I don’t really care whether people behave in a way that reveals what they think or who they are or not, not as anything that’s interesting to report as a general rule. But of course we often don’t (or try not to) whether we realise it or not. We lie.

Thought and behaviour are not the same but they both can be the subject of the body in performance. That is, they might be known by movement. That is, performance is also a situation in which they might be split, and become intermittently the subjects of movement (which is also, say, speech), either being revealed or not, read, seen. There is something at stake here.

Performance – maybe I don’t mean all performance, but what I am trying to make, here and there – isn’t the only possibility of sharing a suspension and re-ordering, in time, temporarily, but it is one: not whole, but the redividing of a division.

Behaviour is everywhere, ordinary, but with mess and risk; still, it is what usually happens. It is sort of plural, but not split. It always implies an act of reading – it’s never just what it is, just a move, say – almost by definition it is a move, read and this reading is the risk. It risks itself as an act against the other’s will (“will” or act) and is of course dependent on the other actually existing in one way or another. It’s an old trick; putting upon, piling up, piling in, but there is something to be said for risk.

Behaviour becomes awful thought when it knows it is being looked at and when it does it is a one-way thank-you-very-much; like a squirrel running in stupid endless circles, all twitchy-looky to collect a nut from a tourist to become a digital picture compared to a seagull gobbing what it can for a squawk and fucking off, or squawking anyway about something else, unaddressed, not bound by the empty game. They’ve got their own thing going on, birds.

I regard birds as something like thought. I’m going to call it thought for now even if actually I might not always know what it looks like. In really peculiar circumstances like on a stage, in movement, anywhere if you’re a bird, anywhere separate, unaddressed… it can be there. It is perhaps simply something done, a simple action done simply, stripped, or singular even if many of these can be there at the same time and sometimes it is better if there are. It is taken out, entirely exterior. Close to no thought at all, you could say, as in these kinds of “movements” “reveal” nothing of an interior (this thought has no motivation) such as me, or a character other than perhaps the cellular body.

These movements, which I don’t know what they are, do not prove there is a thinking person INSIDE this body but precisely the opposite – that there is NOTHING INside, hidden, privileged. Nothing that I am not telling you. Something different is risked. It is a relief, even if this is no more of a truth than another kind of lie. Truth can be someone else’s problem. It is not mine.

How these things are – thrown freedoms depend upon them – is the precarious extent to which who in these situations, whatever these situations are, I do not know them (in advance) – which body – is becoming more or less of a picture and to whom, to which other body.

A precarious equilibrium of pushings, purposefully imbalanced by (re)organising this kind of space and/or time

jeff_koons_two_ball_total_equilibrium_tank_d5496717hJeff Koons, Two Ball Total Equilibirium Tank, 1985

(space and time are material, sometimes inversely dependent; as malleable as situations, space without ordinary time, time when space is abstract). It crucially is not an object (if an object is the ultimate vacuum, like here, regularly, materially dependent on the extraction of space and time). But a spilt

_MG_5915one: and in the process, the matter of changing the direction of those pre-organised projections, of performing and watching, thinking and behaving, as we do, seeing ourselves or not. Limit and mattering.

I’m not in a fight with cancer: chemotherapy is. So never ever say I won or lost it. Chemotherapy is managed or it isn’t. Managed or, more accurately, withstood. I/you is what medicine passes through, a figurative body – one given up – as well as a physical risk of disintegration, of nose, nails, gums. Like giving one’s all by lying dead still for an hour so that radioactive sugar and a CT machine afterwards can communicate. Like the paced chitchat as a plastic tube is pushed in at my elbow and through a vein to an opening just above the heart while the flopped hand on my stomach actually sticks there with sweat through my T-shirt and is seen in the end like a shock, unowned, the light grey seeped and soaked to dark grey glue. None of this is a show as a palliative for something that is actually happening. It is not in fact like anything. It is actually happening. It is a show only to the extent that it might be applied. And it’s not the only one.

SP as a Coffee CupDoing something/doing nothing. (Remember:

Stream). These conditions of performance, as a condition. I am suspended. I am not alone.


At Pasolini’s The Gospel According to


just as the lights were going down for the film to start an older couple were shepherded into my row, in conversation with the usher as if there was something to discuss, as if their very presence was being announced. The kind of discussion that you can’t hear but that implies a kind of ownership of the institution or all institutions, precisely because you can’t.  And I had this great, open awning brain for a very direct thing to happen with this film. I could feel it. It felt direct, like a drill.

It’s nothing new for me to write that Pasolini’s is Jesus as revolutionary, absolutely against all authority, absolutely for the dispossessed. His threat –and it is entirely believable, profoundly affecting, a political truth – is the overturning of all authority. It makes sense why he had to be stopped. Not that you’d have noticed though, because as regular as if it was on the print itself, every time the scene cut and there was no-one speaking one of the couple would say something to the other. Still nothing so loud as to be heard, but loud enough to know it’s a commentary, a kind of “I was there,” “this is so and so” etc. and self-approving.

I shushed and tutted. I really made it clear, but they went on and on so I had a double point of focus, the screen and this couple like a snapped synapse. And I’m thinking, do you have any idea who this Jesus is that you are watching, who are these disciples, these dispossessed? They are not pictures, they are rent boys, prostitutes, thieves and random fucks from actual streets that Pasolini knew (it doesn’t matter if they were not actually, they were enough). They are not acting, it’s more like they are disembodied. They, not you, are the spoken-for here. People for whom Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child is not a soundtrack, but who are nonetheless in a film that is still shrugged-off like institutional religion, like happenstance; as lies strung on a scaffold made from the searing poles of radical affiliation. Theirs/mine to mine/theirs.

Well, you know the story. Things are getting pretty intense for Jesus. In fact he’s being nailed to the cross now and still this couple do their punctuation – I mean, the outrage. I flew from my own seat until my face was really in between theirs, really totally there. And I screamed a whisper, one for theirs, for them to just. Stop. Talking.

Of course there wasn’t so much of the film left to go by that point. You know the story. We got to the end. They lingered, I had to walk past them to leave. I was still angry. They wouldn’t let me pass without forcing the issue of something needing to be said and so I told them that it was not acceptable to talk throughout the film and that they were behaving like juveniles. And I notice that the man is wearing a maroon tie with something like a gold Masonic crest machine-embroidered into it.

Then he told me, as if he was rolling a ball of phlegm around in his throat “You must have very sensitive ears.” I said “I do have quite sensitive ears” (which is true, and I’ve got a sensitive nose now too, since chemotherapy, but I didn’t tell him that). Then he said, still lolling the phlegm “Well, maybe you should be a musician.” Which frankly just didn’t sound like the kind of insult his balling seemed to suggest he thought it was.

And then he goes to me, he tells me that he has studied the scriptures and that if I had studied the scriptures… but by this point I’m boiling – there’s obviously little hope for language here – and I’m walking away and so I do not know what, if I had studied the scriptures… and I regret not having asked him to finish the sentence.


