Thursday, 10 July 2008

The Dead That Never Lived: The Film

Hi Guys

So, it's the end of the project. For now at least.
I'm proud of what we managed to achieve over the 3 days of rehearsals.
Thanks again for all your work and support.

I've just finished editing together the recording we made on the night. It's up on Google Video for all to see. (I've put a slightly shorter version up as well for my own publicity purposes.)

Please embed the film into as many websites, etc, as you have access to. It will really help with the hit-rate and allow a much wider audience to enjoy the show. My biggest regret of the project is that after so much thought and preparation, only 50 people got to see the finished product.

There's a chance we might get to do a tour of the show next year. It may not be exactly the same show, but I will keep all participants in the loop. Watch this space.

I'd like to leave this blog up here as an archive of how the show came together. Feel free to keep using it. Make note of any parts of the production that you felt needed to be developed / cut / etc. That way, if we manage to get a touring grant next year, we can already have a plan of action.

Disjecta Membra,

Ross Sutherland

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Death Does Indeed Never Fuckin' Stop

The Dead That Never Lived could live on....

Last week's show was a fantastic event for a number of reasons. Not simply because the final show was an amazing beast in itself, but because the process was really exciting - a really unique
creative practice opportunity for a range of artists to work together on creative practice development with poetry/live literature as the focus.

A number of the artists/writers/performers involved are interested in continuing to meet in Newcastle, forming a kinda multi-media word collective to develop ideas for future events. So if you're up for this keep bloggin.....although I feel like I'm in deep that the show's there anybody out there....?

The next event will be Word Circus Xmas Finale on the 3 July where we sadly say goodbye to Ross - our fantastic Director, Lead Artist and Performance Poet in Residence.....Sob....!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Well done You Deadstars!!!

Just a brief message to say a huge thank you to all you writers and performers for your contribution to Voodoo Word Circus: The Dead That Never Lived. The show was fantastic following an incredible collective process both here on this blog and over the last 3 days at The Mining Institute in Newcastle.

TDTNL will be online within the next 3 weeks or so, so watch out for the show in full!

I'll be writing a more detailed review of the show and the process next week when I get me brain cells back and have had some sleep.


Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Your Obituaries Wanted

Hi Deadsters

Love the photos of the new venue, eh?

Well, I have in addition a lil' request from those of you taking part in the production.

We will be putting a little 'In Memoriam' programme for The Dead That Never Lived featuring our cast/crew /writers and we'd like to include a short obituary for each person. Think of how you might like to have shuffled off this mortal coil and what say a short 2 line obit could say about you...

If you could post them onto this blog for inclusion in our programme alongside running order and the lyrics for Death Never Fucking Stops that would be fab. It would be good if you could post them by, say, early next week??

Go easy on the Bizarre Gardening Accidents Mind.....


New venue

Here is our new venue- approx 100's a masonic lecture hall. Here we're looking down at the 'stage'. I suggest we put the newsdesk at the back and the lectern at the front. There's doors directly to the left and right of the stage which lead off to antechambers, in case we need a backstage.

Here's the space at the back of the room for the band. We leave them out in the lobby until after the audience is seated, then seal 'em in with brass.

Nice big wall to project onto.

Previous presidents of the Masons line the walls. Ooooo.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Dead That Never Lived Residency and Production - the latest!

Hello Dead That Never Lived but Very Much Alive Artists

Voodoo Word Circus : The Dead That Never Lived main event in Newcastle is not long now!

This is just a quick update on things, especially for all of you that are participating in the event

Where and when?

As many of you will know by now, The Round took a sad and sudden demise earlier this month and has now closed down. The new venue for VWC is The Mining Institute, Westgate Road in Newcastle NE1 1SE Tel. 0191 233 2459 (opposite Revolution Bar for you revellers!) It’s a fantastic old neo-Gothic building and Victorian Lecture Theatre – pictures of it are gonna be available here over the next couple of days.

The dates for the 3 day residency are however the same and are:

Tuesday 10 June from 10am – 5pm
Wednesday 11 June from 10am – 5pm
Thursday 12 June from 9am onwards with the show starting at 8pm

What do I need to do before the residency?

By now most – if not all of you – will have been in contact with Ross to develop your pieces prior to the 3 days. It’s really important that you come to the 3 days with as complete lines / parts learned as you can. There will be the opportunity to develop ideas over the 3 days, but it is important that the basics of what we are doing in place so that we can make it as smooth a process as possible culminating in a fantastic show.

Dress code: As you will have gathered, the show is strongly reminiscent of a funeral congregation. Apart from a couple of you that we are organising specific costume requirements for, come wearing the following: white shirt, black tie, black jacket or blazer and dark trousers. If any of this is going to be difficult for you to source get in touch with Claire now (Claire’s number is 0785 474 8846)

Will I be reimbursed expenses?

If you are performing we will reimburse up to the first £10 per day of travel expenses per participant (£15 if you are coming from outside Tyne and Wear). For this we will need travel tickets or receipts. If you are coming by car we can reimburse you at 40p per mile up to the first £10 of your costs per day. A light lunch and tea/coffee will be provided each day for participants. Early birds will get tea/coffee and biscuit if they get there at 9.30am or 8.30 on the Thursday! We will also provide a light evening meal on Thursday 12th, to keep you going before the big event!

Can I buy tickets for Voodoo Word Circus: The Dead That Never lived?

Tickets are £6 each and will be for sale on the door on the night. If anyone would like to reserve tickets before the event then they can get in touch with Claire and she will put people’s names down on the list. For you folks who have contributed work to this blog which is being included in the show give me a shout and we'll sort you a comp!

If I have any further questions, who can I contact?

Claire Morgan, Artistic Director for Monkfish Productions, at or on 0785 474 8846

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Charles Manson

Here are my films for the Charles Manson section of the show.

No visuals up until PIG gets written on the mirror at the end of 'Jay Sebring". Then this happens:

The next poem starts after it goes back to static, then Manson appears onscreen for the first stanza. After that I ended the film because it seemed distracting.

The next film happens mid-way through 'Wipe Out" after Angela says "They wouldn't understand the process / Let's do it for Charlie". Rather than do ambient visuals, I've done a short film with sound (its a poem by Manson) the action stops while this happens. When it finishes, Shirley starts speaking at the lectern: "Their bald heads glow under the courtroom lights"

The next film plays silently in the background of the interview scene. It's nothing special- just an unedited program on Manson. This version has sound but I'll mute it.

Finally, as the last poem ends, I made this film to cap it off:

I wanted this final film to show how these murders have become fiction themselves. For me, this footage completes the circuit, creating an endless recycling process. Recycling death, I guess.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Death Never Fucking Stops

So, here's my stab at the hymn, to be sung at the end of the event. It's written to the tune of 'He Who Would Valiant Be', also known as 'To Be A Pilgrim'. It's now called 'Death Never Fucking Stops'. Full credit to Mike for the title and the idea... this piece started as a list poem that he sent me. I kept a few of the images.

It's not syllable-by-syllable perfect- you have to mash/elongate a couple of the words. This poem is completely public domain so feel free to rewrite and repost.

Death never fucking stops;
He puts the hours in.
Always against the clock
No sleigh to pull him.
Each bullet fo’llowed,
Wrists to open, eyes to close.
Constant parties to throw
Off tops of buildings.

Death never fucking stops
He works and plays hard:
Hanging out in Camden Lock,
Snogging Jodie Marsh.
Masks sold at rock concerts,
Buckcherry tee-shirts,
Gnarly joss stick holders.
Death is well wicked.

Death never fucking stops;
No time for callbacks.
All fire escapes are blocked
On a large enough map.
He’s got a Saab to crash
A crowded lift to shaft
A jam session with Slash
And then he’ll kill him.

OK, so now try singing it along to the hymn:

Good! Now again, with more intensity!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Niagara: Marilyn film

First draft of the film to be projected behind the 'Niagra' poem from the Marilyn Monroe series...

Friday, 16 May 2008

Running order

Hello, hello. So this is the current running order I imagine for TDTNL: it's not completely finalised, but its getting there. I don't really want to go over 70mins- after all, it's an intense show. Currently I think we're pretty close to that top limit. Putting something new in means taking something else out, which I don't really want to do.

