Pampas: Season 1

In April 2015 I started writing ‘Pampas’, a series of short text and image pieces that I posted more or less daily on Facebook. After a while I decided to put all the posts on Strength Weekly where they would scroll seamlessly up and down in elegant surroundings. The posts should be regarded as a series rather than a collection of one-offs. Given the fading in and out of narrative characteristics, I understand that some may find the seriality of Pampas debatable.

The first Pampas entry was written to thank Facebook friends who had wished me a Happy Birthday. A couple of days later I decided to keep it running and see what might pop up.

04/04/15 In the course of the day I pampered myself with both soft and hard things. I sorted through light fabrics, tissues, creams and the damp noses of adorable animals. Then I took hold of massive bars and bolts, moving them roughly through hedges whilst swearing. I shouted hoarsely. I barged along shopping streets. I demonstrated qualities in such a way as to suggest robust focus tempered by great suitability for teams.

06/04/15 Now there are great sales. I ran again through the streets communicating my ideas. “In films all the actors should be stars! Not just the stars should be them! The lesser should be more too I cried out!” I had a cup of tea at the pavement – what a cuppa! I wanted to knit. To be in a railway carriage. Going past the White Horse with a sheep. I could see that a pedometer would be informative. It was, after all, a long street.

06/04/15 I was approached by Johnny Depp. “I really like that whole stars thing,” he said. “Johnny!” this was me being so frank, “It’s not just for the character actors or bit part players – it’s for all of us so that films and of course television would be even more terrific!” Johnny said “Oh yeah, man. That’s completely cool. I have many colleagues who would go right along with that.” “Down the road?” I asked. “Oh yes,” Johnny said. I went on down the road, running.

07/04/15 I ran so fast, gesticulating, that soon I had burst, heedless, from the end of Oxford Street and, via Marble Arch, was quickly in the countryside. I looked about the moors around. Now I could collect some animals! Standing still by trees in copses I jumped out unexpectedly and soon had armsful. I had tiny struggling birds, warm stoats and martens writhing, a vixen, a pig in shit, butterflies about my hair, at my feet in the grass a snake. And many others of all types peculiar to the area.

08/04/15 I next arranged them in a varied group. In order to demonstrate my wranglerhood wherein I would call their names and they would trot or fly forward, I named them. I had Aquitaine, Charlemagne, Edith Clever, Gauvain, Cheddar Plate, Carlos, Saxmundham, Ernest, Beldame, Dobbin, Charity, Andrew, Gance, Coptic Thistle, Delphine, Victor, Geraint, Lordy, Raine, Aquavit, Tonelle, Sultan, Brunel, Launcelot, Roy, Hope, Gaston, Norman, Perlesvaus, Titi, Humphrey

08/04/15 I had Ron Contray, Mister Double You, Miss Emily Posthene, Miss Julia Margaret Cameron, Mister Kevin Waller, Prince John of Andorra, The Family Jack and Linda, The Couple Tina and Lofty, All of the Bensons, Evelyn de Mure, Cowslip, Fatty, Strange Dick, Dash, Torrance the Saturnine, Benjy, Paulette, Esprit, Monty Pulciano, Peter the Erratic, Sissy Boyce, Ted Brothers as well as the Ted Brothers, Flannery Walker, Agravain, Jack the Lady

09/04/15 We were where passersby paused. I clustered the creatures and began to wrangle. “Hola, All of the Bensons!” Forward from the collection came the grouse. “Avanti, Delphine!” Out of the cluster loped the vixen. “Hup! Hup! Dash!” The elk sedately emerged. Through the crowd murmuring began. As each creature was summoned so it came and so it stood in the sun on the plain. Creatures that dined on each other rubbed shoulders with each other as if they were herbivorous to a creature. Which they were not. Some seemed shiftless. I realised that they needed husbandry.

11/04/15 Tiring of the show I took my leave of those who had gathered. One man said “I would like to control Nature.” I said “It’s a slippery slope.” I made off in the direction of Thetford, anxious to expose the animals to an air base. Jets cracked above and Gauvain the lizard went still like wood. Shimmer rose. Flannery Walker said “I’m more of a city type.” How was I supposed to feed all these? And their la de da sensibilities. The F-15C Strike Eagle is hardly the stuff of buttercusp and davies is it?

11/04/15 A figure stepped sharply from the haze. “I’d like to introduce you animals and their guardian or carer (he nodded to me but it was imperceptible, as between men) to some body shapes.” Setting to one side his rifle he began to throw big fish, little fish, cardboard box. I glanced at the carp Perlesvaus. The officer had moved on to shelf on the wall. I became aware of unrest in the vole Edith Clever. I realized that the shapes, thrown competently enough, were nevertheless found offensive by the water creatures. I cut my losses and, as a diversion, plucked up into my hands the dry pangolin neonate Geraint.

12/04/15 “Every generation,” the airman declared “must pass down its shapes so that the young may rock out, bending these gestures to their own idiom.” “Shit,” I exclaimed, “I mean, I so agree.” “Look at the Egyptians – Hatshepsut, daughter of Thutmose – wild figurations!” So saying he turned about and within a moment was a wisp. I placed Geraint on my shoulder that he might communicate readily. Yet my charges were dispirited. Do animals dance? I don’t think so. Then again, the grebe…

13/04/15 Few hoots across the fen. Little lowing. Scant baaing. The cuckoo imperceptible, like its distance. No yap. No sheep bleats like blokes in the night on a hill. Gone from touch the velvet nose of the fallen horse Torrance the Saturnine, nor her warming whinny and snicker. Just the wind through the sedge. Scratched on the war memorial: “Suck Mine”. Were they not a herd or skein? Why the long faces? These creatures, now in three figures, were bunched, yes, but not affiliated.

14/04/15 I was distracted from this melancholic inwardness by the pushing to the front of Mister Double You, the pig in shit. Even animals are sensitive to caste and the excrementally compromised swine was given the widest of available berths. But what was Mister Double You doing? He seemed to be worrying something in his mouth. “What’s that in your mouth, Porky?” I said familiarly. He dropped it at my feet. It was a small, injured clown. “Long way from home, funny man,” I remarked, unpleasantly.

14/04/15 “Call me Bonkers,” said the entertainer. He noticed the pangolin Geraint on my shoulder. “Fuck’s that on your shoulder?” he said coldly, “Looks like it came out of the cheese.” I replied “Is that your humour talking?” He replied to me “A lot of people are drawn to it.” I picked him up, put him in my mouth, worried him briefly then bit him into various pieces. I swallowed his painted head then mindfully distributed the rest among the swarm. I won’t say he tasted funny. Things were looking up.

15/04/15 In an appropriately supportive environment the clown rush takes about an hour to come on. Subjects often choose to lie down but will rise in order to vomit, an essential process which, if resisted, will only postpone the rush. The practice as a whole would be regarded as anthropophagic but this, of course, could only apply to myself, as a human eating clown flesh. In the case of my charges the ritual could be seen as hematophagic but this is to stretch the definition. Early clown rush onset features only mildly humorous episodes.

The clown rush is upon me. I feel it in its earliest stages. Despite the wretched demeanour of the now digested funny fellow, whose blown chunks litter the soil around my shoes, it is not his acerbic tone that lingers. Rather it is the essence of his calling, the parfum of his métier, that now floods my cerebral veins and begins to humorise the cackle of voices that we are pleased to call thought. What presently clutters my consciousness are the most banal of utterances. I don’t mind if I do. Rather you than me. If I say so myself. Better in than out. You have to be mad. You know you like it. I won’t say no. If my arse was like your face. I could get used to this. A man goes into a box.

17/04/15 I had seen dogs dreaming by fires near water on beaches at night their feet pedalling their jaws working. Yelping to themselves perhaps they see rabbits said someone. The supine swarm while not asleep was flushed with flesh and small animal jokes were animating their limbs and fins and wings. Such was my affinity with the intoxicated herd that I was able to decode their humour and here is how I present it now. With pigs they suddenly straighten the tail then let it recoil. With butterflies they unfold their wings, spread them to the sides and pretend to be drawn to wardrobes thereby imitating cloth-eating moths whom they legendarily despise. These things the various creatures find diverting but of course they do not laugh. They cannot.

18/04/15 At the height of the rush so much the ostriches of the ineffable I’m losing the platform it’s higlady piglady the fur is flying here come the jest What it is is the herds are sherding the sheds are shed. What it is is that I’m like blending with the flock they’re incoming and I’m going out and yes I know the difference between snot and broccoli I know it’s epping barking I know what Della What? When did that happen? Johnny Depp? You’re kidding. Are you dicking me? Are you my uncle? He took what?

18/04/15 Hi. My name is Johnny Depp. Yes, I followed David out of Oxford Street and saw him get animals then do some clown in a bunch with the animals he got. I saw how stuff got out of hand. Way out of. I saw the bear and I figured they’re not going to miss it. I always wanted one anyway and I figured for David they’re just like toys or like a herd of bagatelle.

19/04/15 Yes, I am Johnny Depp. I know you will think that I’m not, that it’s hard to believe. But there we are. I have put the bear, it’s small, on my shoulder so that it can tell my moods and I its. From my low hill that I found in this flat place there are all manner of divers creatures just, like, tripping. The worst is their self appointed leader or herdsman David who, frankly, is well out of it. Later this afternoon I am meeting my wife Angelina and we will go to Carluccio’s for a tricolore salad. We expect to bump into Ryan Gosling – a terrific fellow – and one of your English actresses the young Carey Mulligan, born in Westminster. What a talent there!

20/04/15 The place was packed but it had the typical bustle. The gang studied the menus. The waiter was Paolo. He said “Today we have the sharing platter with caprese bites.” Johnny looked up “Do you have anything Hungarian? I’d like Hungarian today.” “He’s a pretty Hungary guy,” quipped Ryan. Angelina leaned mesmerically in. “Look, Johnny, they have polpette. That’s meatballs isn’t it? Kind of Hungarian.” Johnny pursed his lips. “The Magyar husgomboc comes on a platter with buttered noodles tossed in poppy seeds. It’s a quite different thing.” Paolo brightened, “We have the platter…”

20/04/15 Angelina smiled warmly at the young waiter and said “He really wants the husgomboc.” Ryan said “I’d like to go Swiss actually.” He glanced enquiringly at Paolo. Paolo said “We have the veal saltimbocca, signore. Is veal escalope wrapped in Parma ham, with a white wine and sage sauce.” Ryan came back with “Is that Swittish? It doesn’t sound Swittish.” Carey was gazing at Edith Clever, the stolen koala on Johnny’s shoulder. “Johnny,” she mused, “What about the bear?” Johnny pointed his first finger at Carey. “I’m on it! They only eat eucalyptus leaves.” He turned to Paolo, “Can we get some eucalyptus?”

21/04/15 I came through the detritus of old joke ends broken catch-phrases to see you nice laid out as if on a poisoned sea bed with immortal plastics and looked out around about me and there were the sheep lowing and the cattle barking and the pigs in the trees and I put them into their proper places patting them and saying yes that was surely far out but now is the time to walk wiser forth and emboldened. And I realized that for some of them they were qualities in the mind and for others they were there, near Thetford where we were, in the flat places that spread you utterly butterly. Now we would sort the sheep of mutton from the goats of frail insubstance, we would walk embrightened by the clown whose life we had taken into ourselves and we would find and get back Edith Clever the koala bear taken by feckless Johnny Depp the film star.

22/04/15 I had to work out which of the multitude of creatures stood for something and which were innocent. I was familiar with Leach’s work on animals and swear words wherein he asserts that we tend to frame insults in terms of animals which we are close to in our everyday lives, for example: bitch, dog, rat, pig, cow, sheep, fox. Leach also suggested that the edibility of animals is an issue – we are uneasy about creatures that taste nice yet could be pets.

22/04/15 These concerns, I thought, would help me in the task of eliminating those who were not suited to the business of tracking down Johnny Depp. Yes, I had myself killed and eaten a clown but there was no way I would have considered the fucker a pet – he was simply unlikeable. No, it was clear the farm animals would have to go. And the dogs and the cats. Geraint could stay. Who ever called anybody a fucking pangolin? I rest my case.

23/04/15 Evelyn de Mure I said to the white-tailed golden horse You will always be a pal of mine. Lordy I said to the cock You crow but you are not a crow – think about it. I embraced the sheep Cheddar Plate murmuring History is not made by individuals. Keep it in your pants Flopsy I jovialised at the buck The Couple Tina and Lofty. With heavy heart I worked the line as the kittiwakes wheeled and their mournful cries scraped the slate sky. I kissed a cow, stroked a playful piglet under the gaze of its spattered mother. They were my almanac, my zodiac.

25/04/15 Now I had about me a lean team stripped of sentiment and symbol. I could test the deedscape unencumbered. My invective would stream from the black stream without the barnyard. I had about me Gauvain the reptile (“Who’s a halted boy then?”); Agravain the marten recently run from Runton; the carp Perlesvaus, cold, disdaining flies; Aquitaine now larval, soon to be pupal then Blooey!!; Sissy Boyce and Miss Emily Posthene, the lovebirds dancing slowly with Launcelot – gaunt, gauche, cackhanded; Strange Dick the edible dormouse; and caterers. As a bunch we were bostin, swank. Don’t steal from us.

26/04/15 From her perch on Johnny Depp’s shoulder Edith Clever (rhymes with favour) was beginning to feel quite the show business columnist with seeing charmed lives everyday and eating from the table of piled eucalyptus of various strains gathered for her by Leaves of 24th Street, Suppliers of Arcane Provender to Whomever Would, Like, Search Such Provision. But last night a group of explorers and the German actress Edith Clever (Die Marquise von O. (1990); Ein traum, was sonst? (1994)), now 74, came round for supper and now Johnny is washing up.

26/04/15 Neither the koala, Johnny, Angelina nor Edith Clever (born in Wuppertal) knew the koala’s name was Edith Clever because Johnny stole the bear and didn’t think to ask its name before so doing (don’t get me started!). The bear watched from the shoulder as Johnny squeezed in the Ecover (or equivalent) and set about the plates. Angelina wanted to dry there and then with a cotton cloth but Johnny said “Just let’em drip” so Angelina arranged them in the draining board. Then Johnny set about the knives and forks, holding half his lower lip between his teeth.

27/04/15 As Johnny was fretting over how do you get the last vestiges of potato out of the masher the phone rang and Johnny said to Edith Clever the bear “Can you get that?” Unbelievable or what? I mean, he actually thought that a bear could answer the phone for him! What is it like the world in which these people live? That they thought that an animal – one without opposable thumbs – could do such dexterity!

27/04/15 I went on a spring holiday to Stockholm once, round the archipelago, very nice, not cold and they had a deal where if you go without opposable thumbs there’s a 30% discount so I took it. Let me say: it was shit. You can barely eat! You have to crowd the food with your palms and let’s not even go where when you drop something you have to clap at it and kind of hope to scoop it up. Ridiculous. I got some lip plumper cream at the Åhléns City beauty centre in Klarabergsgatan, it makes your lips bigger and I smeared it on and after a couple of days I had some thumbs again. You know, I don’t want to dwell on it but Johnny Depp does have his own thumbs!

The Pickup Unplucked

28/04/15 I bunched the animals by the gate and made my way down the path and passed the trees and some heifers (not my ones I had got rid of them in a purge just ones like you would expect to see) and there was a dark red house that I hadn’t expected there were no window frames and inside a woman with her hair down and her arm stuck straight up in the air. She was still but across the dark room was a man ironing with his back not ironing with his back but with his back to me. I started to speak and he said without turning “I’m ironing willy nilly.”

28/04/15 I said “Good day. Can I ask you about the pickup please?” “You’re welcome he said evenly.” “Okay,” I commenced in a businesslike way, “How much do you want for it?” He folded a bib and reached for a creased lace tucker. He said “Is it for sale?” I said “Oh. That depends. Is it?” He said “What do you want it for?” I said “I’m taking some animals around and it’s a slow business on foot.” He said “I certainly understand that. Are they a variety or of a type?” I said confidently “Very much a variety. I dispensed with types.” He nodded, “I hear what you’re saying. Fifty pounds.” “I accept that I said.” As an afterthought I said “I assume she’s a runner.” He nodded, “Fleet.”

29/04/15 Which would have been fine. The pickup when I turned it over there was nothing. I opened the bonnet and there was no battery. I held Geraint with his exceptional sense of smell over the petrol hole. He was indifferent. I kicked the tyres. You guessed it. Ames and Cora, her arm down for a change, watched from the window. “I think we may not be gone some time,” I declared.

29/04/15 There was a bucket which I rinsed and filled at the old pump for the carp Perlesvaus which I put in and Gauvain immediately skittered to it and took up his whole immobile thing near it which encouraged the whole of the rest including birds not to mention Aquitaine now a marvelous marsh fritillary with the colouring to find their way into the open rear cargo enclosure. I took the pangolin Geraint from my shoulder and clipped him under the wiper blade that he might flick out his adhesive tongue for flies otherwise impacting the windscreen.