Grace and I have started going to


concerts. What’s gripping are the ways in which the player moves. I mean what the player does to play the instrument that is everything other than the very pressing of keys and pedals. Which are often tiny moves. Or between-moves. Non-moves, if we can. And thinking about why they are. Or why not.

They are almost twitches or at least often as quick or as insubstantial or absolutely revealing as, as if to be the incidental, effect, intent, showbusiness, inadequacy, subconsciousness, necessity, measure, measuring, inadvertency, acting/not-acting, un-thought, unseen, self-assisting, emotional, automatic, concentration, abandon, projection, self/body. Which is as much to say that any reading of them can also be confounded, refused, or not meant to be going on at all.

It’s highly complex, seeing this, like a palpitation. The drama is not in the sound produced but the movement made, which can be tiny – the angle a foot repeatedly pivots on its heel as it is raised. Or how one foot swings regularly while the other pushes for the duration. Or the degree and height to which hands are raised from the keys, how fast or sharp. Or how she didn’t want us to hear the opening bars. Or what he wanted us to know about himself in this disguise.

It’s a very specific and extraordinarily oblique kind of drama: an indication of things happening simultaneously: notes are being played and then there is how or why and this is movement. Behaviour contra behaviour, perhaps it is not unlike thinking about one thing in order to unlock something else, a to-make-something, embodied. Causing mental noise to the extent that it blots out all the other noise (or mess or prey to risk) that was stopping the other thing from coming out.

Nurses do not do this. Of course they don’t. They are not playing anything, they are totally doing. But watching them is not a lament for the body reduced to being as efficient as a machine. It is that obliteration of an undiluted act of love. My limbs are sticks.


Hosp 1Living with cancer is better than living with nothing, as in not living or being blank conjecture. I haven’t had a thought in a month, so I haven’t had a feeling about a thought and that means there’s been nothing to say. So I said it. But I’ve started to import them – feelings – now much more consciously than the drip, drip, drip or the dot, dot, dot that snuck up from somewhere over Xmas when I became dependent on historical dramas and period costume drama-documentaries and I caught myself with a voice in my head as I looked online at the TV listings that was wondering to myself “Are any of My Programmes on tonight”. As if I AM this kind of nothing too. Anyway, these programmes taught me that having babies should override not only personal happiness but also the prevention of abuse or the refraining from self-abuse.

And I found out that Queen Victoria thought breastfeeding was disgusting. Personally, I like it, but it’s hardly my place or the point: her breasts were Albert’s alone. When her daughters had babies and showed them physical affection and did breastfeeding Victoria was so disgusted that she named a cow in one of the royal herds after one of them, HRH udders, cow Princess Alice.

What I did lately, when things got really rock bottom empty of any emotion was go and see Les Misérables. I cried at the right parts, would give the Oscar to Anne Hathaway and what the film took 3 hours to teach me is that so long as we believe in God it is totally OK to own women (a woman) in whatever way you like and that wealth is redemption. Obviously I feel better about myself for all this guidance and inch back to language.


Finishing chemotherapy is a bit like being dumped. You don’t finish it, it is finished for you by someone else. Pricked, questioned, proven, known, told, made OK, not OK, listened to, limited, fearless, terrified, numbered it was like the flesh nailed to the bed

Bacon 1Bacon 2Bacon 3and then not when it is scheduled to be, it’s over, which you’d think could be a good thing – like, a relief – but it isn’t because I’m back to pure conjecture, as above, which is an empty space. And no voice. Somebody else is looking at pictures, not me. I am waiting for more, stuck and blind. Not that they should, but no-one gives me my body back. It is left. To self-diagnosis, everyday – as in ordinary or familiar, and frequent. There is a line rubbed out, which means there is nothing to resist, no grip but this and this only now: the clutching at some scatter and I cannot breathe.

But let’s move on.

I say we go on, but do we? Fiction is not sustaining. By definition, fiction is not sustainable. But I drag myself into this because I know it’s exemplary, and necessary:

I’ve seen Bambi L. twice since I last wrote and we’ve been waiting for him via these others, but that was so long ago that he’s only on the edge of existing, though that isn’t the only reason.

The first time it was still figure-to-figure, so to speak. I wonder what I can remember, or be bothered to. This storytelling… I know I’d thought about what to wear and so had he and he disappointed me with properness – grey and blue, city boy shirt with a white collar and matching black socks. Matching black socks. Matching black socks. What an affront – that nonetheless made me feel less guilty at my own Sadism in having chosen, deliberately but without any real reason – which is perhaps its very definition – my t-shirt with the diagonal stripes that can make the looker-on feel a bit sick (well, myself too, if I look down). Clean pants this time. I don’t know why. I don’t know why, but it was as if we might have been asking for it: distance. Tzzzz. We were holding ourselves up, and separately as if there was something behind each of us.

Well. Proper was as proper did. Like an upright manboy he re-presented every factual thing I’d told him in absolutely precise detail: from my description of lymphoma to the number of brothers and sisters my mum has. Wanting to give a bit of hard flash back I gave a speech about the irony of ‘progressive’ hospital architecture housing an archaic, patriarchal professional hierarchy. Which was because of a consultation I’d had with a doctor who was so totally hopeless at communicating that he should go back to school. I’d even take him if I had the time. In general, what a doctor can be bothered to say to a patient diminishes with seniority, in inverse proportion to their sense of entitlement – to waves parting, doors opening, never having to be so low as to have to stick a needle in anywhere, to a golf course at the end of their garden, a yacht, the villa, helipad, Hampstead whatever. It’s absolutely enshrined this sense of entitlement no matter how much of an atrium they sit you in with however many choices of chairs and foot stools and potted plants and nurses called Carey to be plugged with chemotherapy. It’s a neo-liberal smear, this architecture, and it works and I did not mind that it did. I was glad of it. But moreover, this sense of entitlement that senior doctors have, the ones they call professors sometimes, is systemic. Of course you want to be edified by these dead things given what you’ve gone through to get there, they match the life given up, the extremity of the sacrifice, the close-to-the-edgeness of what’s humanly possible, the tiredness. All that.

And as I’m riffing on this Bambi stops scratching his pen on his pad and he’s standing and just stares and his mouth slowly slowly opens which makes more words come out of mine in a steady flow and his is smiling without curling upwards, by which I mean I know it’s recognised and I feel like a soothsayer in a marketplace and I think when I got to the end he might have just said something like “How do you know these things?” And I tell him I think about them; I’m all a bit pleased like this thing is there now, projected. And he tells me he’s going to an interview for a student research post, which posts are highly competitive. And how he’s chosen his number one project he wants to get onto which is a cancer project because he was so inspired, etc. We went through the questions he might expect but it turned out the interviewers mainly asked him about a recent debating society argument on women and offered him a coveted place on something to do with microscopes, which he also loves… I don’t mean to sound cheap, but I bet he’d have found my neutrophils on new year’s eve. But stop. Have I gone too far?

