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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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?

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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…”

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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?”

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21/04/15 I came through the detritus of old joke ends broken catchphrases 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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The Flies Adherent

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.

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Perlesvaus Immersed

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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.”

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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!”

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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.

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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?

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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.

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

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.

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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.”

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Richard’s car can be seen here.

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?”

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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!”

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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?”

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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.”

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Johnny……………………………………………………………David

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!

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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.

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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.

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This is what they look like

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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But I was familiar with the hypnotherapeutic 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.”

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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.”

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01/07/15 DOUBLE SUMMER BULLETIN Part 1
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.


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PAMPAS SEASON 2