David Gale’s Peachy Coochy Nites #4

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 1: PC#4

Previously on Peachy Coochy: I had saved the children of the world from the murdering men by turning myself into a series of mighty weapons. As the last of the bullets burst from my body I sank into the earth and became a worm. I became an egg.  The question now was: what is left of life after such extreme excitement?

I remembered the words of Michael Herr, author of the remarkable Vietnam War book ‘Dispatches’. As the war ends he realises that the rest of his life will never be this intense again: “You missed the scene, missed the grunts and the excitement. You tried to get the same highs here that you’d had there, but none of that really worked very well.”

Why would I bother to be born? Should I not stay in the soil, quiet as an egg?  I had, after all, been there and done it. I knew of the cinema that was consumption, the theatre that was purchase, the realistic art that was everyday life. I was bedded down now – why should I rise from the muck and take flesh? Where was the worth in bursting forth from the earth? 

Tink said “I want you to put out a shoot.” I said “Tink, why do you smell of metal?”  Tink said “It’s my dust! It comes from deep in the earth. That’s why you must listen to me. If you push hard and breathe deeply you can become a pixie!” “What are the perks?” I asked. “People give you bowls of milk,” she said. “Fuck that!” I said.

I became a block of wood. I didn’t go through the root, shoot, bud, leaf shit. I just blocked out. It was good. People never give you a second look. The grain thing is good too. It runs through you, you’re the same anywhere. And you’re strong. If you get kicked or carved you haven’t lost anything because you’re the same. People feel relaxed around you – they’re completely themselves.

“Who are you?” I asked the elf. “I’m an elf,” said the elf. “Why are you so ugly?”  I said. “Two things, fucker,” said the elf. “One: it’s in the eye of the beholder – all elves would rather lick a dog’s arse than look at a block of fucking wood and Two: magical folk cleave to their own systems of beauty.” “Big deal,” I said. “You should try it,” said the elf.

I didn’t want to be an elf. I became a parcel. I could see the advantages immediately: I had an inside and an outside. The outside would serve as a stout protector of the inside. The inside would not be visible from the outside. As to what was in the inside I did not know. I suspected it was empty but if this was the case then it could be filled.

Something  was tugging at my string. “Who are you?” I asked the clowns. “We are Klink and Klank,” said the clowns. “Just to see us is to smile and to burst out singing gaily and involuntarily.” “Do you hear me singing?” I said, “I hate fucking clowns.”  “You say that,” said the clowns, “We haven’t been funny yet.” “Okay – you got any parcel jokes?”

That stumped the bastards. “Okay,” said Klank, “but you should see our colleague Klonk – he’s fucking funny.” “Klonk,” I said, “Are you real?”  “Fuckin’ A, man,” Klonk said,  “These guys here are pansies; weekenders. I’m an actual clown – it’s not like something I do, it’s what I am. I have clown blood like grain  in wood. I have like, clown DNA.”

I realised that Klonk was not human. He was the real thing. He had no choice. I liked what he said about wood. I asked him to carry me around. He was interesting. He threw buckets of paint and his trousers fell down frequently. He would trip up on imperceptible unevennesses in the pavement. But he never dropped me. 

As Klonk and I made our way around the world we came across a great winged figure. The angel said “I am Razzabaz. Give me your parcel, Klonk.” Klonk said “Back off, Big Wing.” The angel said “Come unto me, Klonk. Let us see what you are made of.” The maimed clown and the angelic creature fought over my stout packaging.

Razzabaz gouged Klonk’s eyes out and Klonk ripped off the angel’s wings. The clown ran screaming into the bleak lands of the Norfolk-Suffolk borders. I changed into a crate. The sort that come as a flat-pack but with hinged sides that snap out firmly. Razzabaz said “Now you have a skeleton but you are open. You can fill yourself.”

We walked to a great plain. Razzabaz said “This is the mouth of the planet. We must wait here. When the time comes animals get uneasy.” I looked around – there were groups of people chatting and, indeed, some animals. I couldn’t see any crates anywhere. I recognised German-American songstress Jennifer Rush and got Razzabaz to carry me over to her.

“Hi, Jennifer, my name is David Crate. Can I say I really adored ‘The Power of Love’, a massive UK hit in 1985.” Jennifer seemed pleased, “You’re a friend of Celine Dion, aren’t you?” she said. “Well,” I said, “we used to hang out a bit in the Paris riots in ’68. I don’t see her so much now.” “She covered ‘The Power of Love’, of course,” said Jennifer. “Yours is better, Jenni!” I said.

