Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kenilworth Castle, £7.60: "Sham Wedding" (Pyramidal Chaconne)

Quiet times here of late, for which my apologies. The mostly invisible upside is that there's lots going on in what we may as well persist in calling 'the real world', and it's that, rather than ennui or chickenpox, that's kept me from dropping in. The sidebar list of upcoming performances tells only a little of the story; be assured I'll keep you informed about other stuff as it goes live.

I have a couple of posts currently in mind for these pages: a biggun about some recent adventures in visual art and gay film, which I ought to try and get written before I forget everything I ever knew about my recent adventures in visual art and gay film; and a smaller piece inspired by an intriguing figure in the world of moneyspinning charisma -- no, not Lesley Joseph, not this time. I fear only one of these posts, at most, will emerge before the next big deadline in the calendar, which is my London Word Festival showing of an early draft of a new solo piece called Keep Breathing. That's a gorgeous project to be working on but there's loads to do and it will keep me frighteningly busy for the next fortnight. So, apologies in advance if Thompson's is a little somnolent for a while longer.

What I can pop in your in-tray, by way of a snacky bon-bon, is a new short video piece.

I can't remember if I mentioned it here but while I was on tour with The Author -- while we were in Kenilworth, to be precise -- I had one of those dreams that makes you inconveniently want immediately to start writing, notwithstanding it's five in the morning. What came out in that first scrawlfest was fiercely angry and incoherent, and it trailed off pretty quickly as the dream dissipated and the stark realities of an autumn morning in a chilly farmhouse started to impinge.

But I took the notes that I'd started making, and tried to salvage something from them by creating -- as I often do when I'm writing poetry -- an armature, a dependable skeletal structure to help hold the writing together. I won't explain what that structure looked like, we'd both be here a lot longer than either of us would wish: but the clue is in one of the poem's subtitles: 'pyramidal chaconne'. Those who give a tosslet will be able to figure out the rest with some light Wikipediatrics: though there's no great benefit to doing so -- there's enough latitude in the tone and the specific moment-to-moment choices that even knowing exactly what the structure was probably wouldn't help to explain the more productive oddities of the poem: whose full title is, elaborately: 'Kenilworth Castle, £7.60: "Sham Wedding" (Pyramidal Chaconne)'.

At any rate, I finished the text itself as the tour neared its end, last November, and then quickly made a soundtrack for it in snatched moments in Lisbon. The first (and, so far, only) public performance was at an event at The Situation Room, on the weekend after I got back from Portugal. It came apart a little at the seams, but that was inevitable -- it's a fearsomely difficult, tongue-twistery piece to perform, especially with next to no rehearsal -- and anyway it didn't matter much, as I segued out of it directly into the crowd-pleasing 'Blurt Study #4: "Seat / Pants" (for Peter Manson)', during the performance of which I am drenched by a watering can from on high, such that the printed text I'm reading disintegrates as I'm holding it.

It occurred to me over Christmas that it might be fun to make a video version of the piece, given that the audio was all already in place: and so at odd moments since January I've been scavenging various YouTube clips that seemed to fit with the tightly sectional nature of the poem. (I actually got these by writing a responsive parallel text of thirty shorter phrases, each of which I then used as the source of a search string in YouTube, and I tried to use something from the first page of results in each case.) Three months on, the video is finally finished, I've just uploaded it to Vimeo, and now you can be among the first to see it. It's not my best work but I'm not un-pleased with it, by and large.

The spoken text is -- purposefully -- quite hard to decipher at points, so I've pasted it below the video: et voila, you can follow along in your hymn book. (I nonetheless recommend listening on headphones if you want to pick up on all the detail.) I should say, perhaps over-cautiously, that the video has elements that you may find disagreeable; in fact the whole sorry caboodle might perhaps be considered NSFW, though it's hard to say exactly why.

Those readers who hate this sort of thing might kindly forgive me: I'll be back with something a little more like the usual baleful skungpoomery before you know it.


At complex number a.m. it’s dread wakes me but rain dots hold me in the crack of a staticky sheen:

and the fallen stimulate a census urge I need love to say what are our figures lately.

The slit is so thin / the task is so high / my aim is so false / my arse is in rags.

Wrong is a kind of smoothness, like dancefloor moves like mimicked by a chimp in a white suit. This is against the coming in for tea.

