David Gale’s Peachy Coochy Nites #15

20 slides are each projected for 20 seconds and spoken to for the same period, no more, no less. The script for one of these precision-based presentations is found below.

Season 3: PC#15


Previously on Peachy Coochy I had become disturbed to find that my dreams were  precisely replicating the most ordinary episodes of my everyday life without any embellishment, heightening or emotional intensification. They were simply unexceptional replays of unexceptional moments.


I was out on my bike going to the Post Office. It was a mild day, a bit grey. The traffic wasn’t too heavy.  It’s about a five minute ride. I had a letter clipped onto my bike rack at the back. When I got there I joined a queue to get it weighed. It came to 59p which  meant getting three stamps. I posted the letter.


On the way back I noticed the gears were clicking a little. I changed gear but they kept clicking. I looked down at the chainset – that’s the set of cogwheels joined to the pedals – and realised that the chain wasn’t quite seated properly between two of the chain rings so I moved the front gear shifter slightly and it fell into place and the clicking stopped.


I stopped off at the corner shop to get some bread then made my way home. I found some lettuce in the fridge and got out the marmite and made a lettuce and marmite sandwich and sat down to eat it at the table while reading the paper. After a while I washed the knife and the plate and put the lettuce in the fridge to keep it fresh.


Clearly something thoroughly strange was going on. Even  the term ‘thoroughly strange’ isn’t quite right given that my dream was actually not strange at all, it was spectacularly dull. Again, the word ‘spectacularly’ is wrong as well, but I think you get the point. The more I thought about the situation the more I began to feel uneasy.


The thing about the unconscious, obviously, is that you’re not conscious of it. So if it had stopped working, how would you know?  And what does ‘stopped working’ actually mean? Perhaps it is working perfectly well but has stopped communicating. It’s down there but it’s lost interest. I am walking around with the engine turned off. How long can that last?


I found myself wondering if I had died. How would you know?  I suppose you could ask a friend to put their hand on you and see if it went through. I once went on a canal holiday with Patrick Swayze just after he had made ‘Ghost’ with Demi Moore in 1990. I decided to give him a ring. Patrick, who is currently quite ill, was gracious enough to pass on some tips.


He said that it was to do with quantum physics: the passage of the hand through the body of another may not suggest the immateriality of oneself or the other so much as differentials between styles of materiality. One might pass through another without  learning anything about their world. This was the crux of the multiple universe theory.


Was it possible that my lifeless dreams were evidence of a world through which I passed but of which I had no cognisance? Not a dreamworld as such but some odd synthesis of space and memory. I knocked on the door but no one came to answer. I pushed and it softly gave way. Instantly I was overwhelmed with feelings of impossible yearning.


Hatfield, Copping, Bishop, Bourne, Carruthers 1, Harrison, Brookes, Ray, Shepherd. All gazing back from fifty years ago. Solemn, surly, sunny. Then I saw the line. Diagonally across the picture, from top to bottom,  the boys’ jacket lapels were in a perfect line. What if I were to push softly against it?


The boys folded in and fell. There was a clamour.  “Mum! What are you doing here?” “Keeping an eye on you, darling.” “But you died six years ago.” “Do you mind?” “Well, no. I mean, it’s lovely to see you again. But where exactly are you?” “Where do you think?” “Heaven?” “I don’t believe in heaven, darling. Neither do you.”


I went to the phone box next to the park and dialled Directory Enquiries. “Hello, is that Shepherd? It’s Gale. From school. 1961. Yes! How are you, Shep? Been a bit of a while.  I was just wondering…I’m in town and wondered…if you might like a drink. Oh, great! Um, is there some place you go to? Ah! Remember it well.”


Shep used to be a bit tubby and he still was. He was quite quiet. Quite reserved.  We drank Greene King IPA, fresh with a dry, bitter finish. “I’ve got this idea, Shep. We all ought to start again. ” “Say again?” Shep said. “We should get the rest of the boys and go back to school.” “Eh?” Shep said. “We wouldn’t actually go into school, of course, ”I said.


I think Shep thought it was all pretty odd. He agreed to contact some of the boys, the ones he thought he could find. I persuaded them to meet up every morning at twenty to nine and get on the bus. They were all in their early sixties now. I thought we could just laugh and joke like we used to.


I persuaded them to assemble at the school bus stop at three thirty to go back again. For a few days it worked well. Then Harrison said “David – we’ve  been thinking. It’s been quite fascinating – goes without saying – but, you know, well, we’re not really sure what you want, but anyway it’s been most interesting. All the best, anyway.”


But I knew I was onto something. Somehow my unconscious had been scrubbed clean and in order to get it back I had to start again. I asked Mum if I could move back into our house. She said that it had been sold in 1953 – didn’t I remember? It looked much the same though – some new garage doors, the porch had been altered.  I knocked on the door.


“Excuse me, is it okay if I come and stay in my old room? I used to live here. I’d like just to stay in my room if that’s alright. Only until I get started again.” She said “My husband is in the garden. He can hear me from here.” I said “Is he under the apple tree? The one on the right. With the fork. I fell from there.”


There was a cracking sound. The road opened. I pushed through the soil. Flints and stones and larvae were in my mouth but as I pushed I became more clear. Even as I swallowed the larvae I became clearer. A vast wave of nausea overcame me.  I clapped my hand over my mouth. There was no point.


It was a beautiful bathroom. The tiles were cool, the light was soft. I was sick all over it. It was like all the food I had ever had was coming up. I braced myself against the wall and let the torrent hurtle forth. I had a terrible pain in my head, a white, migraine bolt that split my mind in two.  But I knew what I had to do.


I had been headstrong and slapdash. I hadn’t explained things properly to Shep and Harrison. I needed to be methodical now – take things stage by stage. I would contact people politely and ask them to take part. I would start at the beginning – as early as possible. We would go through my life and build up my unconscious.

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