                                The flies adherent

Perlesvaus Immersed

30/04/15 We had been in the pickup for several days. I took the driver seat and those in the back took turns sitting beside me. The pickup had not moved during this period. Ames would throw, at different times, seeds, pollen, ants and plankton into the back for sustenance. The days were long and uneventful. Ames was not unpleasant but he was not warmly sociable with affable greetings or similar. I said “Do you have the makings of a sandwich in the larder?” and he said “That’s more of a lady area.”

The Fridge Vert

30/04/15 Cora, where Ames would say things, said single words that were not connected to the topics under consideration at a given moment. I said “Is there ham in your coldbox by any chance?” and she looked at me for a long time, with her arm in the air then said “Pierrette.” On one occasion Ames and I almost had a conversation about van Gogh. I said “What about van Gogh?” and Ames said “From what I can put together he is unbalanced.” I thought to myself “Come on, Ames, your wife’s got her fucking arm in the air!”

01/05/15 Aquitaine was weakening after her piercing by the parasitoid wasp Gaston. It was in the nature of the latter but a bummer nevertheless. Such beauty. In the second week I found a broken fax machine under the driver seat. Ames said “It is a kind of television.” Then he said “You should see the barn.” My legs were frail and the barn was dark. Using my hands I found a package wrapped in oilcloth secured by cord. On removing these I found a deep blue reflective polycarbon shell which, when pressed like this (I am demonstrating) fell into the halfshell exposing a film of seamless nanomesh bound tight around a pebblesmooth glassite container.

02/05/15 The package was clearly a device. Or the means of containing a device. But how should it be regarded? I fell to ruminating on the issue of Ames. His eyes, hollow as if he had himself torn them out, spoke of melancholy and decrepitude, a world of falling buildings, unvisited lanes, torn boughs. Dust beneath taps, under the sink a cloth brittle with rust and residue. He would bring instead of the scream the hoarse whistle the low whir. What of his estate would he wish to share?

02/05/15 An obsidian disc etched with hieroglyphs from the Aztecs or space. A vellum scroll with treasure information marked with X or the equivalent of X. A will in which the finder is rewarded with a collection of vintage car barn finds. Two tickets to Latitude with motor home. A book commending the actuation of unrealised personal resources. An instrument to unlock portals to dimensions and safes. I replaced the package and strode from the barn to the light. “Keep the money,” I said to Ames. He said without a flicker “Olly olly olly tits in the trolley.” “Enjambement,” said Cora.

03/05/15 I was out of there. I herded the creatures onto the A11 and stuck my thumb out. Our first driver had a savagely capacious 4×4. I said “I’m David.” He replied “Richard. Richard Ostend.” It turned out that he ran an agency which introduced film stars to people with distinctive characteristics so that they, the film stars, might spend time with them, these people, learning to replicate their qualities. “That’s where the big money is,” Ostend asserted.

This gives a good idea of the space we had in the back

04/05/15 I asked Richard what if, in addition, the people studied the film stars and attempted to assimilate their qualities. “Collateral damage,” he said. We were passing through Mildenhall. Insofar as he might without taking his eyes off the road Richard turned to look at me. “David,” he asked, “You’re actually Johnny Depp, aren’t you?” I swallowed. The jig was up. I barely knew the guy but I felt I could tell him. “I guess I am,” I replied. “How is Scarlett?” enquired Richard. “She’s voicing the Jungle Book right now.” “You miss her, yeah?” I nodded. “I really do.”

05/05/15 I was moved by Richard Ostend asking after Scarlett. Aquitaine had passed away that morning and I had pinned her to my lapel, using hair spray to stiffen her wings. I had come to a turning point. “You probably don’t remember,” Richard said, “but when you were preparing for Edward Scissorhands I connected you with a nervous hairdresser in the Holloway Road.” “Oh yeah,” I cried “I recall that guy! Such mannerisms!” He turned to me again “Johnny, can I ask you, where exactly is David now?”

                Richard’s car can be seen here

06/05/15 Scarlett wanted to go to Nando’s for a late breakfast. She had enjoyed her last visit there with Carey and Ryan and found the peri-peri enlivening. The staff were kind to the bear Edith Clever and respectful of our privacy. Scarlett, recently returned from voicing the snake Kaa, was absentmindedly fondling one of my hands. “Yeah, it was terrific. Did you know in the first Jungle Book Kaa was voiced by Sterling Holloway? He did adult Flower in Bambi – can you imagine that?” I asked “Is that the guy with the cigar?” Scarlett rolled her eyes (gorgeous). “No, honey. That was Sterling Hayden! Doctor Strangelove!”

09/05/15 I swirled my Pinotage. “I kind of like this one,” I volunteered. “It has a distinctive nose.” “Rather like you,” Scarlett riposted. A smile played around my lips. But it may not have struck the right note. Scarlett raised an eyebrow. I swallowed. But she could not possibly know. My close resemblance to Johnny was beyond dispute. Her instinct would be to attribute her feelings of unease to my being out of sorts, not to the nature of my being. She cocked her head and murmured “Are you sure you’re okay?”

11/05/15 Richard Ostend was approaching the junction of the A11 with the A14 outside Newmarket. “What I don’t understand, Johnny,” he ventured, “is at what point the switch was effected.” I said “Maybe I can help you there. It was back in Oxford Road…” “Street?” intervened Richard. “Yeah,” I confirmed. “All the shops. I came out of M&H…” “H&M,” Richard corrected. “Yeah. I saw this guy running. He had a cup of tea. There was something about him.” Richard interrupted me. “Excuse me interrupting, Johnny. But the way you’re talking! It’s just like one of your films. Where the character sets the scene. And the voice…it’s very good.” “Well, you’re very kind,” I conceded. “No,” he said “I love it.”

12/05/15 Johnny Depp, and this is how it happened, rushed out of the store with some slacks where he saw a man running that he was curiously drawn to by. He (Johnny Depp) thought it was something in the man’s face. So he followed him to the country where he recognised due to him (Johnny) playing Tonto with a crow on his head that what it was was shamanistic where you all ate something, for example a clown or other job and their qualities went into you. This fucks around with your identity and Johnny saw that who we know now to be David had lost his so there was Johnny’s chance!

14/05/15 The thing was, Johnny told the rapt Richard, I had to gather the cloud. Without waiting for Richard to say “You what?” he said: It’s a Blavatsky thing, she picked it up in a lamasery in the U-Tsang province of Tibet. You concentrate the astral fluid between the palms of your hands, drawing it down from the atmosphere then enshroud it cloaklike around your vile body. It was in this manner that I was able to approach David unannounced, pluck off his pangolin and give him the koala I had scooped from among the swedes in their firm, non-acid soil.

15/05/15 I was getting increasingly nervy about Scarlett. We enjoyed at times a wordless communion beyond knowing – she would touch my cheek I would squeeze her elbow. She would move the salt cellar a fraction and I would nod. I did not feel false. We went round to Carey’s for supper, Ryan was doing his lasagne, and they had Noomi (so strong!), Jennifer, Bradley (still buff) and Michael (actually a really relaxed man!) there. They all accepted me and were solicitous about the terriers. Noomi picked up her flute (not the instrument) and went “Toot toot!” and this really caught on, with Michael going “Toot toot!” and Jennifer then going “Toot toot!” For dessert Ryan had got some dainties from Patisserie Valerie, that place in Soho.

16/05/15 We were fingering our macarons when there was a knock at the door. It was Jake, bearded and in a hurry. He greeted us breathlessly. Ryan said “Try these puits d’amour a caramelized jam-containing puff pastry.” Jake said “Can you lend me a fiver?” Noomi said “No sweat” and slipped him a bill. I said “Jake, I thought you were a homeless man when you came in.” Ryan said “I mean the pastry contains the jam, yeah? The jelly?” Jake said “I got it the first time round.” Then Jake turned to me “Where you coming from, man? This is connected to what I’m doing.” I said “What are you doing?” Jake shot me a glance. “Google it, man.” Then he hurried out. There was a silence. Carey said to me “He likes you to know what he’s doing.” Scarlett was looking at me funny. Again.

18/05/15 Michael, with his genial way, eased the froideur. He said “I have recently celebrated my birthday.” A murmur ran around. Noomi said “How old are you?” People said things like “Whoa!” but jovially. Michael went “I’m 38. What about you?” Noomi goes, to the point as you might expect, “35.” “Okay!” says Ryan. “Yeah Ryan?” Carey responds to him. Ryan shrugs like it’s nothing “34. Carey, you’re 12, right?” This gets a round of laughter. “Old joke, Ryan,” Carey says, “I’m actually 29. And fuck off, by the way.” Oh boy. It’s coming my way. And I don’t have a clue. When was Gilbert Grape? 80s? 90s? Scarlett is grinning at me. I’m fucked. Am I older than Michael? Got to be. Jennifer comes in “He-e-e-ere’s Johnny!” Scarlett’s looking quizzical. I’m fucked.

19/05/15 “Johnny,” said Richard as he expertly went along the road. “I was recently trying to move a filing cabinet. It slipped from my grasp and crushed my toe. The nail detached but is now regrowing. As I was putting my socks on this morning in Snetterton I glanced at the toe and…” Richard hesitated. “I feel embarrassed to say this.” “Go right ahead,” I urged. Richard said “Do you know Sheridan Smith? The actress?” I shook my head, “Is she good?” “Oh certainly,” he affirmed, “but when I glanced at my toe I thought of Sheridan Smith.” I asked “She looks like a toe?” “God no. Lovely looking woman. But I thought of her.” I nodded slowly. “I know people who would envy this, Richard.” He turned “Really? Is it good?” I replied “It’s terrific.”

20/05/15 Richard Ostend, emotionally fatigued after his outburst on the A14 took the vagabond film star Johnny Depp for a coffee in Bury St Edmunds, a market town in England’s Suffolk area. Richard chose a restaurant chain in Auction Street. As Johnny Depp examined the laminated menu he found himself suffused with a troublesome sensation of recognition. His eyes misted over as a mysterious but profound sadness overtook him.

21/04/15 So from above looking down people are respectfully encircling Johnny’s table in the chain restaurant as he sits his wrists flat to the surface tears coursing down his face. “Was it Sheridan?” Richard asks softly. Johnny shakes his head. Two truck drivers step forward not too close “We so like what you do,” they whisper. Johnny nods distractedly. A girl asks her mother “Who is that Mum?” She bends to the girl’s ear “That’s Johnny Depp darling from Nights of the Black Caribbean.” The girl pushes her way through the crowd now some thirty strong watching. Gently she puts her hand on top of Johnny’s hand. “I’m sorry you’re sad.” As one a family towards the back bite their lips and breathe in then out. The father looks up. “What is that music?” The air was filled with such magnificent music.

22/04/15 The restaurant manager suggested that the large crowd and Johnny go to the cricket pitch where Johnny could continue crying and people could watch. He set up an armchair and led Johnny to it. The people continued to be respectful, maintaining the social space measure common in the west, that is to say between 4 and 8 feet (for newly formed groups). Richard and the manager invited the people to write their questions on file cards which they distributed. Each card bore the legend ‘Johnny is Present’. Among those in attendance were visitors to Bury from the outlying villages of Little Saxham, Fornham St Genevieve and Cattishall.

23/05/15 For example Mr Butcher the baker, Ms Wheeler the walker, Mrs Baker the milliner, Jean Dexter the socialist, Jack Fitch the student, the nudist Ian Draper, Neville Carter the Formula One racing driver were there. It was a curious occasion but very human as the builder, Robert, observed. Towards the back the crowd was parting as a figure made forward. Eyes widened. “Is that Roy?” “Does he live round here?” “I think he moves from town to town.” “Who is Roy Mummy?” said the bright young girl. “He is a high-functioning psychopath darling.” “Does he gut people?” “Not all psychopaths gut people sweetheart. I’m not sure if Roy does or not. And the word is eviscerate.”

25/05/15 A silence held the place. The restaurant manager, Tom Spicer, walked over and put a plastic bucket of chocolates and toffees near Johnny’s chair, for anyone really. Some of the people were very quietly singing those lines from ‘Old MacDonald had a Farm’ – the title and the ee-aye ee-aye o bit – over and over. At the edge of the hedge at the side of the pitch a fox slipped the thicket and looked across. A baby cried once, possibly twice and way in the sky swooped a glider then soared to the sun. And now at the front Roy looked at Johnny quite hard to see clearly but that was the glare in our eyes.

26/05/15 Certainly Roy attracted lore. It was not that he was not the winds that passed through him. He is quoted, in fact, as saying “One thing I am fucking not is the wind that passes through me.” He hated that shit. No. He had his own impulses. Very much so. Nor was it that he didn’t get the codes. He said “I have them in my wardrobe. But it’s not all suits, yes?” There were times, he would say, when he would just step away. “Very few people know what I mean when I say that. Let me try to explain. We all love transparency, don’t we? We fucking love it, yes? Well, shall we just say, I’m walking through walls, all the time. No wardrobe. You should feel the wind out there, chummy.”

27/05/15 So who was more famous? I mean, Johnny we’d all say but why is there this story where in the Horn Dance that year a man with antlers and plain white underpants walked the other way through the deer-men shouting “Help my crops!”? It wasn’t a part of the dance. This man was not known personally but many recognised him. And now, if you please, as Roy walks out towards Johnny, why do the birds go up? It wasn’t the fox because there is no fox. And the bladder, was it a pig’s or what? These are things that you hear and the thoughts that you have.

28/05/15 David, masquerading as his double, Johnny Depp, had so far evaded detection by Scarlett, his consort or, to be fair, Johnny’s consort and as a result found himself in social situations with such film stars as Bradley, Carey, Jake, Jennifer, Michael, Noomi and Ryan in alphabetical order in Ryan’s place for example. Light-hearted banter featuring the ‘outing’ of people’s ages had begun and it looked strongly like David was fucked because although he had Googled everyone on Scarlett’s laptop he had omitted to look up his own age or, to be precise, Johnny’s. What a div! He was loath to be seen through by Scarlett, he enjoyed how she would pinch his hand lightly whilst talking to him but without seeming to notice that that was what she was doing. And little things like that.

29/05/15 “I’m 41,” I declared. Maybe that would do it. I looked over at Jennifer as if, you know, “Yeah?” She raised her eyebrows and turned to Scarlett suggesting with her face “Hmmm?” I chucked the bear Edith Clever, (which rhymes with favour) ever attendant, under the chin meaning to mean moving on without a care. Michael bent down his head and looked up under his brow to be like a judge. He clasped his hands together which was a good detail. “Had you figured for a 60s kid,” he said, nodding three times. I turned from the bear like I had been woken up from something. “This guy,” goes Scarlett, “this guy is 52 next Wednesday!” She presses my knuckles against her mouth. “Carey, your grandpa is here!” shouts Ryan.

Walking away from Ryan’s along a shopping street Scarlett and I did this thing where we put all the men on one side of the street and all the women on the other side and they could walk freely along in either direction. I can’t remember how it started. Obviously people knew who Scarlett was and when she went up to women – in a completely friendly way that being generally what she’s like – she’d say “Hi, would you like to cross the street with me?” and they would. She would talk to them mostly about the state of the world – how thoroughly fucked it was – and then she’d cross back again. Obviously people knew who I was – in the sense that they invested in my close physical resemblance to film star Johnny Depp – but I did not necessarily have access to his charisma.

But I was familiar with the hypno-therapeutic work of Milton Erickson (1901-1980) who maintained that everyday consciousness was a trance state that could be deepened with low-key hypnotic interventions. Erickson would chat casually with his patients, using phrases such as ‘taking it easy’, ‘going along with’ or ‘letting the matter drop’. These would impact on the unconscious of the patient, facilitating the changes that were being sought. I stepped into the crowd, which was, thanks to Scarlett’s diligence and charm, already largely male.

02/06/15 Recalling that Jerry Lewis, in ‘The Ladies’ Man’ (1961), wore his real-life wedding ring throughout the movie, thereby signalling that he was simultaneously a fictional (unmarried) character and Jerry Lewis, I resolved to draw not just on Johnny’s plus points but some of David’s social skills too. “Going to the other side of the street is taking it easy, no?” I suggested to a gentleman. “I’m sorry?” he replied. “Over there,” I gestured, “It’s not difficult to imagine.” Then I added “Is it?” The man said, unpleasantly, “Are you looking to get hurt, pal?” “No,” I said. And then I said “Thank you,” as David would have.

03/06/15 Scarlett’s side was dense with women but I had yet to extract a single man. Clearly there was something not quite right about my use of Erickson’s subtle and unobtrusive techniques. As I walked past Sports Direct I began going over his phrases in my mind. I must feel comfortable with them. I should let go of my frustration. This should not be difficult. It’s what I want. It would be a good feeling. To do this well would bring good feelings. It’s full of promise. It would be comfortable. I can let things go. I can fall away from this. My shoes are down there. The street is down there. I’m up here now. I

04/06/15 Roy strode through the murmuration swirling about his head they did not dive or joust just clouded around his head and as he steadily strode he searched his pocket and to a gasp and breath from those to hand as he drew upon the distraught loco Johnny he drew from the trousers a glinting thing and gripped it grimly a can a can of Red Bull an energy drink he slipped off Johnny’s moccasins and from the other pocket pulled a struggling hare he snapped it sharply and wetted it from the can and bent and with it bathed the feet of Johnny gently.