I am washing my hands in another man’s diarrhoea.

And lived I where this happens would actually be doing so now, and the sweet aroma of Eton mess while isn’t it coarse to keep breathing.

In Budapest where my hands are tied / in Lisbon where my tongue is depressed / in Dublin where the streets are so bloody. Privatised unheld infinite.

On a flat bed we no longer possess, with the dead light winkling out our illnesses and touchedness to a faulty wire, you skin me.

Gymnastic / peripatetic / whirling fell swoop one last shot at modular synthesis in ankle-socks and money-pig and the slats of some rotating lampshade.

looping holy immunity boomlit moonlit lithobook milkpint kingpin pill

I am hesitating to recall a particular instance of his undressing which is painful to remember that although he took off his plain black t-shirt and his red skin was it did not quite actually he’s married now.

We’re just trying to speak. We’re trying to stroke with our hands the hair of a dead girl. My eyes drawn upwards towards the past. My vulva is the first place I ever knew anguish.

A gazillion spondoolicks heaped at a playboy boatshow in a Japanese metropolis where antics are prized like whistles and nothing is a hand-me-down.

down    is    not    holy    in    skin    tied    sweet    white    so     lately

Filigree my always recourse as if your body were sugarwork, and every second cousin were a fond set text, a lovely array of your selves. Icing saintly. Slip of a thing.

2012. Ten young black men from Hackney will be endlessly re-enacting the failed suicide attempts of Stephen Fry on a big screen by a car wash in a mud slide in the end times.

(But it still just says Stephen Fry.)

steep   pent   fright
steer       rent       friend
stranded                   defended
end                 to                             end

SCAM. [scream] Can you tell mayonnaise from furniture.
Raindrops keep falling on my [scream] SHAME ON YOU.

Framboise mazurka, skull & crossbones. Hi there! looking for some fun in null. Following Brent Corrigan on Twitter. Dill pickle sorbet avec maximum capers. Mini-Milk. Titty play.

Sleep freeze: the merest meme scheme seems speechless serene. We delve, we feel free. Sex spree pell-mell. Semen teem. Legs elevenses.

Heather is hell loves leather. The tarantella foam and passacaglia froth. Fumble is a sidekick: pollen count spout and handle with care in a den of force kisses. Stipple of scrub.

Tilt shine sights to skate take-off. Tickle take pains het slip gig to aim to arm to penis to deface to clockface scar. Rage against het. Sigh chime. Fish scythe.

The 21-year-old actor tells MTV News he's watched in horror as a wave of gay teen suicides has swept. The 21-year-old farmer. Goatherd. 21-year-old cardigan. 21-year-old dust mite. Particle.

A miss miss miss is a miss is a miss is miss is as good is as good is as good is as good as a good as a good as a miss is as good as a mile as a mile as a mile as a mile mile mile.

Wasteland to castle to jump-pit imaginary snake to scab over-knee hand snatch ghost growth in underwear / you are / you named in the / you heart / stretch to reach / temporary sheriff of not-Nottingham.

The BBC’s chief political correspondent is diarrhoea and vomiting. Iolanthe; Ruddigore. Basically sickness and diarrhoea. Pinafore. Gondoliers. Nothing rhymed.

Black streets don’t show up on film. Pan back to the boiled bodies of Dresden. Dry streets on film. Backstreet’s back: black words, markless. Pearly Jesus. Vitruvian gay teen.

O! the huge manatee. Clothes-jam / car jumble mindset. Dogs are amazing naked. All together: if you want to know if he loves you so it’s in his piss. That’s where it is.

Shoop. Loop of purest schooling, a flock paper, caraway seeds; cyan aria, white sky: greenest feet, field is pale. Riverdead.

English Heritage landfill aggro David Bellamy golf umbrella: barley flag malady druid ogre fail and harbinger of rubbish. Subsoil foe hanger barge band leafy grove dread flog marmalade. Binatone Pong.

PARADE deeper dearer paper drape pare rape pea.
Ash seam scene shame cinema amnesiac CASH MACHINE.

Rainfall. Kraut und RĂ¼ben. 15,300 days; breathe stand touch tongues. I need love missing you already. We’re just trying to tell them that it’s not wrong.