0. (As audience are entering:) "Electric Voice Phenomenon" (video)
1. "George Aligayah" by Jon Osbourne (performed by James Fisher)
2. "Ghost Town" by The Specials (played by the 10th Street Band, with video montage)
3. "Sermon Intro" by Ross Sutherland (performed by Ross Sutherland)
4. "The Impossible Deathbed Lament Of Scrooge McDuck" by Tim Clare (performed by Tim Clare)
5. "Snow White finally succumbs" by Moxy (video)
6. "Andy Lippincott" by Jeff price (performed by Viv Wiggins)
7. [Song] by Ben Holland
8. "Rutger Haur" by Ross Sutherland (performed by Simon Hymes)
9. "Lon Cheney" by Claire Morgan (video)
10. "Marilyn poems"x3 by Angela Readman (performed by Angela White, Amanda Fearnehough & Shirley Lewis)
11. [song] by the 10th Street Band
12. "Grim Reaper" by Mike Edwards (performed by Mike Edwards)
13. "The 23786th Day" by Emma Hammond (video)
14. "Manson Family poems" by Jo Colley (performed by Angela White, Amanda Fearnehough & Shirley Lewis)
15. "Election" by Simon Hymes and Robbie Hurst (video)
16. "Autopsy" by Ross Sutherland (performed by Robbie Hurst, Viv Wiggins, Steve Urwin & Claire Morgan)
17. "Dog-eared death" by Moxy (performed by Moxy)
18. "Death Never Fucking Stops" by Ross Sutherland & Mike Edwards (performed by entire cast)
19. "Sermon close" by Ross Sutherland (performed by Ross Sutherland)

Jesus, that's one hefty mother-hubbard. My apologies to all those who submitted material that didn't make the cut. More often than not, those decisions were based on which work I could find audio-visual collaborators for. Some great stuff was rejected on the ground that it too far from the original conceit to justify inclusion.

Let me talk though the show thematically, or at least the way I see it: the first half of the show deals explicitly with the deaths of famous fictional characters. At "Rutger Hauer", things shift into the mediation of dying actors. Then, with the arrival of the Grim Reaper himself at no.12, we find ourselves on the other side of the looking glass. Fictional death can no longer be distinguished from reality, as we travel through the Manson poems, towards the surreal dogma of Moxy's 'Dog-eared Death" piece. Now that the logic og the show has disintegrated, the entire cast (along with the audience) sing a song. Namely, "Death Never Fucking Stops", which I'll post up here in a minute. It's written to the tune of the old hymn "To Be a Pilgrim", accompanied by the 10th Street Band. Then I close the show with a quote from The Incredible Shrinking Man. Then we get drunk, go to bed, and the next day is the first day of the rest of our lives.

So, not so much a narrative arc as a slow descent into madness. But I think it works.

The Story of Agnew Bis

Local dogs are attached to the hook of a 70 metre crane
By their extendable leads.
Agnew Bis, the operator, with a bank of cctv monitors guiding his lever,
Gently draws them along their respective streets.
All the dogs he walks have undergone radical surgery:
Removal of the left side of their brain.
The technical term is 'hemispherectomy.'

The crane operator, Agnew Bis, occupies a cab slotted
65 metres into the sky. He says, 'Let me refresh your glass,'
Before applying a chamois to the inside of his four identical windows.
Latex coated wipers sluice the outside
Leaving a thickening cuticle of ash and particulate
Puffed from the nearby fluted steel chimney.

Following a period of post-operative convalescence,
All the dogs routinely stockpile detritus,
Storing it between gum and cheek.
By the end of their walk, their jaws are swollen beyond recognition.
Some owners have fitted the dogs with wicker panniers
And taught them to distribute their finds first to the right,
Then to the left.
The council is now considering payment of a small fee
In recognition of the dogs' assistance in the fight against fouling --
If a dog dungs, the succeeding post-operative dog
Will always gather it up.
This is a fully realised urban ecological cycle.

The hollow in their canine skulls is quickly filled
With an expanded right hemisphere.
The new brain tissue is smooth
With the grey matter like the flush of growth following a razor.

For the past month, Agnew Bis has watched the dogs
Calibrating lamp posts and post boxes with their urine,
Organising a pissing rota that has the tallest breeds visiting first
And then allowing an interval of time to pass
So a visible residue is established,
Before the next dogs piss.
Each successive dog is smaller than his predecessor

Bitches have created a rota that spirals outwards
From a hub.

Exactly why the dogs and bitches require
A means of measurement is unclear.
However, Agnew Bis has observed a physiological change
In their hind paws. The pads have fused, the digits have elongated.
They more and more resemble human feet.
Agnew Bis recalls having read that Julius Caesar's favourite horse
Had feet identical to its rider.

A bird, possibly a hoopoe, regularly visits the derrick
And inches down the gantry,
Liming it with the precision of a groundsman or groundswoman
Defining a pitch.

Following the removal of a tumour,
Inside the skull of Agnew Bis
Is the surgically transplanted left hemisphere
Of a German Shepherd Dog.
After his operation, he was sent to puppy school.

The crane is also a Foucault’s pendulum
The dependant chain registers the earth's rotation
And swings in a broad figure of eight
Which Agnew Bis has to correct before the dogs he walks
Are coerced into unfamiliar routes by physics.

Occasionally, he is buzzed by hang gliding graffiti artists.
They have tagged the fluted steel chimney opposite.
Agnew Bis fights them off with a high power water gun
Filled with bacterially ravaged eye drops.
Despite their protective goggles,
The hang gliding graffiti artists plunge to earth
With severe conjunctivitis.

Agnew Bis sleeps in the cab of his crane
Wrapped in 5 layers of medical examination-table paper.
His vitrine is the waning moon.

20 metres below him
His lover is frozen with vertigo inside the hooped access ladder.
Her increasingly skeletonized form feeds the ideal of industrial beauty.

At night Agnew Bis uses the crane's hook
To ease the factories and houses
From their foundations, lifting one edge,

Letting the hoopoe in.

Then he listens to what remains of his lover's heartbeat
Crawling slowly through the metal.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Death of fictitious characters

Was thinking about the death of fictitious characters and remembered about this, so I thought that I'd post it.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Garden of Remembrance of The Serious Consequences Of Road Accidents, with Restaurant

The forecourt has a border of cracked prosthetic limbs
They intertwine by grip or lateral crossing
Their proximity
Dense enough to keep out dogs
And creeping infants

Each rejected transplant organ buried here
Retains the name of donor and recipient
On embossed plaques mimicking get well and condolence cards

In the Book of Memory
Boxed to resemble a pay and park vending machine
Visitors scribble anecdotes from the point
When time slowed down
Some pages are left blank
Others are blotched red when sufficient pressure was applied
To staunch bleeding from a major artery
And drive a pen through paper

There is a restaurant for those affected in any way
Where all meat is roasted after being opened, pinned
And prepped
And the cause of death recorded

Sauces simmer and evaporate
Like petrol when the engine’s gunning

Cotton wadding is suggested
By bread rolls peeled of crust

Soup of the day is borsch
Or cream of tomato

A calibrated, green light beam generated by the table decoration
Leans against every face
Pinpointing surgical reconstruction and automatically
Generating a 10% discount

Orders are taken via two-way radio
One notch beneath the emergency services’ protected bandwidth

Patrons are respectfully reminded that
Reservations will not be taken in advance

This Happened

A woman was executed and her body duly delivered to an institute
Where it was cleansed, shaved, bled, arranged, plattered
On an industrial stainless steel bed
And cut into transverse slices one millimetre thick
Each sliver lit scanned photographed processed logged
The whole reassembled digitally
And released on licensed software, as a download or CD Rom
For educative purposes

And a copy sent to her parents by recorded delivery
With a hand-penned message
From their daughter
And a compliment slip

And her father, attempting to configure which
Among the assorted protocols of bereavement
Would be the appropriate response
Whether to regard the CD Rom as remains
Or something he should pack into a coffin
And have the priest deliberate over
And classify and consign
And relinquish
And walk away from
Or whether he should feed the CD into the drive
And watch

He pressed play

At night in secret the mother printed off sufficient to produce
A face

She found
When the sheets were flicked like a children’s basic animation
The faint distortion of perspective created by the falling angle
Made something recognisable
An expression
Held then forsaken
For absolute passivity

Or maybe that was peace

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Ghost Town

Opening the show is a live rendition of Ghost Town by the 10th Street Band. Here are some visuals to go with it:

That Ol’ Fuddy Duddy Killer

That Ol’ Fuddy Duddy Killer

“Bald head
and fuzzy logic,
he always gave up
that inanimate
when burrowing
his head in the hole;
but only,
when the Brothers let him….”

In a ladies dress
the hunter shot him dead.
Lipstick smeared
with blood.
(Or was it the other way round?)
Teeth crooked
no carrot gold fillings
to steal
or pawn
or use as a souvenir.
Crocodile tears from a mammal?
Was he despicable?
Or just afraid that five minutes
were truly over.