The first visit ended with him leaving before me but not before he told me he aspired to become a surgeon. And there, friends, is where I found my punctum. By which I mean it really lingered on my mind like an anomaly and a gnarl, a knot. It didn’t seem so strange but for its lingering. And what I came to think was a question about whether saying this, having this aspiration was also about making a lifestyle choice. Like you can’t really take any drugs. No disco dancing. No mess. It’s like being a pilot. Tip top of the tree of this endemic, systemic self-perpetuating sacrifice/entitlement regime. The power. I thought about a conductor who once gave Andrew and I a lift home in his car from the opera and how he was the only man I ever saw wearing driving gloves to drive. And it lodged with me – to be a surgeon… – and grew and I tried it out on some friends until I started to round on a question for Bambi.

And I asked this question quite near the beginning of our second meeting since the last time I wrote – I’ve never been one for cards close to chests. Even in this same meeting, but later, we were already reminiscing and I told him about his odd socks the first time we met and knew after that I should never expect him to wear odd socks ever again. It was just before Christmas and carol singers had turned up and subjected everyone pinned down with poison which was absolutely an abuse and I railed against them and we laughed quite a lot and swapped what we hate and we had a long wait before the chemo process even began and I apologised and he said he didn’t care, he didn’t come for that, he came to see me, and really to laugh because he said I was hysterical. And tough as nails. Tough as nails. He liked saying that. I think it gave him an image of killing cancer cells that made him feel good, this happy bunny saviourboy.

But I told him, I said, that I’d been wondering whether choosing to become a surgeon was also a lifestyle choice. And he said it was and now he looked a bit pleased and said it meant you married a nurse (as in a man and a woman) (there were other things too, but I forget) and then I said: And have you made that lifestyle choice? Really carefully, not toying. And he leaned back in his chair and let out a soft noise from his throat, like how men do when they are easing into position and he said that he would be the exception. And you know what? That’s when the punctum snapped. I snapped the punctum.

What evolved over the next four hours as Jane dripped me stripped him of fictions, of this figuring and I can’t go on. I’ve not minded the liberties I might have taken with the ethics of him as a public, but any more and he wouldn’t be one even if I am still to him: I’d be telling you about the private life of this person and it is not mine, it’s walled-off from this. He knows things about me that no-one else knows and he will write these things in his report. I know things about him that probably quite a few people who know him already know – I mean it’s no big news if a person was an organ scholar is it?  – and yet it’s not OK to report them. Even though I am quite sure that I am no more real here than he is. I told him about how I lived, my thoughts about sexual fidelity and he liked them without application.

And you know what? The story has snapped. He isn’t a story any more. Full. Stopped. Fiction is not sustaining nor sustainable. It leaks out, dribbles away, dries up like words. By which I mean I have not seen him since and that his name’s not Bambi, it is Luke.

Hosp 2Next stop, The Heart Hospital. No joke. Frankly that fiction is sustaining is so much its biggest lie that we already knew that it’s nothing more than a joke. Information, on the other hand: I will find it.

If you’re playing a real drama like Hedda Gabler, you just kill yourself and go home and it’s over. But a soap like this is day after day and it stays with you. June Brown on playing Dot Cotton.

Lest by this that anyone thinks I’m depressed, I’m not. Actually to me what June Brown says is magic and funny. It is also how these forms function – it’s not only playing that counts: looking is a being-done-to, but also a kind of doing, like reading and breathing. So through lung fog I think about everything we go through and how. Tragedy/soap opera. Melodrama, another thing. Tragedy isn’t misery. About what is sustaining. What is day after day. What stays and how we get out of it. What moves and how against the lack of resolution. An ask to show me the show versus a frame rubbed out. The threat of the visible frame or the danger of its invisibility. The proscenium arch/one kind of television: this kind of television is a rubbed out frame, but we’re already done with it because we found others that are even more so. And then that really we all or this or me or art ought to be Hedda, but that it is or we are only because it is or we are the Dot who produces her:   .  .  .

brighton window1


Thus Brandon in Brighton. Harry and I are in the Queens Arms because I wanted something to do and it is KKK: Kamp Kevin’s Karaoke. Smashing. Two halves of Fosters and we stand at an island table. It’s not late and there are just a few smeared around the edges. KK is sloping in a chair in the DJ booth, looking like it’s sophisticated and powerful yet entirely hopeless, emitting that really complicated kind of nasty you could also call spineless but that doesn’t necessarily mean what it seems. On the ledge in front of him is a small pile of paper slips face down with curled up edges like they’ve either been re-used or filled in and flicked with a damp thumb and an empty plastic jug for the spent ones.

Things get underway. I like it. Harry wonders how I know the lyrics without reading the words and I remind him of when I lipsynched The Greatest Love of All in Kumpelnest on Kerstin’s birthday and his total horror and almost walking out. Go figure. Anyway, KK announces “Now, if you’re thinking about slitting your wrists tonight here is the perfect suicide song… perfect suicide song, if you’re feeling miserable, here’s the song…. Would Brandon please come to the stage. Brandon. Where’s Brandon, come to the stage Brandon. Brandon…” And what it was in this was, sure, the suspense and the excitement at such a song, but also just what KK’s relationship to Brandon might be – like, it was indeterminable if KK knew Brandon, though I thought he must to try and get away with high camp negative capability/corporality but really it could have been a genuine irritation, karaoke fatigue exasperation and mild general contempt, fondness and familiarity, playing with a kitten you don’t like or possibly just spite.

Brandon mounts the stage. He came from nowhere and has no supporters in the room. Jeans and a sweatshirt, Reeboks but not fashionably so, just plainly with a peaceful face and mid-length, washed, mid-brown hair, a soft 1970s. These solo karaokers are incredible to me. To give and what to get? To sing and hear. To see and do. To act and witness. Call and response. What’s the request, to who? To be with…

My Way strikes up. Brandon gives a fair-enough account. He’s no SuBo but he holds his line and it’s smooth. We variously join him but he doesn’t need it. The song ends and before you’d imagine KK is on. He reads out the telephone numbers for the Samaritans and the LGBT Helpline and I do not know what register of reality we are on, but we are. Brandon leaves the stage and comes back to a half-full/empty pint glass that he’d left on the table where Harry and I are standing without me noticing before. I tell Brandon that he sang beautifully and that it wasn’t suicidal at all. Brandon rolls his eyes and drinks and goes off.

