For the sixty years, three months, two weeks and five days (roughly) leading up to the time I took a first sip from the mug of tea (black no sugar) that I am about to take the second sip now, I had always assumed the vocal hook of The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens was “whim away”. Thus I also assumed the song was an anthem to celebrate acting on one’s whims.
Between taking that first sip and considering taking my second sip, I thought I should check the exact date when I first heard the song but… There was nothing there in my brain to recall that memory – hence the ‘roughly’.
And what the actual lyrics of the song were? – as I always had my suspicion that Lions did not sleep in jungles.
Firstly I put “Lion” into Wikipedia, and there my suspicions were confirmed.
I felt smug about this.
So all that In the jungle, the mighty jungle – The Lion sleeps tonight was just made up stuff by “couldn’t give a shit about the facts, as long as it was catchy”, type songwriters in Tin Pan Alley, New York, with no idea what was going on with the real wildlife in Africa, or wherever they were imagining this “mighty jungle” to be. Just like there were never Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs of Dover.
My smugness was soon swept away when I put “The Lion Sleeps Tonight – lyrics” into Google and learnt that it had never been “whim away” but “aweem away”.
I have just taken a second sip of tea from the mug and then copied and pasted the first verse of the song right here. In the jungle, the mighty jungle The lion sleeps tonight In the jungle the quiet jungle The lion sleeps tonight Wee heeheehee weeoh aweem away Wee heeheehee weeoh aweem away For the past three days I have had The Tokens version of The Lion Sleeps Tonight going around and around in my head. The reason for this is that one of the co-hosts of my head, who goes by the name The Elderly Gentleman, has been celebrating the fact that he is not only going to embrace his whims but act upon them. And in doing so he might document some of these embracings and enactments using words.
Words that can then be published by Penkiln Burn Books in the form of a slim volume entitled Whim Away.
It seems that The Elderly Gentleman has grown tired of the real Bill Drummond overtly considering the consequences of his actions before embarking upon them.
It seems that The Elderly Gentleman wants to start acting upon his whims without considering the consequences of his actions.
This, embracing whims whatever the consequences, all started last week, sometime between Tenzing Scott Brown writing his Forty Second Play Twa Tins O’ Grey and him attempting to write the plays called Unhalfbricking and Head Butt. What Tenzing Scott Brown was writing in the Twa Tins O’ Grey play was all poetic enough, but what he was writing in the Unhalfbricking and Head Butt ones, was just lumpen and wooden. It was then The Elderly Gentleman stepped in with his “Well fuck all that… I’m going to do it anyway. And anyway it was me that had the whim in the first place. If you get to this time in life and you have not learned to act upon your whims before rationality gets in the way, then what is the point?”
So The Elderly Gentleman got the train up to Birmingham, New Street Station and then headed down under the Junction, as he has a tendency to do. And then poured out over four thousand words. And he then cried and cried. And then The Elderly Gentleman got the train up to Great Yarmouth. And then headed to PRIMEYARC And with Tam Dean Burn And Tracey Moberly, acted out two of these whims. But admittedly he did use the titles that Tenzing Scott Brown had come up with, as in Unhalfbricking and Head Butt.
That was the night before last.
This afternoon, The Elderly Gentleman, has gone and bought himself a tin of grey paint from a branch of Willko’s, which is in the shopping centre next door to PRIMEYARC. Thus this tin of grey paint has nothing to do with Drummond’s International Grey as featured so poetically in the play Twa Tins O’ Grey.
And tonight The Elderly Gentleman is going to ignore all that stuff the two remaining tins of Drummond’s International Grey were going on about in their play.
And The Elderly Gentleman is going to go and paint the words IT’S A MONEY THING on a billboard advertising the HALIFAX (the bank not the town). This billboard can be seen today if you are on the train pulling into the station at Great Yarmouth, right now – as in right now as I write these words in a boarding house in a backstreet of Yarmouth waiting for the darkness to come.
But seeing as there are two of these HALIFAX billboards there, The Elderly Gentleman plans to paint on the other one, the words…
OUR TIME IS RIGHT NOW…
As in words from the Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers song The Morning of Your Lives, because…
The Elderly Gentleman will whim away, because… His time is right now… And not just because Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers have told him… But because… Right now… Right now… Here in the morning of The Elderly Gentleman’s life… He believes… He should do anything… He really believes in… Even it is all based on a whim…
In your heart, your mighty heart The Lions roars tonight. In my heart, my beating heart The Lion reigns tonight Whim Away Whim Away Whim Away Whim Away But…
Later that same night back in his room at the boarding house in a backstreet of Great Yarmouth. The Elderly Gentleman opened his Black n’ Red notebook and starts to write…
The Elderly Gentleman:
Well I guess some whims just don’t pay off… However old or gentle you are. An artist can always attempt to blame his tools. And I might blame the quality of the cheap grey paint from Wilko’s. And I guess the two tins of Drummond’s International Grey back in PRIMEYARC must be laughing at me. The thing is, it was pissing down – which I am fine with but… You know, an artist has to suffer but… It’s one thing cutting the end of your thumb and your blood goes into the vegan soup proclaiming to be vegan, turning forty unsuspecting folk into part time cannibals but… When the rain washes your paint off the billboards as soon as you attempt to proclaim your rage against the way that the international banking system attempts to lure the actual real people, you know no-one is going to notice whatever it is you have done in the morning and… Even though my colleague Tracey was hovering at a safe distance with camera in hand, there was very little for her to document. But like Greta almost said… “You are never too old to make a difference.” Thus I am not going to worry about one failure of this elderly gentleman’s raging against the advertising campaigns of international banking. As for raging against the dying of the light, I will leave that to the poets that throw in their towel before they even get to 40…
IT IS THE MORNING
Tuesday the 19th of October 2021
The Real Bill Drummond:
I have just walked from the boarding house in a back street of Great Yarmouth heading for the railway station with Tracey Moberly. She aims to be catch her first of four trains home to her Valley in South Wales.
We crossed the bridge over the River Bure to where the two Halifax billboards were that Tracey photographed in the darkness and rain last night.
I was fully expecting that the rain would have totally washed away The Elderly Gentleman’s efforts from the evening before, thus failing to tip the ‘people friendly’ branding of global banking, into a quagmire of its own making.
The Global Bankers had got there first and totally replaced the billboard posters with equally cynical attempts at “getting down with the people” branding. This time it is LLOYDS, and not HALIFAX, but as you probably know, they are both owned by the same Global Bankers.
The first of the billboards is one of a wholesome looking farmer with his friendly looking milk cows. And a field of solar panels, thus ‘they’ are hoping their billboard ticks both the Green box and the Brexit box at the same time.
The second of the billboards features a fellow Elderly Gentleman as my other self. But this one is of the Windrush Generation, In the background is a subtly positioned Jamaican flag. In the foreground The Windrush Elderly Gentleman, offers us a tray of his freshly baked patties that he is in the business of selling. Thus an advert riddled with a patronizing racism attempting to pander to the urban, be they elite or diverse.
