THE HALF MOON

July 8, 2022
Buttercup and book
Buttercup & The Book

Thursday the 7th of July 2022

Dear Reader,

Late last night as I drove a hired White Ford Transit van from The Social, Little Portland Street in Central London to my now home in Southgate in Suburban North London, I became more and more aware of the half-moon following me street by street all the way.

And…

After I had changed into my pyjamas and looked out of the window at the night sky one last time, as in before climbing into bed with the hope of being welcomed by much needed sleep… 

There was the half-moon looking back at me. 

The night passed; it is dawn. I have looked out of the window; the dawn is grey. The Half Moon is no longer there looking at me. But I love a grey dawn.

The Killing Moon is a song by a band called Echo & The Bunnymen. It was written, recorded and released almost forty years ago in late ’83 early ’84. It is probably the song that Echo & The Bunnymen are best known for. It has been used in numerous films including the teen classic Donnie Darko.

The Killing Moon is credited to have been written by all four members of Echo & The Bunnymen. Thus, all four members of the band earn an equal share of its publishing royalties. These publishing royalties provide an un-planned pension plan of sorts for the members of the band. 

I know these things because I worked closely with Echo & The Bunnymen at the time, and I also continue to earn a modest amount of money from that song as I am its’ co-publisher.

In the very early hours of 15th of June 1989 I was woken by my bedside phone ringing. It was Ian McCulloch the singer of Echo & The Bunnymen. He was crying, he could hardly speak. But what he was telling me was that Pete De Freitas the drummer with Echo & The Bunnymen had been killed earlier that night in a motor bike accident. Pete De Freitas was 27 years old; he had just become the father for the first time – a baby girl.

For the next thirty something years, Pete De Freitas has come to me in dreams, we chat about this and that. Sometimes Pete takes the form of a half moon, but I always know the half moon is Pete. But about five years ago Pete came to me in a dream to tell me that it was time for him to go, and he would not be coming back and that he was okay.

I never got to know Pete’s daughter, but more importantly Pete’s daughter never got to know her dad.

All bands that have had any sort of success then spend the rest of their life having issues with each other over who did what, where and when. The fact that a baby girl, who is now a fully grown woman, who had no part in the writing or recording of a song because it was written and recorded before she was born, earns as much from this song as any of the two still living members and one ex member of this band, causes issues. “I mean Pete was only the drummer. Not even Ringo gets a share in The Beatles publishing for She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.”

And most days I think about that moment when Pete knew there was nothing he could do to not hit that car coming around the bend and knew his death was inevitable.

A few years back – not many – I got a phone call from my brother in the middle of the night. He was phoning to tell me his son, my nephew, my children’s cousins, our Lucas, had been killed in a climbing accident on a school trip, somewhere in Central America. Over the combing months my brother hit the bottle and his marriage of twenty odd years crumbled. And most days I think about that moment when Lucas knew his hand was slipping and the fall was beginning and the inevitability of his own death. This week my brother and his other son, my other nephew, the other cousin, our Hugo, had taken Lucas’s ashes up to Melrose in Scotland to scatter.

Back in early 2020, I got a phone call from my eldest daughter, the first three words she said were “Mum is dead.” Mum is Julia. Julia and I had been teenage sweethearts, we had married foolishly young, we had two wonderful children, but then I had a midlife crisis, and our lives went in different directions. Julia died by tripping on the kitchen floor and banging her head. And most days I think about that moment that Julia knew she was falling and as she lay on the kitchen floor alone in what had been our family home, and she knew she was dying. Between Julia dying and her funeral, I ended up in hospital with the first of my brain seizures. Over the coming months, I filled nine Black ‘n’ Red notebooks with handwritten words. I have never gone back and read those words. But I think they must have been some sort of memoir. I hate the whole notion of memoirs on principle. For me they are the books written by those that have shot their load, to be read by those that never had any load to shoot. Books written in the hope the writer might gain some legacy for a readership that have given up on having a legacy. An arrogant way of thinking on my part I know, but I cannot seem to be able to shake it off. Like those that are unable to shake off their racism or homophobia even though they know it is wrong.