05/06/15 Roy the known psychopath brushed Johnny’s calves with the damp hare fur and the caffeine an accepted stimulant and the taurine from the bull sign in the zodiac above made their mark. The active liquid moved through the minute holes in Johnny’s skin and sank into his central nervous system causing alertness. His shuddering sobs soon subsided and his thoughts of Scarlett such sweet sorrow so hurtful to his heart as his eyes swam into focus on the bucket of toffees beside him. He rustled among them and extended one to Roy. Roy said “We purchase roots from the farmed earth but who among us can describe their tops?” From those to hand applause arose

07/06/15 Johnny said “Do you mean by that that we take much for granted in a world of corner store convenience?” Roy cocked his head to assess his questioner. “John, these titbits…” he gestured towards the bonbons, “are here to stop people sucking you. But I am liquid. I am good in the air. Were I to take off my shirt there would be no tattoos for I am not marked. I have no blood group. I am not a lava lamp. I am not milk. I have not come here just to kiss my sister. Fouled are those that follow me for they are muck.”

08/06/15 “What’s he on about?’ whispered Mr Cook the dietician. “I think he may have a background in football,” said Miss Cross the Yoga teacher, “The shirt, being good in the air…” “Oh,” said Ian Glazer the tiler, “I had him as a chocolatier – the titbits, the bonbons, the sucking.” “No,” chimed in the poulterer Madeline Fisher, “He is clearly at home on the farm – the fowl, the muck.” “I think you’ll find that was ‘foul’,” corrected Miss Wright. “Why did he come here to kiss his sister? You can do that in your house. Or her house,” mused a guy carrying a barrel. “That was his point, surely!” snapped a dilettante.

09/06/15 And so it was decided. Johnny, diverted from his melancholy by Roy’s gritty if elusive philosophy of life also, surprisingly, Richard Ostend, who saw in Roy the father he never had, resolved to invite the deranged but, it must be said, currently manageable homeless yet well groomed man to travel with them. A number of those to hand now stepped forward to grasp Roy and demonstrate their gratitude. Some gave small but thoughtful gifts – a number of ham sandwiches, a map, 100 millilitres of Jo Malone cologne (which Roy, to the startlement of the donor, and with some difficulty, opened then drank, exclaiming “Pokey! Not sure about the bouquet however!”), a mouth organ.

11/06/15 The presence of Roy in the 4×4 was invigorating. As he had been on the green so was he in the cruiser – resolute before a sickly wind that swept up all that was mould, gewgaw and disarray, reeking with the sweat of mangoes, the dung of lizards and the bright baubles of comfort. Roy, Johnny, Richard at the wheel, passed through this churn of light and clatter and it streamed around Roy’s head and in his wake was all this stuff made fresh, clear, edged, you could tell the sheep from the goats. There was a time and place for everything.

12/05/15 “Roy,” asked Richard, “How do you do that?” Richard, Johnny realised, was one of those who would enquire where others fear to tread. Attractive, if you can do it. Roy said “Certainly we can clean surfaces, removing clutter and obliging ourselves thereby to consider that which is beneath.” “Right,” Johnny interjected “Like when I was preparing for Captain Jack Black in ‘Hello Lagoon’.” Roy ignored him. “So consoling,” continued Roy to Richard, “the notion of the healing power of the submerged. But all that is beneath is wounded. Were it not, for what reason would it be concealed? We remove the world and the submerged becomes the terrain. The weekend begins here.”

13/06/15 “Roy,” Johnny asked, “Is this like a Freudian thing? The depth thing?” As the 4×4 sped south on the A134 through Bradfield Combust, Roy turned “When one passes the night with rough and ragged moss, with many unhappy birds on bare branches that pipe piteously there for pain of the cold, one is not so au courant with the world of the paperback. But in the high streets below those dank woods I have heard snippets. Subtract the implicit optimism, the disdain for those already equipped with clarity and the preoccupation with making whole the hole and we might have a deal.” He said. Richard said “Where would you like to go?” Roy said “I want to go to London to launch my own fashion range.”

14/06/15 “What a marvellous idea, Roy!” Richard remarks. “There will be an emphasis on all-weather daywear, realised in tweeds and merino mixes you cannot fuck with,” explains the short-fused psychic timebomb. Johnny leans forward, “I love it,” he goes, “What you gonna call it, Roy?” “Roy,” went Roy. “Roy?” Richard goes. “What?” asks Roy. “What you gonna call the line, Roy?” Johnny rephrases. “Yes,” Roy goes. “That’s the name of the line: ‘Roy’,” Richard helpfully goes. “Quite,” comes back Roy with uncharacteristic patience. “I can see it,” Johnny nods. “And maybe a dash or something then one more thing” Richard muses. “’Roy – There Is No Magic’,” supplies Roy. “Top notch!” acclaims Richard.

15/06/15 Then it was a question of discussing Roy’s fragrance line. “It will correspond with the various aromas that arise as I traverse the fundamentally unsocialised yet non-stratified terrain of my being,” Roy explained. “Many of them will be mineral, some having complex chemistry. Ideally they would be scraped or wiped from my skin but I need to shift bulk rather than exquisite droplets.” As for the naming he itemised his thinking so far: The Body of Roy; Le Corps du Roy (Fr); I Exude; Service; The Pungence; I May; Brunt; Mister Jazz Evening; My Nature; The Father; Lilies of the Felt; Newmarket; Toby; Désespoir; Sulphides by Roy; Cleft; On.

“Richard, can we do a hundred miles an hour, please?” Roy asked. Off they went. Soon the policeman said “Can I see your licence?” Roy asked the officer if he and Roy could discuss the situation at some remove from the 4×4. Basically Roy said okay we’re bang to rights but I know you are relaxed with the smooth flow and the air as it wraps around the vehicle cushioning it and making it so easy to stream and to get to the place where there is no hurry, no hurry at all. Roy got back in the 4×4. “Let’s go,” he said. Johnny looked back, “Is that guy zonked or what?” Roy said “He’ll be alright.” Richard asked “Does it wear off?” Roy replied “I’ve no idea.”

17/06/15 I could hear everything but it had become a soft roar with just the odd low or high note. The shops were more or less there too but slightly dark and not sharp enough. I seemed to be moving along without too much trouble though, despite the fact that my feet were not actually touching the ground. Or maybe the ground was very soft like eiderdowns. None of this was especially unsettling but I was aware that I had something important to do. Which was to find Keira. She was on the other side when I last saw her. So maybe I should cross over. I wouldn’t want to lose her. She was wearing a red dress, which would help.

On the other side I saw a number of women and I bumped them lightly in passing. They tended to be slightly softer by which I mean my arm would sink in about an inch before the bump as if they were padded. But it was summer so I suppose that was an effect. “Do you happen to have seen Keira?” I asked several. They each said “No, I’m sure I would have noticed.” A police constable said “What, that Keira?” and I said “Are there others?” to which he replied “Well, probably.” Then he asked “Are you romantically linked, sir?” I said “Yes. She has a red dress.” He said “We like red, do we?” I said “Yes I do like red. Yes I do.” And I did.

The darkness didn’t help, I have to admit. Around me the others appeared to be getting along well enough so I continued to thread my way down the women’s side, looking ceaselessly about me. It occurred to me that if Keira too was struggling with the low light, she might have gone into a brightly lit cafeteria. I made my way past the perfume counters with their smart young sales assistants and was soon at the very top of the building. Keira was seated with a macchiato, her coat tossed on the banquette beside her. She leaned forward and squeezed my hand. “I knew you’d come,” she smiled.

20/06/15 “Where did you get to?” she said. “Oh, it was just kind of dark,” I said. “Where?” “In the street,” I said. She glanced towards one of the big windows overlooking the street then shook her head and grinned at me, “What?” “It slowed me down,” I said. Then I said “Isn’t it quiet in here?” Keira said “You like quiet, don’t you?” “Yes, I do. I do like quiet,” I said then I stopped talking. I just didn’t want to talk anymore. “What are you thinking?” Keira asked me. “I’m being quiet,” I said, “In my mind as well as out here. Both.” “That’s because you’re deep, Johnny.” “Yes, I am deep. I like to be deep,” I replied. She giggled again.

21/06/15 “Will you look at that!” exclaimed Keira. “Yes,” I said, “I will.” “Isn’t that extraordinary? She’s just like her!” I looked around. The waitress was coming towards us. Keira said to her “I’m not going to say it. I bet everyone says it, don’t they?” The waitress said “They say it a lot.” Keira clapped her hands “And you have the accent!” The waitress said “Actually I’m Swedish. And she is Danish. Her Dad is Danish. Her Mum is from New York.” “Fantastic!” said Keira. “You could do her job!” “Well,” said the waitress, “They have one, I don’t think they want another one.” “I suppose not,” said Keira. “Can I get you something more?” the waitress said. “Not for me, thank you. You don’t want anything, do you, Johnny?” “I don’t want anything,” I said.

22/06/15 “You’re looking sort of cloudy,” she said cheerfully. “It’s like I’m in a corridor,” I replied. “You should walk to the end of it and see what’s there,” she suggested. I was familiar with the work of the anthropologist Kilton Stewart (1902 -1965) who, in a paper on the dream life of the Senoi of the central mainland of Malaysia, described a psychological technique practised in that group wherein if a child had a dream of falling and woke up to avoid hitting the ground he would be encouraged by the elders to fall all the way next time, in order to see what he might discover there. Keira clearly had something of the same wisdom; I got up and started to make my way across the cafeteria.

25/06/15 The little hands popping out of the walls were not children’s hands they were just small. Each time they managed to touch me I saw moments of light and these lit the way along. There were all sorts of things I could see. Some made no sense at all. kemo? fudge pipe? There was my home town, everybodyleaningout of windowswaving. my most respected bicycleet. All the fun of it. What did I just tell you? diamond dandy dinmont and the cut grass. This was all very well. Better than TV I suppose. We’ll have johnny on the left side: here. And we’ll put david on the right side; that’s right. They are coming out together, hands in the air. Nice and steady.

26/06/15 Oh dear, Keira thought. What is it with him? As Johnny shuffled towards the window he was raising his hands in the air and glancing shiftily hither and thither. Are we supposed to take this seriously? she wondered. The cafeteria was still empty. She jumped to her feet, sprinted the length of the room then, drawing on skills she hadn’t used since school, slammed her shoulder into Johnny at waist height, bringing him down in an instant. She tickled him mercilessly, shrieking as they rolled over and over. “He’s after my bike!” he yelled. “Why are you speaking in an English accent?” she panted. “In fact,” Johnny gasped “It was actually a trike!”

27/06/15 I pulled myself together. I realised that I was no longer host to the parasitic mindworm that was the film star Johnny Depp. And I was relaxed about my strong resemblance to him. It might be thought that if all this was so clear to me, why did I not simply secede from the masquerade that was Johnny and Keira? But reader, hey: was I not enjoying the tremendous company of one who so invigoratingly combined pale delicacy with great robustness of spirit? Come on! Assuming the American accent that was expected, I said “It’s a script I’m reading. You know.” Keira asked “What’s the character?” I said “He’s called David. But that could change.”

28/06/15 We made our way into the full sunlight of Kensington High Street a part of London. “So what’s he like?” she asked me. “Well,” I mused “He’s kind of quiet. Yeah.” “What class?” she asked. “Just a middle class guy.” Then I had a better one, “A salesman.” Keira said “So that’s quite interesting. What accent would that be? More lower middle? Where’s it set?” Blimey. “I’m just looking it over. They don’t even know I’m reading it.” “Still,” she said “Try something and I’ll give you my valuable opinion. Give me your David.”

The sudden requirement to deliver a professional impersonation of David via my ongoing enactment of Johnny which was itself, of course, a mere charade, teetered on the outer limits of practicality. The possibility of offering a version of David that was simply a full reversion to actual David might seem an obvious solution but were I simply to revert in this manner I would run the risk of becoming alarmingly and suspiciously credible to Keira in a way that would compromise my dalliance with her.

01/07/15 DOUBLE SUMMER BULLETIN Part 2 Keira would expect the legendarily versatile Johnny to construct a more than passable characterisation but it would not be based upon David because Johnny’s experience of David was fleeting at best. The challenge, then, was to present David as Johnny might have conceived him, based on Johnny’s perfunctory reading of a (non-existent) screenplay. Using David as a source of authentic material was beside the point. But given my limited skills it would be odd if I were not to draw upon my lifetime as this person. You could argue that Keira would be satisfied with anything that was believable but while Johnny had the technical wherewithal to compose such a persona, I didn’t.

02/07/15 I must apologise to my readers. I have grossly complexified a situation that did not merit the frankly baroque level of attention I gave it. Obviously Keira knew nothing of David and it was self-centred of me to suggest that she might. I could say anything I liked in any accent I liked and she would be free to offer criticism. I’m sure famous film stars do this all the time. Anyway I’ll leave them to it. Let’s move on. You’ll never fucking believe what Roy just did.

03/07/15 Yeah, Roy just ate the koala bear Edith Clever. Johnny’s bear. Just fucking ate her. While Johnny was dozing. Richard goes “Roy, don’t you think…” Roy puts his hand on Richard’s knee. “Richard, please. You’re a good man, you have various qualities. But I’ve heard this shit. I heard it way back ago.” Richard, still on it, goes “What’s Johnny going to say when…” “Listen,” goes Roy, “You know when you’re in Borneo or some fucking place and a skinny ill looking European steps out of the dark no shirt with shorts held up with string no shoes. He doesn’t tell you shit. He has a bowl of rice then fucks off back into the dark. Are you going to think about it? Why would you think about it? What are you going to learn? Be empty Richard. It makes time fly.”

05/07/15 Johnny wakes up and is like “Roy, you’ve got hair all down your face and shirt. What is that?” Roy says “You can’t digest them. You might want to but you can’t.” “Where’s Edith?” Johnny enquires. “I don’t see her.” “She’s not here,” Richard sums up. “Roy ate her.” Johnny electrified leans right forward into between Richard and Roy. “You’re dicking me!” he declares. “What did she taste like?” This really pisses Roy off. “What do you mean like? Why should she taste like anything? Was she like duck with notes of carp? Was she teasingly reminiscent of young horse marinaded in shrike fat? Fuck like! Like is for losers, John! Like is for systems! There are no systems!” Johnny looking tired says “Yeah. I get it. You ate my fucking bear, Roy.”

07/07/15 Roy said to park the car by this cornfield near Alpheton in the Suffolk area so Richard did and they all got out, Johnny sulking because of his eaten bear but Roy and Richard walking through the cropside cornflowers, corncockle, corn chamomile whatever. Suddenly whoosh! and a whir and outflew two quail at speed and Richard just breaks into a sprint and he’s making these grunts like Maria Shaparova and he closes on a quail and leaps up and catches it in his mouth and crunch it’s dead. Roy says “Here, Richard, here!” and Richard runs over and drops the quail at Roy’s feet. Even Johnny the sulk is moved to say “Cool, Richard!” then Roy says “We all know about poultry but what about machine parts?” and starts walking back to the 4×4.

08/07/15 Roy told Johnny and Richard that cows have 25 thousand taste buds per tongue while humans have only 8-10 thousand. “Are they tasting things we will never know?” he wonders to the men. “If we are to come closer to the beasts of the field – fucked if I know why we would but it’s a thought – then we must allow ourselves to move beyond the petty confines of the major food groups.” He opens the bonnet of the 4×4 and lowers his head towards the warm engine. “Excellent!” he cries, “Room temperature!”

09/07/15 Basically Roy was anxious to demonstrate to his companions that their palettes and, by extension, their entire sensoria and thus the dimensions of their being in the world were needlessly restricted and urgently required exposure to the transforming sensations that lay beyond the savouring of humdrum nutrients. He lowered his head deep into the engine cavity and ran his tongue lingeringly over an oily and odorous section of engine casing. Even after years of extreme licking he was still subject to intense and irresistible shudders, involuntary shrill vocalisations and alarming rotary nystagmus featuring rapid circular movements of the eyeballs in their sockets. Thus enwrapped he motioned to Johnny. The intention was clear.

10/07/15 Rapt, Roy, reeling, raised his ecstatic head to Johnny Depp of ‘Pirate Plenitude’ [12]. “John. Johnny,” he croaked, “Dip your stick, feller.” Johnny licked his lips, more nerves than relish, grasped the rim of the well and found a screw on the side of a knot of pipes and pumps. Roy nodded his approval. “Take it out.” Johnny popped the slick stub in his uncertain gob. The magnesium really did it. Intensely bitter, causing a consternation of the salivary glands which caused his back teeth to screech and grind the fierce chemical ricocheted through nerve pathways neglected since the days when people used to tongue their swords clean of blood and guts. Johnny didn’t see it like that, of course, he just said “Will I die?” and Roy said “It’s an upgrade.”