Another person waiting by the earthquake faultline was the Pep Boys. “You seem very close,” I said. “I am Manny, Moe and Jack,” said the Pep Boys. “I have 593 vehicle repair and maintenance outlets in 36 states. Also, I am magical.”   “Like an elf?” I asked. “Kind of,” said the Pep Boys. “Why are you singular though?” I further enquired.

“This is basically a philosophical issue,” said Manny, Moe and Jack as one. “You should not confuse me with my human counterparts whose images I bear. I am, as I said, a magical creature with direct lineage to the faery folk. I lend my powers to the promotion of car parts. But now I have escaped and am waiting for the earth to open that I might assume some fleshly form.”

Before I could take him up on this the earth yawned open. The animals moaned and screamed. Against the roar and rumble, through the blinding light, I glimpsed objects forming and melting, forming and melting. I saw Jennifer Rush lose her balance and the Pep Boys lurching unsteadily. I gave thanks for the four square solidity of my plastic bottom.

As if in a dream I saw cascades of glowing  shapes. Each member of the animal kingdom was represented. Their bodies shone but they had no muscles, no organs. They moved slowly past me, silent, elegant, empty. I asked Jennifer to pick them up. I felt the spectral creatures filling me.

They pressed against my sides – they were my organs. They clattered softly – they were my voice. They tangled and collided and were my psychology. They could be seen through my open top, glimpsed through my barred sides. They were my contents now. They had come from the depths of the earth, forged from the deepest incandescent liquids.

Then a table came. Its top was barely visible, so clear, smooth and unveined was the glass. Its legs of chrome were deceptively slender. Where I stood on my corners this stood on three small points. I was placed upon it. Anyone could see me, I hid from no-one. I had left the soil now. I had left the egg.


David Gale’s Peachy Coochy Nites #5

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 1: PC#5

Previously on Peachy Coochy: I had been born as a block of wood and had developed into a packing crate thanks to some magical  beings and some clowns. I was full of glass animals and had been placed on a table where anyone could see me. I knew, however, that there was still much to do. There were things I needed. I was still not as others, despite the animals inside me.

“Strictly speaking, I’m off duty,” said Santa. “And the trouble is,” he said, “You look like a present.” “Give me a person, then,” I responded. “We don’t normally give people,” said Santa. “Our speciality is gifts for people – we have a massive warehousing operation maintained by state of the art inventory management systems. Tell you what – you can poke about in the skips if you want.”

“No way,” I said to the doll. “Been there. Done it.” “I’ve had a lot of women in my time,” it croaked.   “In your dreams, faggot!” I shouted. Then I apologised. “I’m sorry, I meant that strictly in the sense of ‘a bundle of sticks’ not…you know…” “That’s bad enough!” said the doll. “That’s the same as calling a human a ‘spaz’ or something.”

I was getting nowhere. But then the doll brightened up. “I’ve shagged Bonnie Tyler,” it declared. An electric bolt shot through my glass animals. How did this broken creature know about my consuming interest in the raspy-voiced Welsh balladeer with her quiver full of hits such as ‘Lost in France’ (1976), ‘It’s a Heartache’ (1977) and ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ (1983)?

I started to shiver and was seized with wave after wave of memories that I scarcely recognised. I found myself in the air above an impossible swirl of roads, gazing down on a scene of ceaseless movement. How could all of these carriageways lead to places? From what place were they streaming? I stretched out my arms and swooped down.

It was Birmingham. I hadn’t been there for decades. I remembered being there in the 70s. I was putting on shows there, with a group of people. I couldn’t believe what a shithole the city was. I had seen shitholes in my time but this was the clear winner. Ugly wherever you looked. Not a single vista that could even be described as tolerable.

Sometimes, while kicking my heels before shows, I would walk out of the Arts Centre to a pub nearby, possibly called the Sack of Potatoes. I came to think of it as the Sack of Shit. It actually wasn’t all that bad. You could sit outside on a bench and gaze across at the unbelievable mess of flyovers and roundabouts. You could imagine,  for just a few minutes, that you were flying above it.

Everywhere was blue light. It was the light of clubs and night. The light of mournful excitement and dark orange foods. There are travellers in the bar with notebooks. A woman glances. There’s a dog there. You wouldn’t expect a dog. Is it a Black Lab? Under the light?

