Wednesday, 11 May 2011

I Sought a Meme and Sought for it in Vain

The Word Fest reading was lovely. Here is a photo by Tyla Arabas.

Also, here is a project I'm clearly never going to finish. One night a friend and I decided to write 8 anti-novels. We managed two each. Here is my second one.


An Apolitical Thriller

* * *


“Thank you for the best day ever!”

That’s what’s currently written on my arm. There’s absolutely no point when anything can happen; no place to get a toe-hold. We are eating grilled robots up on the hill above town and writing

“Aw! Honey! You’re so great!”

on one another’s arms with fineline pens. Insufferable and insipid. I am filling in a little heart on top of the “i” in “especially” in my sentence

“Everyone loves you, honey! Especially me!”

on Suzannah’s downy left forearm when Christopher Mills announces that he has invited a Realist to join us.

“Just like Christopher Mills.”

I write on Suzannah’s arm.

“Always vying for Suzannah’s attention. Realist! Feh!”

Suzzanah, who cannot handle anything but obsequious compliments (especially when they’re being written on her arm) hates the way me and Christopher Mills fight over her and wears nothing but cut-off wedding dresses. She withdraws her arm with a scowl.

When the Realist arrives we play Mock the Realist. The number 14 appears on the horizon in bricks (this took months of planning). A man with a gun shows us his animal slippers. Embattled Lingerie, a theatre troupe, bring caged buzzards. You press a switch on their cages which prods them into calling. We abuse solvents with Embattled Lingerie for a couple of hours (drafting a manifesto towards a new kind of cabaret) and point-blank refuse to go anywhere, assuming new names in the style of Puritans and heroes, Absolution Batman, etc. The council asks for our terms. ‘I don’t know,’ we say, ‘A quarter of a mouse? Also, you’re not allowed to use asterisks anymore.’ The council responds in the tradition of the French anti-novel. We get very warm temples.

* * *

II. Sometimes I can see paint-spattered dogs lilting towards the aquaduct

An anti-novel by your local council

We waited for the votes to come in, but secretly we were thinking of other things. I was thinking of making love in the catacombs of afternoon sunlight and some stupid advert for yellow paint which had been going on in my head for days. The others were thinking about their castles, back on the Saskatchewan Hills – too small to really stand up in, but handsome from a distance, backlit like pumpkins the way they liked to keep them.

I was drafting my weekly newspaper column which, that summer, had been my only source of income:

A big banging sound and the leatherette goons are weeing up my living room window, bike chains in their pudgy hands, chewing other bits of bike. I have no statement for their cross-wired dictaphones, so I just let them get on with it. I’d clearly like to be somewhere else, though – look at those sparkly tears in my eyes! Look at those real teeth! {LATER} What a lovely bus – it goes dub-de-dub-de-dub-de all through the town, the raindrops running down its windows like big weeping mourners. I have no patience with mourners. ‘What’s the matter?’ I always want to say to them. ‘It can’t be that bad! At least you’ve been born in the first place! So come on, mourners! Don’t be so fucking negative! This is Saxony!’ that hopeless, noiseless tradition of mashed bananas and a lot of talk about the New Art before bedtime. Dad always said I was going to re-structure the whole world in everyone’s head and he wasn’t far wrong. The best wars are fought in heads. I’m so hungry I could join the mourners, which is really saying something for me.

Some people get paid a thousand pounds a week for their sordid little opinions and/or totally inconsequential anecdotes about family life, but I have to make do with the admiration of my editor and the occasional transport allocation.

‘I really am quite hungry,’ I say out loud.