Yesterday, while driving a White Ford Transit Van to pick up the canvas that is to have the words THE BOY FRIENDS’ PAINTING painted on it, and I am waiting at a junction for the lights to change. And as the lights change a scooter overtakes me on the inside lane. At the same time an oncoming four-by-four turns to his right in front of me. A crash between the scooter and the four-by-four is inevitable. In that fraction of a second, the driver of the scooter and I catch each other’s eyes. He knows what is going to happen. I know what is going to happen. And it happens. The scooter is smashed to bits. But the driver of the scooter is not dead. In fact, he is hardly hurt. But in that fraction of a second that we caught each other’s eyes, I thought I was looking into the eyes of someone who knew he was going to die. For that moment I thought I was looking into Pete’s eyes, Lucas’s eyes, Julia’s eyes.

I don’t understand grief. I don’t know what grief is for. The vast majority of life forms on this planet do not experience grief. When one of their children, family or friends die they just move on. Grief serves no purpose in their lives. There is nothing to be gained from it. You can’t eat grief and you can’t fuck grief. It is as pointless as the search for meaning. But there it is lurking in us all waiting to pounce. And when it does, you don’t even know what it is.

A few months ago, friend and colleague, Michael Pedersen had asked me for a quote for his book. His book was called Boy Friends and was a celebration of male friendship but more importantly a book that celebrates the relationship with his best friend Scott Hutchison. Michael and Scott had been best friends from 2012 to 2018 when Scott killed himself by jumping off the Forth Road Bridge. I read the book. I thought it was moving in all sorts of ways. I came up with a quote, one that I thought was clever and to the point. I was pleased with myself for coming up with it. It was “The world needs more of Michael Pedersen – lots more”. My vanity was looking forward to seeing it with my name somewhere on or in the cover of Michael’s book. 

A few weeks ago, I got an email from my friend and colleague in the undertaking business, Ru Callender. Ru had a memoir coming out about his life as an undertaker and why his chosen profession had chosen him. I thought the book was great. It was a book that had to be written and should be read by everyone that will have a funeral one day but…

Ru was wanting me to write a few words about the book, so that they could be stuck on the cover. There were plenty of “few words” I could say, all positive, but I was procrastinating. And the book was about to go to press. It was only in writing back to Ru, with those “few words” on the last day possible, that I came to the realisation of how much I hated the whole business of books having quotes and kind words and “further praise” from the famous and not so famous, on their covers. I told Ru that this was the last time I ever wanted to do this. So often these quotes and kind words and “further praise” say more about the vanity of those giving the quote than it actually says about the content of the book.

A few days ago, I got sent a copy of the ready for publication, hard back copy of Michael’s book, which is out today. It was then that my fully fledged disgust at the whole quote business came into focus. The cover and introductory pages of this book of celebration and grief for Michael’s best friend were smeared in over thirty-three quotes, including mine. This must be a new world record. And all of these quotes clamouring for your attention. All of them drowning out the purity and pain and joy of the words contained in the book. 

Yesterday, as I re-read the last few words in Michael’s book, but before climbing into the White Ford Transit Van, I found myself tearing off the cover and ripping out the introductory pages of the book. This was done without thinking. What was left was something beautiful. Something that I felt Michael’s grief for his best friend could be proud of, a plain and simple purple front and back cover. And the only words being on the spine “BOY FRIENDS MICHAEL PEDERSEN ff”. It was all that needs to be said.   

Last night, before The Half Moon followed me home, I was part of an event at The Social. This event was to celebrate the publication of Boy Friends. Michael had asked me if I would do one of my text paintings for the event with the words BOY FRIENDS boldly painted on it. I had suggested to Michael that I would sketch the words THE BOY FRIENDS’ PAINTING on it. And then ask all those attending the event that had a boy friend of any sort that had died too soon, to be volunteers in the painting in of the words, like you do in a colouring book, with the black or yellow paint that I was willing to provide. Black and yellow being the colour for Melrose where my brother and nephew would be scattering Lucas’s ashes. And anyway, for the painting in volunteers, then to write the name of their boy friend on the back of the canvas and sign and date it. And this canvas can then go on to have a life of its own, being added as time unravels and more boy friends die before their time. Michael embraced the idea. 

And that all happened last night before The Half Moon followed me home. But it was before all that happening last night that the driver on the scooter had looked into my eyes and I had looked into his an that triggering all these other feeling and thoughts and emotions that lie just under the surface as we try and make our way through what is left of our lives. 