Opening to show

Hi guys- just finished the first draft of my opening to The Dead That Never Lived. I'm keen to hear peoples thoughts. So, you have to imagine everyone in black tie, me at a lectern in full evangelical swing:

Brothers and sisters, we are gathered here today to give thanks. To pay our respects. To make tribute. To give hope and comfort to those left behind. And by “those left behind” I mean of course, “those brutally cheated out of any sense of reconciliation or justice.”

[Congregation: Amen!]

Yes, surprise, [pic of death] Death is unfair, no matter how much we pretend otherwise. If Death was a charming Edwardian jester that arrived at a predetermined date and vanished you away with a playful nod, he wouldn’t be called Death, he would be called Mr Claypole from Rentaghost. [Picture of Mr Claypole.] And we would have great fun watching him nonny about on a haunted pantomine horse, saying words like ‘gadzooks’ and ‘methinks’. But meanwhile, [pic of death] Death would still be out there, being Death, going about his business of indiscriminately killing people.

[Congregation: Amen!]

If only Mr Claypole was the fourth horseman, what a cripplingly wonderful world that would be. But it is a fiction, friends.

We have always looked to Fiction for a painless death. And verily, it gives it to us: hour after hour, night after night, beamed right into the comfort of our living rooms. A massacre in our own homes. Fiction, our great educator.

And so, we supplement the real with the virtual. We give death its soundtrack. We exchange rotting flesh for Michael Douglas. We hack open the skull and call it “Horror”. Horror! Who now knows what that means… ?

What is this New Death we have created? Brothers and sisters, we are trapped in the reflection of the silver screen, endlessly rehearsing our own demise. Displaced, anesthetised... Death: the end-of-series special.

No. No longer.

[Congregation: No longer!]

Let us not trivialize these deaths. Let us not reduce them to vapid allegory, plot devices and cancelled contracts. Let the dead be counted. Let us mourn! Let us reach out and touch them, as we have been touched by so many: [pictures for each] Catherine Earnshaw, Dr Zhivago, Arthur Fowler, Bonnie and Clyde, Bambi, Spock.

[Congregation: Amen!]

In death, each of these names has become more. Amongst the thousands of characters we have met throughout a lifetime of fiction. Of all the souls we have encountered on our travels, theirs are the most... [cf. Shatner at start of Search for Spock]….human.

If the cancellation of a programme is tantamount to its death, then the re-run is its resurrection. Death becomes a constant cycle, an unbroken circle…

[Ring of light appears around the lectern.]

…a never-ending circus of death and rebirth.

But tonight we break the chain. For one hour only: long enough to bury our past, once and for all. The television set, like the sun, has bathed us since birth in its lethal glow. And now that the sun has set and the cool of the evening has come, some of the warmth that we have absorbed is flowing back in the other direction.

Just long enough to give thanks. To pay respects. To make tribute. To give hope and comfort to those left behind. And by “those left behind” I mean of course, Us: The audience, the lost protagonists. Those of us who must go on beyond the end. Once the credits have rolled and the lights go up, we must leave the auditorium and face the horrors that lurk beyond the plot arc, our fates uncertain.

The reels of tape are boxed and stacked. The doors are locked. And the rest, as they say, is silence.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Cosmology Dud

Oh no, it’s the Entirely Hairless
Disreputable Philatelist
He predates chronology
He’s from Wayback When

Moonlight spattered motor-parts
And the missing pre-oiled Erwartung
Skydived a trajectory
Like a dandruff knocked from god

Meanwhile next door there’s the ill behaviour of a libidinal wraith
Famous for unsnapping brassieres
So the male ghost hunters attempting to communicate slip brassieres OVER their tee-shirts.
So the male ghost hunters attempting to communicate slip the brassieres UNDER their tee-shirts.
Ping. Result.
‘Unsnap two brassieres for ‘yes’ and one for ‘no,’ they repeat.
Ping ping
‘Thank you.’

Meanwhile, next door to them,
It’s the old quadratic formula
Isopods are uniting under a recipe that involves
Resuscitation of ingredients killed
In the usual transaction between
Nature and Cuisine

So soup’s off
And the cook serves bog in a deep tureen.
‘Dish it up yourselves,’ she smirks.
Everyone tucks in, except her.
Five minutes into the meal,
The swallowed bog is swallowing them,
Tipping them into itself intestines-first
So they’re still on their chairs but flipped inside out
And disappearing into a gurgle.

How do I know all this?
Well, I am the bee responsible for pocketing the decimal point.
My domicile’s a small resort
Where lightning’s fused the shoreline into glass.
I can categorically confirm that the numbers
1,2,3,4,5 are dead.
They shared the same ambition and it killed them –
They dreamed of being visually unchanged by distance
And were mauled by the horizon at Motherwell

Now when you think of the numbers
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5
You will experience these visions:
A buttock heaved into a goldfish bowl
A triangle orbiting an ambulance

No Parental Care/ Full Circle

He froze time with one bullet

(“my eyes burn”)


To miss me

But struck my future

Taking the city’s past

(“all I could be”)

for a spin

Now knee deep in love

As vengeance

(“And like the child down

a well”)

continuing to fall


in tarnished Armour

but feeling forever


But I now fear

I have


the dark

that I was lost in right

(“left turn,

Out of the city limits”)

at the beginning

of all this.

Saturday, 3 May 2008


Think butterfly

Spin the bottle is banned
Because of the
On the weather elsewhere
The reiterative vector of air disturbance
Certain Eastern nations may well interpret as
Acts of Aggression aimed at regimes remaining
Non-complicit with assorted Western Alliances

Spin the bottle means
Currents coiled into
The air blast differential of a bomb
A self-assembling bomb
Energetically stuffing momentum into its thump
Timed to explode half-a-world-away

Ethnicity is now a reversible butterfly
a proportionate volume
Like body mass index
Below you'll find
Specific regimes designed
To bulk
Or trim it
Order your plan now

Neither blandishment nor
But sensational overhaul

Means the death of bigotry

Opponents liken the exercises to
Coercive yoga
A series of sustained postures
But testimonials categorically proclaim
They trip a surge of
Platforms from which lightweight champions
Doodle on plywood scoreboards
Uniting the masses

Hate & dissonance
Require categories

Says who?

The louvered eyelids of the glimpsed-at-speed face
The fluffy blue tedium &
Atonal hum of custodial friendship
Says so

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Waiting For Deathot

He’s got
Genetically tampered necktie with primate speech capacity
He’s got
Facemask of bioluminescent algae
Working his skin into twinkles
He’s got
Disease that sounds like heavy metal
So doctors rig up stereo stethoscopes
His hospitalization resembles an air guitar convention
He’s got
Cadillacs in a pump dispenser
One press, out they leak clear of the kerb
Droopy and moist till sunlight acts as car assembly line
He’s got
‘60s disco go-go cage hooked to a brass propeller fan
He’s got
Golf course with the sand trap converted to mosh pit
And the Von Trapps converted to maggots
He’s got
Jesus swimming with dolphins in yob spit harvested from bus stops
He’s got
Astronauts with safari shorts pulled up over their spacesuits
He’s got
Concubines carved out of yak butter and he seats them
On the glacier incubating in his own chest freezer
He's got
Folk musicians in cast-iron diving helmets
So their lyrics sound like this, ‘mmmyeh mfgher mmyeh un’
He's got
Emotion resembling a split yellow pepper
Each seed encapsulating a harsh authoritarian stance
He's got
A knife that he offers hilt-first so you can
De-pith the gesture-lexicon of a potential dictator
He has
Wine corked with nightsticks
He has
All stained glass which is his tattooed arms
The biceps pumped by air hose clamped to his optic nerves
He has
Human species clustered on a pinhead
Like a dandelion clock
He has
Lips pursed ready to puff
Soon as he can control
His giggling

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

The Catastrophic Distinction Boundary Begins Anew

He stepped out of his trousers!
He planted a sapling in the crumpled round of each leg --
They were Cenozoic stressed denims
Bleached to suggest his Holocene credentials:
Femur, tibia, fibula and phallus

The sky’s slithering down
Its blue colloidal slick
Succumbing to gravity
In a decade the sky will coat the earth
To a depth of no more than three hundred hands
No less than a thumb
It will be a new Geological Era

The Dead will be slotted into the jet stream
They will become veined with igneous lightning
Grave goods will include
Swallow and snow-goose migratory paths

And the Earth will issue a set
Of lapis glazed
Commemorative tectonic plates

Vinyl-billed crow
Observing from an Inselberg
Has hair bunched under her wing joints
Which she crisps with deodorant
She's chain chewing gobbets
And calling in a gruff oracular monotone,
‘More, more!’
Her feet fusing to the requisite shape
For kitten heels

Monday, 28 April 2008

Pet Name Cemetery

'What did you just call me?' she asks
'What's that?', I stage-murmur, eyes like vices, 'huh?'
'What did you just call me?' repeated. The wrong kind of helpful.
My skull is a farmyard, there

a horse called 'problem' breaks into a trot
There's some sort of scraping downstairs.
I giggle a sob. I know what is scraping.
In a chalky second, I realise: it's here.