More work for The Elderly Gentleman beckons.
MY BLOOD FOR YOUR BLOOD
October 22, 2021
The 17th of October 2021
Sunday morning, rain is falling Steal some covers, share some skin Clouds are shrouding us in moments unforgettable You twist to fit the mould that I am in…
The Real Bill Drummond:
These days I go for a blood test once a year. They need to know if my cholesterol levels are going up or down. Or any of the other things that blood tests show, I’m on Statins. Many men of my age are on Statins. Not my drug of choice but… The blood tests show no other issues as yet.
Yesterday afternoon Tam sung Unhalfbricking… And I sat there with my eyes closed… And held the tears at bay… And I painted my head… While Tracey told me where and when… And forty folk listened and watched.
Yesterday morning, I bought vegetables from the market in Great Yarmouth. And tins of various types of beans from Farm Fresh Foods. This was all for making the Soup for the no more but no less than forty folk that had got tickets to hear Tam sing and watch me paint my head while Tracey told me what to do.
After getting the ingredients I went into Wilko’s and bought a new knife for peeling and chopping the vegetables for the soup. The Soup was to be Vegan. It was proclaimed to be Vegan. I am not Vegan but… Others are Vegan.
Back in PRIMEYARC, I started to peel and chop the vegetables. The knife from Wilko’s was sharp… Very sharp. And it was not long before I had sliced the top of my left thumb. Jules from originalprojects; provided a tissue and plaster but… The plaster did not stick but… The vegetables needed to be chopped. The Soup needed to be made but… My blood with its high cholesterol flowed and… It flowed into the Soup. Maybe not more than a thimble full but… That Soup was no longer Vegan but… It was too late now to start making a fresh vat of Soup.
Before Tam sung Unhalfbricking, I asked the audience, of no more and no less than forty, if any of them had ever heard the album Unhalfbricking by Fairport Convention. Only one person put up their hand. That one person being Karl, his real surname will remain anonymous to protect the guilty… Thus, from here on in he will be known as Karl Anon.
Karl Anon runs a print shop with the celebrated poet Lotte L. S. – but not that sort of high street print shop.
Karl Anon makes prints of iconic figures and sells them to whoever wants to buy them. Prints from Alice Coltrane to Angela Davis. From Edie Sedgwick to Poly Styrene. And every other tragic heroine inbetween. With the odd Richie Edwards and Ian Curtis thrown in for good measure. You know the ones… The ones with a status, waiting to be spray-paint stenciled on posters and sold from Great Yarmouth to the would-be self-harming elite of the World.
Is that why Great Yarmouth chose itself to be twinned with The Edge of The World?
I like what Karl Anon does, even though we and me and he knows, that they are knowingly part of a world that can never get enough of a tragic heroine. A world that will pay Karl Anon money so they can have a hand stenciled spray-painted poster of their tragic heroine of choice, framed and hung on their wall. Even if Alice Coltrane is only tragic by association and Angela Davies is still very much alive and never has been and never will be tragic.
Karl Anon sells other stuff. Just for the fun of selling stuff. Just to see if anyone will buy it. Just to pay the rent. I mean we have to pay the rent. Fuck! I have forgotten to pay this month’s rent on my dark industrial unit on a light industrial estate near Sizewell B. Make a note to myself to pay the rent on Monday morning. Anyway…
After Tam had sung… And I had painted my head… And we had listened to the recording of Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers singing The Morning of Our Life. And we had partaken in the Soup that was not Vegan, as it contained my blood… Unbeknown to me Jules of originalprojects; handed to Karl Anon the tissue that I had used to wipe my blood from my thumb before attempting to put a plaster on it. She thought… And he thought… That maybe he should attempt to sell this tissue with my blood on eBay.
Now it may not be the ear of Vincent Van Gogh but… It is my blood and… I did bleed for my art… Maybe not like Ritchie Edwards did or… Edie Sedgwick did but… I did bleed and… In so doing turned maybe something less than forty folk – not everyone partook of the Soup – into Cannibals… Just like the folk who ate my uncle. It seems the circle will remain unbroken.
So, I said yes to Karl Anon. My art might not have a price but… It seems my blood will.
But things just get so crazy Living life gets hard to do And I would gladly hit the road, get up and go if I knew That someday it would lead me back to you That someday it would lead me back to you
FOR YOUR BLOOD
The 18th of October 2021
The Real Bill Drummond:
But… But whenever Monday comes… I love Mondays. I always see things fresh on Mondays. And this Monday is no different. I’m sitting in the Central Café on Regent Road, Great Yarmouth. It’s pack-up-and-move-on day. Moving on is always good. I’m just re-reading what I wrote about Karl Anon selling my blood. And thinking about how Karl Anon told me he would sell anything and everything. Whatever he had got, whatever he was wearing… The passing cloud The wind in the morning Yesterday’s news Tomorrow’s heartbreak Any of it All of it But not from greed Not from aspiration. But… Because nothing is permanent Nothing lasts forever. And don’t invest emotion in the physical things you have. None of it is worth it. Or it was something like that Karl Anon was telling me.
And I’m fine with Karl Anon selling my blood on eBay for whatever he can get for it and he can keep whatever he can get for it, but I tell him I don’t expect him to get any more than a tenner and he tells me about his line that he wants to use – WHO ATE BILL DRUMMOND? and I was fine with that but now that I am sitting in the Central Café watching the passing world something else strikes me, a very Monday morning thing and this is it…
But first some context…
I said earlier how I have high cholesterol which means I am now on Statins. I used to give blood regularly but… Now that I’m on Statins I’m advised not to. Being a blood donor made me feel that at least I was giving something back.
So, this is the deal…
If you buy the tissue with some of my dried blood on it on eBay from Karl Anon for ten quid, you have to promise me you will give one pint of your blood.
If you buy the tissue with some of my dried blood on it on eBay from Karl Anon for twenty quid, you have to promise me you will donate two pints of your blood.
And up it goes…
Obviously, I only expect you to donate one pint at a time. Thus, if someone ends up paying a hundred quid for my blood, they have to donate ten pints of their blood over ten years.
Okay maybe that will be half a litre (500ml) instead of a pint in this day and age, but whatever, you get the idea?
This is the link to eBay – it’s live as of now until 7pm on Sunday the 31st of October 2021 when the bidding will stop.
The above text was emailed to Karl Anon for verification of facts and feelings. He was fine with it all but…
He informed me that when he was living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana back in ’87, he would sell his blood to keep him off the street.
