are numerous things that could go “wrong” with this idea…
I have briefly looked into the logistics of what he proposes in his first thought.
And it seems possible.
And I like it.
And this would mean there would be an edition of four hundred copies of 70, each containing both versions of the same book within the same book.
As for The Head Librarian of The Arctic Penkiln Library’s second thought…
I would like to propose that anyone endeavouring to write a chapter in ‘my memoir’ can, if they so choose, send a 10 X 10 centimetre square of material of their choice (note: it does not need to be cut from an article of their own clothing) to the following address:
P O Box 78506
The first seventy of these squares of material will be sewn into my suit before the 29th of April 2023. And on that date, I will wear the suit to celebrate the publication of my memoir.
The Elderly Gentleman