13/07/15 Before he dismantled the exhaust system in order to felch the tailpipe, two things happened to Richard. Roy said remember Richard this is not sexual and the other thing was that Richard, as he lay spasming among the vetch and scabious, rang the AA. The AA man, surveying the countless engine parts strewn around the flattened and oil-soaked corn, asked “That bloke that looks like Johnny Depp, why is his mouth full of earth?” Richard, usually quite the diplomat, had found that he could get some relief from the incessant gunshot noises in his skull if he started barking and was, in consequence, loath to desist. The AA man, who had confirmed that Richard was a member of the motoring organisation, said “That’s all right, sir. You take your time.”

14/07/15 The big thing, the AA man (Christopher) thought, was whether the situation should be regarded as automotive or medical. He had searched the corn carefully and concluded that several key pieces of car were nowhere to be found. So he winched the 4×4 onto the recovery trailer and ushered the three men into the passenger cab. The man with soil in his mouth sat in line with the mirror and Christopher could see thick streaks of what looked like white lithium grease on his shirt and in his hair. Suggesting that the man had, for whatever reason, crawled under the vehicle. Christopher’s brother-in-law had bipolar disorder and was supposed to take lithium to calm him down. But that was in capsule form. Surely this gagging, trembling zombie hadn’t confused the two?

15/07/15 Rolls Eyes looks up at sky. Clouds fly by. Rolls Eyes shakes like tree. “Christopher,” speaks Barks Like Dog, “Can you understand what I say?” “No,” Christopher just says to him “No. Can’t understand what you say, Barks Like Dog.” So Carries Soil in Mouth speaks but spills earth on earth. Rolls Eyes speaks to Carries Soil in Mouth “No John do not speak, do not spill earth.” Carries Soil in Mouth opens his mouth. It’s full of soil. You can see roots and creatures. “All things in his mouth,” says Rolls Eyes, “He is world child now.” “Aah!” cries Barks Like Dog, “Aah! He has eaten the world now he is Great Father as well as world child.” Christopher drives now. Three brave men sit with him. Under great sky. Going along.

16/07/15 And so Christopher, a good and kindly man, the rescuer of vehicles, took with him withal Roy the wild of gaze, Richard open of heart and John the bringer of great renewal and they came to J & L Motors and Leonard, the L of the concern, stated his regretful view that he had very few of the requisite parts and so must order them from Ipswich wherefrom they would arrive in at most three days and Roy, who saw the several stacked sacks of insecticide beside the coal and kindling said that they would make camp as night was nigh then good Christopher said my work for you is done and he vanished as in a puff.

18/07/15 As they lay in the lee of the lumber the dark had closed upon them yet there was little stillness for the nightsoil undulated as it streamed from John’s mouth and the waxy grubs the pale-pulsed eggs the aphids and the chittering ticks seethed over his chest. Surrendering a known and measured metabolism for something quite unearthly he shivered and as he did caused Roy, swathed in organophosphate fumes that mouldered through his motor centres, to swerve awake catch sight of John and mutter “My god, it’s full of stars!”

20/07/15 Johnny had barfed the badness of an obsolete value system onto his chest whence these contents had scampered off to get under stones where they felt more at home. As dawn broke Richard’s head stopped banging off and all that he saw was bathed in acetylene light, too bright for the eyes he used to have but now he could gaze unblinking into the sun for as long as he felt like it if he felt like it, no worries. Roy suddenly snapped his fingers and exclaimed “Brunt!” Then he added “By Roy.” After which he said “Ozonic.” “O what?” Johnny enquires. Roy explains “After the storm: the air.” Then he added “It’s all chemical.” Then, to himself, again “Brunt. By Roy.”

21/07/15 On the third morning packages came from Ipswich and their contents were entered into the car. Roy, who had no driving experience, picked up the basics and they headed off at a hundred miles per hour. Going along, Roy laid out his sense of the situation as it pertained. “Through a process of radical metabolic realignment we have thrown off structures of constraint that have confounded our species for millennia. In short, we have erased the unconscious. Using assaultive oral applications of hand-picked toxins we have dismantled neurochemical matrices that constituted what, with some understatement, we may refer to as a filter system. No longer will our foundational energies be obliged to communicate by obscure if at times poetic means. It is the end of art. It is the end of depth.”

The idea was that once in London Roy would seek venture capital for the launch of Brunt by Roy, a fragrance for Men & Women Who Are Prevalent. The blend comprises notes of musk, civet and ambergris which, initially at least, veil the unconventional elements in the accord. (The accord is a balanced blend of notes which lose their individual identity to create a completely new, unified odor impression.) The noxious or, as Roy would argue, radically transformative components in the fragrance would not be experienced as aromatically offensive consequently the absorption of the fine spray by the soft tissue of the mucous membrane would be unimpeded.

23/07/15 Obviously the only person that can stop the known high-functioning psychopath Roy from dispersing his mind-mangling fragrance far and wide and thereby loosing the discontents of our very lives upon us is David for at least he, by what can only be a fortuity of genetics actually looks closely like the even more well known Johnny Depp to the point where people go “Johnny! Wow! I really like what you do” at him in the street which gives him an edge in this particular situation because Johnny himself is – depending on your stance here – either a fucked and cancelled headcase or, Roy would contend, the ambassador for The New Behaviour.

26/07/15 David, regarded as Johnny by Keira, and Keira were walking hand in hand near the high bit in Notting Hill an area of London. David had been deep in thought but then he turned to Keira and said “I believe that stars such as ourselves who in our work present strong effective and dependable qualities are capable of applying these qualities in real life thereby eliminating the middle person.” They turned to the east, in the direction of Oxford Street. Keira then turned to the west out beyond Westfield a mall to the plains. I too turned. Keira tensed. She said “What’s that coming over the hill?” I replied “It is dark. We may be needed.”

27/07/15 And so, Readers, just at the point where Pampas is set aside until late August, some heavy shit is in the air. Will David and Keira be able to keep Roy out of Oxford Street? Will the toxified Johnny, the enchanted Richard and the compromised David-as-Johnny as distinct from the actual David, in their various states of possession and impersonation, be of any importance in the struggle to neutralise The New Behaviour? Or are these vaunted manners simply a less inhibited way of handling historically unprecedented conditions? Hey.

Pampas Season 2: part 1

2.1 Kind of quiet in the Edgware Road. Johnny Depp is on the hubbly bubbly but Roy has an American Spirit Black Pack Perique blend filter that he requested from a tourist. Richard has a snus portion under his upper lip. When he spits, Johnny says “You don’t have to spit. That’s the point. The Swedes don’t spit.” Roy nods wryly as if yeah what Swedes ever spit? Roy has this look at the moment: a tee shirt that says ‘I Forgot My Hot Pants’ and a picture of some denim hot pants with sequins. Under a pin stripe jacket. Johnny, largely with kind of a Bedouin thing, nevertheless has a tee shirt ‘Sublevel Yachting’. Roy sees a dog, says “Ah!”, leans over and stubs his cigarette out on its arse. The actual hole. Fucking mayhem.

2.2 The lady who had the dog swung the hubbly bubbly at Johnny’s head at which point of contact it smashed and propelled him onto the pavement he was spark out even as he flew in the air face down. She took the jagged base and went for Roy’s neck but he was rising to his feet and caught it on the shoulder she reared back and kicked his chest with her heels but he caught her ankle and flipped her over she landed on her back on Johnny’s back the dog went fucking nuts and clamped onto Richard’s leg but he did a massive punt and it went vertically up and as it came down later Roy blood all down his look grabbed its ears and swung it so hard the ears came off in his hands. He put them in his breast pocket and pointed at them. He said “My hanky.” And yeah it was a striking effect.

2.3 There was some concern about Johnny’s cheeks. He had broken the fall through the air with them. Richard had rolled him over and it was certainly the case that they (the cheeks) were now the site of contusions that enlarged even as you stood. Roy’s position was “It’s not what you look like” but Richard’s was “It’s what you look like.” Then Richard pointed out “I can’t see him fronting in Selfridge’s, Roy.” Roy took a bread roll that had rolled from its basket during the scuffle and broke it in half. He then surprised Richard with a joke, something the latter had not expected from one more at home among larches. Roy said “It’s a thing of two halves.” Richard held Johnny’s mouth open and Roy pushed a roll half, with its convexity outermost, into the space between the 52 year old film star’s upper right 8,7,6 and the flesh below his zygomatic bone and between upper left 6,7,8 and the flesh below his zygomatic bone on that side.

2.4 “Where’s his turban?” Roy said. “I don’t think it’s a turban,” Richard said. “The head thing. Where did it go?” Roy continued. “It’s under that car,” Richard indicated. “Leave it. He looks better, yes?” Roy went. “The cheeks look a bit low,” mused Richard. “Only if you know him,” Roy went. “People do, though,” Richard remarked. A lady came over. “Is that Roy?” she opened. “Ruth,” goes Roy, “How is Mrs Atkinson?” Ruth says “She is as well as can be expected. She lost some clothing on a train and more recently her son was murdered.” Roy responds “Mrs Atkinson’s son was not of the highest cut, to be frank.” “Have you hurt yourself, Roy?” she notices. “Blood of dog,” he says. “That could be a fragrance,” Richard says. “More of a wine,” Roy says. “I think so,” goes Ruth.

2.5 Ruth took Johnny’s feet while Roy and Richard took the heavy end. They got him into the 4×4 where Roy took a couple of minutes reshaping his (Johnny’s) cheeks with small pinches. Then Roy drove to a lady’s clothier up the road with skirts and cardigans and similar things where he asked the assistant to show Ruth some skirts. She got a pleated one like a kilt in different colours and a cardigan in lavender. Plus some brogued walking shoes but the holes don’t go right through. Then in Church Street a street off where they were they got a denim jacket like Lee or one of those. Richard said “It’s a shit look, Roy.” Ruth said “Well, it will cover many situations.” And Roy said “See, Richard? Shut the fuck up.”

2.6 Richard ruminated what does Roy know about Ruth? Settled among spruce, sleeping in seclusion, with whom would he wind up? How had he honed, who had he wooed? Ruth pulled another macaron from her rucksack. “Richard said you stuck a fag up a dog’s shitter, Roy.” “So I gather,” Roy shrugged. Richard goes “Actually Ruth, your look, it really works with that macaroon. I was hasty.” “Aron,” Ruth commented. “Where do you, you know, come from?” Richard directly asked. “Weakling,” she said. “Near Crowborough,” Richard said, “Sussex.” Ruth nodded very slightly. “Do you find,” ventured Richard, “despite yourself, that we tend to become like names that a) have long limned our pasts and b) are susceptible to such an operation, I mean you could hardly expect that of North Challey, for example.” Ruth replied As a matter of fact no.

2.7 Roy folded down the three seats in the 4×4 and rolled Johnny towards the hatch back. He then invited Ruth to go and lie on the floor with him, next to Johnny. Richard sat in the front looking at the street. Roy and Ruth rose and fell energetically and Richard felt himself flooded with ancient memories. Once again pistol shots rang out in his head and he could not stop them. And he could not stop the pain that flared around each shot. The street darkened and Richard went blind. He touched his eyes and then he reached out to feel the glass before him. He sat in the dark although it was not exactly dark it was nothing.

2.8 When the vehicle was quiet again Richard said “Please excuse me Ruth and Roy but I cannot see.” Roy said “We’ll see about that,” glancing at Ruth for acknowledgment of his swift wordplay. He took the blind Richard by the hand and led him down the road in the Marble Arch a monument direction. “Among us prowl the reptiles, Richard, their skin rife with light-sensitive proteins. For millennia the mammals have have suppressed this knowledge in order to deflect criticism of the vulgar binocular system. Take a leaf from the gecko and the sublevel cuttlefish, use the skin of the head, wear shorts that you may savour the vision that flows from the flanks. See the world anew with your neck.” He led Richard to the middle of the road and walked back without him to the 4×4 with pale Johnny in it and Ruth.

2.9 Fucking Richard man. He’s what 100 yards from where Edgware Road hits the park so we’re talking major traffic coming through and he’s holding up his arms out with the palms out moving them around people are swerving and yelling then he drops back his head so his neck is pointing to the sky and he shouts “I see through my throat! I see through my throat!” and runs towards the park right into the oncoming and he’s dodging and they’re careening and you wonder How does he do this? It’s a matter of time before he’s dogmeat but then he spins round, heads for the pavement and he’s running along away from the park and there are some guys with hubbly bubblies and he’s got his head so far back the scalp is practically between his shoulder blades and he goes “Hey! Guys! Hello!” and some of them are clapping and saying “Hello how are you?”

2.10 “Take it round the park,” Roy says. Richard pulls off his shirt and vest in order to optimise neck and shoulder vision. At first with dermally distributed visuality you can’t process the inputs – the brain can’t stitch them together from so many perspectives. Entomologists have stated that young flies also have this problem. Ruth is intrigued by his head lolling over the back of the driving seat – his eyes, were they not defunct, would be peering at her chest. His throat is taut and he has pushed the seat almost up to the steering wheel. “I’ll just check Johnny,” he says, raising his left hand to the roof of the 4×4 so that with a twist of the palm he may periscopically survey the rear area and its insensible resident. “Still still,” he reports. “Anyway, Rockahula,” he says and takes off down Park Lane a rich road.

2.11 He does well. Takes it at a fair clip, mind you it’s pretty much like a short strip of motorway along there, using his hands in all these increasingly snakey moves, it’s like rear view mirrors but on all sides (he has one hand through the sunroof) but it isn’t because with a mirror you look in it but with this his hand is looking you don’t need anything more. “I’m getting into it, I’m getting into it,” he declares and he’s whipping in and out past the shit statues and Ruth says to Roy “This is quite exciting” and Roy says back “I can see you like it” and Ruth says “Can you see what I’m doing?” and suddenly Richard’s skin goes off, just when it was so good it just goes off and Ruth looks down and sees his eyes go on and she shouts “He’s looking at my chest!” and in that dark gap Richard mounts the pavement.

2.12 “The Arab man is comatose yet shows no impacts other than facial contusions and minor abrasion. Possibly he was asleep at the moment of collision and failed to use his arms protectively,” said the good looking young Dr Peter Grant, “but he did have bread in his mouth which he must have been chewing.” “I don’t think he’s an Arab, doctor, “ said auburn haired young nurse Penny Arnold, “his trousers are roomily tailored but otherwise the indications are European or American.” Dr Peter Grant looked at the efficient young nurse with his hazel eyes. “I’m not happy with verbal and motor responses. We’ll go straight to imaging for subdural haematoma.” “Right away, Dr Grant,” said the pretty young professional.

2.13 Roy was in the finals of a Shaving Competition with five other men who had not shaved for two days. They would sprint through a cornfield to a roar from gathered men and women who understood shaving and supported the Shaving Group’s waiving of the No Cut rule, which disqualified contestants who drew blood, however modestly, in the course of the high speed challenge. At the far side of the field were the shaving stations, each bearing a disposable razor, an aerosol of unscented foam and a small bowl of warm water. Roy enjoyed the No Cut Waiver because he had mastered the Single Sweep, wherein the shaver describes a series of unpunctuated undulating crescents across his face and neck regardless of nicks and gouges. But to his horror he could not move his hands.

2.14 And who should Ruth see in that bare corridor but Anne of Austria. “Who are you with?” Ruth asked. “I am with Hildegard of Halifax and the Lady Jean of Jarrow.” “Will you dance when you get to where you’re going?” Ruth asked. “We will dance all the way there,” said Anne in a deep metallic voice and the three royal women began to spin and as they spun they spat. Then comes Louis the Eleventh and he does some neat capers involving small jumps and tiny turns with the toes just so and Ruth says “That shit is so cool” but she can’t hear herself speak because now they are being abrupt with each other like those air guns for wheel nuts vootvootvoot and Louis the Eleventh he just barrels down through the floor and he’s gone and Ruth asks someone “I’m so thirsty” and they say “I’m afraid we can’t give you any liquid yet.”

2.15 “Hold!” cried Sir Aquitaine. And the retinue came to rest. As they looked down from the brow to Sir Richard Quatrefoil resplendent. “Sir Gules de Blazon!” mocked Sir Aquitaine, employing the heraldic terms most appropriate to the flayed breast of the perfect gentle fellow. For pure Sir Richard’s breast was sorely striped like he’d been fed through a barbecue or something. Not to mention pocked. With glass mostly. As you might expect when effectively shot through a shield darkly. Now pitiless Aquitaine flanked by Sir Gauvain and his beast the carp Perlesvaus, filled with christian bale, harsh gutturance and lance arm strong, did bear down upon Sir Richard swiftly and with one thrust to that much cut front folded him into night.

2.16 We know from EEG that persons in coma are not brain dead. The comatose have brain activity, they are not flatliners. Their brains respond to stimuli by emitting an electrical impulse. But if Johnny were in deep coma they would not let him go home. If he were in a vegetative state, with modest reflexes and sleep-wake cycles, he could go home. But you wonder now if he thinks or sees pictures in this place beneath the sea. There is no way of telling. Is it a thought if there is no thinker? If there is no thinker then are there pictures floating down there and what are they of? Are they of things that we never see anyway even when we have the full box of waves?

