Thursday, November 1, 2007

memory basement

Last week I attended the launch of the Zap Archive, a book+website celebrating '25 years of Cultural Innovation'. For me it was in the nature of a reunion with former colleagues, as my first full-time job was there as reminisced on earlier. I deliberated long and hard about going, fearing that this particular time-machine journey might end in a wreck - but a poll on my Facebook page yielded some good advice about such events ('treat it as a gathering of interesting strangers'; 'eat something first') and I decided to do it. I'm very glad I went as it was a unique occasion - moving, funny, absurd - and I encountered friends old and new.

It wasn't in the (former) Zap Club but in a gallery-type venue called the Basement. As I arrived a procession of performance-type people with temple bells, torches and fireworks was closing in on the doorway. I realised that I actually knew many of these - for some reason wearing hats. Then I was talking to Heather who used to run the bar and < install_unavoidable_cliche > the years rolled away and it was like being back there; I wouldn't have been surprised if she'd asked me to change a barrel or bring up a case of mixers.

So re-met tons of people, drank wine, mourned the passed. I was both touched and amused to be recalled by Ian Smith in the book -

My strongest recollections are not so much of particular acts, but rather of the general running of the place. The constant banter in the lobby, or behind the tiny bar, was as good as anything happening onstage. Everyone had their own style, from Roy Bayfield’s janitor persona (based on Bukowski’s Factotum), to cashier June Bain’s ‘Headmistress’ – scolding ticketless punters, then erupting into outbursts of filthy raucous laughter as she sized up young boys in need of a bath.

(Perhaps I should adopt a 'Charles Bukowski' persona in my current job - but which text should I use this time? Perhaps The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over The Hills...)

There was a slot for performances, people such as Sian Thomas, Roger Ely, Desperate Men and Mark Waugh took to the stage in short pieces, reminiscent of the open performance slots that used to take place on Tuesdays (where live art met care in the community.) Mine was based on my 'cleaner' role... I now have a nice new pair of rubber gloves left over from my comedy moment. It seemed to go well - a surreal but actually pretty factual listing of items I had cleared up between 1984-6, some recycled from my earlier blog post; some new that I wrote in a pub on the way there (relishing my Weekend Pass to Bohemia) - wrapped up with a wish that I had kept some of the physical detritus, with which to construct a mystic rune to resurrect those times, daubed in Clown White makeup, smelling of candyfloss, to the sound of stage maroons.

1 comment:

MudRake said...

The torn and tattered trousers WAS a fact of life during WWII. The Marines didn't have the sobriquet "Raggey assed Marines" for nothing. Uniform clothing of the day unfortunately culd not keep up with the rigors of living in foxholes in the muck and and mud for weeks at a time. Anyone who has camped outdoors for more than a few days can attest at how hard it is to stay clean. Add on top of that, the tribulations of crawling in the mud, over rubble etc and clothing can be reduced to soiled tatters in a matter of days.
In WWII we didn't have the well oiled military machine we have today and resupply often meant just the essentials, food and ammunition. Not clean replacement uniforms, something that had to wait till the unit was pulled from the line, sometimes 4 weeks or more. I read in one account, that the Marines suffered from dysentery so severely, that some went so far as to slash the seat of their uniform trousers open in the rear, so they could squat to take s diarrhea ridden dump without having to drop their trousers or get out of a foxhole under fire. That is probably where they got the nickname "raggety assed marines".