Tonight has been coming for weeks.
I hosed down the spade just Saturday gone
chasing crumbs of loam down through the gravel
breath-fogged, pristine backdrop, my flawless denial

In this town there's a place nobody talks about
As we shop for supplies and try to forget old loves
It's why nobody questions a disappearance
It makes us our monsters and makes monsters of us

Each night cars wait in the rain at the gate
Their boots gaping open; toothless and drooling
while figures shuttle in the dark for spades
for evergreen wreathes, for a cigarette's calm.

Each returns one last time for a stiff little bundle
and, glugging grief, carries it down into gloom
They can barely dig the tiny graves for crying
I know because I've have watched them.

I've seen what it takes to bury a Baby
I can tell you where Darling was laid when it died
I know where to dig if you want to find Sweetcheeks
I know what they done
with Sexybum

This is the secret of the Pet Name Cemetery
What you bury there never stays buried
Each cutesy word cooed claws its way through
and dappled with rot crawls back

we've all heard the stories
but scoff or solemnly promise that we won't ever
get so desperate. 'Better' we say 'to learn to forget,
to treat each pet name as the last' but still
-but still the plots get filled

on one night of weakness I was one of them
Found a spot in the rows of half decomposed nick-names
Where Boos and Honeys and Love-Pies are maggoted
Where sugars and shnuggles and pookums bleed mulch
I told her I was going to the shop
It took less than twenty minutes
I told her I'd got stuck in a conversation that went on and on.
'It was boring'
I told her this.

It's crawled a mile to where I'm standing
in my hallway ignoring the questions shouted from the bedroom
leaning towards the source of the scratching
Legs wet, fists locked
Tonight it's back
Rheumy red eyes, open throat snarling
Tonight it's back
A compost crusted rug, claws deep in the wood
Tonight it's back
A pattern of vowels always lodged in the throat
Tonight it's back
A word that can petrify
Tonight it is back
Woojum is back
Woojum is here
Woojum is here

If you stay here you have to accept the damp climate
You have to avoid naming your car
You have to address everyone by their full name
You cannot celebrate Valentines

you must do these things because too many failed to
We know not to go there. All of us do.
And who could doubt that you're done with that pet-name?
But the pet-name is not done with you.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

snow white...

For Moxy- a rough idea of the Snow White video. To be cut to-length:


Saturday, 26 April 2008

Euthanased Fuel

Rare footage of an ultrasonic dehumidifier
In a woodland glade
Controls ratcheted to max
Shows vapour trails torn from the trees
Past shrivel to compression
Abetted by the barometric vice
Of a low weather front
Until there is a colonnade of coal

Miners step from isobars
Holographic reflectors on their hardhats
Factor 15 on their faces

Friday, 25 April 2008

the sharon tate murders

I'm posting this up, re: the 'Charlies Angels' poems....

Chopsocky Death of Sun

The Sun has a fungal infection, an
Opportunistic pathogen bloating it
Hydrolytic enzymes are syruping the lunar silverware
Turning the Northern Lights into a downy batting cage

Fox, the urban decaffeinated kind
His face designed to manhole
--Teeth connecting like rungs –
Snacks at a nest turned tapas
Filled with brooded olives

And the Constant Dieter has a campfire roaring in her lap
Last week mini-refrigerator components were introduced
Into her digestive tract
By colonoscopy
Freezing her stomach contents
One meal will last 3 months

Each sunbeam turns into a creamy lignin mast
Its edge billowing a little
Touching Fox touching Nest touching Dieter


Thursday, 24 April 2008

Two-Way Rodeo

Imagine! Ancient mosaics that bobbed like a keyboard
Letting you alphabet into the past

Forensic Pathologists who are also Minotaurs
Tuckered up this-a-way

Rhinestoned disposable overalls --
Albino night sky shod in puckered paper boots --
Facemasks like the helms of doves
Nose rings with the sip
Of champagne flutes and
Voltage cranking between horns
Chacun a son gout
Mounted on swabbed steers
Recording their yippee-yi-yays into
Adjustable overhead mics doubling as space stations
Legs streaming Cyrillic trajectories
Spectators attendant as reachable octaves

While petrol moon slips from zippered white silk nunchaku case
Small as a pocketful
Kick-starting the psychotic stuff
The eventuality of
Stadium gooey with rampage and
Yeee-hah @

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


I wrote this around a year ago and I know that it doesn't really relate to 'The Dead That Never Lived' but, you know......just putting it out there.


Concrete towers of hope and condemnation surrounding a hungry rat.
Automatic scrambling for survival against artificial monkeys swinging on branches of their own concrete breath, gusts of dust and wind blowing through their heads.
When will it end?
Flaming tongues of giants blazing promises of lies and lies of promises to a gathering cloud of smog. Microchip brains gathering in circles and gather nothing. Life preservers are thrown to the sense of logic of those who feel but the lines are cut by hot banana scissors.
When will it end?
Hollowed capsules of life lie piled up, spent and used, sucked dry for all their worth and worth nothing in abundance. This crystallized, sparkling age of darkness where remote controlled lives are the only ones that thrive and remain alive for a price.
When will it end?
Cold hot face packs peel back their skin, replaced with programmed expression and judgment, eager to gaze at their new image reflected in a scalpel.
Apparent incisions into the public membrane with a cubed edge
When will it end?
Square-eyed fork tongues feel safe in the race behind locks and chains and weapons of death. Consumptions shrouding mass perspectives of importance and necessity.
Fat back paper pockets squeal in triumph.

When will it end?

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Rapture Related

I was reading through the past blogs and you said that you were still looking for something in relation to Rapture.
I done some reading and had a think about the big question of WHEN The Rapture is supposed to occur. I imagined myself to be one of those people in the world that are waiting for the rapture and thought about some of the questions they might be asking and how they might be feeling.
One of the questions was, 'Why hasn't the rapture happened yet?'
Me being me, I immediately thought logically as to why and came up with quite a funny image.
So I put it into poetry form.

God sits, irate, at the Gate's of Heaven.
It's the 28th Heaven-day, and it still hasn't arrived.
The component for his transportation device.
"The repair man lied when he said it would be here by the tenth" he thought.
God had sat there through sunshine, snow and mist.
"They're going to start to think it doesn't exist" he grumbled
And every rumble of a Heaven-car that passes, produces a twinkle in his eye.
He smiles and the sound disappearing in the distance.
His smile fades.
He struggles to suppress his rage.
He flops back down onto his seat.
Jesus brings him a cup of tea and says,
"Don't worry Dad. You'll be glad when the repair man arrives with the component you need and we transport those lives"
God pouts and grunts,
"I don't think it will ever come"
Jesus shrugs and goes back in the house.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Lon Chaney

Lon Chaney Snr. Horror film actor and Man of A Thousand Faces. Son of profoundly deaf parents, he entered silent film as a result of re-enacting characters and scenes to his family and bed-ridden Mother. Known for his exceptional make-up skills as well as his acting, especially for Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera. Father of Lon Chaney Jr, who went on to become "Wolf Man"

Anyway this is only my second draft - constructive criticism welcome. There are a number of karmic threads here that could be explored. But I' m thinking aloud.

Lon Chaney

At the light bulb adorned mirror
His sits where the Beautiful People have gone:
The seat still warm with the backside of
Patsy Ruth Miller.
He unpacks his palette with care:
Wire for pig-turned nose, black paint for skeletal eye,
Shoulder pulling weight to pound his back
Into hunched immortality.
Tools to make him a starlet of heinous

Like tender kisses
He applies the layers of Horror
Each one containing its own misery and
Comedy equally honoured.
He bends cheekbone, nose and wire into position:
Salutations to a hundred cavernous nights and silences
Each illness and broken throat
Memorised by the absence of speech.

Smear by smear he moulds each of his dreadful
Broken children.
Each old new infant blinks under light
Born into its role of death as love’s dialogue:
Tendering the currency of bastards
Tied away to sickness, bed and shadow.