2.17 Keira and I agreed that we had a sense of foreboding. As if a loathsome vapour or malodour were closing down the sky. “Perhaps we do need stars of the screen, Johnny,” said Keira, alluding to my suggestion (see Season 1:26/07/15) that actors should fully extend the scope of their impersonations so that they might step into everyday life and apply their strengths there rather than on the screen where people know it’s acting. “I suppose,” she continued, “there could be problems with getting carried away.” “In a sense that is collateral damage,” I opined. “In the world of entertainment we see many professionals, take Matthew McConaughey for example, who achieve remarkable verisimilitude. Such protean figures must, at this tipping point in the story of civilisation, make the transition.”

2.18 Keira, as game as ever, was convinced. She undertook to take on the character of Brogan, the feisty figure from the acclaimed film Brogan. In the film, Keira, as Brogan that is, confronted with a succession of dilemmas, coped confidently and showed depths that had not previously been apparent. Her love life was complex insofar as she found men generally unsatisfactory yet the film required her gradually to become enamoured of the character of John. When John became enfeebled by disease, Brogan was compelled to leave the United Kingdom for unrelated reasons yet succeeded in keeping in touch with John with email.

2.19 Just two days later Keira had gone. I was so sad. I knew that I would miss her dreadfully. For much of her life she had been feted as one of the beauties of her generation. She had a tremendous openness and spent much of her time in a state of delight. As she faded away I held her hand, her features softened and her breath grew light. “Can you remember when you knocked me over in the café?” I whispered. “No need to whisper,” Brogan said, “I’m not the nervous type.” “Hey, Brogan! What’s new?” I said. “Who are you?” she asked, matter of factly.

2.20 I suddenly glimpsed an unexpected possibility. Brogan did not know who I was, nor did she see, as others did, my close physical resemblance to film star Johnny Depp (‘The Lone Ranger’ dir Gore Verbinski. (2013)). “David,” I replied, and instantly felt a wave of relief followed by a considerable loosening of my joints. “Okay, David,” Brogan said. “Where did Harry go after dropping Amy off after their dinner at Paul’s?” She had me there. As I pondered this unanswerable enquiry, Brogan began pacing to and fro, from time to time glancing out of the window of the flat. I began to see that I was not the sort of companion who might assuage her restlessness.

2.21 Brogan, I’m afraid I don’t know Harry, Amy or Paul,” I said to Brogan. She turned from the window and looked firmly at me. “David, because I have had largely unsatisfactory relationships in one way or another, both intimately also with friends and acquaintances, such as with John who has, I must confess, faded in my mind of late, I tend to focus my energies on the travails of others. This should not be seen as somehow explaining my activities – I have skills and they are, I can say this, successfully applied. I can cut to the heart of the matter. I am driven, if you like, but I have found in life what I can do well and it pleases me.” I felt warmth towards Brogan. “Yes, Brogan, I see that,” I said.

2.22 It was clear that Brogan was feeling cooped up. We went for a walk in the neighbourhood. She moved quickly through the knots of passersby, sometimes pausing to scrutinise individuals who, for reasons that were not apparent, caught her attention. As we passed The Amount of Beer a young woman seated with friends at a streetside table looked up and smiled broadly. “Brogan! Wow!” she cried. Her friends seemed similarly delighted. The young woman was scanning the street beyond Brogan. “Are you doing another one?” she asked. Brogan replied “Are you a friend of Amy’s?” “Er…no?” said the young woman. “I’m looking for Amy,” said Brogan. “With Johnny?” the young woman said, looking at me. Brogan said “Johnny’s not around. That’s David.” The young woman grinned. “Right,” she said.

2.23 Brogan told me that while she was keen to locate Amy in order to ascertain just what happened with Harry after the dinner with Paul, she sensed that for the next few minutes it would be a waiting game. She said “From time to time in this caper, David, there are little gaps and it is in these that I pursue my personal interests.” “Good idea, Brogan,” I said, “I’m the same.” Brogan said “I like ornamental gardens. I have a dog, called Andrew. I am fond of jazz. There are some cousins. I relax when I can. I am drawn to certain sorts of figurine. My mother is blind. I dislike people who search their pockets for no reason. Before John there was Frank, who was moustachioed. My little nieces love me and I them. My best friend drowned. There is no God. Picasso is admirable. Let me be clear. There is so much.”

2.24 We passed a house in flames licking high and screams coming from it of despair. Brogan tore off her coat which was rayon and therefore a fire risk. She ran into the house as I held the coat. From all the windows came thick smoke and cries. Was there a person in every room? It could not be ruled out. To my amazement Brogan appeared at a window holding a side table which she repeatedly dashed against the window frame. “David, stand back!” she cried and moments later came an armchair. “Position it, David!” she instructed hoarsely as it went hard to the pavement. I shoved the chair round so that the man thrown next landed in it. “Reassure him!” yelled the tireless figure. “And look in my coat!” There was a bottle of Cien (the Lidl own-brand) aloe vera lotion. I smeared it on the man saying “No worries. Shit happens.”

2.25 I was trying to get a sense of what Brogan was. For example, from where did her memories come? The moustachioed Frank – had she encountered him in the course of her entirely prescribed and necessarily episodic past? How could it be otherwise? Unless her psychology was such that she was able to generate material to fill the biographical gaps. But to use the term ‘psychology’ was itself ridiculous. And how would she recognise that there was a gap to be filled? I was familiar with the work of Anheuser & Busch on confabulation but to apply that to Brogan would be to pathologise this exceptionally resourceful individual. And, of course, it was also my belief that since our future was now in the hands of those whose psychology was largely extinguished our salvation lay with those most adroit in the management of surfaces.

2.26 After the Fire Chief had warmly congratulated her, and the burned man had clasped her hands, I resolved to traverse with Brogan the archipelago the waters of which might prove to conceal branches, bridges, aspects opening onto aspects, in short, a body not pinned with trinkets but itself full and fruitful. “What’s it like having a blind mother?” I asked her. “You are not seen. The silver of the mirror is blackened. You are not carried in her mind. How then could you carry yourself? There is no echo. All moves ever outward, fading into air. I made my own sandwiches. I cleaned my own face,” Brogan said.

2.27 She sat beside me on a bench and I was able to study her in repose. Generally she looked resolute but I began to notice something odd in the way she composed the muscles of her face. It was the fact that I found myself using the word ‘composed’ that made me pay closer attention. We are used to seeing people drumming their fingers on tabletops or nodding absently in thought but Brogan seemed to be cycling through a repertoire of small facial movements that had the effect of slightly altering her expression then returning it to its initial state. This state, that I have called ‘resolute’, would liquefy – momentarily assuming an almost expressionless condition – then reproduce itself. It seemed odd rather than neurotic, almost as if she were using her spare time to perfect something.

2.28 “What are you doing later?” I asked her. “It depends what happens,” she said. “What if nothing happens?” I said. “That doesn’t arise,” she said. “But would you go home? To your house?” I asked. Brogan reached for her bag. She peered into each of its several compartments, working from the smallest, which bore a pair of fastenings, to the most capacious, which would normally lie beside her hip. Then she returned to the smallest and removed from it an ivory comb to which she quietly said “No”, then from the next a purse of coloured sand to which she said “No” from the next a jar of white dried beans to which she said “No” and to the most capacious then to the smallest again and “No” and I said “Can you not find them?” and she said “I can’t find them.” Then she said “But they must be there.”

2.29 In this way she searched her bag many times. The narrow boats passed, one with a sleeping cat on the hatch. A phone rang. Brogan reached into the inside pocket of her bright rayon coat. “No,” she said. It was mine. I said “David here.” A voice said “David, it’s Amy.” I said to Brogan “It’s Amy.” She took the phone. In a honeyed voice she murmured “Amy.” Then “We will.” Then Brogan turned to me and said “Let’s get up and go. Amy’s coming round.” “Where?” I enquired. “Where’s she coming?” Brogan strode away from the canal. “To mine.” After a few minutes we were at hers. Brogan released the fastenings on her bag. She put her hand into the smallest compartment at the front and took out her keys. They were on a fob with some bright fur.

2.30 Brogan showed me into her place. I was struck by its cleanliness. I understood that in a fundamentally anxious society one would tend to encounter a fetishisation of the clean and the tidy but Brogan’s place didn’t quite fit that bill. It was, for example, dustless and its edges and corners, including the edges of the carpeting, were marvellously accurate, abutting each other in such a way that one felt that even at several fractal magnifications there would be essential, geometric contiguity. She allowed me to look into her wardrobe, where I found long brass rails hung with skirts, blouses and coats made from polyester, acrylic, nylon satins and rayon taffetas. The colours were bold, bright, unpatterned. “Shall we sit down now?” asked Brogan. We did so in the sitting room. “She’ll be along,” Brogan reassured me.

2.31 After several hours, in the course of which Brogan sat quietly in an armchair, the door bell rang. Amy was in her early thirties with a mohair twopiece. “Amy,” Brogan said, “What did Harry do after dropping you off after your dinner at Paul’s?” Amy said gravely “Brogan, Harry is a selfish fuck inhabiting an extreme point on a spectrum reserved for those who experience others as a system of obscure and incoherent signs that are rarely worthy of a response. He is, psychologically, akin to one who cannot find his arse in the dark.” Brogan stood up “Are these the qualities of one who would do another in, Amy?” “Has Paul been done then?” Amy enquired. “Sundered,” rejoined Brogan. Amy crumpled. “I loved him,” she whispered.
2.32 Paul was rent. Riven by Harry. Amy aghast. I scarcely knew her. I had only known Brogan for hours. But now Brogan rose into her calling. As she moved dynamically around the bare, pure space she would, from time to time, stop. At one point coming to within a few feet of me she spoke fiercely to my face but not fully to my eye. Amy moved up behind her so that she was seen over Brogan’s shoulder. Then Amy walked to the table and sat at it, her hands clasped, staring down upon them. Brogan laid one hand on her shoulder but directed her speech towards the window. As their feelings intensified they strode, fell together, turned, restlessly crossing and recrossing the space abreast and in echelon. At one point they stopped. Amy said “When I sat at the table I felt I needed your hand there earlier.” Brogan said “That’s fine.”
2.33 Then Amy says “I’d just like a biscuit.” Brogan says “I have some. I’ll find them.” And she goes off to find them, looking around for them here, there. In all manner of places they might be. A drawer. A box. She looked. Then there they were, in her hand. Not like they’d been there all along be sensible. She also had a nice cuppa for Amy. And one for herself. “I so wanted this,” Amy declared. “Fig roll said brogan helpfully. I tell you what caught my eye she put the biscuit in her mouth then took it out and said I really wanted this but she actually hadn’t bitten it the end was still there but she was chewing and I thought eh

2.34 All at once Amy put her biscuit aside and curled up on the floor in a ball as if there were a fire there there wasn’t. Brogan (from the hugely successful ‘Brogan’) jutted her chin forward and gazed down upon Amy recently bereft. She (Brogan) walked from the pale space to an adjoining one and came back in with a stick. This stick was not dowel but pretty straight with like a handbrake kind of hand grip on the holding end and a knob of soft leather like I believe they are called percussion mallets in music at the other end. She prodded at Amy’s back and Amy said “fortunately” then at her neck Amy said “that question” then her thigh she said “de la rue” (of the road Fr) then her wrist she said “factory” then her navel she said “inasmuch Bobby”. It went on. I have to say, it was actually kind of okay.

2.35 Eventually Amy’s responses faded and she lay quite still on the carpet, as though every word had been tapped out of her body. “Is she okay?” I asked, “She barely seems to breath.” “Oh yes,” Brogan said, “She will rest now. We can go.” “Will she be okay when she wakes up?” I wondered. “Oh yes,” said Brogan, “She won’t wake up until the next thing.” “When’s the next thing then?” I sought. “Who for?” enquired Brogan, “Her or me?” I thought for a moment. “Er…you.” “Soon, I hope,” she said, “but there’s no hurry. I don’t mind in between. Do you?” “I guess not,” I said. “It could get boring, I guess.” “It’s just in between, David,” Brogan said, “No biggy.”

2.36 I was beginning to understand the situation. If I could somehow intervene in the scheme that animated Brogan, in some way divert its fitful expressions so as to seize authorship then I might realise my ambition to visit upon the world beings whose perfection of intent would quite eclipse the stuttering endeavours of those who merely made things up as they went along. Were I simply to execute my own designs then matters of light and shade, considerations of tone and tenor, all manner of titrations and refinements would cloud if not wholly entangle my purposes. How much more inexorable would these be if Brogan, the embodiment of gung ho can do know how, were my proxy and prosthetic!

2.37 “Brogan,” I said to Brogan (yes the one from ‘Brogan’) “Do you have any small talk?” Brogan, wearing a sky blue duffle coat of felted duffel with the horn fastenings (the blue was of the purest altitude I had seen) and beneath it a lime shift, said “How is it measured?” I replied “Well, it is to do with matters of little consequence and often used to make situations pleasant and make time pass before you get to your floor.” “You see,” she said “all that I say advances me. There is no slack, no roll of chub. Who of us can locate the wellsprings of our utterance? Not me certainly David. Even when I say Can’t complain or Is she really? I am in a situation that moves things towards something.” Brogan paused. Her eyes welled with tears. “I would like to say something that was nothing.”

2.38 “Amy is in the past now,” said Brogan. “That’s why she’s asleep. She might not wake up unless she is needed. She might not be needed. I’m usually the last to know. It’s not a problem though, because I’ll forget her. And then it’ll just be her clothes. They’re usually left in a neat pile. She herself will have gone. I don’t know where they go.” “Are there lots of them then?” I asked. Brogan frowned. “I suppose so,” she said. “It’s not something I dwell on. Did you see I’m wearing blue?” “Are there sausages to be had?” I heard myself saying. They were in the cupboard. Pork and lavender. I fried six. Brogan put one to her mouth. But whereas I munched mine hers came out untoothed. Again.

2.39 We looked up and there was this guy on the sofa. “That’s Big Vague Michael,” said Brogan. “Does he have a key?” I asked. “He doesn’t need one,” she said. Big Vague Michael had an interesting way of moving. He didn’t move much but he was moving all the time but not leaving the sofa. His head was big and you know where sometimes with people you can’t see them but you’re looking right at them? Well it was like that. We’re not talking invisible or anything, it was certainly there and plus there was nothing to stop you looking at his head but when you did it was unsatisfactory. You thought this head doesn’t sort of hang together. It’s not like deformed or anything. It’s like you could look all you want but there was nothing coming back. That’s a good way of putting it.

2.40 “Mike!” goes Brogan. “Mike!” He’s just across from her. Big Vague Michael hears this but his eyes are kind of nystagmus (see Pampas: Season 1: #93 09/07/15) but then he clicks them to a stop and looks at Brogan. “He’s…he’s..” he goes. “It’s Brogan, Mike.” She turns to me “We haven’t met,” she explains. “He gradually composes himself,” Big Mike says. “Yes,” Brogan says, “You do.” And as I’m looking his head is tightening together like air is sucked out. “See that?” asks Brogan. “They all do that. Sometimes as men, sometimes as women. Or before that.”

2.41 This big handsome man, Mike, looking certain and shaped, raises his head to address Brogan who is standing up. He smiles warmly, extends his arms then suddenly clutches his throat, from which are expressed the bubbling shrieks of what you would expect if treading on a box full of live but plucked young turkeys. A black powder trickles from his mouth and thickens to a steady stream, spilling down his shirt and lap onto the tailored carpet. “My God!” I cry aghast. “Soot,” says Brogan. “Dirt!” I insist. “No,” she is quite matter of fact. “It really is not. It is the final and pure sum of him as he burns.” Mike’s eyes roll up as he dies on the sofa.

2.42 “He came here to die,” I said. “A man comes in, heaves soot and snuffs it.” “No, he didn’t come here,” Brogan explains, “He is the next thing. We must search the body for identification.” She starts going through Mike’s pockets. “He’s Mike,” I said. “I know no Mikes,” she said. “Look…” She extracts from his inner breast pocket an oilcloth wallet and passes it to me. It was still warm. There was nothing in it. “I wish Jean and Max were here,” Brogan said. “I haven’t seen them in years,” I told her. Rather ruefully, Brogan said “They’re so good at this sort of thing, you know.” The doorbell rang. “Funny,” she said, “Usually they don’t ring.”

Readers: the Editor of Pampas would like to apologise for the uncharacteristically protracted gap in publication between the previous and the above. This is due to circumstances well within my control.

