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.