… I’m gonna leave Texarkana I’m goin’ down to Louisiana I’m gonna try my luck in Baton Rouge I’m gonna follow ol red river down Till I see the lights of town I ain’t gonna get no sleep in Baton Rouge
WARNINGS: 1: The Real Bill Drummond has been reliably informed that being on Statins is no reason for not giving blood. 2: The Real Bill Drummond does not consider a piece lf tissue paper containing his blood to be a work of art by himself. Even if Who Ate Bill Drummond? is a work of art by Karl Anon.
The Real Bill Drummond will consider MY BLOOD FOR YOUR BLOOD to be a complete work of art once he has received selfies from the winner of the eBay bid for Who Ate Bill Drummond? These selfies to be taken by the winner as they give each pint of blood over the coming years. Once The Real Bill Drummond has received all the selfies he (if he is still alive) will return, to the winner of the bid, an A1 sized framed print of the photograph of the blood stained tissue, taken by Tracey Moberly and an A1 sized frame containing mounted prints of all the selfies.
Two new extracts from the everlasting and neverending play, that may have formerly been known as Never Lock Your Door but right now might be furthermore known as Under The Junction have been added to the Penkiln Burn website.
The second of these new extracts, which has the title The Last Dog Daisy of Summer is only required reading by The Audience of no less but no more than forty, that will be attending The Elderly Gentleman’s whims in Yarmouth on Saturday the 16th of October 2021. WARNING: It is over ,000 words long.
The first of these new extracts, which has the title of FOR EVER & EVER is only required reading for anyone who has ever gone for a walk. WARNING: It embraces disbelief in the believable.
For printing cost reasons The Edge of The World has now been printed in an edition of eighty. Forty of which are still for The Audience of no more and no less than forty that will be attending The Elderly Gentleman’s Whims at PRIMEYARC on the afternoon of Saturday the 16th of October 2021. The other forty will be sold by PRIMEYARC in whatever way they sell things.
THE LAST DOG DAISY OF SUMMER
October 14, 2021
The Elderly Gentleman is on the run. But there is only one place that The Elderly Gentleman runs to… And that is under the Junction. He comes here to think and remember and dwell upon things. He comes here to feel alone. He comes here to feel part of everything. To smell the rot And taste the grime To hear the roar To touch the untouchable And write… It is his library, now that we don’t need libraries with books anymore. It is his cathedral now that we don’t need cathedrals with stained glass windows anymore. It is his Lost and Found… For there is still plenty yet to both lose and find.
Today he has come to talk with Daisy. Daisy is… The Last Dog Daisy of Summer. But Dog Daisies do not speak to members of The Ultimate Invasive Species. Even if this Daisy is The Last Dog Daisy of Summer.
This is also an extract from the everlasting and never-ending play that has now taken on the name Under The Junction. This extract has almost split in two, each with its own title. The titles are EVENING and MORNING.
The Elderly Gentleman:
Good morning Daisy, I am The Elderly Gentleman. I may be other things but for this morning and the foreseeable future I am The Elderly Gentleman. Becoming The Elderly Gentleman has taken some time. I had the first hint of becoming The Elderly Gentleman, back when I had recently turned 16 in the June of 1969. John Peel played a track from a band on his radio show. Something about this track affected me in a way that I was not aware that any piece of music had affected me before. The following Saturday, after I had done my window-cleaning round with Donald Anderson, I went and bought the album that this track, that I heard John Peel play, was on. The album was called Unhalfbricking. All one word… I had no idea what this title meant – or if it meant anything. The band that had recorded this album were called Fairport Convention. And I knew nothing about them… As in where they were from, or what they looked like. The track on Unhalfbricking that had moved me to spend my money from the window-cleaning round was called Who Knows Where The Time Goes? The opening lines of this song were… And I hope still are…
Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving, But how can they know, it’s time for them to go?
The album became important to me in the way that albums could become important to you when you were 16. This was my album. This was my band. Now that The Beatles were spent. I learnt the singer in Fairport Convention was called Sandy Denny and she had written Who Knows Where The Time Goes? And she was 22. I could relate to her more than I could relate to John Lennon. But within twelve months, things had moved on. I had a new band… They were called Van Der Graff Generator.
But those two opening lines to Who Knows Where The Time Goes? stayed with me. Over the years and decades… And into old age… Always there… Or at least, never far away.
In the September of 1970 between Fairport Convention and Van Der Graff Generator, I started art school and met a girl. I was 17. In 1972, when I was 19, I became her boyfriend. In 1976, when I was 23, I became her husband. I was the last of all my teenage friends to get married. It is what we did then. Or at least what we did where I came from. In 1978, when I was 25, we bought a house for four-thousand-nine-hundred-and-ninety-five pounds. Also… In the same month that we moved into our house Sandy Denny died. She was 32. Heroes die young. Between 1983 and 1986, we had two children. I was a father and she was a mother. But I wasn’t a good husband. I wasn’t a faithful husband. In 1992 when I was 39, we split and we got divorced. And the years went by. And across all of those years… At this time of year, I would hear those words from that song.
Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving, But how can they know, it’s time for them to go?
At some point I made some notes for my funeral. And stuck them on my wall. And in those notes I said I would like Who Knows Where The Time Goes? played at my funeral while my coffin goes into the flames.
February last year… As in February 2020, just before the pandemic kicked in… My teenage sweetheart… The only woman that I have ever married… The mother of two of my children… Died.
Between her death and her funeral, I had the first of my brain seizures. At the funeral I got up to speak and broke down in tears. I knew then that something very fundamental had changed in me. There was no going back from whatever this change was. Over the coming months, as the pandemic swirled around the globe… And all through lockdown one, I did what I do… I wrote and I wrote. Thousands and thousands of words. I filled nine Black n’ Red notebooks with these handwritten words. I wrote about emptiness. Then I stopped writing these words. And I never read what I had written.
It was sometime between the two lockdowns of 2020, when Tenzing Scott Brown was writing his New River Four plays and before he started writing Pied Wagtail, that I became aware there was this other self in me wanting space to be noticed. Demanding to be heard. So I decided that this other self should have the name The Elderly Gentleman. I might be attempting to hide behind the irony of the name, but there was no argument I was definitely in the category of being classed as an elderly gentleman. My bus pass was already proof of this, but with the brain seizures and the failing memory and not being able to drive White Ford Transit Vans, there was no argument… And then there was and still is my knees that don’t work. And having to get up and go to the lavatory at least twice every night. And my lack of appetite. And falling asleep in front of the Ten O’ Clock News like my dad used to, when he became an old man.
Earlier this year, one of my other selves wrote the play WHITE MALE GAZE.
This play was to be performed during the opening weekend at The 25 Paintings exhibition in Great Yarmouth. I had planned for the play to open with the playing of A Sailor’s Life by Fairport Convention. This being the second track on the Unhalfbricking album. And close the play with the playing of Who Knows Where The Time Goes?