Time passes. A vaguely bedraggled trannie in her 60s arrives to It’s Raining Men, polyester, throws some moves on the way to her seat like a pro, neat tight sharp small uplifts of the arms, hup-hah, kind of. Within 15mins she’s having her photo taken with students who were out the back smoking until now. They’re all over the dancefloor like the kids at the end of Der Rosenkavalier accosting Baron Ochs: ”Papa! Papa! Papa!” only here I wished they wouldn’t because it’s got nothing to do with being human this kind of photograph which should be banned because it IS death. At least those kids who accosted Gregor and I when we were drugged by the mafia in that bar in Odessa actually wanted something real even though they were ten years younger than these ones – drinks, passports, kidneys and they themselves could have been boys or girls and they were selling sex with their friends and we couldn’t feel our legs but we managed still to “run” away… “Papa! Papa! Papa!”… and crawled up what were not the Odessa steps although they were just as many and only round the corner from the real ones and found our senses playing pool in Mick O’Neill’s Irish Pub. Wild dogs, lilac minks from limousines and packs of stray kids: scavenging alike. Happy Days. But I digress…

KK had a rest then started up again. A few numbers in… “OK… time for another depressing song. Brandon please… where’s Brandon…” the opening strains of the song are starting… Brandon, Brandon… we’re thinking, we’re all sort of looking around… is he… smoking?… “Brandon” [hesitantly, to self]… the opening strains repeat… Brandon doesn’t appear. No Brandon. No. Brandon has left the building. The song? The song he would have sung. “Let’s listen to it anyway.”

The Winner Takes It All.

‘Encore une journée divine.’

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2 – c.5

I’m going for a CT scan at the Cancer Centre where they are very efficient. I’m there on time as are the two other contenders with their chaperones. I’m the youngest and on my own. We all get called together and it’s follow-my-leader down the corridors. Leading is Marysister, the sister of Mary 1. Mary 2 follows, followed by Maryniece – Mary 2’s her aunt – then me.

Marysister is extraordinarily androgynous like someone out of Chaucer. Flaxen hair bobbed, kind of lank, trousers, all practical and chirping like Tourette’s of forced happiness as shrill as you like. It’s utterly unreal verging on psychopathic. The nurse says “Turn left”, Marysister loves it “Oh yes, yes, left, that’s it, turn left, ok, ok, lovely” and she turns left chirruping. And she’s chirping like this to infect the rest of us and it’s dangerous to rise to this bait. Maryniece does and soon they’re in league about journeys to get here, how everything’s on time, oh yes, very efficient here, always efficient etc. and they’re all pleased and proud at it all. And this continues as we sit in the corridor.

Maryniece is blocking Mary 2, but I can see Mary 1 in profile then Marysister at the end of the row. Poor Mary 1. She’s like benefiting from/the victim of Marysister’s psychopathic chirps and her pain is visible and it’s hard and extreme. Her face is absolutely fixed, half-bowed and her mouth is open. There are hardly any lips and it is hooked up into a totally frozen smile that is no smile at all, cut like a crescent moon and only occasionally might she say “yes” as thinly as you could imagine and not a muscle moves and she is there, frozen and it is like this, this picture of relentlessness. It goes on for this woman.

In a cubicle I get changed into a hospital robe the behind of which of course I can’t do up on my own and normally I wouldn’t care but what with all the Marys I do, so I have my coat over my shoulders like Larry Grayson or Mr Davis and my little socks still on which are bright green and bags banging around my feet and I come out skitting along and Mary 1 and Mary 2 are already trundled off on trailors for canulas. Marysister and Maryniece are now full flowing mainly because Marysister will not give up and then we hear why, which is what Marysister has been wanting to tell us all the time: Mary 1 not only has cancer but she is also suffering from chronic depression. Who knew. And well, then Maryniece says that Mary 2 is only there because her doctor’s receptionist who is a right little upstart rang Mary 2 up and told her she has cancer – Mary 2 lives alone and is in her 80s (Maryniece her 50s or older) – when actually Mary 2 does not have cancer at all, just some polyps on her lungs. I thought wasn’t that a plot in Shameless, but Maryniece got the first train from Kent to Holborn and gave merry hell at the surgery.

There’s more congratulation all round about efficiencies here and then some cussing of the government and what’s to become of this medical neatness and Maryniece says something that just stops us dead. What she says about the government, what she says is: “They have no mandate.” And it is like a radical truth you remember from some time ago when there was politics.

No sooner said than off I have to trot with my bags and my flapping bum and my little socks like a joke tip-tripping to the canula dept. and in it goes and I’m really good when I have a canula in, I can sit there dead still and after ten minutes a kid eating crisps is scrawking down the corridor towards me, his father is out of sight and half shouting but the kid is getting whatever he wants from the crisps and somehow thinks it’s his gaff and the kid gets to where I am and there’s no curtain and there I am, frozen with the canula and he must be thinking I am a statue because he’s looking and he’s looking and stuffing his face with crisps and he says to hid dad “How long does he have to be like that”. I am so not going to smile and indicate that I am not like anything, because frankly I’m thinking that’s all I need and kids are vermin at times like this and he’s uncontrollable this one on crisps and then a nurse comes and the dad doesn’t have a pound coin for the locker and the nurse lends him one easy as anything which is amazing, properly nice and the kid is pressing his cheeks against the glass of the office and they put things into a locker out of sight and I overhear and the whole time I’d thought they were there for the dad, but they’re not, it’s this kid that I couldn’t be with who’s here for an MRI scan.

I’m called into the X-ray room, lie down and give it my all.

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I haven’t been to a film screening at the BFI for years. Sold out to the lame, the sick, the half-dead, Rachel and I, we hobble into NFT3 for over 2 hours of some of the most enthralling, stark, spartan and intensive work I’ve seen in a cinema for a long time. Bliss was David Bowie in a television play of Brecht’s Baal and a South Bank special introducing three made-for-TV plays by Beckett. Then something happens. Just as the bonus track starts to play – an additional film of Beckett’s Eh, Joe, which both Rachel and I thought was gilding the lily with its simply unnecessary emotion compared to the stringency and depth of televisual humanity at every single material level it could possibly have been constructed on, in everything that had come before – just as this one starts to play, down the left hand side of the auditorium some of us notice a figure. We see him from the back and it is precisely the figure that we have been watching in Beckett’s Ghost Trio 45mins ago, who does nothing to a window, a door and a platform until they lie and creak and show him nothing more. There is no doubt because this is not an anyone. The figure in the play and in the room has a severely hunched back, the upper part bent almost at right-angles to the rest of his body. His hair is long and white and he is wearing a floor-length coat. We do not see the face of the man in the room and slowly he is walking down the aisle, descending and he emerges into light and submerges into darkness like the characters in …but the clouds… or Come and Go. We want to speak about this, we want to talk to strangers and I make the kind of noise that isn’t a word to acknowledge this and there are shivers running all over me. I can’t remember when I can say the last time was that hairs on my body stood on end but they were, what now I have left of them. I am alive and this is my grave walking over me. The figure is slow and moves forwards like he did on the screen and just before a window appears in Eh, Joe, a final swift wrist of his in the room opens the Fire Escape stage right and: he EXITS. No alarm sounds but big fat round tears fall out of my eyes and onto my cheeks and I let them, plop plop plop. And there they are, and there we are and there I am and dot dot dot and nothing more.

no photo death

Best In Show. Sign outside Death: A self-portrait at the Wellcome Institute.