Poised, the creature is ready
to break out into celluloid like a putrid rash
And wear for the Beautiful People their lonely
inner visions.
His trade: to unmask by masking.
The phantom and the hunchback stand,
lurch, stare and groan back at painful features.
Ready to go forward and make shadow flesh:
Ready to drag the grotesque to love.


Thursday, 17 April 2008

A Work in Progress

The bombs and bullets whiz past my ears on my way to school.

I step over pools of blood of my dead friends, severed arms and legs and heads of men, still gripping their guns so tight.

Every day and night they fight, and I go to school.

Explosions boom and rock the classroom, sending us all to the floor.

We used to scream and shout, but not any more.

I’m not afraid of death. I’m afraid of surviving, getting old and realizing that I am stupid because I was too afraid to go to school

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Graham Chapman

Thought I'd post a few famous funerals up on here. I've always liked this footage, in particular. 

Its strange to hear ALOTBSOL in this context: a song that has accompanied Chapman's death before. Not everyone in the audience is coping well with that irony. 

Funeral poem

We look fit at funerals, you and I,
as we file past the casket, bow and turn,
your black veil flares, my gothic perm
caught in the reflection of a platinum urn
lit by candles, while lily-clad damsels scatter platitudes
over colleagues and cousins and cumbersome shoulder pads.
All the dads too strong to cry on our shoulder, as
monochrome chic can’t be soiled by grief.
Our contrast immaculate, our edges too accurate.

Exhume the funeral: the final resting place of style.
The death of colour. Man Ray would get it—
Just take a cursory glance at the history of aesthetics:
Rauschenberg painted coffins, Brigit Riley made us cry.
Still, it took Chanel to give death its eyes.
A mathematics of line, curve and shade
that would imbue the most pitiful holiday snap
with the jouissance of the French New Wave.

We’re back in Kansas, in the town where we began.
Just ink and canvas and a middle-distance stare.
The last strut of the Rat Pack, coffin aloft,
with the best dressed member sealed into the box,
We’re ready for the close-up, we’ve never been so ironed.
Our lives, a film noir, classily made,
and nothing is more classically designed than a grave.

Black and white is a durable idiom.
Immortality a blessing as well as a curse.
Some things never go out of fashion:
the camera, the pupil, the ink-well, the hearse.

Sunday, 6 April 2008


‘’Apocalypse means
‘Drive-in jewelery’

Amen means
’Your death-rattle will be indistinguishable
From drum and bass’
Sayeth the lord”

God’s coming back and this time
He is issue oriented
And already wearing protective goggles

You have defiled yourselves with exercise --
What happens when you do yoga is
Your soul does a really spiteful impression of you

When I was a sinner I was so flexible
After two-hours in the tree position
My eyes would slip down inside my nostrils

Now I am sedentary and do miracles
I perform surgery on moonlight that’s got MRSA
I teach Tai Kwon to box jellyfish
Then there is the miracle of The Puppy
Ten years soaking up formaldehyde
And it starts doggy-paddling in its jar

‘Your hairstyle is actually my shadow
So your hair grows when I move away
I can give you bad hair days by darting to and fro
But if you are bald I am right on top of you’
Sayeth the lord

‘I am the eco-system Santa
As prophesied repeatedly
Yet I am so small
Two acrylic nails
Stuck to the front and the back of me
Concave inwards
Are sufficient for full body armour’
Sayeth the lord

Saturday, 5 April 2008


Cut-up obituaries from Yassir Arafat, John Peel, Old Dirty Bastard & Emlyn Hughes (all November, 2004)

Balding, paunchy and badly dressed, he had the air of
a Philadelphia McDonald's parking lot,
wearing a cheeky grin
and a pistol, born for so long on his hip, that
rap music evolved around him.
He could claim to have broken The Fall and
the White House lawn.

Determined to restore Palestine to the roadmap
he became a DJ in Dallas
and played songs that sounded like people fighting—
A style that earned him the nickname Crazy Horse.
But despite the hallucinogenic overtones, he refrained from indulging in
corruption, misrule and human rights abuses,
as he led his wolves directly into
the hearts of suspicious teenage listeners

He was later arrested for failure to pay child support
and announced that he enjoyed "vigorously grand-parenting"
with a "face of terror".
His nasal pronunciation and short vowel sounds were powerfully
derailed by persistent violence

With the onslaught of Beatlemania
he was shot in the back and arm
by Liverpool boss Bill Shankly
but the wounds were superficial.

He became the instantly recognisable face of
the inexplicable “Big Baby Jesus”
but failed in both war and peace to achieve his dream of
being driven by limousine from
his West Bank headquarters
to a New York State welfare office to pick up his cheque

He signed interim peace accords with Israeli leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres,
appearing together on a Mariah Carey remix.
Clearly not on the payroll of any record company, his words carried weight.

His first marriage to a 15-year-old Texan girl was dissolved
into 20 vials of crack— like
a plane crash,
pre-recorded, and broadcast every night
for the last ten years.

Living at his mother's home under house arrest,
he was somehow enduringly adolescent and old before his time,
a modern day
television quiz show
who installed a one-party system
but could play in three different positions,
a spirit of the all-conquering Liverpool side
with boundless reserves of drive, enthusiasm and battling qualities,
who vowed to
play The Sex Pistols' "Anarchy In The UK"
until his country was united

has been widely reported in the mainstream media
a global phenomenon
rife with cronyism, run so single-handedly that only
tears of countless
can make the
cold blooded

Friday, 4 April 2008

Moomintroll Buys It

Meringue Pupa, Tranquilized Bomb,
Eleventh-Hour Udder,
He went by many names
But today
Moomintroll is shrink-wrapped on the gammon carousel
At Waitrose
His fat in circles round him like a hoopla rod

His veranda made of scrapped electric kettles and their flexes
Has been upended, propped against a public statue
As a weekend lean-to pissoire

Poor Moomintroll went swimming in the harbour
Where Ancient Regimes
Had dumped their million guillotines
Waves merely rolled their million silted mechanisms
Dice dice dice

Rumour, though, suggests dementia
After ten years as a full-time semen donor
His sex identical to windscreen wipers
Though renegade and
Twice as squeaky

Death the Chiropractor culled
His valley calcium
Manipulated his cranial sac
And turned his plush into a single-seater

Thursday, 3 April 2008


Just to say that the books are NOT now closed for new submissions. Please keep sending stuff through!

I think the 30th of May will be the provisional submission deadline. That saying, the earlier the work comes in, the more time we have to develop it for the stage.

In particular, there are several things I am looking for

>2 more 'testimonials', written in the same style as Jeff Price's piece on Andy Lippincott.

> A piece of fanfiction, written by a 10-13yr old child, where the kid decides to kill off the main character (eg Harry Potter, Spongebob) - see the blog entry called 'Killed by Your Own Non-canon' for more details.

> A piece on the Rapture, or TV evangelism, or some other mediated fantasy concerning the apocalypse. (i recommend anyone interested to listen to this episode of This American Life:

> Some sort of hymn to finish on (thematically, this can be quite broad strokes) to be played with a live mariachi band. Possibly to the tune of God Save the Queen. Maybe to be also sung by the audience.

Holler back at me,

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Event update

Hi there- just a note to say that I've been really enjoying all the stuff thats been posted up on this site so far.

Over the next few days I'm going to go back and comment on everything that I'd like to use for the event. One of the remits of this project is that we get writers collaborating with artists in different mediums. So I'm going to try to tentatively suggest ways that each piece can be staged/filmed/sung/etc. The last event we did had about 4 basic 'types' of performance:

>poems turned into songs, sung with a live band
>poems turned into short films
>poems turned into short short plays
>poems read straight to audience, using a series of lighting states

Obviously thats by no means definitive, but its roughly the sort of range i mean when I talk about 'developing' or 'staging' poems.

I'll be really keen to hear your ideas as well. First we need to come to some sort of conclusion on the best way to present these poems to a live audience, then I'll try to find the right collaborator for you, and pass you on their details.

Obviously, you guys are scattered all over Europe, so I'm going to be looking to have a resource of local actors to perform alot of the work. If you are keen to travel up to Newcastle to perform yourself, make sure you let me know.