That hotel on the Belgian coast. A seaside resort. Long blank beaches. It’s actually called Blankenberge. Yes. Umbrellas under dead sky. What shall we do? Let’s weigh ourselves. Where’s the weighing machine?  At the railway station. I daren’t go there – I’d jump on a fucking train.

I was up in Birmingham again for some reason. I had to stay the night in a cheap hotel. Instead of rooms they had walls which stopped short of the floor and ceiling. Partitions. I stood on my bed at night and looked across the tops of the partitions. Under a blue light men and women were sleeping; sighing and shifting. I don’t know why I was there. I had no reason to be.

“I shagged her,” said the doll. “I fucking gave her one.”  I said “I don’t believe you. Bonnie Tyler has her pick of men in jackets. She would not go with something that was recently a tree.” The doll said “You know so little. The thing about Bonnie is the balance in her between male and female elements. That’s her appeal.”

I wondered if Bonnie was still in Birmingham. I wanted to find her and give her one. But would she shag a crate? I liked the firmness in her, perhaps she, in turn, would see that, in my own way, I had both rigidity and capacity. I began to think about the actual mechanics of our congress. How would I caress Bonnie? How would I remove her various outfits?

How would she negotiate my unusual proportions? Perhaps she could get inside me. I thought of her pressing upon my firm ribs with her buttocks, gripping my upper perimeter with her manicured hands, her mauve nails drumming on my rectangular rim. She would feel safe within me. At night-time she would whisper “Every woman needs a crate.”

I realised I was deluding myself. I needed to talk to someone who could remember what having a proper body was like. The man was insubstantial in many ways. I was afraid that he was dead. He assured me otherwise. He explained that he had been killed by lethal injection but that at the point of termination he had jumped out of his skin. He frequented warehouses, giving counsel to distressed packaging.

He recommended a psychiatrist who had tended him before his termination. The psychiatrist had qualities of simply being there that I admired. He was simply there. He sat opposite me in his neat but neutral office. I felt that he could see inside me. He suggested that I describe to him my situation as I saw it. I began to speak.

Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell…

…and suffers like the divine Miranda with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm so calm with a calm which even though intermittent is better than nothing but not so fast

“You’re lucky,” said the psychiatrist. “Thanks to modern mind science I can help you change in 60 seconds starting now. First you must realise that the reason for your sadness is related to negative images and thought patterns that have become stuck in your head. We can replace these images with positive ones that will lead you to embrace life to its deep hilt and suck upon its rich teat.”

I took the train from Birmingham New Street. As we passed through Granton Road I saw Bonnie. She looked so tired. A tired little girl. I wound the window down and started to sing. She looked across the track at me. I felt that although she could hear my singing I was moving further and further away from her. I wondered why she didn’t wave.

As Bonnie became a dot I started to point at her. It was both a goodbye and a hello. I had joined her but I had left her. I was a singer now. I could move others like she had moved me in Birmingham, a blonde in the blue lights, singing for the people sighing, the people wandering through the dead, drab streets. I had changed my ideas. I was a new person. 


David Gale’s Peachy Coochy Nites #6

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 2: PC#6

Previously on Peachy Coochy: as a result of visiting Birmingham with the intention of shagging  power ballad singer Bonnie Tyler I had succeeded in transforming from a packing crate into the singer Barry Manilow. For a while it was good to be Barry. The Las Vegas Hilton stocked many fine wines and gourmet repasts while the ensuite facilities were beyond reproach.

I made many friends and took part in complicated sexual experiences. In the street I frequently encountered people who were anxious to talk with me and touch me. I met several people who wanted to be me and a few who said that they were me. I asked a man who said he was me if he was happy – hoping to gain some insight into my condition. He replied that he was unsure of himself.

But I had everything – how could I be so unsure? My new album ‘Beautiful Ballads and Love Songs’ had gone double platinum and I had enjoyed capacity attendances at  London’s O2 Arena last December. Yes, my nose was unusually big but this could not account for my abiding sense that I was not the same as other people. Something was missing.

When I spoke with my friends they were at a loss. They kept saying that I was at the pinnacle of my career and could want for nothing. I introduced them to the man who said he was me to see if he had some other perspective to offer. His name was Barry, of course, but when pressed he said it was Frank. This, in turn, he told me, was short for Francium.

It transpired that Francium is among the rarest elements listed in the periodic table. It is estimated that at any one time there are no more than twenty atoms of it present in the world. As a first name it is being taken up increasingly in the countries of the west, where, one might hypothesize, the attrition of identity has acquired such momentum that the subject does not feel unique so much as invisible.