Halfway through A Sailor’s Life being played over the sound-system, as Tam Dean Burn was sauntering onto the stage to start his performance, the sound-system broke down. Without a moment’s hesitation, Tam Dean Burn carried on singing. The first line to come out of his mouth was:
“You sailors all, pray tell me true, Does my sweet William sail among your crew?”
I might not be sweet but I am a William… And again I broke down in tears. But I hid them… But I knew there and then that I wanted to close my eyes and hear Tam sing the whole of Unhalfbricking, from beginning to end, unaccompanied. Just Tam’s voice and the words and the tunes. Now Unhalfbricking is not particularly a work of genius – lost or otherwise. And Tam might be able to hold a tune but his is not a lost voice for a forgotten generation. But Tam is Tam, and he knows how to do things and he knows what lies behind things. And he knows how to put those things that lie behind things out there to the people watching and listening.
The next morning in the boarding house that Tam, Tracey and I were staying in, I started to write. Or at least, Tenzing Scott Brown started to write. It was a play called Unhalfbricking. In this play, I would be sitting in the middle of a stage on the closing night of The 25 Painting exhibition in Great Yarmouth. And there would be an audience of no more and no less than forty people. And I would ask them to close their eyes. And I would close my eyes. And Tam would walk onto the stage. And Tam would sing the whole of Unhalfbricking from beginning to end. And that would be a play by Tenzing Scott Brown. Then I wrote something about how Tracey, Tam and I would recreate the cover of Unhalfbricking the day before. And maybe a recording of Tam’s singing of Unhalfbricking would be released on vinyl in an edition of 400 and that would be the third act of this play.
But after a fry-up breakfast and the walk across town into The 25 Paintings exhibition, I knew this all to be merely a whim of The Elderly Gentleman. And there was no poetic substance to this whim. And I looked at much of what was proclaimed on the various framed posters that were part of the exhibition and in so many ways they seemed vacuous to me now. All that building forty beds and shining one thousand pairs of shoes. From where I was now in life, these ambitions were the pointless proclamations of the male ego – no better than Boris Johnson’s speech at the Tory Party Conference last week.
Over the next couple of days, Tenzing Scott Brown took over my inner self and wrote his six plays that have collectively grabbed the title of The Edge of The World.
But once they were written, I got to thinking that maybe The Elderly Gentleman should be allowed to indulge in some of his whims from time to time.
It for these reasons that I come here under the Junction to talk to you…
You, The Last Dog Daisy of Summer. Even if you do not care to talk to me back.
I have made a decision. And there will be no going back. I will sit on a chair with my eyes closed. In front of an audience of no more and no less than forty people with their eyes closed. And Tam Dean Burn will come on the stage and he will sing the whole of Unhalfbricking from beginning to end, unaccompanied. And I will listen like I have never done before and probably never will again. And yes, it might be just a whim. But right now, as I sit under the Junction talking to you, Daisy, I don’t give a fuck. Maybe there might be others who will want to do the same thing one day with an album that meant so much to them when they were sixteen, before the brain seizures and their teenage sweetheart dying, and them fucking up in relationships. And being a bad dad. Or even being a bad mum. And walking away again.
Daisy… Last Saturday… I mean the Saturday before last, I got an email in the middle of the night. It was from Tom @ The Idler who was asking me if I was going to Cat Ledger’s memorial service in the morning. Cat had been my literary agent for the past twenty-nine years. Cat had done the deals for Bad Wisdom, 45, 17 and 2023. Cat had always wanted me to do a column for one of the broadsheets. She would tell me that was where the money was. And off the back of a column in a broadsheet, I could sell more books. And… Anyway, that is not what I wanted to do. I was never that interested in selling more books. Or reaching wider publics. But I didn’t hold any of that against Cat. And she did not seem to hold it against me. Cat and I were never that close. She lived a completely different type of life to the one I lived. But I had a lot of respect for Cat. Then last year, when the Pandemic was hitting its hardest, she phoned me up to ask how we were and what I was writing. And I told her about the death of my first wife and how I was writing every day, thousands of words, but I had no idea what those thousands of words were or what they were for. Then she told me that she had terminal cancer and would be dead in two months, but she had sorted out another agent for me, so everything would be alright…
So last Saturday… I mean the Saturday before last, I got the tube and the bus and got to Cat’s memorial service. It was pouring with rain. I got soaked through between the bus stop and the church. The church was packed. The service had started. The Vicar was just announcing the first hymn. And I sang and I sang… Full throated… I gave it everything I’d got. But none of that stopped the tears from flooding down…
Morning has broken, like the first morning Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird…
Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven, Like the first dewfall on the first grass…
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning Born of the one light Eden saw play…
Morning has broken, like the first morning Blackbird has spoken like the first bird…
This was not Yusuf Islam back when he was Cat Stevens… Nothing against Yusuf… But this was the real thing…
My real thing… A congregation singing together and thinking about someone they all knew in different ways, words they would have sung in their own childhoods at whatever school they had been to on these islands.
At the end of the service I snuck out before having to talk to anyone. Not that I’d have known that many folk there. On the bus back to home and family responsibilities, The Elderly Gentleman was hit with another whim, that Tenzing Scott Brown attempted to turn into one of his plays, before rejecting it. It was then that The Elderly Gentleman was convinced that in whatever time he had left, he should act out at least some of his whims before rationality and good sense got in the way.
I got off the bus to get the Piccadilly Line from Caledonian Road tube station. It was while going down the lift there that I was hit with a title for this second whim – Head Butt.
And Head Butt would be me painting my head once or twice like I did back in 2014 at the beginning of The 25 Paintings twelve year world tour. And I would do this so that I could know what it was to be inside the painting looking back out at the world.
I wasn’t too sure about this – but there was no stopping this whim – I mean, what would the harm of it be? It might not be entertainment for The Audience of no less and no more than forty folk, but it would be something. And maybe afterwards somebody might be able to tell me what it was.
Then, as the tube train came out of the tunnel just before it got to Arnos Grove station, I thought that maybe I should somehow act out the play MOTHER that Tenzing Scott Brown wrote the week before last in a café in Great Yarmouth. As in one of The Edge of The World plays.
Sixteen years ago, I got an email from a woman somewhere in the USA. She was telling me in no uncertain terms that I had to go and make soup for one of her friends in London.
I emailed the woman in the USA. I told her that London was not on the Soup Line.
She emailed me back telling me that I had to bend the Soup Line so it took in the Caledonian Road in London.
I emailed back saying I could not do that, as it would then undermine everything that the Soup Line meant in my imagination, and in turn would leave it open for anybody to email me making claims for the Soup Line to be bent in any direction they wanted.
But this woman in America was not taking “No” for an answer. I mean, what would the harm be? And anyway, who would get to know?
So I went to make soup for this person in London, and her friends and family. But when I got there, there was only one person.