And all those feelings I have had over the past 48 hours as I have re-read Boy Friends for the second time over the past 48 hours… 

And as I kept getting those glimpses into Pete’s eyes and Lucas’s eyes and Julia’s eyes as they each fell. That final fall. The fall from which there is no return. And then the grief that follows. The grief for a father you never knew, or a son’s whose wedding you will never attend. And then last week my daughter, the same daughter who phoned me before, phoned me again, but this time to tell me she is four months pregnant. And on it goes…

As humans, it seems we like to feast on the pain of others. Maybe without any one individual cynically setting out to do so, from a certain angle, on certain days, as in a day like today, this book, Michael’s book, is the commodification of grief to make nothing but mere cash for those that own the publishing company. 

The stench of the smug publishing PR system fills my head. A system that doesn’t give a real shit about whatever it is they are trying to get their, and in turn our world to notice, whatever it is they are actually saying. The fact that it is coming from Faber & Faber with all their historical literary credibility to hide behind makes no difference. It stinks of shit, and it is an insult to the words of Michael Pedersen and the life of best mate Scott Hutchison.

After I have re-read what I have written above, I plan to go up to the local printers and have forty copies of this printed. Tonight, I will be back down to The Social for Day Two of my part in the launch of the book Boy Friends and me overseeing the continued colouring in with paint of THE BOY FRIENDS’ PAINTING. And the first forty folk that take part in this colouring in with paint of THE BOYFRIENDS’ PAINTING, can either except or not one of the forty copies of this letter to you. 

After that I don’t know, but… 

In my head right now, I imagine driving back from The Social in Little Portland Street in Central London to my place in Southgate in Suburban North London in the rented white Ford Transit Van, followed by The Half Moon, and on the way stopping somewhere and…

Getting my white paint and roller from the back of the van and painting on a beckoning wall the words THE KILLING MOON WILL COME TOO SOON.

Why?

Because these things have to be done. It is all part of the process of grief that we as a species seem to be locked into.

Yours Sincerely,

The Elderly Gentleman 

People Painting
And The People Paint

Post Script:

This Post Script is being written 24 hours after what has been written above. This morning the sky is an endless blue. I love blue sky mornings. Don’t we all love blue sky mornings. My mind is in a totally different place than it was this time yesterday morning. 

Last night at The Social, much of THE BOY FRIENDS’ PAINTING got painted. It seemed to hit a nerve that people could engage with. I even felt comfortable enough to take a photograph on my phone of three people while they painted. And then before loading it into the back of the hired White Ford Transit Van, I took a photo of the painting in the street outside The Social. Then I started the forty minute drive back to my bed in Suburban North London. Beside me on the passenger seat was the pot of white paint and the paint roller that I was to graffiti the words THE KILLING MOON WILL COME TOO SOON. But it was gone midnight, I was done in both physically and emotionally, and I still had to get the van unloaded and then back to the van higher company by Oakwood Station by 8am. And the battery in my phone was nearly flat. And the moon was not following me street by street as I drove north to my bed. Excuses I know, but those words on a wall were going to have to wait.

I got the van unloaded and back before 8 o’clock. And now I’m sitting in a café, that I have never sat in before, looking out at the world. Children are making their way to school. And the radio in the café is playing Gilbert O’Sullivan singing Alone Again.

My mind is in a different place than it was yesterday morning – all that negative stuff I was saying about memoirs, seems to have evaporated. The world needs those memoirs as much as it needs whatever those school kids are putting up on their phones on the way to school. All part of the conversation. The one that I am sitting here having by myself.

And I seem to have changed the title of this letter to you Dear Reader from The Killing Moon to The Half Moon.

And the world needs publishing houses like Faber & Faber taking risks and trying whatever way they can to get the world to know about great books like the one that Michael Pedersen has written.

And I am waiting.

Waiting for it to turn 9am so I can use my Senior Citizens Freedom Pass on the tube after 9am. And when I get back to that place that is now called home, I will get out the bowl cancer testing kit that we all get sent when you get to this age, and provide the requested sample and parcel it up and drop it in the pillar box at the end of my street. 