Frank explained that Francium has a half-life of only twentytwo minutes, after which it decays into the halogen Astatine, of which, it is estimated, less than one ounce exists in the Earth’s crust. This was also the name of his sister, an ethereal creature who warned us that, in eight and a half hours, she too would be gone.

“Are you not sad, Frank and Astatine, that you share with the Mayfly the briefest of lives, in which you are constantly flying, never eating, then dying? Frank et Astatine, est-ce-que vous n’etes pas tristes?” Astatine spoke softly, stroking my sleeve with her cold, translucent hand, “Non, Barry. We are not sad.”

“It is not widely realised that the mayfly spends up to two years as a larva, during which period it eats algae and other microscopic animals. By the time the mayfly transforms into an adult, it has already lived a full life, by insect standards.” Frank interrupted Astatine. “Barry, I have only a few seconds left. Promise me that I can be you.”

“Even Astatine,” said Frank, “cannot comprehend what it is to never land, to be in constant decay,  to turn inexorably into one’s sister every few minutes. That is why I chose you, I wanted to live outside time, as you do, Barry. If I cannot be you I will be a brick. At least it has constancy.” I heard myself screaming: “No, Frank!”

“Do not choose a brick! Understand that while I am Barry Manilow now,  I was once a packing case! You may even have put things in me! No, Frank,  that is not the way to go.” “But Barry,” Frank cried, “what can we do? What is constant? Are we doomed to endless wandering?” Suddenly I knew what I must do. All the imagery with which I had sustained myself fell away. In that same moment Frank vanished.

Johnny Depp was staying a few doors down from my suite in the Hilton. “Barry, yo! Come on in!” he said warmly.  “Johnny, I am not Barry Manilow, my real name is David Gale and I am on a quest.” “Hey, whatever,” Johnny said, “I’m not really Willy Wonka! Do you love wine?  I have some from France here. Claret. Goes well with cheese.”

The truth that Johnny then told me was shocking, as I had expected. “You know why you’re not happy? Why you feel different than everybody?” I shook my head, “No. No, I don’t.” Johnny gazed at me piercingly. I realised that his eyes were brown,  like mine. We were, in fact,  almost lookalikes. Perhaps… “Don’t go there!” Johnny said. “It’s a dead end. You know it is.”

“It’s because you have never killed anybody.” I almost dropped my glass. “What? What do you mean?” “Did you see that movie?  ‘The Truman Show’?” “Yes, I did. Why?” “The way that whole  thing was going on and he knew nothing about it?” “Yeah…” “Okay. It’s the same. Everybody has killed somebody. That’s how they do it. That’s their secret.”

I felt sick. The room swirled and melted around me. “Does it have to be someone you like?” I stuttered. “No,” said Johnny. “That’s not important. It should be a mindless act, firing into the crowd.” “Does there have to be a crowd?” I asked. “That’s just a detail – could be anywhere.”

I entered the Maghreb at Tangier and started out along the coast.  I came across two men in their pants and one in a suit. They said they were,  from left to right, Peter Orlovsky,  Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. “I’m not gay,” I said. “Relax!” Burroughs said. “This is an international zone. You’re free to do what you want or not do what you don’t want.”

“I’m looking for lonely people,” I explained. “Are there any here?” Kerouac said “You’d be better off further down in Algeria. People walk alone on the beach there. You can hitch-hike. You can kill people.” I was taken aback, “How did you know?” Jack said “It’s just something you have to do. Their death fills you up.”

I walked to Tetouan,  crossed the border at Bab el Assa to Ghazaouet and approached Oran. My gun was hot in my pocket. I wondered if the man I would shoot had shot a man. I supposed he had because everyone knew – I was the only one who didn’t. I hadn’t realised. Now I understood. You  are born empty. You must fill yourself with life. Life is trapped in the other person’s body.

I took his credit cards and his passport. He was just some guy. Connolly. Not anybody I knew.  I left him there. It didn’t happen immediately, the feeling. I met a beautiful woman.  I saw a chocolate cake. I found a lot of money on the ground by a bush. I was awarded an international prize. My passport photo was sharper and clearer.

I was asked advice. A car was outside my house. The car was red. I had a suit. I was groomed. I spoke calmly. I went through the gears. Warmth came to me from people. I went to the meadows and the commons and walked about. Children. Animals and birds. The sky.

Now the river. Now the pond. On the other side of the water I saw Celine Dion, Jennifer Rush and Bonnie Tyler. They were wearing white singing dresses. They were waving.  I no longer wanted to shag them. They were my friends. I valued them. I went over to them. Astatine held my hand.