I’ve always been looking for a window and I have been thinking about this. What kind of window, and how, and why. I mean always as in both before all This and since. Before and since Emily Wardill and I were writing We Are Behind, but charged since then too.

I mean it literally, like looking for rooms with good windows (even from the outside I can look at any building anywhere with windows and think it would be an alright place to live because of what I imagine could be seen from it. It’s like men with legs. Most men with legs I like. Rivers, snow and body hair: all are things to do). And I mean it figuratively – not as in opportunism, but as in time and space (OK so I’m having another go at these) as they might expand into that kind of luxury described by a movement between inside and outside the more massive the better, which is how Berlin at its best is to me. Which is to say that this window, whatever it is, is relevant, a point of intersection not only in the most obvious sense but also and to here and now.

Paintings and theatre are all windows, but it’s of what kind that counts. They are pictures, the first windows. But what pictures? And why? Dead or alive, as in a record or a landscape + a weather condition? Still or not? Escape or enclosure? What pictures for me… I am sure it’s not that kind of ownership described in one of those novels by Forster where the EnglishMAN enters a room and walks always immediately to the window as if to see indicated through it something that He owns, pitiable, neat colonial dreamer, wherever. I do not want a window to own anything, to fix by a leg, a stick, a fence, a gun, a dress, a hat, the look that wards off

Mr and Mrs Andrewslike Mr and Mrs Andrews do us from their estate.

Actually, paintings might not be pictures like the first windows, but I am going back to them as if they are, or something. But whose lies are these for which I fall? They are blueprints, grids. For action, or action itself. Because they are, I have thought, building blocks even though to admit this is also that risk to admit history-as-ownership when I want to give it away. Anyone’s, everyone’s. Even if they are templates to be undone by being re-read, misread, read, is this enough to undo everything else? What is enough? When? Who for? What for? What do they become? Something seen cannot be unseen. But unwritten?

At best let’s say, this act of reading, this something being done, is like breathing by the means of this window that I am looking for, if it were found. It is a subjecting to time. It is looking-out-of and in-through simultaneously, the moving from the inside to the outside with as massive a lungful as you can, but gently. Breathing/reading/moving. Pictures are removed from time by their collection, by the institutions or individuals that collect them, by definition – they define each other in this way, lasting forever. But are paintings necessarily, in and of themselves, without time? Can it be that they are only made so by what is done to them? Maybe these cannot be separated one from the other. But I also want to say that paintings are not in and of themselves necessarily not subject to time – it is just our fear of death that does this – and so that to read them as such isn’t perverse, but joyful, its counter(part). A stop not to them but to this other mechanism, the defining, the knowing, the historying, even if not enough is undone by doing it.

Or, let me start again, I am going back to pictures now because I can, quite literally: not to all of them but to some of them. Those of them in fact that are opposite the Parliamentian Benches of the National Gallery, those free seats for all, with wide studded leather, crafted wooden arms, subdivided into sections that are my current gravitational pull if I have time on/in my hands – because it is a place to be and being there is alright – placed in with the Rubens’s, the Velazquez’s and, well, the Englishes; Turner, Reynolds, Gainsborough. Well, actually, I’ve never really got Rubens and I can’t hardly stomach Velazquez right now, so where I mean exactly is in front of Mr and Mrs Hallett on their morning walk:

6040728677_35e93961e4_zAnd here they are, and they are also owners, these two, I imagine, and I sat there not because I wanted to look but because I wanted to sit down and there I was, slap bang. I’d looked up before, and now I looked and I really felt that now, by now I know this painting and what I thought I know is that here are owners in a state of fleeting, the wild fever of themselves and money. I am convinced of this, here. They are portrayed, we’re told, on or just before their wedding day. The trees and their clothing are a lot more torrid than you can tell by this reproduction. She might be wearing her wedding dress. They are merchants if nothing else for me than by their cheap-fine trippery that could be bought, ribbons and bows like Gainsborough’s sisters sold. And every single bit of frippery is flipping or fripping in the wind like every single leaf and the hairs on the dog. Am I this leaf or that one? And the asymmetry of the opening in the trees to say from where they come, they are emerging in a whirl/trap/whip/bubble. Where are they going? This is the fever of the mercantile, the nascent class, the buyers, unfixed in the very moment of their being painted, of their painting, their frenzy. Oh, the worry fraught. Despite losing his fortune gambling on the horses though, these two still stayed married for 48years. So it’s a game and it’s not unkind, this fleeting surface a roll of the dice and what remains, but it’s a picture of fever painted in a frenzy, by halflight that is, using brushes on 10ft poles like how they say Gainsborough used to do. Half close your eyes and everything is stable. Feverish.

And as I’m thinking all this, a woman comes along with her daughter and the daughter sits next to me and the mother is standing. The daughter is facing the Halletts with me, the mother looking over the bench at the opposite wall – of Turners. The mother suddenly says, quite crisp and well perky like she just has to, without looking at her daughter “Look, darling, it’s just exactly like those barbecues we have on Sundays.” Which seemed pretty brilliant to me and I smiled at her and said this was wonderful and then she was at pains to explain to me that they lived near Shearness, or actually, now, more like Whitstable. But she went on about the Thames Estuary and just how beautiful etc. and then the reasons why and precisely because of it being absolutely EMPTY. Empty of others. The land is theirs alone. Alone. Alone. Alone. I thought I liked empty space, but it doesn’t describe the window. I am dead cold. It’s not the window. Paintings subjected to time are also + people, living, correspondences.

Not four days after I was sitting on the Benches in the National Gallery I went to see Skyfall with Mike + Dalston, selling out the Rio. Halfway through which, where does James Bond receive his new toys from the geek-youth new Q other than exactly – I mean really exactly absolutely – only sat in the same spot in the same room of the National Gallery as I had been – do-be-do uncanny – and none of the pictures had been rearranged that I could tell. But Bond and Q are facing the Turners which are behind the camera. In the background we see Reynolds and the Halletts. Of course, we see the Halletts. Rachel says what’s in the frame is what the director wanted to be in the frame and that’s why this very particular angle showing these things and I trust her and wonder if what is in the frame is seen if it is not seen by the characters? Or rather what do we see, the viewers, about the characters? Which is maybe what Rachel means too. That we are meant to see. Well, it’s also a game – this ‘aging’ spy, this ‘young’ kid, these new toys that are as old fashioned as they come (and go), a gun and a radio. So, we see England in the Halletts at this mid-distance, like permanence and definiteness. Their England offsets the other their’s intimations of Mortality. It stays like a feature film franchise, while they, as characters of course they stay too but only because those that play them also come and go. This play death.