The Boy Friends' Painting In Street
Painting in The Street by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas

BOY FRIENDS

July 6, 2022
The Boy Friends' Painting

Wednesday the 29th of June 2022

Dear Reader,

A friendly missive arrived in the post a couple of weeks ago. It was from friend and poet, Michael Pedersen. 

Michael Pedersen and I have history. 

Michael Pedersen has a book coming out. It has the title Boy Friends

Boy Friends was written in response to the death of Michael Pedersen’s best friend Scott Hutchison. Much of Boy Friends was written while Michael Pedersen was doing time in The Curfew Tower, back in 2018. 

I also have history with The Curfew Tower.

But…

Deeper in the strata of the book there are many other connections. Ones I think you might connect with.

In the friendly missive, Michael Pedersen asked me if I could paint one of my text paintings with just the words BOY and FRIENDS on the canvas. And he asked me if it could be painted in time for us meeting and talking at The Social in London on Wednesday the 6th of July 2022, as in a week today.  It was a Yes Day* so I said “yes”.

But then I changed my mind.

We all change our mind sometimes.

What I changed my mind to was…

It should be you Dear Reader and not just me holding the brush and applying the paint to this planned text painting. That is, you and everyone else that has had a boy friend that has died before their time. And to be clear, when the words ‘boy’ and ‘friends’ are used here, it does not specifically mean a boyfriend in a holding hand sort of way, but a friend who was a boy – of any age and of any gender.

What I will have with me at The Social on the evening of the 6th of July 2022 is a brand-new canvas, freshly stretched and primed and ready to be painted on. Thus not one of The 25 Paintings that have had on-going issues in my life over the past decade or so. On this freshly stretched and primed canvas I will have outlined in pencil the words BOY and FRIENDS. I will be on hand with a pot of yellow paint and a pot of black paint. And I will invite anyone else in The Social that evening who has had a boy friend that has died before their time, to paint a bit of the freshly stretched and primed canvas.

And…

After that night at The Social, the BOY FRIENDS painting can progress through its’ life and be added to by all those that come across it. And everyone who does can, using a paint brush and pot of black paint provided, add the name of their boy friend on the back of the canvas followed by their name and the date they added their bit to the painting.  And this can go on for years. Maybe even hundreds of years until there are no more boy friends left on earth to die before their time.

Yours Sincerely,

The Elderly Gentleman

Post Script:

I have just read through what I have written and found myself changing my mind again. Instead of it just having the two words BOY FRIENDS on the painting, it should have four words – THE BOY FRIENDS’ PAINTING. 

*I am trying out having Yes Days and No Days. I wake up in the morning and toss a coin. If it is heads, it is a Yes Day and if it is tails, it is a No Day. On Yes Days, I say yes to things and on No Days, I say no to things. But most days I leave the coin un-tossed and make a pot of tea instead.

A LIGHT SHINING BRIGHT

July 4, 2022
One End of The Tunnel

Monday the 4th of July 2022

Dear Members of The Seventeen,

As the 9:15 train to Corby is pulling out of Saint Pancras…

I am once again confronted with the oh so entitled London-centric world that I am part of. The billions of pounds that have been spent on this less than square mile that Saint Pancras and King’s Cross are part of. But in moments we are clear of Granary Square world and into the Somers Town world you might know via Shane Meadows’ depiction, and I cannot stop myself celebrating the work of fellow vandalisers of walls with crude and less crude tags and scrawls. And then of course are the Buddleia growing out of the cracks in man’s crumbling dominion. Can’t be long now before Her work is done. 

But before She does, and it is done, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, the members of The Seventeen, for taking the risk and your outstanding inaugural performance of the tribute version of the score SURROUND.

And the suburbs give way to Duncan Sandys’ pleasant fields of the Green Belt.

And in minutes, as the train is rolling into Luton… 

I can see the home ground of the first English football team I ever followed – Kenilworth Road. My Uncle Bill had moved down from Scotland after the war. He set up home in Luton. I couldn’t understand a word my Cousin Kathleen said, and she couldn’t understand a word I said.  My Uncle Bill was a regular at Kenilworth Road. This was decades before Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon got his season ticket. And I imagine The Seventeen chanting “Come on You Hatters” on the terraces of Kenilworth Road in some sort of rage at everything Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon might stand for.