In the meantime, any questions, drop me a message here or at my email / 0771 944 6025

Ross x

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Mock Turtle (Lewis Carroll's)

An hydrocephalic Victorian bathing machine
Boo hoo is a crypt
For this marine chelonian who choked on excess nasal hair
Caused by oestrogen flooding his transgressive tea-table tableaux habitat
Boo hoo
Roll-on deodorant is applied to the pits of his limbs
By optional senators
Like mustard to provolone
Boo hoo
Then he is beheaded onto a spreadsheet
By a scimitar-wielding welder, visor down,
And the neck’s rim flesh tin tacked onto a fully inflated whoopee cushion
Finished with yacht varnish
Boo hoo
Boo hoo abstruse
Boo hoo hoo hoo
And a small clock gummed under his sloped chin
With its alarm function disabled by some soup

Monday, 31 March 2008

Snow White Finally Succumbs

Time’s feral or on the fritz
It gives the incremental strobe effect of batted lashes
Or god’s exaggerated gat-toothed overbite
Suddenly descending

Snow White, real name ‘Sondra’
Made all the children of the kingdom, line up, hold hands
Then she wound them oh so tightly onto an industrial cable spool
And laid them on the sea bed between nations
To fetch oil

Oh her capsule-shaped face
Oh her homogenous nostalgia
Oh her cheeks sucked in for definition
Oh her teeth replaced by the bells they hang from cats
Silver and spherical a ting-a-ling accompaniment
To pretty rants

Oh her plectrum or guitar pick
That was a tiny freeze-dried human placenta
Oh her carbon hair that popped like pressured bubble wrap

Through the glass partition witness
Snow White strapped to a road-kill covered gurney
Press the star key twice if you wish to
Administer the lethal injection
* *
There may be silences
Whilst we process your request

Her crimes were also these: she was a goombah
Selling poisoned mascara on the internet
And mirrors you could spread like butter

Her breasts end like bacon
In a rind

Even the prince failed to escape her delicate malevolence
His bladder is the featured centrefold
In the European Journal of Urology
And his buttocks knock like gavels
On the saddle he's been padlocked to for twenty years

Sunday, 30 March 2008

The Prisoner in E.A. Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum

The gowned NHS patient thinks he is pinioned
Not anaesthetized
He believes he is about to receive the names of his crimes
Sutured into his mene

Not so
He has a
Strangulated hernia shaped like a daffodil
‘Oh!’ says the excising surgeon
Slickering its stem with glitter-peppered lip gloss
Slotting it into his lapel

Later sliding it out with aplomb
And presenting it to a behavioural scientist
He believes to be a monster

Then at lunch poised over breath-pimpled dim sum
He texts a djinn on his Blackberry

Carrying out the surgeon’s command
Djinn possesses the body of a career Commando
Making him loose several salvos of dumdums at a storecupboard packed with dumbbells
In a nondescript gym
Dimpling them considerably without altering their weight
Action without consequence
Other than a police caution

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

not sure if this counts but

A year or so back I became fascinated by Sharon Tate and the people who killed her - not so much Charlie Manson as the women from The Family. It all happened when I was young and I didn't really get it then - don't think I particularly get it now. Writing some poems about it helped. They are in Weeping for the Lovely Phantoms, my most recent book from Salt. I am working on some little poetry films about them, just i-movie style. The girls are all still in prison - that's nearly forty years. So I guess they are the dead that never lived.
Here are two poems from this section of the book:

Make it a real nice murder

Charlie checks them over
the girls and Tex, sends them
over the hill on their first mission
over the edge of the helter skelter
no going back.
They are his barefoot soldiers
his Vietcong spiked with methedrine
a distant twister coming up fast
through the peachy Californian dusk.

It’s a fine August night
ripe for pig killing.
The air is soft as velvet.
On Cielo Drive the fairy lights sparkle
around the homes of the rich
their unassailable lives.

“Leave a sign,” Charlie tells them
as the old yellow Ford
winds its way to the top of the hill.
“You know. Something witchy.”

Charlie’s Angel 1: Susan Atkins

She didn’t want to die, said Susan, laughing.
You should have heard her beg.
She thought because she was pregnant
she was safe.

No way. I told her straight.
Listen bitch, I said. You’re gonna die.
I don’t care about you.
I don’t feel anything at all.

After we killed her, I licked the blood from my hands.
I would have cut out the baby as a present for Charlie
but there wasn’t time.
He would have liked that.
What a trip that would have been.

Jo Colley

Monday, 17 March 2008


Well someone was bound to mention it, so it might as well be me.

When I heard the title of VWC2 I have to say it was my immediate thought, but that's probably because I'm a sufferer and we can tend to get a bit self-absorbed. (ok so I can only really speak for myself...)

To me the idea of 'the dead that never lived' made me automatically think of zombies, which then took me directly to depression without passing go or collecting £200 (yes technically I know zombies lived once, but that's a mere detail...)

So my meagre offering to proceedings (taking a different random direction) and an avenue to explore - that of those people who aren't really living but merely existing...

(Jeff i'm thinking of this as part of my 10x10 offering next month??)

(it's meant to be read out with humour and irony - not woe is me style..)

Like anyone, I have ‘Down’ days
Tell me, do you fantasize during your ‘Down’ days?
I do.
And when I say fantasize, I mean it.
As in Fantasy – Fantastic – Fantastic!
I also have hot tears streaming down my face,
When I fantasize

Because however much I want it,
It won’t become reality.
I haven’t the courage.

Tonight, my fantasy was taking a hot bath.
Taking a sharp blade to my wrists,
While taking a hot bath.

And I want to.
I fantasize on the oblivion it will bring.
The fantasies stop me sleeping.
I so desperately want to sleep.
If only for the (somewhat shorter) oblivion it will bring.

But I cry hot tears,
Because I can’t run that bath
I can’t bloody that blade
I can’t hurt the people I love
I can’t leave them to clear up the mess,
That was my life.

Apparently, I have low self-worth.
So if I loved myself as I love them,
Would it make my fantasies sweeter?

Where is my life-coach to tell me how to think?
And what should I think when she’s not here? –
…And how should I think it?

And so until she returns, I want to stop thinking…

To stop thinking…
…would be an oblivion of the mind.
Mmmmm …oblivion
Total …oblivion
Now that’s a fantasy I could go for.

cheers all,

see you soon


Thursday, 6 March 2008

The Queen is Dead

I've always been really interested in newsflashes, programmes being interupted and suddenly we're in the newsroom with a stern newsreader, saying 'Something Has Happened.' It used to be the main way we found out about big events, but I guess the internet has changed this. Here's a clip of Martyn Lewis announcing the death of Diana, and then my poem about newsflashes.

George Aligayah
Every day George practices
his well rehearsed line.
he looks into the bathroom mirror as he is shaving,
he sings it in the shower
enunciates every word whenever he is alone,
"The Queen is Dead."
He rehearses scenarios,
she died peacefully in her sleep,
a bullet went through her forehead,

she was killed in a car crash in Paris.
Mrs Aligayah has not been on holiday for years,
she cannot understand why her husband always ignores
suggestions of a French chateaux,
brochures of villas in Tuscany
all talk of staying with her brother in Tobago.
George knows the value of full attendance.
He does not want to give anyone else the chance,
Huw Edwards, Fiona Bruce

Dermot Murnaghan.
When they are in the same room
the atmosphere is always frosty.
He knows they all want to be the one breaking the news.
George Aligayah has a bag packed especially
he keeps it by the front door.
In it is a black tie, a comb,
a notebook with a carefully worded eulogy
and his lucky pants
because at any time the phone could ring
and it will be his producer saying
the Queen is Dead,
we need you."

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Roll back the stone

Hi peeps,
when Ross asked us to think about the death of fictional characters, my mind jumped straight away to Jesus. The below is what I came up with, (so far). I see it as a guy or gal in a confession booth talking to a holy dude.
If you remember my VWC 1 piece, their was a lot of looping, rhyme repetition, work juggling etc. I wanted to be simpler here, because the church (for me) does all the word juggling. I wanted to write some questions that maybe the pope can't answer without contradicitng himself. Anyway, all thughts and complaints welcome.

Father, according to your rules I have sinned. I have never confessed before and I ask for no forgiveness. I’ve never burnt witches or turned a plane into a flying bomb. I did kill a fly once but it was self defence. I come only with questions. Got any answers, God knows.
Well its Easter day, roll back the stone, and like my own personal faith reservoir the tomb was empty. I suspect my departure from the crucifix cult began at the age of seven when I was banned from my own Sunday school for asking how the son of a Carpenter could also be of the line of David. If you can answer that question I’d love to hear it. No joke I really would, and if you can’t, ask yourself why. And to quote Bill Hicks, why does the Pope need bullet proof glass if he has so much faith?