2.43 “David!” It was Brogan. “Brogan?” I said, snapping out of it. Brogan, reclining on a sofa ‘just like from shop’, looked largely relaxed but she said “That was the door. Ages ago.” I said, coming back to myself, “I was busy, for several weeks. I couldn’t get to it.” She vocalised “Humph!” Then she spoke “Well I just hope they’re still there.” “Who, Jean and Max?” “Tush!” she exclaimed, “I was actually mindful of the numbers.” I looked quizzical. “The numbers…” Brogan sat up. “David! I’m Borgan.” I appeared puzzled. “The Danish thing?” “Fuck!” she swore. “I meant Brogan. The various shit that I do – you have to have the numbers.”
2.44 It was, I realised, odd that Brogan could have a thought like that. “When you say ‘numbers’, what are you thinking exactly?” I put to her. “You feel them. When they like you,” she replied. “Brogan – who?” I was insistent. “I have a reputation. I take down scum. I slot punks. The loved ones of those whose condition I improve give cakes and cards of gratitude. Such things spread. The forces of the law begrudgingly admire my prowesses.” “That’s probably prowess, isn’t it?” (I saw no reason to let ordinary talk go off like bad squirrels.) Brogan said “Whatever.” Then she said “Sometimes on a hot night, on the porch, I can hear them. They’re out there.” “The numbers,” I nodded. “Yeah,” confirmed Brogan.
2.45 I wondered what Brogan knew. She could not, for instance, know that Johnny Depp lay in a coma, that Roy an obvious nutjob and chicken jalfrezi could not feel his hands with his hands, that Ruth in another wing was wounded and Richard the stout as in staunch and stalwart not lardy aide lay within a respirator. But there was one thing namely my own resemblance to filmstar Johnny where when people found I wasn’t him they said “Wow! That’s like some kind of 3D photocopier of meat or similar.” What would Brogan make of this, given her emerging sensitivity to those on the soft horizons of her mind? Brogan said suddenly “You’re not my cousin are you, David? You feel sort of close.”

Pampas Season 2: part 2

2.46 “Weird scenes inside the gold mine,” I said to myself. I had been getting used to the tight demarcation of Brogan’s capacities. That she would throw burning men from buildings was one thing (see Pampas 2.24); that she had, in any wise, a hinterland ran counter to my sense of sense. When Brogan intimated that I was, in some way, familiar to her beyond the purview of our brief acquaintance, there were only two respectable explanations. 1. That her perimeter was porous whereas I had considered it thoroughly circumscribed 2. That we had had prior business in her capacity as ‘Brogan’ of the heavily streamed and boxed ‘Brogan’. “Brogan, let me say this: no way am I your cousin. Okay?” I said.

2.47 So I went down the stairs to get Jean and Max. I was looking forward to seeing them greatly. I first met them in 1979 then lost touch for 24 years then lost touch again. Now, another 12 years on, they had knocked on the door of the apartment to which Brogan had access when she was waiting for the next thing. Perhaps they would be able to get to the bottom of the terrible burning out from within of Big Vague Michael (see Pampas 2.39). Or the drifting away of the still, barely lightly breathing Amy on the floor curled up. Of their type they were the tops. If anyone could sift the solute from the solvent, it was they.

2.48 It is apposite that this morning, Andy Wilson, director of key episodes of ‘Ripper Street’ and ‘Wallander’, should have enquired kindly about Hugh, whom he knew well in the heyday of Jean and Max’s ascension to prominence in the field of collaborative investigation wherein Max would theorise quickly from the facts as he saw them whereas Jean would see the local in terms of its relation to the pattern, the scheme, the grand elusive overall. It was the loss by Hugh of his diary (not his calendar, Andy) that led to some of the finest work of the inquisitive partnership. Hugh hit it off with Susan, who lived near the equator. It was she who partially resolved his anxiety by taking him to a number of stationery shops.

2.49 I had never seen them in the street before. Jean. Taller than Max by some way. The tumbling hair. The age she had been she was. And Max too, no change in his height. And as if the years had not passed through him. “David, we never die,” said Jean. Her deep voice. I said, shaking my head, tearful “You don’t, Jean, you don’t.” Max took my hand. “No. It’s really good,” he said. Still muttering. Terrific tailoring. I clasped them both to me and they me to them. I put my hands round the backs of their necks and stood away. I was shaking my head. And I hadn’t even asked. It was because of Brogan. “She’s upstairs,” I said. “She really loves your work.”

2.50 So Jean and Max (see Strength Weekly Long Read and Seasonal Treat ) came up the stairs with me and there was Brogan. Who knew them. They exclaimed and hugged, said “Wow!”, shook their heads like I had (see Pampas 2.49). Max got out a sealed packet of frozen Cinnamon Buns from the Ikea food section just beyond the checkout at least it is in the Wembley one. “Why are they so cold?” Brogan asked. “You have to heat them up,” explained Max, “They come from Sweden.” Brogan said “I’m not Swedish (see Pampas 2.43).” Max heated them and when Brogan bit one she threw up.

2.51 Max was taken aback. “It’s just a bun,” he protested. Brogan was supporting herself on the arm of the cream sofa, onto which she had voided the morsel. “She doesn’t eat,” she gasped. “Who?” Max and I said in unison. “Brogan,” she replied, “Did you ever see her eat?” “You don’t eat?” Max, nonplussed. “It’s never been the next thing. She only does the next thing.” The next thing we knew, Brogan straightened up and was gone. “Keira!” I cried. Because there she was. “Johnny. Wow. I’m fucking starving. What have you got?” said Keira. Then she hugged me. “Who’s Johnny?” asked Jean.

2.52 I had to think fast. “She calls me Johnny,” I blurted. “So much better than Colin,” offered Keira. “That’s got to be true,” Max confirmed. “I never called him Colin,” Jean went. “That’s two of us then,” Keira a dit. Jean goes “Did they shoot those horses?” “What? In the movie?” asks Keira surprised. “I suppose they couldn’t take them home,” Jean concluded. “You had that great dress,” Max goes, “The green one.” Jean goes “I was in Entre Rios, on the pampas, the gauchos have the bolas in addition to the lariat. They call the cows ‘Hola Agustin! Hola Victor!’ and if the cows do not come they entangle them, tripping them by their thin ankles on the evening plains.”

2.53 “We thought we’d see Brogan,” Max said. “She was sick on the sofa,” I said. Jean glanced across the room, “Looks alright.” Keira is looking around too. “What is this place? A show home?” “It’s Brogan’s,” I said. Max shook his head “She had a place in a mews. Full of knickknacks.” “As far as I can tell,” I mused “It’s kind of where she came in between things.” “Like the green room,” suggested Keira. “Not quite. But sort of,” I said. “Anyway!” Keira yelled, “I could eat a scabby horse between two bread vans.” “What about Nando’s?” Max went. “Love it.” Keira swept us down the stairs.

2.54 “David,” began Jean in the cab. “Who’s David?” enquired Keira. This time round I thought better of blurting out a response and went instead for a measure of half truth. But before I even began to speak I had to work out how to deal with the accent problem. Keira expected me to have an American accent but Jean and Max knew me as British. I decided, with no great originality, to go for mid-Atlantic. I have a Canadian friend who has lived in the UK for thirty years or more and speaks with an English turn of phrase rendered in a faint drawl that places him beyond these shores yet fails to make landfall in the west. As a model this could be useful, but perhaps only to a skilled mimic. It is indeed both a blessing and a curse to bear an uncanny resemblance to an A-list Hollywood film star.

2.55 “Well, Keira,” I said in the cab to Nando’s, “First we must conjure a time when all phones, known then as telephones, were attached to the wall with a wire. Of the various marks of sophistication to which the aspiring sophisticate might aspire was the longer wire, consisting of twined, fabric-covered cords and enabling the caller to step at least three or four feet away from the fixed body. Similarly impressive was the advent, in 1979, of water in a bottle. Those of us emerging from Austerity 1.0 had been used to walking from one building, such as the home, to another, such as another home, without experiencing thirst. Had we, en route, become thirsty which, by and large, we did not, we could not, using the Favourites list, send a message ahead requesting that a glass of water be taken from the tap in readiness for our arrival.”

2.56 I could tell that Keira was fascinated by my account of the social hydraulics of the simpler times. She pressed her slender, wiry frame – I thought of Amy – against me in the cab, as I continued to expatiate. “In common with all children I was urged by my parents not to hesitate, when feeling thirsty, to knock on the door of a passing house and politely ask for a glass of water. Often the householders would invite the child in, pressing biscuits and fancies upon them and sometimes unopened Christmas presents resulting from sad bereavements. I was shown lawns, wedding dresses and carving tools while my friend Susan saw radios, a spaniel and lavender. In this way communities were forged, their bonds enduring after the manner of what were then the new epoxy glues.”

2.57 “In fact, on one occasion,” I recalled, “Susan, having walked from one town to the next one along, started to feel the beginnings of thirst. She turned into the gateway of Christine and Christopher Gilchrist whose friends, Susan would learn, called them both Chris. Chris opened the door and without hesitating agreed to arrange a glass of water. Chris sat her down and Susan slipped her socks off. Susan said “Is your name an adjective?” and Chris said “Not in my case.” “Phew for that,” a dit Sue. “Do you know oude genever, Susan?” enquired Chris. “The Swittish city,” Sue a dit reasonably confidently. Chris laughed in a non-condescending way. “It’s actually a pleasant drink,” he said, “From the Netherlands.” Max said “I see where you’re going now.” Keira said “You’re well ahead of me then, Max.”

2.58 Susan sipped and savoured the small drink but felt it was too raspy for her tastes. Some time later I too had occasion to walk to that town and chanced to knock for water at Christine and Christopher Gilchrist’s. Christine said that Susan, who had her own room at the Gilchrist’s, had gone to Eindhoven in the Netherlands. I went into a bar in De Markt where there are many bars and in the winter a rink and in the spring stalls. In a low-ceilinged one with green light I approached a man and woman and said “I am looking eagerly for Susan.” The man said “She’s gone. But I’m Max and this is my associate Jean.” Soon Susan was just something that happened and I began to relish my chance acquaintances.

2.59 Max explained that Jean had a capacity to evaluate in depth both the vital and the morbid signs of individuals and groups by considering the tremors which immersed them. These engulfings, explained Max, were not to be confused with the ray, the waves, the force field, the spirit level, the plumb bob, the bridle of the tidal, the outgush, the secret life of flow and eddy, certain glands. He gave an example, “It’s like – how can we dance when our earth is turning? How do we sleep while our beds are burning?” He nodded, straightened his tie, chartreuse on a fern pinpoint oxford, glanced at his links. He said “I go more for the footprint, the stain.” Jean said “Max would press a key in wax.”

2.60 And Roy, of course, is a drifter. Essentially a drifter. Of no fixity. And now that he is allowed up (which is not to suggest that, had he not been genuinely incapacitated as a result of the colliding, he would have heeded the mild admonitions of the nurses: he would not, as we have come to expect, have given a fuck) he has taken to wandering the wards, eager to bench test the healing powers he had acquired since gaining access to the cleaning cupboards adjacent to the buffing machine bay wherein he had found the silicon-based mould release agents which, applied in gel form to the gums and fingered into the nostrils, brought about a purging so intense that it descaled sclerosis at every level of his being and put Roy in touch with his inner Christ.

A post on the Pampas series dated 11/02/16 was removed from this location on 12/02/16 due to an unevenness of quality that in the view of the Editor constituted a reputational risk.
Readers are advised that the Editor of Pampas seeks to maintain only the highest standards for the series. The series is, furthermore, subjected to rigorous quality control procedures prior to each episode publication.

2.61 Let no one imagine that Roy was a creature of impulse. Despite his preference for the forest gladeless, he was not a sociopath. He looked down on those fetid nomads and their fireworks, foot soldiers of fuckup, peevish outbursters commando in their polyester, call him Rover he comes when you whistle. Accordingly, when the medical social worker, finding the psychopath Roy unforthcoming when she enquired as to whether he would like to talk to her in confidence about anything that might be troubling him, suggested that he keep a Feelings Journal, he did not gank her though his stare was rather cold.

2.62 Instead, Roy fell to considering his livid spots. These were not issues that might compel him to declare “Actually I have a problem with that” but the patches of inflamed flesh that, since he had opened himself to Christ with strong ointments, had begun to course along his limbs, flushing and mottling, sometimes lingering at the neck at others simmering even across his eyelids inevitably suggesting unsettling expressions that he was not in fact expressing. These eczemas flowed over him through the day and would be seen in some circles as a language but Roy himself said contentedly “They are my jewels.”

2.63 Roy sent blood down into his body to the parts that would benefit from the force and freshness. He was familiar with the Harveyan schema wherein the blood moved in a circle thanks to the heart pump, and he considered this credible but contemptible insofar as as it removed from his domain an eminence. The passivity of those who surrendered corporeal sovereignty to a presumptively autonomous system – within their own bodies for fuck’s sake – pissed him off. By a system of grimaces, contractions and selective tightenings he wrested control from the pump and was pleased to see that his jewels now traced the new pulsions as they rolled down from his reddened head.

2.64 Flushed with his vanquishment of autonomous blood circling and encouraged by his developing capacity to situate distinctive skin colourations at will, Roy turned his heightened attention to the actual quality of his blood rather than its tides and was upset to find that while it was itself sterile there were ranged around it, in the arrangements of tubes and vessels and suchlike such as also the skin itself, life forms teeming in their billions in their several dozen teeny types. Seventeen alone in the : ! And Roy knew that the walls of capillaries are only a few nanometers thick so how come, he wondered, life forms did not get into his sterile blood? For all he knew, they had. They had. For all he knew.

2.65 What especially vexed him was the notion, widely bruited in the microbiological literature, that ‘the normal bacterial flora of the adult human clearly benefit from their host’. Just look at them bacteroides fragilis makes you think of weakness bacteroides oralis how dare they bifidobacterium bifidum makes you think of two dogs salmonella enteritidis the sandwiches are off again but I didn’t have a fucking sandwich propionibacterium acnes is that a pony with boils I mean come on enterococcus faecalis you’re fucking kidding me proteus mirabilis too late now son they’re all in it’s fucking open house. Roy set off for the cleaning cupboard. Scorched earth.

2.66 In the cab a few minutes away from Nando’s Jean goes affectionately “David, you’re wearing well,” and I go “Jean, you’re too kind but your own unlined skin speaks of an enviable and luminous tranquillity.” Max goes “She’s not. Tranquil.” Jean comes in “But I’m luminous, Max, like he says.” And Max comes back “You can dress in the dark. That’s got to be useful.” Then Max says to Keira “You’re fabulous too, Keira.” And Keira goes “You’re sweet, Max. And so is Johnny.” And Jean looks at Keira “I love how you call him that.” Keira says “It’s just what I feel.” Apart from the driver, who was quite properly concentrating on what must be achieved, the rest of the people here, Jean and Max and Keira and David, looked at each other approvingly.

2.67 In those moments of easeful calm I felt the four of us were somehow of a piece with each other, that our differences were inconsequential, that we moved with grace across each other’s bounds then unbound flowed hither then thither in golden worlds. I was familiar with the idea that there is within us a yearning for a lost past in which we enjoyed a mysterious oneness with all that was and all that we encountered but perhaps this nostalgic melancholy is simply a tissue drawn across unpalatable hunger whereas here, in this taxi, it was as if I were actually in the minds of Max and Jean and Keira and Keira and Jean and Max were somehow all in my mind.

2.68 While Keira was ordering Chicken Butterfly off the bone, drizzled with the peri-peri oil that she loved, I asked Jean and Max how their lives had shaped up after 1983, when we last worked together. Jean said “At first we had momentum. We saw dust devils dancing and damped them down. We breezed through bodies locked in rooms from the inside with no footprints in the surrounding snow or windows. But where once we were driven now we were derelict, deadheaded. The engine fell from the chassis, the car coasted to the verge with no majesty. In Groningen I said to Max ‘What would Jean do?’ and Max said ‘Ask Max.’”

2.69 But what did Max mean? When he said ‘Ask Max’ in response to Jean’s question ‘What would Jean do?’ it may be that he meant that Jean would ask Max what to do. On the other hand, he may have meant that he, Max, would ask Max what to do, thereby suggesting that Max is outside himself looking at himself. If this is the case then it is as if he believes that the Max who is looked at may hold the answer to something that eludes the Max who is observing the more housed, less vagrant Max. All of which suggests that Jean and Max, investigators once blessed with what is now an ailing complementarity, having lost the plot are, in only a figurative sense, both in search of an author. Strewth.
(This passage was remodeled 05/04/16. See notification above.)
A post on the Pampas series dated 04/04/16 was removed from this location on 05/04/16 following the identification of substandard components. In the view of the Editor these latter were compromised as follows:
The textual material referred to a complex situation in a complicated rather than accessible way.
The material was stylised almost to the point of opacity.
In keeping with the mission to maintain high standards for the series the passage has been remodeled in such a way as to prioritise clarity. Lucidity even. The remodeled passage may be found below.

2.70 Keira has all sauce and everything round her mouth. “Johnny,” she says “Doesn’t this remind you of St Vincent? Yeah? With Orlando?” Max is weeping and pointing to his mouth because of the Very Hot he overdid. Jean asks “In Florida?” Keira replies “The actor. We used to go to the Flowt after we wrapped. Me and Johnny and Orlando. On the beach.” Jean cocked her head quizzically. This was getting to be something of a trial. I loved them all but this whole masquerade thing was fucking with my head. Jean breathed in. I had a light bulb come on. “Keira,” I went, “You remember Brogan?” She came “Well, naturally.” I squeezed her hand and reached over and then I squeezed Jean’s hand. I said “So you’ll understand what I have to do.”