And as the train pulls out of Luton, I am thinking about The Luton Girls’ Choir (1936 – 1977) and I am wondering if they ever had a tribute version of themselves. They were always one of my favourite choirs. Far better than the Vienna Boys.

I will grab the next passing moments of this Monday morning and attempt not to be distracted by the vanishing world outside the carriage window, so I can list all your names, as in the names of those who of were passing members of The Seventeen this vanished Saturday evening…

1: Gordon
2: Sam
3: Andy Gell
4: Simone Stokes
5: Paul Locker
6: Tim Widdows
7: Liz Widdows
8: Ailsa Charter
9: Lon McCall
10: Stephen Dorphin
12: 11: Richard Groves
13: Philip G Paterson
14: Lizzie Paterson
15: Kay McGinley
16: 
17: Sam Lunnon
18: 
19: Karen Rust
20: 
21: 
22: 
23: Charlie Davies
24: 
25: 
26: El Clayton
27:
28:
29: 
30: Annie Tappenden
31: Agris Krumins
32: Dinah Kazakoff
33: 
34: 
35: 
36: 
37: Donna Canale
38: Ade Cartwright
39: Amanda Cartwright
40: Bill Drummond

Due to the latest wave in the Global Pandemic, not all forty of those who had booked a place to be a member of The Seventeen made it to Corby. Other names are missing from this list that should not be. If your name is one of the missing names, please let me know in whatever way you can, and your name will be added. Thank you and sorry for the oversight on my part.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Lizzie & Philip Paterson for baking and bringing the bread to have with the soup. I had some that was left over toasted with Marmite on it this morning.

I had planned to take a photograph of all these Day One members of The Seventeen in front of the WE LOVE YOU WALL, but I forgot. My mind by then was too concerned about the possibility of soup burning in the pan. So instead, I have used a photograph of the cover of The Luton Girls Choir’s ground-breaking album A LIGHT SHINING BRIGHT IN THOSE DARK WAR YEARS.

A Light Shining Bright In Those Dark War Years

And as the train rolls into Bedford… 

My mind shifts back to almost four hundred years. And I am thinking about The Ranters across the land, unfocused, unorganised, chaos meets crusty, but challenging those whose hands were on the levers of power back in the days. And then that tinker by trade but revolutionary by nature, John Bunyan imprisoned here in the town jail for twelve years (1660 – 1672) for being part of the Nonconformists spreading The Ranters words across the land… 

And him in there behind the bars writing his Pilgrim’s Progress, and the influence those words have had on several centuries of life, but I guess that was before your time. John Bunyan makes Johnny Rotten seem like the pampered son of the more equal than others, that he may have been.

John Bunyan
Dark clouds bring waters, when the bright bring none

And as the train pulls out of Bedford…

I can hear in my head The Bedford Messiah Choir performing Handel as the Rose Bay Willow Herb are bursting into bloom all along these rail embankments.

And as the train rolls into Wellingborough… 

I think about the rise and fall of The Doughboys and less than a stone’s throw away The Nag’s Head, Woolaston. It was there after climbing the single file and ramshackle wrought iron staircase on the outside, John Peel would stamp our tickets as we entered, before he manned the decks. It was there we witnessed The Liverpool Scene sometime in 1970, with Adrian Henri performing The Entry of Christ into Liverpool – which was enough for me to think if Liverpool is good enough for Christ to enter, then it is good enough for me to apply to do painting at the Liverpool School of Art (yeah, that and input from The Plastic Ono Band).

City morning dandelion seeds blowing in from wastelands

And then its Kettering. And if you come from Corby, it is always difficult being in Kettering as soon as they hear your accent. 

And again, as the train is now pulling out of Kettering, where the home of The Poppies once was, I can almost see The Tin Hat, where all the greatest R&B bands of land and beyond played during my teenage years.

And on over the River Ise, where in a hedge row by its’ banks I first discovered one of the most beautiful things in all of Creation – the nest of a Wren with thirteen tiny eggs waiting to hatch. Those that might know how a Wren’s nest is constructed might doubt how I knew there were thirteen eggs in the nest. I embrace your doubt, and I feel shamed in letting you know that I pushed my middle finger into the entry hole and touched and counted each-and-every-one of those thirteen eggs. 