Religions don’t fascinate me but the power of belief does. For example, I love the way that people who don’t believe in evolution always neglect to mention the stages of development that a human foetus goes through. It begins as a single cell right, then will change to roughly resemble a newt like creature. At another point it will resemble an ape like being covered in a downy fur and finally a modern human. Also I don’t understand why if God designed the human body alterations to a mans private bits would be needed after birth. If it’s more hygienic after the chop then why didn’t God design it that way? I would have to assume that either God made a mistake or that the human body simply isn’t finished. Which brings me to one of my own personal beliefs, evolution doesn’t disprove God but quite the opposite. The question to be asked is not did we evolve from monkeys, but what are we evolving into? Gods’ maybe. And if the Roman Empire can have a vote that was only carried by three votes to pronounce Christianity as its new religion. If the pantheon was dropped and Christ won on the campaign trail then God must be a politician. He’s all powerful after all; it couldn’t have happened without his permission. And of course politicians aren’t to be trusted, they never keep those promises and in the end we always vote for someone else. I guess Apollo twigged that too late. And you could argue that some Roman behaviour was barbaric and that they were ‘saved’. But they would have said that they were advanced, civilised people. I wonder if we extend that logic how long will it be before people view us as little better than cavemen. Eating meat and putting mercury in our teeth.

Moves in mysterious ways, is just not good enough.

You see father, Easter’s a bizarre time for me. Happy Easter, he died for your sins, have a chocolate rabbit. What? I think most people, even you, know that it is in fact the Spring solstice and has nothing to do with Christ, but the truth is irrelevant. Our country is founded on tradition and that won’t change. I just hate the fact that were forced into this, especially at inflated prices because we all have to buy cards, none of which have the man himself on. You have to admire the Medici bank but I still want to believe that the holiest man is humblest. Never trust a religion where the leader sleeps on silk father. When did faith become a business?

Monday, 25 February 2008

danse macabre

someone shouted 'oi! jonathan creek' at me in the pub only last night. uncanny.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Whatever Happened to Ruby Kipper?

Quite excited to be invited to this project and hope to offer some useful contributions. My contribution is a monologue and I gladly welcome any feedback on this piece. Apologies for the length, but when read out loud it flies by.

Whatever Happened to Ruby Kipper?



Ruby's refrain:
“I held my heart within my hand
to give to my true love, but
he declined 'neath April skies
for fear of staining his cream shirt"

“Ere I'm arf kippered I am, I won't tell you why, but I will introduce me self; Ruby Kipper (pause) and Angelica, pet lamb side kick and conductor extraordinaire. Used to tread the old boards did me and her, sing and zing for our suppers - which usually turned out to be sprats on bread. Gawd, awful little devils, they'd lie on the bread looking like tin-soldiers in a grave and the smell didn't arf stick to Angelica's fur – lucky for me she liked them, would proper wolf them down. But, times being 'ard and all that, we had to take what we was given.

Now, I'll tell you about me and Angelica and the uvver acts we became acquainted wif. We was the electric act, see. I'd get on stage, do a little tap dance; but it was bleedin' 'ard sometimes to hear anyfing never mind me taps what wif all the hullabaloo going on. So anyway, I'd be tapping away, singing me song, sweet as a nut and then Angelica would trot on...and then...

Oh, listen - never mind that, I've just remembered sumfing, sumfing that's going round the 'alls at the moment that I want to tell you about and that I fink would tickle your fancy, that's if I'm not being too previous. It seems Dora the Dummy isn't the only one missing her partner in the world of entertainment. Dora's uvver 'arf Elsie, did a runner, leaving Dora to carry on the act just as a dummy on the stage; quite 'eart wrenching really to see her propped up on a chair donated from the local Sunday school; they took pity on her see, fort of 'er as like an orphan. Apparently what had happened was Dora had nipped to the ladies after a show only to come back and find a powder puff squew-whiff on Elsie's seat and the message: You can handle yourself without me – I'm sorry poppet! Written in lipstick on the dresser mirror! Rumour has it that she did off with Charlie, Mr Shandy's dummy. Charlie, the little teaser, was spotted the night of the trouble hanging round the stage door, fort he was hidden behind all the leavin's from the restaurant opposite on the other side of the alley. As a consequence, Mr Shandy has had to change his act now: Handy Mr Shandy. He makes his hand talk to the audience, makes 'im look like a proper little gentlemen wif his Tux on and drawn on face and little toupee, I fink it was made from Griselda's fur after she passed away (Quietly: She was Mr Shandy's 'amster). Mind you, I fink Mr Shandy takes a bit of lip from 'im, started getting above his station the uvver night. The gent started to back chat Mr Shandy, saying he'd be nuffing without him and that he was a better class act than him. Well the punters didn't like the gent givin' Shandy the old what for, they started getting rowdy and challenged him to a Paper,Scissors, Stone contest – the loser being frown out with the dregs from the barrels. Don't fink it's gonna last, Mr Shandy and his gentleman, could be anuvver split for poor Mr Shandy. But I don't fink the gent will have a leg to stand on, if you get me meaning.

But anyway, I was telling you about me and Angelica. There I'd be on the stage, I would tap and sing, as you do in this business, just to get the audience in the mood for a bit of light enter-tain-ment. You'll see what I mean. So, Angelica would trot on to the stage, being careful not to get her little 'ooves caught between the boards or slip on sumfing that had been chucked on earlier, and then I would sing:

Ruby had a little lamb its fleece was soft as ash;
And everywhere that Ruby went, the lamb went like a flash.
It followed her to work one day, which was a stroke of luck;
It made the punters laugh and play, to see a lamb of pluck.
And so did Ruby do a dance, and still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about till Ruby said “Cum'ere”.
"Why does the lamb love Ruby so?" the eager punters cry;
"Why, Ruby loves her lamb, you know cos she lights up the sky”.

So, at this point I would stroke Angelica quite vigorous like, showing my happiness at seeing 'er and then the sparks would start flying the more I stroked her. The crowd would go all of an-hush as Angelica lit up the atmosphere, looking like one of those accumulator fings I'd read about that would crackle and spark and make your hair stand on end.

Well, we made quite a name for our selves, bright lights of the big smoke. Nowhere to go but up in lights, living the high life for a time. But, of course, you soon learn that you can't keep going on up, because how would you know you were going up if you didn't go down? But we knew we were going up because how could you go down from where we was? And we knew we was going down when we didn't go up any more because we went up from being where we was which was down from the up we went to and then the coming down except it was quite a different sort of down...more like a stop than a down, so perhaps you could say we didn't go down but stayed up, but then how could we say we went up if we never came down? But it doesn't really matter now.

The last show we did was a real cracker. I came on, did all me lah-di-dah stuff, got to the point of stroking and cooing over Angelica which I did, when POOF! We went up in flames, quick as you like, a crackle and a bang before smouldering on stage rather like those fire-crackers that maime first before paffetically fizzling out, and all before a stunned audience. I knew I shouldn't have had that cheap gin off of Miss Parkin of Miss Parkin and her Perks, before the performance. The rest as they say is history, a story, herstory...erm, well, after that final curtain, we became post-humourously known as Kippered and Chops.

A voice interrupts: Excuse me...'scuse me...You've dropped your Coco Pops.

I beg your pardon? I'm recounting my contribution to the cultural life of London, and don't take too kindly to insolence and ...

The voice again: But you're in Tesco's.

I think you're quite misguided in your observation and should kindly refrain from interrupting Ruby Kipper, that's...who I am, who am I? Don't cha know, now look hear, see, chappie, (Ruby's voice fades out) have a banana, maybe it's because I'm a Londoner...

Grim Reaper

Here's a site with horrible design, embedded music, and over 400 classical images of Death. I guess the Grim Reaper is the ultimate 'dead person who never lived'... if you consider Death to be dead, that is. I suppose by most standards of Death, he's actually very much alive.

The Grim Reaper's like the AntiSanta - we've never seen him, and we know one person could never logically serve so many people... and yet part of us sees the evidence of his work and longs to believe. There's something comforting about making Death a chap. I guess that the Reaper has been so appropriated and commercialised and parodied that he actually feels safe and familiar. When you cheapen something, it doesn't hurt so much.

The Dance of Death

trans. Peter Low

Zigger-zigger-zig tapping on a coffin
Death has got a beat and a toothy grin.
At the stroke of twelve plays a crazy polka
zigger-zigger-zag on his violin.

The night is dark, the winter winds blow
the tree-branches creak in the stormy clouds
and off the whitened skeletons go
they skip and they leap in their flowing shrouds.

Zigger-zigger-zig how they frisk and toss
dancing to the beat rattling every bone.
Now a lustful pair sit down on the moss
hoping to repeat pleasures they had known.

Zigger-zigger-zag Death is keeping at it
scraping out the tune on his violin.
Two have lost their veils they are dancing naked
he gives her a squeeze like a carnal sin.