David Gale’s Peachy Coochy Nites #7

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 2: PC#7

In the course of the First Season of Peachy Coochy I delivered a linked series of presentations that were ostensibly concerned with the attempts of an empty, collapsible plastic packing case to find and consolidate an identity for itself. I realise now that these whimsical digressions were simply tissues obscuring a set of nakedly autobiographical concerns.

When I was sixteen I had a girlfriend called Anne Silberstein. Here we are in a punt in Cambridge, our home town. Anne and I walked out for three years. She liked modern jazz and introduced me to the Modern Jazz Quartet. Her father was Dr Kurt Silberstein, the City of Cambridge Police Surgeon. Anne was self-conscious about her nose, which she thought was too big.

One day in Anne’s house I found a leaf that had fallen off a potted cactus. I put it in my mouth so that it looked like a protruding tongue and showed it to Anne. She laughed a lot then put a leaf in her mouth. We pretended to kiss. Then we took the leaves out and found that our tongues and lips were covered in tiny spines.

They just wouldn’t come out. In fact, they seemed to be digging deeper and deeper in. We told Kurt and he shouted at us then fetched an anglepoise lamp, a magnifying glass and some tweezers. For the next hour he pulled out spines first from my tongue then Anne’s. A few just wouldn’t come out no matter what. Kurt said they would eventually be absorbed into the body.

But I wasn’t convinced. I once broke a plate by accident and a small piece of china lodged in the side of my thumb. Over the years it has moved slowly under the surface of my skin towards my wrist. If anyone would like to see it I can show them after the presentation in which I am presently absorbed.Sometimes at night I can feel the china fragment inching towards my heart.

The spines were quite different, however. They impinged directly upon my moods. At first I did not understand what was happening to me. Within a few days of the incident with Anne I succumbed to inexplicable  and novel changes  in my general feelings. Not only did I experience intensities of familiar emotions  but also improbable and unwieldy combinations thereof.

I endured simultaneous fits of obsequiousness and superciliousness, storms of schadenfreude and ignominy, electric bouts of quizzicality and certainty, monsoons of gloom and jubilation, collisions of constancy, zest, pep, vim, black dog, pepperiness, turpitude, languor and general shit.

In his book ‘Teenage – the Creation of Youth Culture’ Jon Savage  describes the Wandervogel – ‘wandering birds’ –  groups of disaffected German youth who ran wild on the outskirts of Berlin in the 1930s. They wore old women’s hats with ostrich plumes, brightly coloured scarves, ears pierced with enormous rings, wide belts daubed with esoteric numbers and diagrams.

Pinioned by the staccato of tiny pains I realised I could no longer find solace in my home town. Setting aside my despair I parted company with Anne, my school and my family and took a train to Berlin. As the spines bored relentlessly through my tongue I determined to find the Wandervogel  before the arrows centred on my heart.

The Wandervogel  hike through the countryside with musical instruments, living off the land, sleeping on ferns and drawing inspiration from the ways of the American Indians. They believe in a mystical bond between the land and the soul of the people. The Berlin group, I found, was flamboyant but highly principled, with strong beliefs in purity.

I passed many tuneful days with the Wild Youth, as they called themselves. Their rituals were fascinating and their self-discipline was exemplary. When the strange exaltations of feeling seized me, as they did so often now, my companions were grave and supportive. It was when I told them about Anne that the situation changed. They escorted me to the edge of the city.

Jim Mitchell was from Wichita and sought to seek his fortune. He was travelling with Estelle Carter from Gillette, Wyoming. They were both fifteen years old. When the big banks all collapsed their parents turned to drink and started beating them. The freight train pulled though the night across the Great Plains under a blanket of stars.

Some of the older hoboes started shouting at us. They were making threats against Estelle. Then we heard screaming and crashing sounds. Something seemed to be moving down the train towards us. The end of the boxcar  suddenly exploded open. An enormous translucent worm slithered through the gap. Inside it were the writhing bodies of the tramps.

We were sucked into the cold, slimy mouth of the creature and probed by the furious tentacles lining the tunnel of its body. As they entered my mouth, ears, nostrils, penis and anus simultaneously I felt a dull electric current followed by an excruciating  pain – the spines in my flesh had swarmed together around my heart and were defending it against this abomination. 

The freight train was deserted. The driver and the brakeman alike had been consumed. The train clattered on for hours and hours. New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana. I was consumed by an epileptic hail of conflicting emotions. They coursed through me regardless of my thoughts or whatever it was that I found myself doing.