And on as the train pulls into Corby Station where I caught my last steam strain in the January of ’66. That was just before Beeching closed the station down on the 18th of April that same most swinging of years. The very month that Somebody Help Me by The Spencer Davis Group was at number one in the singles charts. 

And I step down from the train…

And I begin my walk from Corby Station to the Rooftop Arts Centre, maybe for the last time ever. There is always a last time. And I don’t just mean maybe the last time, I don’t know… But a Green, green grass sort of last time.

I stand looking through the tunnel under the rail tracks – l love this tunnel. Don’t we all love a tunnel. The second time I walked through this tunnel back in March or April, I sort of imagined The 25 Paintings being exhibited in there. And as people walked through this tunneI into town, they would have had to squeeze past all 25 of them. 

But… 

This morning I am not thinking about what a missed opportunity that was. What I am thinking is, what a missed opportunity that I did not do a different score with The Seventeen and whatever that score was should have been performed down here in this tunnel, with its concrete reverb and unwanted smells and unseen threats and “What the fuck are those people doing in the tunnel making all that noise?” of it.

So, instead, I just take out my phone and take a photograph looking down the tunnel that I might never walk through again. And while I do so I imagine a future version of The Seventeen doing a performance here. You got to imagine these things, or maybe nobody else will ever do it. It is what imagining is for.

And when I get through to the other end of the tunnel, I take another photograph looking the other way. Then I celebrate by picking some of the Feral Raspberries that are growing there in the unkept hedge. This is where the Elder Trees had been in bloom only two weeks ago, willing me to pick their fronds for my Corby’s Finest Elderflower Cordial (blended from five different Corby Elder Trees).

I would also like to take this further opportunity to thank The Corby Latvian Choral Society for their influence on me in my early choral years in the mid-to-late-sixties. 

Thankyou! Thankyou! Thankyou.

Yours Sincerely,

The Elderly Gentleman

Post Script:

The station in Corby re-opened in April 1987, and closed again in June 1990, and re-opened again in February 2009.


The Other End of The Tunnel
The Other End of The Tunnel


THE TENZING

July 3, 2022
Painted by Chris Denston in late June 2022

Sunday the 3rd of July 2022

Dear Reader,

The Tenzing Scott Brown Memorial Theatre first came into existence yesterday on the 2nd of July 2022.

The Tenzing Scott Brown Memorial Theatre exists to celebrate the plays written by Tenzing Scott Brown. 

Tenzing Scott Brown wrote forty plays; from 2015 until he was killed in early January this year.

The Tenzing Scott Brown Memorial Theatre exists at night within The 25 Paintings, after The 25 Paintings have closed their Tea Rooms for the day.

The 25 Paintings’ Tea Rooms exists wherever a Cosy serves you tea, while The 25 Paintings display themselves for your admiration.

A Cosy is the name used to describe a person serving tables at The 25 Paintings’ Tea Rooms. You will recognise them as they will be wearing a tea cosy on their head. Thus, the word Nippy has been dispensed with.

The Tenzing Scott Brown Memorial Theatre is commonly known as The Tenzing.

Yours Sincerely,

The Elderly Gentleman

LAST BATCH

July 2, 2022
The Last Batch of scones fresh out of the oven for The 25 Paintings’ Tea Rooms in Corby

BEFORE YOU COME

July 1, 2022
Look at This

Friday the 1st of July 2022

Dear Reader,

Before, During, After is a play by Tenzing Scott Brown which will have its world premiere at The Tenzing Scott Brown Memorial Theatre tomorrow, as in on Saturday the 2nd of July 2022.

BEFORE is Act One of the play Before, During, After by Tenzing Scott Brown.

BEFORE is performed by Anyone* wishing or willing or coerced to witness a performance of the play Before, During, After. It is down to Anyone to actually perform Act One of this play by either having been a member of the choir The17 (which existed between 2003 – 2013) or read the book 17 by Bill Drummond (published in 2008), or watched the film Imagine Waking Up Tomorrow and All Music Has Disappeared (released in 2015). 

DURING is Act Two of the play Before, During, After by Tenzing Scott Brown.

DURING is to be performed tomorrow in The Tenzing Scott Brown Memorial Theatre in The 25 Paintings’ Tea Rooms in Corby. It will be attended by an audience of no more than forty people. These forty people are made up of forty Anyones. 

