Welcome to ‘The Bad Day’ Podcast, a series of short stories by Matt T Haydock, writer of Gus The Fox (www.gusthefox.com)
New episodes every Friday
I got out of the cab and said a word not a million miles away from goodbye to the taxi driver and then I shut the door so that the taxi could drive away without the door clattering into all the parked cars on the side of the road. I always do this when exiting a vehicle.
I was on my way to see my friend Yarnold Pentecost. Yarnold had been having a hard time since he lost his job at the fishmongers last year and had recently come out of hospital after trying to commit suicide by firing himself into the side of his greenhouse in an enormous catapult.
The newspapers had gotten a hold of the story and he’d been ridiculed mercilessly on comedy websites and topical news panel shows all around the country which had actually made him feel even worse if anything.
I’d been to visit him in hospital a few days later. He was mummified in bandages and the sounds coming out of his mouth sounded exactly like those of a man weeping.
Our friend Ian Pin had told me I should go and check up on Yarnold and see if he was feeling OK. Ian couldn’t join us because he was still in prison for stabbing a horse with a butterfly knife.
He might have gotten a shorter sentence if he hadn’t have attacked it on Horseguards parade in Westminster, in the middle of London. The Judge had said that because the Duke Of Edinburgh was riding the horse at the time, Ian would have to go and sit inside a prison for ages and ages.
I arrived at Yarnold’s front door. He lived in the middle of a grubby row of terraced houses near Highbury Corner. His downstairs window was covered in copies of The Sun newspaper which had yellowed in the actual sun leaving them looking nicotine stained like a tramp’s underpants.
I rang the door bell. Whilst I waited I noticed a caterpillar hanging from a strand of silvery shimmering thread and dangling from a bit of grout. I took 2 tablets of ibuprofen out of my wallet and attempted to feed them to the grub to help relieve some of the pain involved in being a caterpillar. It must be incredibly painful I thought.
Yarnold opened his door looking wretched. His gaze moved over to my finger which was now busy grinding crushed ibuprofen dust and knackered, bloody caterpillar remains into the masonry of his house. I couldn’t think of what to say so I just said “you’re using the Sun to keep out the sun”. There was a pause. Yarnold smiled, then he plunged his fist into his own face causing his shoes to burst into flames and a large brass egg to fall out of his arse. He picked up the egg and hurled it into the street where it clattered into the side of a bus causing a small commotion. “Come in” said Yarnold. “It’s really good to see you”
We went inside to his kitchen, which, owing to Yarnold’s declining mental health, looked more like an Al Qaeda stronghold that had been turned over by US intelligence. Bin bags littered the floor and buzzed, hummed and pulsated as life had formed inside the festering, plastic prison and was clearly trying to escape causing some of the bags to levitate several inches off the ground, slowly bouncing off the white goods as they danced around the room like diorama of the solar system constructed from garbage bags. If it hadn’t smelled like a gypsy’s mattress then it would have been beautiful and inspiring in equal measures. “Pull up a dog’ he said.
“Pull up a what?” I replied. “A dog, pull up a fucking dog and sit down”.
I looked behind me to see a dead Shibu Inu. I looked back to see Yarnold clumsily kick a deceased Irish Wolfhound up to the kitchen table and plonk himself down on the malodorous mutt sending a jet of something black and rotten across the kitchen, knocking one of the hovering bin liners out of the air like a game of clay pigeon shooting in the ninth circle of hell.
Yarnold leaned over. “I’ve got a tattoo”
I looked at where he was pointing on his forearm.
“It’s some soil”
I wasn’t following. I was starting to feel quite peculiar.
“what do you mean?” I said
“It’s a picture of some soil, I got it tattooed on my arm by a man who doesn’t believe I owls.