This permanence is a fever, when it is a picture + time, which is what I got that day, sat there, not a sweat, but company, my keeping company (keeping me company) for a period of time. Of course, They who the filmmakers might stand-for, hide or represent don’t want England to be a fever, which is why the painting is in the mid-distance so as not to show its leaves. Like, it just doesn’t matter if general people die in a Bond film: they ought to, for the drama, no question, looks nice, is fine. Really this is an England They want to paint in a halflight of course, that’s showbusiness, in the same way that M does when she quotes Tennyson later on as the general justification for MI6: i.e. it’s only a superficial justification of Them working for “us”, as in it is no justification at all, but the very battlecry of the singular adventurer fighting to prove he’s Daddy, Ulysses with nothing but contempt for the “savage race / That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me” [my emphasis]. Even if “as though to breathe were life”, it is still Ulysses’ breathing alone that counts, in competition, “To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.” It is me, me, me: the fevers. And that’s why we like James Bond: it empties, and by doing so is Their sustaining fiction, lies.

What I am trying to say is that the Halletts are England and fever but that I do not want to be alone as in like the lie of Forever, or an owning Mine, so they become voices and noises, the risk of others, I am producing them into company, the conditions of this window, a picture subjected to time, unsustained, temporal. Jubilant noises, but noises. Just like this photograph

lung 2

is the Thames Estuary at Leigh-on-Sea. And it is also those waters lapping over its mudflats, the fluid produced by cancer in the blood filling a lung, the chest around a lung from the bottom up, that could be pictured

fog lung

in an X-ray by the London fog from Martin’s flat on the 14th floor, which didn’t lift, which was why Harry and I went to Whitstable which is a weird place anyway, which nonetheless was before that dead cold and the happily lonely owner of the empty space for barbecues on a Sunday


and James Bond property-less but not free, without his family and no M***** and because of the way it feels in my chest like the sound that this looks like; is it the creaking of a thin strap (one from Jutta’s Mad Garland I’d like) against a leather jacket as I walk, leathers on leather, or just bones, or the elbow creaking of the jacket itself, differently, softer? These waters lapping. If I move like this does it stop? Stop it. If I breathe like this? Lie like this? If I do not feel it for a moment is it gone? Can I find it again? I do not want it then I panic and I miss it. I’ll rummage. It feels like I could hear it, the sound of water constantly simmering in a pan for an in-breath and sometimes at the bottom of an out- more viscous, with deeper, bigger plops. And I fill it up myself with conjecture, something to do, time and space are taken up. Given up. it’s not this picture that I want is it.

Have I gone too far? I doubt, I doubt, I doubt and so I am alright really. I mean, it could also be a beautiful day

nice day 2It could also just be a beautiful day

nice day 4It could also be a beautiful day

nice day 1It is a beautiful day

nice day 3etc.

The trouble is that to have words put into one’s mouth is as violent as having them taken away. The window is not persuasion. Medicine is fact but it is also fiction: it is the trouble with pictures that are not windows.

But Lo! What’s this?! Other noises?! [Noises off?] Oh pitter-patter tinkle… could it be, could it… be… B… Ba-Bam… Ba- Ba-Ba-Ba—Ba-ambi… Ba-Ba-Bambi L.?!!!… is he coming?… oh come…

Another way of saying why it’s OK in the Cancer Centre is because I do not feel like a subtraction there. And I am writing this not only to explain here the gymnastics involved in trying not to be a subtraction outside of the Cancer Centre, but also as a part of those gymnastics themselves which maybe existed already before any of this, for other reasons. But with regard to now what I mean is that if you don’t watch out there’s a default position in this game that infects your own life and the lives of others whereby:

life + cancer = —life

(as in, life plus cancer equals minus life)

Let’s not do this. For one thing, life is always lived under some condition or other. But what’s more is that this would be too much like not doing anything at all even though ‘minus life’ is no more ‘death’ than life without the minus is ‘liberation’. I am not experiencing either of these right now anyway. Rather, it will be totally familiar to anyone who has had chemotherapy that we might better call this ‘minus life’ ‘treatment’. There’s nothing new in me writing this. This treatment determines the subtraction (nausea, sleep, crash, slowness, half-days etc.) so that when you go to the place where you have the treatment this place can only and obviously be the experience of a double negative, i.e. no longer a minus. Ironically, at that moment, it is something to do, being done.

Similarly, it is exactly at this time of year when I make something physical happen to my own perception, like a jerk: because leaves change colour. Forever I have had a default position in my own mind game about this whereby:

leaf — life ≠ colour

(leaf minus life is not a colour)

But this is simply not the case and every year I remind myself of this – it takes some work  – and this reminding also feels physical because of the way it commands the eye to look, to work as a muscle, not through conjecture, fear, morbidity or by any other psychological infection. The Mind Is A Muscle. Look at the leaf. It is not dead as in nothing. It is yellow. Or red. Or even if it is brown it is still not no-colour. Look at the colour. The colour is real, it is something to do and it can be done. War is over IF YOU WANT IT. WANT IT. These are acts.

Which is like what I’ve been thinking about Robert Smithson’s model of disintegration that he uses to characterise modern life in the 1960s as an inevitable decline that might nonetheless be celebrated, his famous picture of entropy:

Picture in your mind’s eye [a] sand box divided in half with black sand on one side and white sand on the other. We take a child and have him run hundreds of times clockwise in the box until the sand gets mixed and begins to turn grey; after that we have him run anti-clockwise, but the result will not be a restoration of the original division but a greater degree of greyness and an increase of entropy. ‘A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey,’ first published as ‘The Monuments of Passaic,’ Artforum, December 1967

Seen in this way, all systems spiral degeneratively into sameness, all of life, all of production is an incremental inertia, even the act of looking and for sure making art. But we can do something about this. Move closer. Get really close. Step into the box and bend down. What is there is not what you saw before. The individual grains of sand in Smithson’s pit are not grey, but still black and white. The analogy only holds for as long as we occupy a fixed position of inviolable, immaterial perception. ‘Greyness’ is the impression of a colour from a fixed perspective. Only in this way does looking become blindness.*  The  Mind   Is    A     Muscle.       MOVE.

Not to celebrate decline and yet it is not stopped exactly either, but stayed, in/of time and space, a temporary _____, for as long as… , as a muscle moves, as something provisional but still some thing.

So, in general then removing the minus is really about whether or not there are things to do that can be done, which is also what there is to be bothered about for me in anything made and in making it. Things that take time in one way or another and please, I don’t mean craft. It is what to me is so magnetic about what these two paintings by Nicolas Poussin in the National Gallery lead me to, and the gallery itself (though I’ll write more on that place next):

Landscape with Travellers Resting, c.1638-9


Landscape with a Man Scooping Water from a Stream, c.1637

The paintings are not considered to be Poussin’s most interesting or remarkable, according to the gallery – they are non-literary, figures (primitive) popped into a landscape, not thinking, like nothing to think about, as an excuse for the particularly Roman landscape to be studied, its painting practiced for another purpose, for the benefit of another picture which would be literary. The figures are described as if they are an excuse, but they are not an excuse. They are there doing things that can be done. In relation to each other. Like sitting in a gallery.