The opening lines of Act Two are “Good evening, I am The Elderly Gentleman, or someone playing the part of being The Elderly Gentleman. I am also an Anyone. Although Before, During, After was conceived by Tenzing Scott Brown before he was killed in early January 2022, it has been left to me to make this play a reality. As such I will be the only member of The Penkiln Burn Players** on this stage for Act Two of this play.”

AFTER is Act Three of the play Before, During, After by Tenzing Scott Brown.

AFTER is to be performed tomorrow by members of The Seventeen on the streets of Corby. The Seventeen are a tribute choir. They are a tribute to The17.

If you are one of the forty Anyones attending the performance of Acts Two & Three of Before, During, After tomorrow, but were not a member of The17, or have not read 17 by Bill Drummond or have not watched the film Imagine Waking Up Tomorrow Morning and All Music Has Disappeared  you can either feel guilty or read the words on the following photographs and pretend to yourself you know all there is to need to know about Act One of this play before attending Acts Two & Three.

The Choice is yours.

Yours Sincerely,

The Elderly Gentleman

*Anyone is you, me or anyone else that might be thinking about attending a performance of Before, During, After.

**The Penkiln Burn Players are a touring troop of players who existed to perform the works of Tenzing Scott Brown.

Read This
Read This
And Read This
Back Cover – You should also Read This

Post Script to the Post Script:

What I forgot to say at the beginning of this letter, I need more time to do the washing up between the closing of The 25 Paintings’ Tea Rooms and getting the chairs out for the opening of The Tenzing Scott Brown Memorial Theatre. Thus the theatre will not be opening until 5pm. Thus Before, During, After may not finish until about 7pm.

MY PARANOIA

June 30, 2022
Painting in front of Corby Library
As was earlier in June

Wednesday the 29th of June 2022

Dear Reader,

You might think it is just my paranoia but while I am working as a Nippy in their tea rooms, as in the tea rooms belonging to The 25 Paintings, it’s as if I can hear them whispering behind me. 

Then there are times that I almost trip over the feet of their easels. This is while I am carrying a kettle of boiling hot water or plate with a dozen or so freshly baked scones. Maybe I could not prove this scientifically, but you know what it is like when the paranoia starts to bite.

And all their whispering is getting louder and louder.

And I know what it is they want.

They want to get rid of my name, or at least the name of “Bill Drummond” from this whole thing.

sign to Tea Rooms
This Way

For the past few years, The 26th Painting, as in like The Fifth Bunnyman*, has been the one that has the words BILL DRUMMOND at the top and THE 25 PAINTINGS at the bottom. And each year of the twelve year world tour I change the middle bit so it has the name and dates to reflect where my exhibition is that year. 

Well in these past few days with my paranoia about what The 25 Paintings whispering about me and how they try to get their easels to trip me up, has reached such a fever pitch, I have had to do something. And the usual forms of self-harm weren’t working.

So…

What I have done is repaint The 26th Painting. And in doing so, remove my name from it completely. It now reads THE 25 PAINTINGS’ at the top and TEA ROOMS at the bottom. In between it still has the venue and dates information.

This seems to have worked. My paranoia has receded. I even think it looks better. Takes the pressure of me. If things go wrong, if it all turns out shite, and it gets bad reviews on TripAdvisor, I can blame The 25 Paintings.

Time to get my phone out and take a photograph of what it looks like now.

Yours Sincerely,

The Elderly Gentleman

*Jake Brockman

painting outside Corby Library
As of later in June


THE PIED WAGTAIL

June 26, 2022
PIED WAGTAIL painting under bridge
Photograph taken by Tracey Moberly under Spaghetti Junction 2022

Friday the 24th of June 2022

Dear Reader,

Today is the day that THE PIED WAGTAIL by Tenzing Scott Brown is being officially published.

As of now the remaining 360 copies that are available to the reading public are only available via https://www.alimentation.cc/penkiln-burn/

There is also a letter to you Dear Reader, to be published not here but via Caught By The River. This letter relates to my ongoing tempestuous relationship with a certain Pied Wagtail. And her complete obliviousness to my advances.