And as of this Thursday, as in three days from now… Now, as in when I am sitting under the junction talking to you, the very last Dog Daisy of Summer. And somehow I imagine you are telling me I have to write all this and upload it onto the Penkiln Burn site for Thursday evening… As in the evening that will be the sixteenth anniversary of that particular Soup Making and the sixteenth anniversary of a relationship.
I still have no idea what the woman in America who would not take “No” for an answer was thinking she was doing. But I don’t think she would ever have thought that the two people she brought together would still be together in sixteen years time.
And now with a nine-year-old son. And a three-month-old kitten. Or that the nine-year-old son wanted to call the kitten Heidi, because the kitten liked to hide in cupboards. The nine-year-old having no knowledge of Heidi the heroine of children’s stories set in the Alps.
The following play is dedicated to her. As in the woman in my life for the last sixteen years and I hope for the rest of my life and not the kitten by the name of Heidi.
Mother is a vat of Soup that has been freshly made this morning. This vat of soup is also the eternal Mother – the Mother of all. But today Mother has forty children; each of Mother’s children is a freshly ladled and piping hot Bowl of Soup. The youngest of these Bowls of Soup is named Heidi, who was named after a kitten in Southgate. And the dialogue of this Forty Second play is as follows:
Mother, what is the meaning of our lives?
To make the world a better place.
But how will I know if I have made the world a better place?
It is not for us to know but just do. It is for future generations to know that sort of thing. But right now you are doing fine. You and all your sisters and brothers are all perfect Bowls of Soup.
And before Heidi could ask Mother any more questions, a woman picked her up and consumed her. And without the woman knowing how or why, her life was changed forever and for the better. And before the evening was over, all of Heidi’s sisters and brothers were also consumed. And Mother was empty. But Mother was eternal.
The Elderly Gentleman:
This morning I woke just after 3am, as I usually do… I was needing a piss… As I usually do… And I was haunted by the dream that I had woken from. A dream that followed the path that most of my dreams have followed since I started transitioning into The Elderly Gentleman. In these dreams I am always on some sort of journey, trying to get home… But I never know where home is… Or how to get there. And even if I did, there are always all sorts of obstacles in the way. And these obstacles can be physical, as in mountains, rivers, walls etc. Or they can be mental obstacles. Or you can think you are almost home, you can just about see it, then it is gone, the landscape has changed completely.
This morning’s obstacles were all The 25 Paintings and the forty framed posters and all of the other stuff that is currently in the former Debenhams in Great Yarmouth… But they weren’t there… They were scattered across the road in front of me… The road that I was driving down in the Land Rover that I used to own. In the back of the Land Rover, was my youngest son, who was not nine but still just a baby. I couldn’t get out the Land Rover to clear up the mess that my ‘art’ had made across the road, as I had to keep an eye on him. But I needed a piss. But now I was awake and no longer in the dream So I went for a piss. And I went back to bed. And I fell back asleep. And when I woke up again at 4:55am… And I was needing another piss… But I had woken from another dream… In this dream it was the evening on the 13th of June 1978. And I was in Eric’s Club in Liverpool. I had recently turned 25. Old… And Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers were on stage. Jonathan was 28. Older… And Jonathan was singing to me. And what Jonathan was singing was The Morning of Our Lives. So I go for a piss. Not in Eric’s but in my real life. And I go back to bed. But I don’t get back to sleep. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers won’t let me. For I am thinking about being in the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on the 9th of May 2008. One of my sons, who was 22 then, had taken me to see Jonathan Richman without The Modern Lovers but with just a drummer. My son had taken me for my 55th birthday. And again Jonathan Richman sang The Morning of Our Lives to me. And he was 58 then, but he sang it with more urgency and directness than he had done almost 30 years earlier. Maybe the morning of our lives was already beginning to fade. Or was it just the dawn?
At 7:03am I got up and went downstairs and fed Heidi. And then I asked Alexa to play me The Morning of Our Lives by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers. And I sat down and cried and cried and cried…
And while I cried and cried, I knew it was time to go under the Junction again. I needed to go to hear the roar of the traffic above. And the grind of the Earth below. And talk to you, Daisy. The Last Dog Daisy of Summer.
Then on Saturday I will… Listen to Tam Dean Burn sing Unhalfbricking. Paint my head one more time. Make Soup. And then listen to Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers sing…
The Morning of Our Lives.
Sandy might be right to ask the question “Who knows where the time goes?” It might not be the answer but I am totally with Jonathan when he says ‘Our time is now.’
And it will always be…
In the Autumn of 2020, Tenzing Scott Brown wrote a play to be performed by puppets. It was called The Pied Wagtail. And this play was inspired by a real pied wagtail that the real Bill Drummond would watch scuttling around the pavement between commuters’ legs as they rushed towards Southgate tube station every morning. This pied wagtail seemed to have no fear – had more important things in life to be doing than worrying about the comings and goings of The Ultimate Invasive Species.
It was in this play for puppets that The Elderly Gentleman made his first public appearance. He was described as being dressed in a black three-piece suit, a maroon tie and cherry-red brogues. This description was totally based on the real three-piece suit, maroon tie and cherry-red brogues that the real Bill Drummond would wear in his dandy days back between 1983 and 1986. The suit had been made by a tailor down in Clerkenwell, the tie inherited from his grandfather, the brogues were Church’s best, made in Northampton – where else?
The three-piece black suit had lost its way over the intervening decades but the maroon tie and the cherry blossom brogues hadn’t.
This morning, as in the morning after the conversation with The Last Dog Daisy of Summer, the real Bill Drummond had to head out for a meeting at Andrew’s Café down in Gray’s Inn Road, in Clerkenwell.
While walking to the Southgate tube he saw Pied Wagtail darting around between the legs of the rushing commuters. She was still there. It might be Autumn but it was still the morning of her life.
Then, when the real Bill Drummond was sitting on the top deck of the number 17 bus heading from King’s Cross down to Clerkenwell, he saw a tailor’s shop.
It was the tailor’s shop where he had the three-piece black suit made almost forty years ago. It looked exactly the same and it was open. The real Bill Drummond thought this must have been an apparition. A hangover from the dream he’d had the night before.
But he got off the bus at the next stop and walked back a couple of blocks.
The tailor’s shop was for real. Inside was a very old tailor. A man way past what the world would judge to be a reasonable retirement age.
The real Bill Drummond knew there and then what had to be done, even before The Elderly Gentleman had a chance to have one of his whims.
Within less than forty minutes the real Bill Drummond was all measured up for what might be an identical suit to the black three-piece from 1983. Every detail remembered. Etched forever.
Like Spiderman before him, The Elderly Gentleman will have his costume in which to take on the world – there will be nothing The Daily Bugle can do to stop him.
So come the storms of winter and then the birds in spring again I have no fear of time For who knows how my love grows? And who knows where the time goes?
FOR EVER & EVER
October 14, 2021
A Grandson and his Granddad are walking along the towpath beside the canal under Spaghetti Junction. This is not the first time. And they hope not the last.