Who wants to be trussed-up like this lot adoring the Golden Calf of their own palava just to get told off?

When one can be undone, doing things like this

and this

at the same time as each other, but without that being the motivation as such, told to us by not touching, not looking, like klar, like facts.

I am exhilarated. What is being done? We are told and then we look and this is the thing: it is not, or not only. I do not know and yet I do and these things combined are like that dead clean ravishing of Michael Clark. These paintings mobilise my desire to a regularity. They remove the minus, or they offer this as possible and how. This is not a picture but a body plotted, nothing more nor less is told than by anyone anywhere sitting or walking, framed even if only by the look as an act too: a stage space and a scene of stages. Of ours, or mine, or one that I want, or all I want, or the only one, really. That I am reading backwards and into for a purpose, to go on:

Trauerspiel 1, HAU1, Berlin, March 2012

Into/of time and space and/as the function of something done. Love and time. It is basic.

* this paragraph is a slightly altered version of an extract from an essay I wrote called ‘What Is Material?’ for Ruth Buchanan’s new book, The weather, a building.

We were both early for the appointment. I saw him across the foyer. He is wearing the same turquoise tie and a skinny-fitting shirt a bit more ironed than last time, a blonde flop and a really very smart leather bag. He’s sharp but messy-boy dirty and young, young, young. I am 40. Oh, come on, let’s want him.

He used the north lifts, I hid for a minute then used the south lifts. It was like this, a circling, of course as if we hadn’t really seen each other when of course we totally had and we wondered who would approach or how and when. He waited around in the chemo atrium, I checked-in, averting glances. But still it began approximately on time: Bambi L. I stumble and fall, but I give you it all; every detail I could possibly remember about every single doctor’s visit while I was in the hospital, the psychological impact, the practical implications, what time of day it happened, what time of day they said it would, how it was to wait, when it was necessary to get hysterical, what worked, what didn’t, when, which rank of doctor lied, how they did, who did the bone marrow biopsy, where did my samples go, the trundling round on a trolley when I could walk perfectly fine, energy saving tips and anti-advertising rants against the pay-for TV, and then every single detail I could muster about my own cancer, every hard fact that I am in command of about what might happen to me and an awareness of the hard facts that I am not, of how I am not, what to expect, what not, when the ifs and maybes kick in, why, actually about all cancer and its treatments. The boy couldn’t believe his luck. I mean, he’s the trainee doctor but quite what they learn at school… It really was like pouring liquid gold down his honeyed throat and he filled and filled his little reporter’s flipbook that I wondered if he’d bought specially with writing that just looked too big to be efficient.

After about an hour Bambi L. was getting twitchy at his hospital’s failure to acknowledge that I was actually there – oh the aspirations of this boy, the utopian ideas that appointments mean something, that there might be communication, oh, oh, I wish for him… But anyway, that didn’t stop me. On and on I went. Bambi’s ordered a special book from the British Library that might be the only one in the world with any information on this kind of lymphoma I have and he’s promising we sort of ‘do this together’ kind of thing. Roll over, sit, spread, grind, grind…

Bambi’s tie is too long. As Denise is prepping me and before she’s forgot to check if my injections are in the fridge (they’re not, though she never knew) which would have been before she finished her shift and goes to her Samba class without a care left in the world, and while we’re all getting frittery because I have a slight temperature and the doctor has to come etc etc I am looking at Bambi’s tie. It is flopped over his crotch, his slim-fit grey flannel trousers and he sort of fingers it from time to time. And we both know that it is too long.

His trousers are tugged-up slightly and he is wearing odd socks, each as bright as the other. One bright red, one bright purple. Intense. It reminds me of this boy who would come to a Chaucer class we had together that started at 9am and he’d always wear brightly coloured striped socks and they were always odd and somehow he came into the room with the air of a rugby pitch about him, that was simultaneously a just-lurched his rugby-wrecked torso from a bed to a shower via a sex life and a still-smelling of mud or a grass stained sock, and the underside of his hair was always wet to start with, which reminds me of… oh, oh… a kind of fantasy hybrid of one called Pablo and one called Mark and red and black football socks, and one of them wearing the other’s for a week and then me unravelling them into cut strings of sweat-soaked wool in individual zip-locked bags as a limited edition for a magazine, really for the smell, which I never did…

But back with Bambi I’m still going and I can smell my own body because I didn’t have any clean underpants to put on that morning, not having slept where my underwear drawer currently is, and if I’d seen it before I would have made a mental note at the time that I smelled like the smell of the eyelash under his foreskin that arouses the speaker in Ed Atkins’ video, like a flash of leg shot into a bright white Converse. The smell of that eyelash is a smell I know, or at least I know what smell I’d recognise privately and say that it is that smell for me. Because really I’m sitting there and of course the person I can smell is not me nor him, but Harry, after a day’s work. It’s like lying in bed in Berlin and hearing the National Anthem on Radio 4 and feeling ridiculous and lying in bed now in Dagenham and hearing it and realising that it is OK after all, because it doesn’t make me think of My Country in either place, but in both instances of Elsewhere: in Berlin of an idea about somewhere I didn’t live and here, now, of lying there in Berlin, and it’s hard, but there’s something soft in just such a split.

But anyway, if it wasn’t before then this is when it really gets like a sex date, like that moment when you think things might have been going alright but the person you’re on/in the date with suddenly really earnestly wants to know what you do and you’re in the groove and so you think you’ll give it a go and you say something earnestly like “I’m an artist, I make performances” and “I work also with artists who make film and video” and then you’re bumped – hard – at the brick wall of details that can’t explain anything and just make the chasm bigger. You’re in the cul-de-sac of a subset of a subset and all the juice drains out and you have to sort of forget that any of this was ever spoken to carry on. When you get older you can see this coming and fend it off at the pass (like, you lie, or you say “I teach”) because you can find the bothered/not-to-be-bothered-about-given-the-circumstances line…

Nonetheless, we get to generational difference because I am trying to explain to Bambi L. some of the formative political, social, cultural issues of my teenage years, artists who were heroes then etc., but the 1980s are a country to which he’s never travelled, and he never goes to art galleries now for which he berates himself (for my sake it seems, oh please, know me more) though he might have a look at the Turner Prize because I’d egged him into it with R.D. Laing and all those promises that I wasn’t sure he really knew about either. But that Bambi L., he wanted it all, despite… I mean I really think he didn’t want to disappoint.

He is looking at me now and he’s running out of words to say continue, this gracious boy, this absolutely so attentive and gentle and respectful, considerate, delicate, aspirational… and he says that by now his medical cortex is raging trying to put all this together with all that came before, and he’s mentally cross-referencing and double-checking and it’s all a-whirring and so I say “What does that feel like? What thoughts is that giving you?” and he cannot say, he really cannot, and he starts to remember that when he arrived he’d seen me with a book. It is as if he’s remembered also a strategy from a workshop on how to deal with patients in social situations and he suggests that maybe I want to read my book, which I don’t, but I know what he’s saying and there’s only so long I can not read my book for, because ultimately I’m a giver (that’s what Gary the masseur told me because of the way I gave him my hand too helpfully) and so I pull my book out of my bag and it was a few weeks ago when I thought this illness might be a chance to catch-up with the kids and so I was reading I LOVE DICK and there it is, saying that, in green block capitals on a white background.