I settled for several years in a small farming town where I kept bees. The constant wandering of the spines was a relentless source of discomfort which I found I could alleviate by drinking honey every few hours. But small town life wasn’t really what I craved. I yearned for Anne and the crash of the city.

I was methodical: I tried to imagine what she would be like now and where she would go. I spent a few days in Notting Hill, some in Hoxton, some in Soho. I kept mostly to the main streets, reasoning that she would have to use them from time to time to get to where she lived. Several months passed. I decided to visit Camden Town.

“Anne, Anne – it’s me, David! From Cambridge!”  “Fuck off!” “Anne, you’re still beautiful but you look so tired!” “Just piss off, will you? Get out of my fucking face!”  “I’ll come back – when you’ve had a rest.” I was elated. I knew where her house was! Obviously she was shocked to see me but it was clear she’d been working hard and was a bit nervy.

I went back to the room I had rented in Acton and tidied myself up. I’d been on the streets quite a while and hadn’t been too concerned with my grooming. On my way back to Anne’s house I saw her coming towards me. “Anne! My God! I’m so sorry! It’s all my fault! The spines – they’ll never leave us!”

I had a sports drink with me, with syrup in it. Blake kicked it out of my hand and slammed me into a wall. He spat in my face over and over again. I contracted Hepatitis C and in consequence could not process the removal from my body of harmful substances. The spines gathered around my liver. The pain was overwhelming.


David Gale’s Peachy Coochy Nites #8

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 2: PC#8

Previously on Peachy Coochy: I  had realised that I had been taking advantage of my executive  position within the Peachy Coochy organisation to present barely disguised accounts of my personal life. I regret taking advantage of my audiences in this way and now wish to make amends by restricting myself to statements that are plain and direct.

I remember a tremendous bang and a cry. I tumbled over and over myself like Charlie Chestnut Goes to School on an Icy Day. There were others all around me but I pushed my way through.  And then I joined up with Jane. She had been living in her mother’s house. We settled down together in a little place her mother had set aside.

As the months passed Jane and I grew so close that it was as if we were one. We decided to call ourselves Victor. All day long he received messages and information which he carefully stored. Soon the little house became too little. On several occasions a snake attacked the house thump thump like when Miss Sassify Berella and Smallene Toot saw off the Gump.

On one particular day I came under pressure to move on and, habituated by now to the warmth and dependability of the place, I found I was loath to leave. Pressure soon came from all sides and I was forced to climb down. The shock was considerable. I realised I had never been outside.

As I looked closely at the place I began to realise that it was composed of countless tiny figures. I gathered some of them up. They said their name was Alan and Margaret Edney. I didn’t know them. They called me David, saying that Victor was only temporary. However, what they then went on to tell me has made me the person I am today. 

Alan, who wore a blazer, said “All the good food that you eat turns to shit inside you. Why doesn’t it stay good inside you?” “There’s shit in you now,” said Margaret. I said “If I had a baby would I have a shit?” “Of course you would,” said Margaret, “There’s only one hole.”  “Does the baby hurt your bottom?” I asked.

“Of course it does. It splits it,” said Alan, fingering his pipe. “And then the shit is out all over the place,” Margaret went on. “Can you put the shit back?” I wondered. “No. It won’t go back,” they said together. “How does the shit get up the bottom then?” “People put it there.” “In the night?”  “That’s when they push it up.” “Is the baby shit?” I enquired.

Alan adjusted his tie. “It’s a big shit,” he replied. “The mummy carries the shit. That’s why she sticks out,” Margaret confirmed. Alan began scraping the bowl of his pipe with a blade. “The mummy grunts when the shit comes out,” he announced. “Does she love the shit?” I wondered.

“She very much loves it,” Margaret asserted roundly. “She makes it into a baby.” Alan tapped the pipe bowl into an ashtray beside his pint. “And the shit goes inside the baby,” he averred. “You can’t see it,” he added, “But it comes out.” “Like sick,” observed Margaret. “Can she sick the baby?” I questioned.

“Sometimes the baby is sicked up,” Margaret stated matter of factly, adjusting her necklace. I spoke “Does she put it back?” “She can eat it up if she wants,” Margaret spoke. “Can she stick it up her bottom?” again I wondered. “It’s better to eat it up. It’s quicker,” Alan responded then.