There is a limit to the Reader’s patience. The Flowt is a beach bar to be found in St Vincent & the Grenadines (not to be confused with Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps) and patronised by Keira, Johnny and Orlando after shooting on location for ‘Nearby Pirate’.

2.71 I know this guy I said. You’d like him. I winked at Jean, including Max who was drinking from a jug. Yeah, you’d find him interesting. He has a tale to tell. Yes I said to myself I do. I had been weakening. I needed a safe place. Free from exposure. Sometimes you read a book and you think yeah I’d like to live in that world. Not necessarily all animals and landscapes and beauty but where shit can happen and relationships but it’s only a book so no matter how harrowing and of today etc it’s a book it’s not like here. It’s art. Where you can hide. Or other people’s lives. That you like the way they live. Much the same. I mean I liked Jean and Max’s life. And their personalities. I mean I realise they are complements and not full people but were there ever? They had been to Holland, South America you name it. Iceland.

2.72 (Interim Orientation Advisory) I reminded Keira of our discussion (see 1.104 (26/07/15)) wherein I had suggested that, given the dearth of capability in the worldscape and the abundance of problem solving in the fictosphere, actors should extend the scope of their impersonations so that they might step into everyday life and apply their strengths there rather than on the screen where people know it’s acting. I then suggested that this could be constructively countered by civilians, who would undertake to participate in artificial situations so that their lack of skill would ground and possibly neutralise some of the deleterious effects of prolonged masquerade. A fluid exchange of this sort would not, I felt, perpetuate a separation so much as promote a mutuality.

2.73 I told Keira that I couldn’t wait for her to meet my friend David, a civilian friend working with Jean and Max. She welcomed the suggestion. With an enormous sense of relief I let Johnny go and became myself again. I still looked like him, of course, but I didn’t have to pretend I was him any more. “We’re just off,” David explained, “Will you come with us?” Keira said “That would be lovely, David. Can Johnny come along?” David said that Johnny was not there at the moment. Okay a dit Keira. Now Jean and Max would relax and Keira would have a new but attentive companion. One who was not living a lie.

2.74 Jean and Max led the way and David was with Keira as they went off with resolve. They had foodpuppies with them and sports drinks. As well they had coats and tablets. Max thought it was ‘fuckpuppies’ but Jean told him to pay attention. Max as he went down snapped off the damp and velvet like young antlers extrusions and popped them into his mouth. Musty you’d think but like water chestnuts to the teeth. Put my hand in a tree. Jean sees a dog. Keira goes “Hey.” Fairly safe. Who remembers coincidence? What it was like. Don’t have coincidence now just a lot of things. If they coincide it’s like so what ? it’s not a fucking surprise is it. They’re bound to be in your head.

2.75 In the evenings out there the foodpuppies start to glow a faint purple. No more than a wristwatch. You can use them as a neck stole. Keira asks “Who is in there?” The guys go “We don’t know, ma’am. We figure they been in there three days, four.” Jean says “It must be so quiet.” The guys say “We look at it ma’am and it kind of has this calm effect.” Max comments “Some of the drives are long. You just want to be cool.” Keira declares “I’m going to wave.” She waves at them. At first it’s just still then you can see waving back. “They’re waving back,” Keira is pleased. Max demurs “It’s reflections.” Keira glares “Fuck it Max, look again. See? Waving. Am I waving? Is there waving in this group? I thought not.” And yeah, you could see it. White hand going to and fro.

2.76 Keira takes off her dress and slides into the water in an oyster silk slip. She circles the car then surfaces. “It’s a 1949 Buick Roadmaster. The Sedanette,” she announces. Max asks what’s the water like. “It’s okay. Better than expected.” Max is down to his boxers and before you can say wow primark jumps in. Keira says “I think it’s a family down there.” Max asks “How many?” Keira says “A father a mother and two children.” Max duck dives and swirls around then “Yeah. The two in front have got rings on.” Keira asks “Did you wave?” Max replies “Of course.” Anyway Jean and I get in we’re generally splashing about. Jean says “The kids are both reading.” Keira asks “Can you see what?” Jean says “They’ve kind of got them in their laps.”

2.77 We’re lying by the pool drying out. The foodpuppies are under a tree. Jean is on her stomach with one arm in the water. The air is still. Maybe a lark. Max has nothing to do. He’s sitting up. He says “All those years, with Jean, after we stopped working with David. When I cut myself, on the arm, I could see titanium. Shiny. Blue.” Keira who had been staring at the sun looked round at him. “Did it feel good, Max?” He nods. “Oh yeah. You could do things.” Jean nods too. “Max says he feels vague now, don’t you, Max?” He shrugs. “Something like that. Yeah.” Keira goes “I don’t think you’re vague, Max.” Max says “Well, you know. Maybe.”

2.78 Jean reached for a foodpuppy and moved round the perimeter of the pool towards the front of the car below. A breeze rattled the birches briefly. I held a sports drink. She dropped the foodpuppy and it skeetered from side to side in the green water as it drifted down. “Did they see it?” Keira asked. “Yes,” said Jean, “They’re indicating that they did.” And it is certainly the case that when you looked down to them in that world they were nodding as if pleasedly to say “You are very kind. You should not have bothered.” But of course we bothered! It is a pleasant thing to meet others where so few go! Jean who had been dipping down came up and said “If only you knew how strange it is to be there. It is not life but its shadow, it is not motion but its soundless spectre.”

2.79 Then again Keira dove deep and grasped the mirror on the passenger side then gasped then pointed then shook her head as if to say “You’re kidding me!” Which maybe she did say that. But back on the land she said “It’s Winona! Can you believe that? Fucking Winona!” There was a cry somewhere. Max looked puzzled. Night fell. From the sunken Sedanette there streamed green light. Max said “Phosphorescent algae.” Keira said “She used to go with Johnny. Between 1989 and 1993. Not that I’ve looked it up.” Jean asked “Is she okay?” I said “I’m sure she’s fine now.” Max said “Yeah, Jean and me saw that in the case of the glowing body on the pebbles at dusk as the sea came in and back at night not so long ago. Didn’t we, Jean?” Jean goes “Yeah, he’s right.”

2.80 Max isn’t wiry he’s like stocky. He goes down following this glow and gestures to the person everyone says is Winona, which I believe she is. I mean Keira should know. We all should know: Heathers, Little Women. I’m thinking is she old now or what? I go “Max! Is she old or what?” He goes, through the water, “It’s not great visibility what with the night.” I go “Yeah, right.” He opens the door and helps her out and she comes up and says in a murmur “I want to sleep deep sleep.” Max says “There’s this kind of jelly.” Jean enquires “What?” Max responds to her “It’s like a film.” Keira goes “Well, that is the territory.” Max shakes his head “All over her body.” It was kind of glistening. “Can she breathe?” asks Jean. Max goes “Yeah. Obvs.” “Should we peel her though?” someone says. Max says “I guess.”

2.81 Max and Jean start to pull away the turbid caul. The Roadmaster is the 1949 model but that would mean Winona is 67 but which is ridiculous based on the idea you are as old as your car which is ridiculous though I say so myself. Nobody is that old they would change their car from time to time. Jean is very careful she gently pulls and the film comes away from first the brow then gently over the face and Winona is pale you can see her pores and then down her neck but she has clothes on, a dark green dress. Her eyes were open even during when her brow was covered so presumably she could see through the film. How long has she been down there I wonder with her companions. “Lovely eyes,” Jean says. “Probably Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir,” Keira says, “she’s his face.”

2.82 Foodpuppies are pleasing to touch in their smooth weight and so Jean placed two in the damp lap of Winona as she haltingly revived. “Her Grandpa was Timothy Leary,” Max said helpfully. Folded away the years of bead and veneration. When afghan was a coat. Rewrite the world. “Who says?” Keira says. “It’s known,” Max said firmly. Then Max says “I’m not saying that because a person’s Grandpa was something that the person is like that.” “0n the other hand Keira says there could have been acid in the sugar carelessly. Or on the stationery I’m thinking of the blotting paper here.” Max snaps his fingers. “No. He was her godfather. Yeah.” Winona now carefully peeled of film looks at me. She frowns then goes hesitantly then more certainly “Johnny?” Fuck I go in my head.

2.83 It has not been my wish, in the course of these writings, to dwell on the personal. Even so, I should explain that over the years I have been regularly mistaken for Sting of The Police, particularly when that group enjoyed currency in the so-called post-Punk era. Youngsters would frequently come up to me, thrusting into my hands copies of Zenyatta Mondatta for signature. I would politely decline, saying “I’m not him.” They would say “Why did you dye your hair, Sting?” I would say “I didn’t. I’m not him.” After a while I just signed them – it made things simpler and it pleased the youngsters. Is that so wrong? I think not. Readers may appreciate, then, that the ‘Johnny Depp period’ which I have attempted to chronicle here, while fraught with both ferocity and felicity, was not unfamiliar. That is, until Winona.

2.84 Winona extended her hand toward me and the foodpuppies fell from her lap by the waterside. She stroked my cheek. And said slowly “For a while I got to be something different.” Her hand was cold to me. She pulled at her hair and it came off but it was a wig and underneath was beautiful black hair kept dry by the wet wig now falling away through the water. She murmured Johnny and seemed not to notice anyone around. And I said But now I’m just me again. Keira is putting her dress on she puts it on and says I’m going in there once more. She gives a little swift smile and goes down. After a while I go down just to see and she is in the Roadmaster. Are you coming up I say. “No,” she mouths I can’t hear her. “You go on,” she says. I wave and she waves. I go back up to Winona. I swim back up there.

2.85 Jean and Max who I had known for a long time and they knew me agreed with me. “She was a terrific girl,” Jean said. And Max said “She’ll be fine. She’ll have that film to cover her.” I had worked with them in the 70s in the 20th century. We really knew each other. They were not judgmental people. We sat and looked out over the pool remembering her not saying much for a while. After a while Jean said there are good people down there it’s not as if. Max said “There are kids down there. With their books.” The sun was coming up through a watery sky. It would help to dry Winona. Some early birds cheeped somewhere. You never know where they are you just hear them.

2.86 This time I was really sure. I realised that my uncanny resemblance to Johnny Depp was not something that I should just go along with. Of course it had had its advantages – I had enjoyed the company of a number of beautiful and personable women, not to mention their colleagues – giants in the field of entertainment. Winona, shifting in and out of sleep, still pale, feverish, could not take her eyes off me. “I’m not him, Winona,” I said, as plain as plain could be. She squeezed my hand and nodded. I felt a great relief. We could be man and woman now. We would walk together in an ordinary way that was deep and close and I would not be her Johnny. If I reminded her of the Johnny with whom she had been from 1989 to 1993 after Edward Scissorhands together then that was just something I had no control over. I would simply be her David.

2.87 Winona said My time in the Buick Roadmaster Sedanette was uneventful but then I was offered the possibility of going further down. I would live in a system of tunnels, constantly burrowing and subsisting on tubers. I found the prospect repellent despite my confusion. Jean said What confusion is that Winona? Which was when Winona dropped a bombshell. “I have she said for some time been aware that my perceptual apparatus is delivering sensory information pertinent to situations that have no relationship at all to the milieux in which I gather I am physically present.” My lamb said Jean. Max asked Are these things happening somewhere else then? “Winona said Yes as far as I am concerned Max obvs but there is the fear that they are phantasmal. At the end of the day.”

2.88 Max said “While you’ve been away there have been some developments.” We were beside the car pool. “Such as what?” I enquired. Well Jean said “Max and Winona have been getting on famously.” “Which is good,” I ventured. “Oh it is Jean said.” Max said “She is several months into the family way.” “You’ll be great, Max I said, Won’t he Jean?” “He knows I will always love him in a sisterly way as a brother Jean said.” I turned to Winona who was there too her feet were in the pool to the ankles. “That’s great Winona” I said, “It’s a real adventure.” Winona said “I kind of thought Well you are not Johnny David but Max is Max.” She said And that feels right. And I said I’m kind of sad Winona but perhaps we’ll meet again sometime and look back on this.” “Yeah said Winona

A Selection of Single, Double and Triple Panel One-Offs

I want to write about Peter and Susan what they get up to. They are walking in the fields of the countryside where there are some cows and Peter remarks “I like that cow” and the next thing you know he is gored by a bull. As Susan falls brokenly to her knees hoping Peter will not bleed out before help is at hand even all the birds of the air sighing and sobbing she shouts out “Oh my Lord God my Peter my Peter my Peter” and way above in the sky the birds crying and wheeling there is one sea bird just cawing and scraping just over and over and Peter murmurs “Tell it to stop. I can’t bear the sound” and Susan looks up and cries out “Can you not see? He is bored by a gull!” and at which many of the Town Council run over to offer a hand and one of them in a resplendent waistcoat says that if Susan has some cash perhaps a thousand pounds he can arrange for a medical policy for this dreadful situation or perhaps nine hundred or perhaps eight hundred or perhaps seven hundred or perhaps six hundred or perhaps five hundred and Susan beside herself opens her wallet and gives him five hundred and Peter, bleeding out now, his last words “Susan! I beg of you! Gulled by a bore!” at which he passes away. “And I,” said the Bull “because I can pull, I’ll toll the bell.”


There is no running water the waitress said so I went to the next one and they had it and I was reading my book there. The tables are out in the sun and quite close together. Such a great book. So promising. At this moment in time I am on page 27. Behind me a man said Don’t cough on my head. A woman at another table said I did not cough on your head. He said You’re sitting right behind me and you coughed on my head. He said this quite unpleasantly two or three times. There was a scraping of chairs so I looked round and this woman and her friend were moving to another table. I didn’t want to be seen to study this man but he had bristles and was about 27 I would say. He said to the woman he was with, who might have been his mother or his aunt or possibly a business acquaintance Disgusting. Saliva and dirt. She coughed right on my head. Cunt. The woman called over to the other women You were too close. I wanted them to leave not because of anything but so I could study them without appearing to do so. After a few minutes during which he took a short business call quite politely, considering, they left. His arm was livid but it was actually a tattoo with red areas. He had a dog on a lead. Although I could only see the back end of the dog I knew it was a husky. Quite a big one. Perhaps they are generally big.

Petra & Rory Try on Their Father’s Suits by David Gale
The two kids Petra after that rock city you have to squeeze into and Rory. They were playing this game where they played at being their father when he was five. Petra and Rory were doing something quite difficult: they were reproducing their father’s disappointments that he had had when he was five but they were also using what they understood of his later life and its travails. (You have to admire these kids.) They asked for his suits which is when he saw what they were up to. They were like six and seven. In that area. Petra (7) says “When he saw his dog crying in the rain” and Rory (6) says “When he goes to the shop and his trousers fall down.” Petra says “Are you sure?” Rory says “They all shouted Get Out Mister Filthy!” Petra falls silent then cries “His shame! His great shame!” As one the youngsters wailed “And only five!”


There was a group of people there in deckchairs holding up negatives. They had bottles of water and some careful creams.
“One of us found them in a box,” they said.
“In their own house or some other location?” I enquired.
“One or the other,” they replied.
Another of them said “We certainly enjoy looking at them.”
“Negatives,” I said.
“We actually don’t know what they are. From some earlier day, judging by the dust.”
“They’re for making photographs.”
“Okay. These show people you can’t tell who they are. Walking in this dark light. It’s like velvet. You wonder if you can hear footfalls. They take a long time coming towards you. You don’t know where they’re coming from. Dark roads. Doors. Anything could happen. What must the interiors be like? Animals, probably animals, brush by, quite low. A bottle rolls off a table. You don’t know if it’s safe. It’s probably safe.”


The Dear Little Rabbit by David Gale
I had this flat white in Nero I used to get cappuccino but then I thought Dave get in the outside lane man. I shouted out (in Nero) “Look at this it’s a Dear Little Rabbit how far out is that?” Soon people were all round my table. Mostly they agreed but one person goes “It’s more like a hoodoo.” Then this next person goes “Like a horned man figure.” Then this individual goes “I think you mean voodoo.” “I know what I fucking mean lady” replies the first patron. That does it. This huge fight bursts out – fists, cutlery, some proper weapons. In this whole fracas I look down and the flat white is gone. I shout “A robber has taken it!” They yell “Let’s get this robber!” and they all pile out.


So I was in Exeter and I found a house to live in. Further down the street things were looking up for Helen. Paul had broken up with Tanya and was, therefore, in theory, available. She bumped into him at The Sad Shandy (nothing to do with anybody’s mood). (There is a bar in Paris that I have visited called The Depressed Shark (Le Requin Chagrin). It seemed perfectly jolly. But back to Helen.) Helen and Paul found they had things in common. They both found this. I suppose you could say that people don’t go to places just because of the name. I mean obviously it happens but not that much.