Apparently I’m already quite a key part of his education. It’s as if his report for which he’s meant to get information from me over a 6month period is already bloody written. Well Bambi L. you are my report too, my route, let’s subject each other if we can but I’m no more me there in your flipbook than you are here. And so we’ve got a deal boy. As far as I’m concerned. And I will try to learn when to STOP TALKING so we can spread this out and to say less to you to get more, that kind of thing. To want and want and never have.

“You know my hair will fall out?”

“But your hair is really nice.”

“I know my hair is nice, but it will fall out.”

“Would you like something to drink?”

“I’d love a cup of tea.”

He’s gone for ages and when he does come back I sort of feel depleted, or muted and I’ve got I LOVE DICK in my lap and the CHOP chemotherapy is dripping into my vein and he’s been to Starbucks and here it is, another green logo on a white background, the most phallic cup of tea anyone has ever bought me, thin at the base, really really tall and expanding at the top, almost toppling over or swinging, and he gets ready to leave, but before he does he suggests not coming to the next appointment, but maybe to the one after and that’s already next week, on Monday, now and he told me by email that he’s asked his teachers to see if he’s allowed.

There are no stairs at Dagenham Heathway Station just a long cuboid ramp. Passengers are squeezed either side of a thick yellow railing from the street to the platform etc., squirted down/up the ramp, lubed by a bit of classical. Music. Blumen it comes, wafts of generic romance in gufts. On the way to meet Sandra for coffee my Mum says my Dad said it’s to stop the heroin users hanging around the ramp (not that anyone ever seems to have seen them there) because It Gets On Their Nerves, this particular kind of music. I thought at least it was for sure an exercise in control, another generous F R E E dom, both the thing and the effect of everything for which we are to be thankful: it gets on my nerves, bloody joke, therefore I am… They use music like this too at Euston Square-Alight-Here-for-University-College-Hospital. Of course they do.

But enough, enough, enough of these false starts from places I or anyone else found ourselves in against our will. Let’s START:

First up I can say that I wished I was in the room when, FINALLY, A Gay won the Jarman Award. He is A Gay I love like how on ‘Upstairs At Eric’s’ when after the room was lit by e-lec-tric lights I am the artificial sound of smashing bulbs. I was happy to have seen Michael Clark at the Barbican with this Gay and other Gays, and others of course. Because there was also love, which wasn’t really because of The Gays, or not all of them, my point perhaps is that it so rarely is, but when it’s shored is when it is… lit… so, there we were and there it was… shattered…

Which could be read as:

I’m not a Michael Clark veteran. I am a fan. I stood and clapped for this work and I was not alone. Its clarity was a dead clean ravishing. No faff, just the most astonishing establishing of a vocabulary in its own time that of course was always there but I never saw it like I saw it. Like all that work with Stravinsky was necessary to get to this that looked independently neo-classical. It was not apologising.

What move can be made, what cannot, which line, who is together, how, why march, what must be stopped, what dragged, drawn, sucked, statued, fucked, what must be spoken, that being strong enough is worth it. I mean, some of these dancers were bionic, like the past to look at with a mesmeric sort of buzz around their edge.

And then this vocabulary explodes, implodes, it is yours, you are the imploding, being thrown out, the whole place is emptied by a screen that’s lifted for the inside, the reflection of mirrors and every gag that would have been a gag was so absolutely, so unapologetically nothing to do with stand-up but so clear and assured to be nothing other than something much more there, totally on it, stark in space, as any body CAN BE. Because we are there. I mean, the gag with a prop was no more the ha-ha toilet seat around Someone’s neck of old, but so straightforwardly the means and the mechanism for a movement to happen that it was, well, just straightforward and there is thanks, there is my body too, here. Maybe it always was but I saw it and it was massive, getting that.

We will not apologise. And we can say this precisely. We are people. There are things. There are things that we want, there are things that we are subjected to. There is resistance, form. It can be strict – must, even. There are places you can go to and you can come back with stuff. To make. It is strength. Yeh. Backing dancers. And? Come on. Roll over, sit, spread, grind, grind, fall. Stand up. Stand up. Stand up.

Now, another place I don’t mind being is the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre and the reasons aren’t that complicated. It’s an alright place to sit. By which you might have already guessed that the flooring on chemotherapy level 2 isn’t designed by Antony Gormley. A Gormley hangs on the wall. Just for us we can call it Gormley’s Balls and put an end to that gag [on the statues he makes which are based on a cast of his own naked body, they say that the older he’s got the bigger he’s told his assistants to make his cock, though I never measured it myself]:

The floor on chemo 2 is by Rob Ryan. I don’t mind it, I sort of knew him once, though I’d say pretty much for sure that I don’t need to be told anything by any bloody paper doily style faux cut-out bells framed by hetero-normative love birds, flowers and vines on one of which it is written THIS BELL WILL RING… and on its partner WHEN WE DREAM A DREAM OF GOOD. Where exactly do they think they are, these bells? Who do they think they are talking to? Everyone here has cancer. What dreams do you think we are dreaming exactly? Oh yeh, that’s it, it’s just that we need to change our dreams. It’s not you, cancer, it’s us, dreams. Of course. On the one hand the bell is not going to ring. On the other if it did then it wouldn’t be for fear of death that we’d stop ourselves from asking for whom, because we don’t fear death and that, Rob Ryan has absolutely nothing to do with you.

Rather, the reason for this is that whatever void you walk into this clinic from, whatever kind of stuff or nothing is outside of this building, it is left there. Here is the present tense that is not there outside; the body as a fact and it is something like definite and these other things/nothings dissolve. Massive amounts of void become entirely irrelevant. There is not only your own body there are the bodies of everyone else too, and you see them, these others also having stepped out of the voids from where they’ve also come into this building, to where their body and your body are equal facts and it is on this level that you can feel them, information to information. And there are many – it’s, like, really busy this place, really busy, my god it’s busy – and here is like absolutely everyone. Everyone’s got cancer. And I have this feeling that between us it is just direct. There is something like a clarity that does not need to be spoken, but that can be and to speak is a simple, physical relief such that even scant words waiting for the lift cut through the bloody flesh that ordinarily pads us out as spongey egos. Which is another way of saying that it’s a leveller and that I like it, so (as) to speak. Ha. Is this what they call institutionalised?!

Or the reason for this, on top of this, of course, is that someone might turn up to keep you company there like Bambi L. the Student Doctor. Oh Bambi, Bambi L.! Let’s greet him. Bambi!, oh Bambi! BAMBI L.! BAMBI L. IS HERE!!!