The baby doesn’t die,” Margaret pronounced. “No. The baby never dies,” they said together. “No. The baby never dies,” they said. “No. The baby never dies.” I posed them a query “So where does the baby come from?” “The daddy,” they said together. I came up with a further enquiry, “Is the baby in the daddy?” Margaret looked at me. “The baby is in the daddy’s peepee,” she told me.

I touched my collar. “My peepee has peepee coming out of it how does that make babies?”  Alan puffed up some tobacco. “The baby is in the peepee,” he confirmed. “The daddy peepees in the mummy, David,” mentioned Margaret.”Where does the peepee go?” I wanted to know. “In the mummy’s hole,” Margaret came back.

“What hole?”  I queried. “The bottom hole,” “The daddy is full of babies,” “There are as many babies as the mummy wants in the daddy.” “Why doesn’t the daddy have the baby?” I shouted. “He gives it to the mummy,” Alan murmured. “The mummies are nicer,” smiled Margaret. “Does the baby shit?” I pressed.

All the shit comes out of the baby.” By now Alan was puffing easily. I had to keep on, though. “Does the mummy shit in the baby?” I insisted. “Yes, David. The baby is full of the mummy’s shit. And then it comes out of the baby. Onto the ground. That’s at the beginning – when the baby is out of the mummy the mummy can’t shit in the baby.”

“The mummy’s shit goes on the ground. And the baby’s shit goes on the ground.” That was both of them together in unison at once. “Does the mummy shit in the baby?” I had to know. “Yes. The baby is full of the mummy’s shit. And then it comes out of the baby. Onto the ground.” “Is the ground covered in shit?” I ventured.

“That’s what the ground is. The ground is all the shit that has come out. People wear shoes because of that. Because the shit can go up through your feet,” Alan said. “The ground is a big shit. Done by all the people ever,” Margaret said. I posed my last question “Before people was the earth a big shit?”

“Yes. It was a very big shit in space. In the stars. And people came along and did their shit on it.” Alan drained his pint and shook my hand. I turned to Margaret, “Margaret, are you my mother?” “No,” Margaret said. Alan had quite an interesting car – a 1959 Series II Hillman Minx saloon with long handle floor-change gearbox and single dial dash.

I was feeling hungry. I had never been in a restaurant before. I ordered the all day breakfast. It actually only took 20 minutes to eat. The food was very filling  and quite greasy. I felt an urgent sensation at the pit of my stomach. I had not yet learned to control everything that happened in my body. I stood up and completely lost control of my bowels.

The nurse told me that the King was coming round to see people who had conquered their shame. She asked me how ashamed I was. I said I was not ashamed to see the King. She said “That’s not what I mean, cunt. Everyone wants to see him. He only wants to see people without shame.”

I realised that I was too wretched to see the King. He would be disgusted. Then I had a good idea. It was the beginning of my life, I needed something I could rely on, something I could use in everyday situations. I took a deep breath and split into two. I hid the disgusting half in a house in Hertfordshire. Then I went to London.


David Gale’s Peachy Coochy Nites #9

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 2: PC#9

Previously on Peachy Coochy: a Nurse had said that I could have an audience with the King if I could prove that I had conquered shame. I was keen to see the King so I split myself in two,  leaving the shameful part in a house in Hertfordshire. I walked through ploughed grey fields and took a train from Harpenden to King’s Cross.

Freed from the repellent side of my nature I felt that I had stepped aside from history. I felt light and open. People could see who I was at last. I realised that my shame had held me back all through my life. Divested of this corrosion I could feel great forces unfolding within me, like sleeping snakes shaken awake.

I soon found that relatively few countries in the world still had monarchs as heads of state.  Europe, however,  contained a number of small principalities. Luxembourg, for example, is a parliamentary representative democracy with a constitutional monarch, ruled by Grand Duke Henri. It is the world’s only remaining sovereign Grand Duchy.

Henri led me along one of the streets. “Why is the city so shadowy?” I asked him. He seemed surprised. “Is it?” he said, “Perhaps we do not notice it any more.” “It must be hard to find things,” I said. “Non, c’est pas difficile. It’s a small place – we remember where everything is. You will like where I am taking you.” The Grand Duke led me to a bright hall.  

The space was full of princes and princesses, archdukes and archduchesses, dukes and duchesses, marquesses and marchionesses, margraves and margravines, counts and countesses, viscounts and viscountesses and barons and baronesses. I knew that I was their equal so I started to throw some shapes. A figure moved towards me through the darkness.