The lady they say is of noble race
her partner a lad from the market town
but oh! she welcomes his embrace
as if the young boor had a royal crown.

Zigger-zigger-zig hand in hand a-dancing
what a host of dead risen from the turf
zigger-zigger-zag in that ghostly party
is the king himself romping with a serf.

But hush! all at once their hands let go.
They jostle, they flee they've heard the cock crow.
How lovely that night when poor folk are free!
So all praise to Death and equality!

Hitchhikers Wiki to The Universe

Carrying on from earlier notes about wikipedia, anyone else find it really interesting that so much of wiki myth becomes wiki truth? Not only tabloid tales but actual biographies...

Technically you can kill someone with a wiki; details can be updated by any computer literate information junkie. You can even hit that all important delete button and kapow instant annhilation. You could even raise someone from the dead...

Wiki is supposedly a self correcting growing living document of the world; imagine it in the wrong hands, the censorship and revision of history? China already blocks wikipedia from most of the mainland isps. What does this do to supposed free speech: we are given the option to write our own history but ultimately could it be edited to serve a very different purpose?

Isn't it tempting to see what one very bored teenager could do and the consequence on a thousand poorly researched gcse papers?

Wikipedia itself purports to be the 'free online encylopedia' but I'm always amazed by how much trust is put into it. When we click on a blog, we generally know not to take everything as verbatim but when the word 'encyclopedia' is invoked; well I've even fallen into the trap of 'hmm could go to the library...could wiki it...oh that was easy...' It's easy to believe something right in front of your face.

Since Wiki is written by real life people, emotions are going to be present and considering the blogtastic role of people like perezhilton we're in for trouble. When the death of Kenneth Lays (endron dude) was reported last year on wiki he was instantly reported as commiting suicide due to intense guilt over the scandal and couldn't face court... he actually died of a heart attack but in those few hours millions of people wiki-ing to find out the who the hell Kenneth Lays was made an instant decision based on inefficient research and hot-headed reaction.

Wikipedia has also spawned a million bastard wiki's; all devoted to seperate genres, sub-genres and even a Second Life almost makes me shudder. Wiki's for tv shows or games, well fair play; fansites have existed for ages and it's actually good to see what happens in the next episode of heroes or whatever. It's harmless.

So I don't think I have a point but thought I'd flag up the option of character death by wiki as a subject (possibly with a candlestick but definitely not in the library)

Gathering Place of The souls

The Bible's psalms are named after consonants from the Hebrew alphabet. The first is 'Apleph.'
Imagine the names of the consonants eg; 'Aleph,' Tzaddi,' 'Koph,' 'Teth,' as the names of souls . They are between incarnations, waiting in the 'Gathereing Place of The Souls,' a place where the souls in the psalms go to wait for their next life. Some souls have clear momories of their past life and and a clear idea of what they want to choose to be in the next life. some are hazy, or have no memory of a past life at all. If you take a name and write from its point of view as if it were in the 'Gathering Place of the Souls', reflecting on past or pondering future life, it can sometimes spark some interesting ideas.


My Nan is a professional footballer.
She dribbled her way to the Premiership
and is a legend called Dwight Mitchell.
She doesn’t know she’s my Nan.
She lost track when she dribbled
into a twilight she no longer remembers
where a dancing man lurked behind
netted windows, winking at her under
a peaked cap that shone in the rain.
I laughed when she told me about him;
swanlike and starched in his uniform
and the doll as her baby
warm and plastic in her bed.
‘It’s only a doll,’ the care worker said.
‘You know - I know - but does she know?’ My Nan said.
When the priest as tall as a steeple sent her off,
she knew she wanted to be Dwight Mitchell;
a roaring rich success.
Not like the last time,
when she thought it would never end
each time she fell,
stumbled or bruised.
An ancient child.
The real girl sometimes clear
in the blue of her favourite sister’s eyes.
The one who would not come to hear her
life cut short by the tall priest.
Now she bruises her way to other sending offs
and can’t remember fifty years of
stagnant talk with mouthfuls of porridge
to a man like a breath of stale air.
Or the son who trampled her
to throw fists at his father
or the daughter creeping into wall paper
like a cautious cat.
Now she’s linked romantically to Chelsy Davy
(Prince Harry’s ex), according to ‘Hello’ magazine,
which she used to read at the hairdressers
and now reads when she’s having her back waxed.
I met her in a night club and said; ‘Hello Nan.’
Her eyes were shot with vodka and she punched me in the head.

(Copyright Tess Hudson 2008)

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Dead Man Trekking

Beep... Beep... You Have Mail... Beep Beep... You have mail...

I’m just going to ignore it and it might just go away, I have had these messages before. They sit there like a spitting cobra waiting to strike and I am not stupid enough to open it.

Beep... Beep... You Have Mail... Beep Beep... You have mail...

“Assigned to landing party...Contact the bridge immediately.” It says, I mean how dumb is that? It should have said something like “Free holidays” or “You have won the lottery” then someone dumb idiot on the cargo decks might have opened it but “Assigned to landing party” it’s a death sentence.

Beep... Beep... You Have Mail... Beep Beep... You have mail...

I have worked on the USS Enterprise for three years and in all that time I have never seen an Ensign who went down on a Landing Party come back, sometimes they don’t even make it out of the Transporter before some alien brain sucking mutant gets them. Captain Kirk, Mr Spock even that dumb chief engineer Mr Scott comes back but the rest of us are burnt up on re-entry, blasted in the subatomic particles or eaten alive by a predatory space mammal. I tell you its murder and no one seems to care.

Beep... Beep... You Have Mail... Beep Beep... You have mail...

I am just going to ignore it. I know the Space Core directives tell you that you have to do these things but it’s the modern equivalent of going over the top in the First World War, in fact it’s worse than that because at least some of those guys came back.

Mind you, there is something worse than being “volunteered for a landing party”

Beep... Beep.. You Have Mail... Beep Beep... You have mail...

I am just really glad that Captain Kirk isn’t gay because if he was I for one wouldn’t make any sort of eye contact with him. If you are a woman and he gets the hots for you then its curtains, not only is your career over but you have the life expectancy of a fruit fly. It’s the talk of the canteen, some little hotty from computing with a heaving chest and a sassy arse walks past him and gives him the eye, then its Goodnight Vienna.

Beep... Beep.. You Have Mail... Beep Beep... You have mail...

We take bets on how long they will last and even when you warn them about what is going to happen they tell you “This time it will be different”. Bollocks, this time it will be the same as the last time. At some point he will have to choose between his sex life and his ship and he can get another woman anytime but there is only one USS Enterprise and he isn’t going to get another one of them. He could of course just dump them but it never seems to work out like that.

Beep... Beep.. You Have Mail... Beep Beep... You have mail...

They have to go off and marry some three headed, six legged bug creature from another dimension in order that we can get new Dilithium crystals for the warp drives or so the Federation can bring about a new alliance with the Romulans. Either way you never hear or see them again, they’re just another notch on the Captain’s tricorder.

A door glides open and a security officer enters.

“Ensign Smith the Bridge has been trying to contact you for the last hour, report to the Transporter now and prepare to beam down with the Landing Party.”


Monday, 18 February 2008

Andy Lippincott 1945-1990

Andy Lippincott 1945 –1990

Eighteen years ago your death filled me full of sadness and on the morning I opened the Guardian and read about the last moments of your life, I cried. I had followed the last tragic weeks of your life as AIDS overwhelmed your ability to resist the inevitable. Every time you fought back it just got stronger and still you faced it all with a stoicism I couldn’t understand. If I had been you I would have been so angry. I would have spat out my frustration and railed against the world. Instead you checked out listening to the Beach Boys playing “Wouldn’t it be Nice”.

A lot of people, real people that I actually knew have died since that day in 1990, some I expected to lose like my Mum and Dad and others got ill and died. One got a lift from a guy, travelled a few hundred yards and hit a tree. Death is like that, it comes to all of us but when it does we seem surprised. We know when we drink too much we will get drunk or if we eat too much we will get fat but we never seem to come to terms with the fact that if we live too much then we die. I remember your death because it was the first that actually meant something to me and although you were a character in a cartoon strip that didn’t seem to make much difference. Today AIDs is still a killer and science is no nearer finding a cure. If you live in the developed world, drugs will keep you alive for a lot longer than in your day but for the rest of humanity it still rampages mercilessly onwards devouring the poor, uneducated and the unfortunate.

You also might like to know you are the only fictional character with a panel on the AIDS quilt. Your citation reads "In Loving Memory: Andy Lippincott 1945-1990. Community leader, conservationist, author, olympic medalist, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize!"