Grandson is five years old. Granddad is sixty-eight years old.
The Grandson likes to look at the Mother Duck with her Ducklings that will soon be fully grown and leaving home.
The Granddad likes to look into the water at the fish he would have wanted to catch in his distant boyhood.
Grandson and Granddad see the Heron, and wonder if the Heron is in reality a flying dinosaur that escaped extinction.
Grandson and Granddad look at the wild flowers growing and wonder what conversations they might be having if wild flowers could speak.
Grandson and Granddad also have conversations.
What follows is part of one of their conversations as they walk along the towpath under Spaghetti Junction in the October of 2021.
This is also a further extract from the everlasting and never-ending play Never Lock You Door – a play that is considering changing its name to Under The Junction, for we are all under the junction.
* * *
Granddad, why is the Sky blue?
A long, long time ago, the Sky was white in the daytime and black in the nighttime. It was before there were people on the world.
When there were dinosaurs?
No, even before dinosaurs. Even before Mother Duck and her Ducklings. Even before there were fishes in the water waiting to be caught. A long, long time ago. When the only living things on Earth were the Trees and Flowers and the Grass all the other Plants. And the Sky being white in the daytime and black in the nighttime was the way things were. But all the Grass and all the Trees and all the other Plants thought the Sky should be green in the daytime and black in the nighttime, like they were. So the Grass and the Trees and all the other Plants told God to make the Sky green. And God made the Sky green.
I don’t believe you, Granddad. This is just one of your stories that you make up.
Everything is a story made up.
I’m not a story made up. You are not a story made up.
Maybe we are. Maybe we will never know. Maybe everything is just a story made up by a Boy with his Granddad on a star far, far away in another universe.
But Granddad, why is the Sky blue?
Well, the Flowers all across the World did not like the Sky being green in the daytime and black in the nighttime. So they told God this was wrong. And God asked the Flowers, “Fine, what colour would you like the sky to be in the daytime?” And the Red Flowers said red. And the Yellow Flowers said yellow. And the Purple Flowers said purple. And the Pink Flowers said pink. And all the White Flowers were happy with the sky being white in the daytime and black in the nighttime, but not green.
So what did God do?
He gave all the Flowers in the world a vote. One Flower, one vote. And the Blue Flowers won. So that is why the Sky is blue. But to be fair to the all the other Flowers, he also made it so that sometimes, in the early morning or in the early evening, the distant Sky can be pink or yellow or red or even purple. And sometimes, in the daytime, it can be white.
But that is just the Clouds.
Yes, but the Clouds bring the rain for all the Flowers and all the Grass and all the Trees and all the other Plants to drink.
But why are the Clouds sometimes grey?
Grey clouds only came when people came to the world. God made grey clouds to give us hope. You see, us Humans were the first form of life on this Earth to have a thing called hope. So when the Sky was grey we could hope that tomorrow the Sky would be blue or maybe even in the early mornings or early evenings the distant Sky could be pink or yellow or red or even purple. No hope without grey. Grey is the colour of hope.
Granddad, did you tell this story to Mummy when she was a little girl?
No, Grandson. I have just made up this story right now, for you. But can you now make up a story for me?
But Granddad, what is this flower here?
And Grandson points to a dying flower who, in its prime, was a glorious purple. But now only has one petal left.
That, my Grandson, is a Rosebay Willowherb.
And what neither Grandson nor Granddad hear is the conversation that this Rosebay Willowherb is having with the Buddleia, Ragwort and Michaelmas Daisy growing close by.
Yes, that D’Leia, Rags and Mish Mash that you might have met before. And Fire – as in the name by which the Rosebay Willowherb is known to her fellow Flowers.
Don’t you see what he’s doing? He has not only appropriated aspects of feminism that he neither understands nor has any right to appropriate… He has now decided that we all identify as female, when we are neither male nor female but both sexes in one – thus above all of this. And he has done all this for his own ends.
Don’t “but” me, D’Leia. He’s even come up with some fantasy that you are like a Boudicca of the Urban Flower world. And he changed your name from D’Leia to Leia and then back to D’Leia, like he thinks he’s in complete control.
Look, I have been watching him for over thirty-five years. He chose me to be on the cover The Man…
You know, hislong-playing record back in 1986 (common era). And that was only ‘cause he thought people might think he was down with the Flowers.
“Down with the Flowers” – my fuckin’ arse…
I was here under the Junction back in 2014 Before none of you were here…
Okay, Rags you were here, but anyway Like I was saying… Back in 2014, here he was under the Junction, not only posing on a raft made from his bed But posing on that raft with four hundred bunches of freshly slaughtered Daffodils. That was probably over four thousand Daffs, every one of them murdered for his ego, his vanity, his…
But they were only Daffs, not proper Flowers living in the wild like us.
Don’t you get it? Those four thousands Daffs were still Flowers, just like us. They did not choose to be grown in those fields of extermination. He does not give a shit. He is just using us, like he uses everything else.
So what are you suggesting?
That we get out of this fantasy of his. This play… Or whatever it is.
And do what?
Do whatever it is that we are supposed to be doing…
And just before Fire has a chance to answer the underlying question to every question that has ever been asked, their last petal falls from their stem.
And Fire begins their journey on The Great Fall.
D’Leia, Rags and Mish Mash are silent. And the Boy looks at his Granddad and asks:
Granddad, will that Rosebay Willowherb flower grow again here next year?
I hope so. They have been growing here ever since I have been walking here under the Junction.
Granddad, why do you like to walk here under the Junction?
I don’t know, Grandson. It makes me feel alive.
But Granddad, you are alive.
But more alive.
Grandson and Granddad stop walking… And they stand together… Side by side… Under the Junction… Looking across the canal at the wall… A wall that has been freshly painted with three horizontal stripes… A black one at the top… A white in the middle… And a black one at the bottom…
Why do you like to look at that wall, Granddad?
I like to look at the words that someone paints there.
But Granddad, there are no words there today. Somebody must have painted the words away. Do you think the wall is waiting for new words?
Maybe… But sometimes, Boy, no words say more than all the words in the world.
Grandson and Granddad fall silent and stand there looking at the freshly painted wall with no words on it.
The Grandson wonders how many words there are in the world.
And the Granddad wonders about the last words that Granny ever said to him. And how he wishes he could hear them again.
But silence is broken by the roar of the traffic on the M6 above them.
Above the Junction.
And the Grandson speaks…
Granddad, I’m hungry. Can we go to that café again?
It is my favourite café, Granddad.
It’s where Granny and I used to go on rainy days.
And Grandson and Granddad walk on… Out from under the Junction.
October 8, 2021
To mark the completion of the Seventh Step in The 25 Painting twelve year world tour, The Intercontinental Twinning Association have twinned Great Yarmouth with The Edge of The World.