Yours Sincerely,

The Elderly Gentleman

Photograph taken outside Rooftop Arts Centre, Corby 24th of June 2022


LOVE ISLAND 2025

June 24, 2022
Photograph taken by Tracey Moberly on Thursday the 23rd of June 2022

Friday the 24th of June 2022

Dear Reader,

Regarding the photograph above this letter to you Dear Reader:

I doubt very much that The 25 Paintings even know who you are let alone LOVE YOU. 

From my almost lifelong experience of paintings and the way they behave, paintings would do almost anything to get you to look at them and for you to give them all your attention, thoughts and studies. At the same time, paintings wouldn’t give a shit about you or any of the tribulations in your life.

Do you think The Scream cares what angst and existential dread you are going through? At the same time, The Scream wants you to think that he is the ultimate angst-ridden painting of the 20th century! There he is being flattered with praise like “The Mona Lisa of modern art” on his Wikipedia page.

Same goes for Guernica… Do you think Guernica cared about how many souls were killed in the Spanish Civil War or who in fact won that war back in 1937? Guernica just wants to revel in the fact that she is “regarded by many art critics as the most moving and powerful anti-war painting in history” again clearly stated on her Wikipedia page.

But look…

If you can detect a stain of jealousy on my part in the above paragraphs – I won’t deny that I think The 25 Paintings look brilliant in the photograph above this. 

But…

I would also like to put forward the case…

It is as much, or even more down to the way they have been portrayed in the photograph above, taken by Tracey Moberly (whose birthday it is today), that shows The 25 Paintings in such a good light.  It is as much down to Tracey Moberly’s talent and inspiration, as it is down to The 25 Paintings innate power as paintings. 

I know I have to accept that The 25 Paintings seem to garner more depth and vibrancy with age, whereas I just garner more aches and pains. As for memory… They remember everything little thing, whereas I have even forget who won in the last season of Love Island.

As to the whiff of bitterness that seems to be hanging around me this morning… 

It is because of the following… 

Last night, I had long planned to celebrate Līgosvētki into Jãni by sleeping out under the gathering storm clouds of doom and yes, with The 25 Paintings – as depicted in the accompanying and stunning photograph above. I had got a brand-new sleeping bag and my heterodyne bat detector was primed, so I could listen out for the Serotine Bats. And in turn compare and contrast with Bettina Heick (see previous letter to you Dear Reader).

But… 

Just when I was about to bed down for the night and wait for the Serotine Bats to welcome me to their world, the head of security for the crumbling former shopping centre arrived to tell me, in no uncertain terms, that I could not sleep rough in this vicinity. He also let me know that he had slept rough for over twenty years, and me doing one night of it, as some art related thing, was insulting to him and everyone else that has ever had to sleep rough in their life. I did not try and explain about the urban Latvian version of my Līgosvētki into Jãni celebrations. So, I nodded to his authority and packed away The 25 Paintings back into the gallery.

My Līgosvētki into Jãni celebrations will have to wait for another day.

Right now, I need to get 32 scones baked before The 25 Paintings Tea Shops open.

Your Sincerely,

The Elderly Gentleman

Post Script:

Regarding the Love Island reference: 

As much as my son was relieved that his aging father was not going to be sleeping out under those “gathering storm clouds of doom”, he was totally pissed off that I was going to have to sleep on the couch in his room at the Premier Inn (yes, there were no more rooms left at the inn). As in my son had been planning on watching Love Island but felt that he could not do this while his father was snoring on the couch in the same room as him. Maybe The 25 Paintings’ Tea Rooms should visit Love Island for the 2025 season.

The Forgotten

ALL CHANGE! ALL CHANGE!

June 17, 2022
After the Tea Rooms Rush after Neil Young
After the Tea Rooms Rush
after Neil Young

Dear Reader,

The separate sittings thing isn’t working.

From now on at The 25 Paintings’ Tea Rooms, if you book a sitting you can have it all the way from 2 to 4pm. Or you can just turn up at 5 to 4 and have just five minutes, and still be entitled to your two scones and all the tea you can drink in five minutes.

What this does mean is that we can only have 16 bookings per day and not the 32. But we are dealing with that.

And of course, we are now doing weddings as well.

Yours Sincerely,

The Elderly Gentleman 

Post Script:

And oh yeah that strap line that The 25 Paintings were wanting to use WHERE FUTURES HAPPEN has been thrown out. Sounds like some desperate start up in the City of London circa 1998.