Incited by incidents both behind and before me I broke into a full pelt. Better to see what’s coming than be Mark or Patsy in the footchase. My speed was soon such that had I turned to look back I would have careered from my path and lost ground. The buildings and hedgerows were now so blurred that they could have been each other such was my fleetness. I could hear my own jagged pants. But what if I were dashing towards something just as bad as the pounding and groaning dogging my sprinting? ‘Dave,’ I said ‘give me 100% and I’ll give you 100%.’ To careen might just be the ticket. I would fling myself to the side as if urgently called to the phone and the parties would impale each other. I got that feeling that you get when you get near Exeter.


Dear Friends, thank you for your very kind and warm Birthday Wishes yesterday (40 at last, eh?) which I shall incubate on my imminent short trip to Paris courtesy of my daughters in order that when I return I shall be able to deliver a more substantial message replete with strong narrative, well rounded and characterful characters of considerable depth each of which will be situated on a soaring and swooping developmental arc with mischievous plot twists.


The Directorate was concerned that the standard of recognition phrases, sometimes known as paroles, was deteriorating. It was determined that whilst retaining their apparent ordinariness, they should be extended in order to eliminate the small but potentially catastrophic possibility that a civilian would be able unwittingly to complete the parole and become thereby the recipient of classified information.
I sat down on the agreed bench in the park. In a moment I was joined.
– Do you like the Hit Parade?
– I follow the Top Ten.
– Are there favourites that you have?
– I have a dog.
– My brother is like you in that regard.
– What is his name?
– Gerald.
– Is he is fond of contact sports?
– He is good in the air.
– There are larks above one street but not another.
– Who knows what it is that animates them?
– In Italy I felt for a moment that I understood them.
– The larks?
– You are a naturalist, I see.
– I bleed by the black stream for my torn bough.


We got through January one of the worst months but February let’s not kid ourselves is just as shot I mean shit it’s just closer to the longer days. What is it with March? Every year they say ‘Oh we’re going to finish this whole summer time winter time clocks thing this year’ and do they fuck? Fuck no. I was reading in this really good book I’m reading the word came up: gravesite. Well that’s not particularly unusual. We know how to pronounce it. But what if it was a mineral? You wouldn’t call it gravesite. It would be in the same area of woods as haematite, magnesite, zeolite. So it wouldn’t be grave as in Gravesend for instance but grav as in gravity which means it would be: gravesite – a mineral. Not grav–site but slightly more like gravessite. Anyway.


As you know, I write a number of films every day. At the moment I am working on one called ‘Get a Bigger Table’, set in the world of championship jigsaw puzzle competitions. I hope to sign Anya Taylor-Joy to play Susan, a young but prodigiously talented assembler aspiring to compete in the WJPC Championship in Valladolid in June. I’m currently working through the crucial semi-final scene where Susan, working on a large 32,000 piece panorama depicting a busy cattle roundup, is perturbed to find that she is nearing the edge of the table. The puzzle already extends to three of the available edges and it is quite clear when you look at the volume of as yet uninserted pieces that the puzzle, if completed, will exceed the width of the table. A bigger one is needed! Susan continues to assemble, using her signature one-handed assess/select/insert technique. The rising urgency of the soundtrack by John Powell (‘The Bourne Ultimatum’, ‘How to Train Your Dragon’) is mixed forward over the soft click of cardboard pressed into cardboard. Susan bites her lower lip. She completes a column that brings the pieces to within millimetres of the edge. She starts to assemble another column…the pieces are actually overhanging the edge of the table! Even as we watch in BCU they begin to pull away under their own weight! They are falling to the floor! I’m not sure what happens next, perhaps we see more. In Europe you could finish there but other people will want to cut back to Susan.


I gathered and bunched ranktoad, dogbottom lily, worts, cowberry and fuchsias. I bound and wrapped them loosely and laid them to the side with my day clothes so that they would not crush each other or cross-pollinate in such a way that hybrids could arise. At the yoga class we did the downcast dog, the pulling person and the sea eagle after which I learned that Michael will come to your house with his reasonable hair services. Will he take his clippings with him? I wondered. While I did not want them myself I did not want them to be taken away somewhere.


It was when I realised that my wondering if my use of the larger breadboard would upset the smaller breadboard was a sign that I should get out that I did. Sometimes I walk with my head up and sometimes it is down. But it’s not that I was looking out for anything or that I was near any grocers or kerbed refuse from Tesco or similar. No. I can’t remember where it was but perhaps it was a particular kind of thought that made me look down but anyway on this occasion it was a whole cucumber as if it had dropped from a tree of them. Except that it was wrapped in plastic. I must confess I found that rather special as if it had been in a flight attendant’s hand moments earlier before they slipped in the galley when about to pep a bun and whoosh out it went and down. Unskied. I know that I have a small following that I am anxious to please. It would be a shame if they thought He makes shit up.


1.1 Their world was the same as ours in every respect but then I discovered that Cliff Richard and The Shadows (formed in 1958), well known to successive generations in our country, were known there as Cliff Richard and The Shadders. I said “Don’t you mean The Shadows?” and they said “What’s that?” and I said “It’s Cliff Richard and The Shadows” and they said “That’s not even a word.” I said “So what does Shadders mean then?” They said “It just sounds good – it doesn’t have to mean anything. It’s just a pop name.” When I said so what do you call it when there’s a light behind something and it throws a dark shape on the ground before the thing? They said “Like an outline? We call it an outline.” I realised that not everything has to have a special name and different cultures would evolve their own decisions on such matters.

1.2 But what of the failing of the light when outlines may seem to teem? What of the places where lowlifes tangle? The passages having insufficient lamps? The dapples in a copse? The certitude that is beyond a tiny amount of a doubt? Are these things lost? The falling of glooms, the gardens stifled in shrubs, the fleeting disdain of those sensing disdain, their sense of the shower beneath the show, an elusive out of the corner of the eye like the fox at dusk, the amateur shot straight into the light when the camera shuts down and your friend is silhouetted, the faux pas that is ignored by the group but casts nevertheless a cloud over proceedings, all the hints, the feints, the fainting, the vapours? If they are not named how can they be of life, Hank? Jet? Bruce? Tony? Anyone?


Spent the weekend working on Bonkers, my clown. Anxious to get back in the saddle. Got in touch with Gwen, my costumier. “These trousers should be about right,” she said. They were ill-tailored and flecked with what looked like soup and mud. “They will stand for my shame. Fantastic, Gwen!” I said. She reached for the upper garment. “This is dreampop trancepolitics,” she said, running her hand over the many many fabrics and their startling rents. “I cannot wait to start wisecracking and capering,” I told her.


Ply Father is the magazine from the fertile lands dealing with joinery and it is attracting attention along with the other coming magazine Farr Number. They are coming out of areas out near Ipswich. The Ply Father place is in tousled grass and set back from the road. Peter, the person at the place, said “Yes, it is multi-layered like strong working woods.” And then over to Farr Number which is a movable feast insofar as it caters to groups of people who move around the country and maybe do not visit the city frequently. Susan who is one of the organisers says that “The people expect the issues to be readily available and we are proud to do that.”


Thank you Dear Friends for your kind greetings on my Birthday – they put a spring in my step so I decided to go out and correct some lingering imbalances. ‘Hello Mrs Carter I said to her at her door I just want to let you know that you were the inspiration for what might have struck you, had you read it, as an ill considered depiction of certain of your qualities that you may have found quite unlike you and if this is the case then please hold me in low esteem such as like with an old rag in the street or a part of a shoe or a desolate place of toppled oil drums She interrupted ‘Mrs Carter moved I’m afraid to another house a while ago leaving no forwarding address Fucking hell I said couldn’t you have mentioned that at the off? You didn’t give me a chance she said.’


Dawn so I too got out of bed. I was walking along a street of homes. I knocked on some doors because of curiosity. A guy said ‘Is that Armed Police! Armed Police!’ I said ‘No. I’m not shouting that.’ He said ‘Where’s the man who stands to the side with the big door ram as you run in?’ I said ‘No, Peter. It’s not that. Look – I’m already in! We don’t need that.’ He said ‘This is, I suppose, an average home for this street.’ I said ‘Well, you know, you always have that curiosity, don’t you?’ Peter said ‘I don’t, actually.’ I said ‘I meant “you” as in “people generally.”’ ‘Okay, good then,’ Peter said ‘I suppose I’ll be back to bed then.’ I sat down on the settee and rested for a while. Peter, I think he said.


I really shouldn’t be doing this. No-one will believe me. I know that what people like is that they know where they are. In this letter Dear David I so like how you sometimes put vegetables in like you did a few days ago with celery on the Facebook. Well thank you Susan but I also like a bit of variety which is why Today’s Picture is problematic because people will think I’ve run out of ideas but the truth is it was just there at least a mile away from the celery a few days ago. I’m not one of these people who think Wow Two Celeries in 10 days Am I Connecting with Something Bigger? I’m really not. But if you had seen two celeries don’t you think you would want to tell people?


1.1 To take my mind off things I thought I would go to see the Archers Hello Dan his forearms and face were sunbeaten. Hello David he said warmly How is the writing for performance going? Well, I can’t say it’s busy Dan. What about your crops in the ground Dan, tell me about them I’d love that. Well the wheat is largely drilled to keep them warm by now Dan replied. Yes of course I said Yes. And how is Doris? I’m afraid she passed away in 1980 David Dan said. I knew that but it’s a shame I said. I used to listen with my mother you know Dan, way back. Was Doris alive then Dan asked? Oh yes, very much so. Dan nodded quietly.


1.2 Yo Piglet! I cried. Dan was affable enough but his memory seemed imperfect. I asked him to direct me to the Hundred Acre Wood, thinking that might take my mind off him. It was a three day journey by dray and cart along holloways drawn by farm animals. So, Piglet, I said to the fretful creature between the great trees scarcely sliced by light. Do you see Pooh much? He hung his head. We’ve kind of got out of touch he said. But is he still living in a tree or whatever? I don’t know, Christopher Robin, he said hesitantly. For fuck’s sake, Piglet! I’m not fucking Christopher Robin – he died in 1996! Oh. Oh. Okay. He shuffled back to the shadows to the damp sticks the fallen fruit.


1.3 Dan Archer of The Archers said Right Piglet if I’m to have you in full mud then we’d best have that jerkin off. It’s not a jerkin it’s a body said the mournful and reclusive small animal. My goodness Dan said in his warming voice And what is that can I ask he enquired. It’s a one piece garment came back The Piglet It’s very practical. Well you’d better slip it off now you’ll be comfy enough in your new home. I’ve always worn it Dan, this plaintively. That’s because of your retiringness said the wise countryman who had in fact died some time ago. There will be many warm swine of like mind in the facility Dan continued. You can catch up there. It feels rash The Piglet ventured. To stay in this place of dull silence and ragged moss would be rasher was Dan Archer’s rejoinder. Please don’t use that word Dan begged the little thing.


Then he said, a propos of nothing, out of the blue, I know where she takes walks on her own sometimes. I went over there never thinking for a moment and there she was. No bodyguards nothing. Smoking. Looking at the horse. So I said by way of an icebreaker We don’t see you round these parts often and she said Well yeah I’m exempt from human experience and I said Wow how do you get that? She said I don’t know really you kind of realise you are. Is that all the time can you turn it on and off, I enquired. She said I have no means of telling. I said Okay, thank you Ma’am.


It was dark in the park early and rain started to come in. There were people around pleased to get out despite that. I thought I could sense a kerfuffle. Over by one side along some paths I saw the body of an enormous horse. I mean practically as big as two cars. There were families looking at it with children and their dogs. I realised that some of them had small electric saws, Makita, Bosch etc. On the whole it was a respectful feeling. From time to time an individual would step forward and start their saw and saw off the leg or the head of the horse. I said Will you eat it? They said That’s the idea. We’ve got tarpaulin.


On my walk I’m writing to the bus app people Why the fuck does your fucking app tell me 11 minutes so I’m walking up the hill and the bus goes right past 2 minutes later what fucking use is this to me? You know. It’s not like this particular bus is common it’s fucking rare like miss one and you could write a fucking sonnet before the next one. About 40 years ago I’m walking along and there’s Eva Marie Saint who played Edie in ‘On the Waterfront’ (1954) with Marlon Brando on the other side of the street and I smile politely and she smiles. That was what it was like. This picture says it all.


I did some things but then it was half past 11 in the morning so I fell asleep. I wrote some short films about 5 or 6 but they were in my head not written down. It would be good to monetise them but I know they are not commercial. I mean really short like forty seconds max. I went for a walk and on the ground I saw some celery. About half a stick. Not a bunch but as if cut from a bush. I should have photographed it but it was dusk. The picture is alright but it is not dusk.


The Falls

In those days Princess Margaret of the Royal Family would walk about unconcernedly with just one bodyguard, that’s probably him at the back, and she would go to the shops or have a cup of tea somewhere. You’d see her around and some people would say “Good Morning Princess” and she would smile briefly. When I saw her I would sometimes follow her and one day a blue car came up that I didn’t notice but she did and saved me. Apparently I went into shock and would not speak.
Earlier that day my sister, who was called Susan, was walking her dog Michael along in the dusty end of the town where there were no kerbs and you could start to see the countryside coming and there was a lorry that she didn’t notice carrying produce at speed and she was probably thinking about something and the roar was in her ears almost too late but Michael assayed the situation in a trice and used his shaggy paws in the small of her back and thank goodness both parties were intact as the lorry proceeded on.
Alan, Princess Margaret’s bodyguard, sped me towards Buckingham Palace where I could wait until I regained the power of speech. Neither Alan, nor Margaret (she said no need to call me Princess, little one) nor I were aware that a tiny girl who had been playing in the shadow of the V8 Pilot as it sped towards Kensington Palace had been scooped up by the speeding car and was clinging to the grille supported only by the bumper. The girl was Christine, Alan’s niece not that he knew this until he stopped having sensed that the car was overheating at which point he lifted her carefully up not for a moment taking his eyes off the Princess whom it was his main job to protect.
On our way to the Palaces Alan stopped to get a packet of Craven “A” from a café whether these were for the Princess or himself is not known. He was gone for some time and when he came back he was markedly dishevelled (ébouriffé the Fr) and he explained that even as he was concluding his purchase the ceiling had collapsed of the café and down into it cascaded a man and a woman in their pajamas that was what it was like then sexually who bashfully said that the vigour with which they had been making a love-making session had critically exposed weaknesses in the joists then the lath and plaster of the ceiling beneath that floor.
The thunderous café collapse placed in jeopardy structures along the street down to the park and the small menagerie from which strolled the lion into the room where swathed abed in swaddling lay like a minuscule jewel the child which only moments ago the lady had been singing to sweetly but now her open carry acquaintance strove to tame the beast and it could be said that it was this that enraged the lion I remember when my first daughter was born people said don’t let the cat sleep on her but Lulu kind of seemed to know which side her bread was buttered and was respectful. I mean I’m not saying you would want to put this to the test in this particular situation but maybe it just wanted to lick it or something.
I stood to one side of the great bedroom of Queen Elizabeth and her royal husband the Prince Philip as they looked lovingly down on either their first or second child it is not clear. They understood that I had been struck dumb by the accident but they said ‘Please hang around if you want’ and their quality was very restful. I was thinking ‘Hey, I could even pretend to be more dumb and get to hang with these for longer, just checking out the whole scene here.’ But you know it was an island of calm after all the dire happenings and I found a rising urge to speak and there was a loosening of the connection between my tongue and the cold paralysis occasioned by my inches away from near death in the street escape.
I told the young Royal Parents that I could not shake off the memory of an incident at my mother’s wedding where to the startlement of all present flames roared from her head and shoulders scorching her garments and hair. The Prince Philip asked me Were you in your mother’s womb at the time? I said I don’t know and The Prince said Do the Math. Queen Elizabeth the Queen said to him ‘Phil that’s a bit much isn’t it?’ He said Look would you like to be trapped in a small space for months on end? Don’t you think it would make you very angry? At which The Queen said ‘You’re not saying that this little boy set his mother aflame?’ Philip the Royal Husband said You know just saying
After what the Royal Prince had said I realised that in that part of my mind where the past resides I had no memories of my mother at all. Was this due to my remorse at my having caused her to combust from within or simply that I was still in shock from the blue car that had loomed and the Princess who had swooped and taken me up? Or was there concrete organic damage to key parts of the limbic system of my brain of which of course as a small boy I knew nothing but then I saw a fleeting image and knew that I had seen it many times before it was my mother in headlong descent pellmell holding two boys one me one who? A brother? Had I had one once?
Thank heavens for that! For a moment it seemed as if a terrible ugliness was abroad but into whose firm outflung arms should my mother almost at the flagstones tumble but those of a decent bloke called Paul Dexter who was coming back from a convenience store and became my father shortly thereafter so you could say she had fallen in love which is always reassuring and as for the little boys well you know the phrase My memory serves me well in this case we can add the qualification ‘but not accurately’ because those boys never reached the ground they are up there somewhere and sometimes on a quiet night you can hear them going ‘What the fuck?’

Serial I

First published in Facebook 02.01.2019 – 17.01.2019