To mark The Intercontinental Twinning Association’s twinning of Great Yarmouth with The Edge of The World, Tenzing Scott Brown has written six of his Forty Second Plays. These six forty second plays are collectively entitled The Edge of The World.
To mark Tenzing Scott Brown writing six of his Forty Second Plays collectively entitled The Edge of The World, Original Projects are publishing them as a booklet in a numbered edition of 40.
To mark Original Projects’ publishing The Edge of The World as a booklet in a numbered edition of 40, The Elderly Gentleman plans to stage two of his whims at PRIMEYARC in Great Yarmouth, on the afternoon of Saturday the 16th of October 2021. These two whims having the titles UNHALFBRICKING and HEAD BUTT. These two whims are to be performed by Tam Dean Burn, Tracey Moberly and Bill Drummond, or actors playing these three characters. Forty tickets for these two whims are / were available via EventBrite for the price of nothing. All forty ticket holders that turn up to experience the two whims will be given a numbered copy of The Edge of The World by Tenzing Scott Brown.
To mark the performance of two whims by The Elderly Gentleman, Bill Drummond will instigate a performance of MOTHER by Tenzing Scott Brown. MOTHER is one of the six Forty Second Plays included in The Edge of The World. The performance of MOTHER will instigate the forty ticket holders consuming a bowl of soup* after the performance of the two whims. The soup will have been freshly made by Bill Drummond, close to the Global Soup Line as it flows down the River Yare out into the North Sea.
*No animal products will be used in the making of this soup.
To mark the proposed performance of MOTHER, the online magazine The Quietus will publish 330 & COAT. This being one of the other six Forty Second Plays in The Edge of The World by Tenzing Scott Brown.
To mark the proposed publication of 330 & COAT in The Quietus, Bill Drummond photographed the characters 330 and Coat hanging from the painting ELVIS T’AMA** BILL in the rain on the beach at Great Yarmouth.
**T’AMA is Cape Verde Kriol for LOVES.
To mark the falling of the rain, Coat was then crucified on the painting ELVIS T’AMA BILL. The crucifixion took place once the painting, 330 and Coat had returned to the shelter of PRIMEYARC. And 330 was slung from the Crucified Coat.
To mark the Crucifixion of Coat and the Slinging of 330, they have been chosen to busk a performance of Fanfare for the Folk of Pig Shit Island between now – 3am on Friday the 8th of October – and midnight on Sunday the 17th of October 2021. Although Fanfare for the Folk of Pig Shit Island may at first appear to be a silent composition, it is in fact one of the loudest and most ear-shredding pieces of music ever imagined in the history of imagined music.
For I know these things For I am the Narrator I narrate and I narrate
September 29, 2021
Being a message from The Elderly Gentleman
Mish Mash, (just Mish to her friends), is doing her bit in The Struggle against the Ultimate Invasive Species.
Mish can be found escaping those neatly trimmed and freshly pruned prisons all across the suburbs of The Atlantic Archipelago.
Mish Mash is also a Dark Angel of The Morning, thus she has a feast day dedicated to her.
Mish Mash’s Feast Day is on the 29th of September.
For the Forty Days & Forty Nights leading up to her Feast Day, two books dedicated to Mish’s efforts in The Struggle, could only be purchased by visiting The Best Gent Hair Saloon on Albion Parade in N16.
The two books in question were ANTIMACASSAR and BEST GENT HAIR SALOON, both written by my fellow traveler Tenzing Scott Brown.
These two books existed in editions of 400.
Following her Feast Day the remaining copies will also be available online via Alimentation until all 400 have been purchased.
In the patriarchal universe of the Ultimate Invasive Species, Mish Mash is known as Michaelmas Daisy.
It was in that perverse universe that our Mish had been imprisoned in the mowed lawned gardens of Surburbia.
Over these past few years she has joined The Sisters, (led by D’Leia), in The Struggle to overthrow the Ultimate Invasive Species.
Mish Mash has not only been breaking free from the threat of the pruning shears.
Mish Mash is to be found dancing and singing to the midnight stars, or just basking in the sunlight, of these early Autumn mornings.
Celebrate her Feast Day in your own careful way.
The Elderly Gentleman
Post Script: The Narrator wishes to add: “I have been asked by The Travelling Salesman to remind you that although the books of Tenzing Scott Brown only exist in editions of 400, there are more of his plays, in book form, on their way. I would also like to state that the above may be part of the ongoing and never-ending play Never Lock You Door.”
September 22, 2021
Dry Run is the dry-run of a play by Tenzing Scott Brown.
The working title of the play is Before During After.
Dry Run is to be performed at PRIMEYARC in Great Yarmouth, at 2pm on Sunday the 26th of September 2021 as part of the Yarmonics Festival.
A Bill Drummond will be leading Our Seventeen’s tribute performance of Score 328: SURROUND.
Score 328: SURROUND has been performed more than 40 times around the globe from Beijing, China to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, between 2008 and 2013.
RAGS & D’LEIA
September 12, 2021
The Narrator: To celebrate the final Ragwort Week, and thus the final sale of one hundred copies of the book RAGWORTS Tenzing Scott Brown could not stop himself from writing another extract from his ongoing and everlasting play Never Lock Your Door.
The characters in this extract consist of a Ragwort plant and a Buddleia bush growing side by side underneath Spaghetti Junction, Birmingham, England.
The Ragwort goes by the name of Rags and the Buddleia bush by the name of D’Leia.
Rags and D’Leia are at the TERF end of their spectrum.
* * *
D’Leia: I heard that this Bill Drummond or whoever he thinks he is, has got an exhibition happening this week somewhere near Lowestoft.
D’Leia: Yeah there… Anyway in the blurb he wrote, he said he was going to have 25 jam jars filled with your Sisters, slaughtered for the amusement of the Ultimate Invasive Species that go to art exhibitions.
Rags: Yeah, to celebrate this year’s Ragwort Week. The final Ragwort Week, when the last hundred of my books get sold.
D’Leia: Don’t be fooled by any of that pseudo flattery. That Bill Drummond doesn’t mean any of what he says.
Rags: You’re just jealous that no one ever wrote a book about you.
D’Leia: Fuck off. I don’t need to be validated by some male of the Ultimate Invasive Species writing a book about me. Over these past ten years, me and my many millions of Sisters across the world, have been doing more to save this, our only planet, from the Ultimate Invasive Species, more than any other life form on this lost rock…
Rags: Yeah, yeah, we know – you are the REAL Extinction Rebellion. And anyway he has already got his Tenzing Scott Brown to put all that in one of his plays – that Semaphore Signals one.
D’Leia: Yeah but that never got published.
Rags: Not yet.
D’Leia: Anyway… What I am saying is that you have to get a message across the land, Sister to Sister, before this coming Day of Saturn, to prevent that Bill Drummond, or one of his fake selves, from slaughtering a host of your golden Cousins for the sake of his vanity.