“Do you like the Bee Gees?” he enquired. “Who are you?”I enquired. “I am Count Robert of Bedfordshire. Call me Bob,” he replied. “You know what,  Bob?” I asked. “What is that?” he asked.  “I love that high pitched melancholic shit. It puts me in touch with myself.”

“I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes / and I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said.” (Unexpectedly accurate rendition of Robin Gibb’s solo vocal part in ‘ I Started a Joke’ (1968) continues until expiry of time frame)

No sooner had I rendered the couplet for Bob than his skull began to distend and reshape itself as if it had succumbed to a hideous tropical bone softening disease. His hair began to seethe and swarm, bristles burst from his jaw and when he spoke it was as if great machines were seizing up in dank subterranean caverns.  

Suddenly the lights in the ballroom blazed on. The place was empty. As Bob hurled himself howling towards me I ran along the silent marble corridors through the great rooms where the sound of footsteps is absorbed by carpets so heavy so thick that all sound escapes the ear as if the ear itself were very far from the ground, far from this empty décor,

far from the ceiling with its branches and garlands like classical foliage, as if the ground were still sand and gravel and stone paving which I crossed once again between these walls laden with woodwork with pictures with framed engraving, marble mirrors, pillars, alcoves and rows of doorways, this dismal place laden with a deserted past.

Because I was light, transparent and groundless and Bob was hard, dense and dogged we were curiously matched. It was not long before we reached the east of Luxembourg where it bordered with France. I had an economic running style, relaxed shoulders, good cadence. Bob, who was always about two or three hundred metres behind me, did far too much with his arms but kept up a relentless pace.

I was pleased to leave the perpetual Luxembourg dusk. Soon I was being chased past all that was good about France. Inside the chateau a lady sat by the fireplace with some children at her knee. To one side is a spindle. A cat is there. They looked up as I entered. “Asseyez-vous, monsieur,” said the lady. So I did.

Apparently her son J.T. had been driving his truck at night on the 285 between Encino and Vaughn in New Mexico. He had picked up a young woman hitch-hiker. She wore a full-length, cream-coloured skirt and a tight navy blue top with short, puffed sky-blue sleeves that were slashed and filled with red velvet. Round the back of her neck was a high white, stiffened collar.

J.T. asked her if she worked around those parts. “I clean houses and make them tidy,” she said. Her voice was high and clear like a young girl’s but she seemed to be in her late teens. J.T. was not a major conversationalist so he just said “Uh-huh.” Then she said “I brush the dust up and wash the dishes.” Then she laughed  – a short peal of notes that didn’t seem to relate to anything amusing that J.T. could see.

As they drove through the night J.T. noticed her hands. They had no moles or marks, they were unblemished milky white. So pale were they that he thought he could see the blood running through her wrists. As she shifted them in her lap they left a phosphorescent trail, a faint mist of light hovering in the air then falling gently into the fabric of her dress. 

The next morning J.T. froze when Cliff and Roy came into the bunkhouse at sunrise. She was sluicing the flagstones and singing. “This here is Mister Clifford Preece: ranch-hand. And Mister Roy Lennox. Ranch-hand.” Cliff and Roy, glaring  their suspicions at J.T., nodded and mumbled.

I drew Mary to me and pulled off her blue bodice revealing her marble breasts. She gazed unblinkingly at me as I caressed her. I noticed that when I was with her Bob stopped running. We made our way to Omaha Beach where we were redirected to Dunkirk. We shot some exhausted horses and sang with shattered soldiers in ransacked bars. A man gave us a canoe which we paddled to Ramsgate.

As Mary waded ashore Bob burst from the water snarling. Mary killed him with a fishing knife and his blood ran into the chill grey water. It seemed so long ago that I had sung a short snatch from a Bee Gees song and witnessed the unsettling transformation of Count Robert of Bedfordshire. Mary opened a small gift shop in the town and I flew to Luton.

I knocked on the great door at Count Robert’s place and it swung open. The butler, ashen-faced, was holding the body in such a way that it appeared to gaze at me disdainfully. “I’m afraid he has taken his life, sir,” said the senior servant. “But why..?” I stammered. “He said that the leakage  between the phantasmal and the mundane was turning him to vapour.”

I felt my body growing opaque. My desire to see the King melted away. I had to anchor myself. I had to plant my feet on the earth. A few miles away in Hertfordshire my shame languished in a damp, decaying house. It fell upon my neck and gorged on the fat of my new found freedom. As I pulled away it whispered “You’re tho nithe, tho very very nithe.”