Rags: It will be done.
* * *
Narrator: And so it was done:
Across the Shires and under the Counties, from Ragwort to Ragwort, these heroines of both the urban and rural wastelands, growing up through the cracked paving stones, and railways sidings, and unkempt gardens, and soiled soft verges, and litter scattered hard shoulders.
Over the discarded syringes and broken canisters of nitrous oxide. Past the midnight teenagers puffing on flavoured vape and the rotting road-kill and the feral ponies on the estuary flats waiting for climate change to reclaim these stolen lands.
On and on from golden Ragwort to golden Ragwort the message sped, finally slithering through the tidal muds of flat “Very flat Norfolk” arriving at Great Yarmouth, where Bill Drummond slept his troubled sleep in a boarding house in a back street.
And from his fast fading and failing memory, any thought of a gallery floor covered with empty jam jars filled with slaughtered Ragworts was painfully removed along with any recall of having religiously watched every episode of Michaela Cole’s I May Destroy You. He awoke on the Saturday morning to the sound of his searing tinnitus and a dawn chorus of angry seagulls taking over this asylum and the smell of frying bacon.
What he sensed was that he would not be able to stop himself from environmentally appropriating the cause of the Buddleia.
The cause of the Buddleia is the destruction of the Ultimate Invasive Species’ illusion of being the superior life form on this lost planet.
And from somewhere he could hear…
The massed ranks of that global choir of D’Leia and all her Buddleia Sisters, growing from every crack, in every wall, in every city, in every land, on every continent, breaking into their anthem…
“Move over Michaela Let D’Leia take over For We WILL Destroy You And You And You And You And every last one of You. Your Great Pandemic was nothing Compared to what we have in store…”
The Traveling Salesman: Anyway all that aside… The final one hundred copies of RAGWORTS go on sale before you wake up on the Monday morning of the 13th of September 2021. Click here for your last chance to buy. Yeah, and only one book per order allowed.
September 2, 2021
28th of August 2021
I am The Narrator. I narrate and I narrate. I narrate the words that The Elderly Gentleman writes. I narrate the words that Tenzing Scott Brown writes. I might even narrate the words that you write. I am the unseen Narrator. But I have my own story. My own words. These are my own words.
In the late war years my mother worked at a brush factory. But they weren’t making brushes they were making the wooden stocks for rifles for the young men of the land to hold while killing young German men who were trying to kill them with their rifles that also had wooden stocks made in factories in their land. That is what war is for.
The brush factory was in a town called Wymondham. Pronounced “Windh’m” Wymondham is in Norfolk. The factory was called Briton Brush. Briton Brush was on Lady’s Lane. Briton Brush made all kinds of brushes. Briton Brush used the latest technology to make their brushes. Brushes to brush anything that needed brushing. And everything needs to be brushed. They made brushes for the Empire… To brush the Empire on which the sun never sets… That is when they were not making wooden stocks for rifles for the young men to hold and kill Germans and win the war. The war had to be won or… So I was told.
My mum was 18, but most of the young women that worked on the factory floor were only 16 or 17 or maybe just 15. No young men worked on the factory floor, as they were all off fighting the war. Fighting in wars is what young men are supposed to do. Fighting… And killing… And meeting young women in foreign lands.
The young women that worked in Briton Brush on Lady’s Lane, had dalliances. Dalliances with young men from a foreign land. The young men from a foreign land were stationed at the airbase just down the road in Deopham Green. The foreign land was America. The United States of America. America was where Hollywood was. Hollywood was where they made the pictures. The pictures, that maybe you call the movies, that the young women went to watch each week at the Regal Cinema in Wymondham. The young men from America chewed gum, drank Coca Cola and did the jitterbug. The young women thought the young men from America were like the stars in the pictures they saw at the Regal Cinema. This is what happens in wartime. It is good for the gene pool. Or so I am told.
Have you ever had a dalliance? Have you ever swam or even swum in the gene pool? It is better down at the deep end.
Some of these dalliances would lead to the young women from Briton Brush on Lady’s Lane getting in the family way. Have you ever been in the family way? One young woman, who got herself in the family way, had her baby in the lavatory at Briton Brush, right there on Lady’s Lane. My mum had to be the midwife until the real midwife got to Lady’s Lane on her bike.
I grew up with a short handled, hard bristled, Briton Brush to brush the carpet down the stairs in our house. I have been doing it ever since. Whatever else I think I might be doing, in reality I am still on the staircase, on my knees, with the short handled, hard bristled, Briton Brush in my right hand and a dustpan in my left hand, doing the best job I can do at brushing the carpet going down the staircase.
On and on I go. From day to day… Week to week… Year to year…
And when it is required of me, I narrate the words, that have been written for me to do – as I am right now. Except right now these are my words. Not the words of The Elderly Gentleman or even the words of Tenzing Scott Brown. Or even yours – but my words.
And one day I know, there will be no more steps on this staircase for me to brush. But I wont see it coming. There will be no floor at the bottom of the staircase just emptiness. And I will just fall and fall and fall and fall down through the emptiness. |The Empire of Emptiness. \And if there are words for me to narrate, I wont know because I will be falling. Forever and ever, with a Briton Brush in one hand and dustpan in the other. Maybe tomorrow or… Maybe next week or… Maybe next month or… Maybe next year but… Whenever it comes I will be neither ready nor not ready but… Just falling. Through the Empire of Emptiness.
I like to fall. I like that moment between when you realise you are falling but before you hit the ground.
It will be The Fall – but not that Fall – the Fall from the Garden, or even The Fall in Prestwich, but… The Big Fall. The Forever Fall. My Fall.
Some days while I am brushing the stairs, I wonder if the baby that was born in the lavatory in Briton Brush on Lady’s Lane in Wymondham might be brushing her stairs or if she has begun her Fall yet.
Briton Brush in Wymondham was, and I quote from Grace’s “one of the most up-to-date brush factories in the country with its own railway sidings, saw mills, and engineering workshops. Much of the special machinery for brush-making was designed and made in the engineering workshops on site. The factory took in English trees and other raw materials and produced complete and finished brushware. The company provided many amenities for the welfare and comfort of the men and women who worked in the factory, including a canteen, playing fields and a housing estate. Even works outings by special excursion trains were arranged.”
After The War… The American young men went home. And forty thousand young women from across Norfolk went with them.
And Briton Brush closed.
In 1985 the factory was pulled down, along with the lavatory where you might have been born. People no longer chose to brush their stairs. The Empire had done what all empires do before they too Fall.
And the Regal Cinema closed in 1993.
But young men, it seems, still go willingly to wars to kill each other and spread the gene pool. I guess that is what those young men in the Taliban are doing right now in Kabul.
Anyway, I need to get back to brushing these stairs, while there are still steps left to brush.
The Narrator is an extract from the play Never Lock Your Door.