“Shall we go outside Yarnold” I suggested. “It’s a nice day even though it’s hammering down with rain”
We sat in Yarnold’s garden for hours talking about what had happened. It had been the World Football Cup earlier this year and apparently he’d lost his job at the fishmongers for dip-dying the fish different colours and arranging them into the shapes of national flags depending on who was playing that day. A nice idea perhaps, but not one conducive with selling fish unfortunately.
I convinced Yarnold to take his medication and after about 45 minutes he seemed a lot more like himself. We talked about when we were at school and the time that our friend Lazarus Choad had been suspended for 3 days after releasing a live pterodactyl into the school chapel on Senior Founders Day resulting in the death of 3 year 7’s and Mr Klondike, the Home Economics teacher who used to cycle around the school corridors carrying an active beehive which he’d hurl at pupils who failed to pick up litter whilst making their way around the school grounds.
We went inside and tidied up and carried on chatting until Yarnold said.
“I’ve got an idea, come on follow me”
We left his house and clambered into his old Toyota Corina.
“Are you ok driving Yarnold?” I said
“I can’t be too long I have to get back to my house and feed the gibbons”
He told me he was feeling a lot better and was only battling the urge to splatter himself into oblivion every 5 or 6 seconds, which, he told, was a great improvement.
We drove for ages. We were somewhere near Orpington in Kent. We drove around until Yarnold pulled up down a residential street comprising of nondescript 4 bedroom houses for as far as the eye could see.
“There’ he said
“That’s the one”
“What is it?” I said, “Whose house is that?”
“That’s where the office manager from my Dad’s ball baring company lived in the 1970s”
“Ok” I replied “Why are we looking at it.
Yarnold told me there was no reason other than the fact that he felt like looking at.
We sat there in silence staring at the house until the sun went down and the pinky-orange sodium glow began crackling into life inside the bulbs of the streetlights.
“Actually, that isn’t the house” said Yarnold suddenly, and after 4 hours.
“The office manager from my Dad’s ball baring company lived in Twickenham”
I texted Ian Pin and told him that Yarnold was still as mad as a bag of tits. Ian had a mobile even though he was in prison. Apparently he kept it in a bumbag and the prison wardens had never thought to check inside it.
Yarnold turned the key on the ignition and we headed back to London.
I went to bed picturing the amalgamation of ibuprofen and caterpillar gizzards solidifying on Yarnold’s wall. I thought about it over and over again. I pictured it until gone 3am when I must have finally drifted off.
9:15am – I woke up beside my next door neighbour’s dog again. His name is Winston Bovine and he’d started staying over at my bungalow a lot recently. Winston rolled out of bed, put on his suit and gave me a peck on the cheek.
“I probably won’t see you later” he said
“I’m taking a gun into work today and I’m planning on making a right nuisance out of myself because nobody takes me seriously at the big dog company”. He then took a swig of coffee before flying out of the window on a tiny motorbike.
I drifted off back to sleep and woke up again moments later. When I told Ian about this he said it was probably a dream “Maybe’ I said “But that doesn’t explain why there was dog tod all over my bed sheets does it?”
I got dressed quickly and wolfed down a bit of toast. I was spending the day with my friend Clark Bunting. I hadn’t seen Clark since the bad day so I thought it was time I paid him a visit at his place in Andover where he lived in a house that didn’t have illustrations of frogs painted all over the living room walls.
On my way out of the bungalow I picked up a letter that had been posted through my door by some sort of postman. I vaguely recognised the handwriting but couldn’t work out why. I felt a pang of turmoil circle around my tummy like a washing machine full of eggs and trinkets.
On the back of the envelope it said, if undelivered please return to Mrs Facsimile Destitute, 28 Archway Road, Highgate, London. I couldn’t be doing with any correspondence from Facsimile Destitute today, usually her letters contained the worst news since sliced bread and I wasn’t going to be very good company for Clark Bunting if my head felt like a wasp that had been glued to a banana.
10:27am – I got on the train and sat down in one of the seats with my buttocks on the horizontal section and my back leaning up against the longer vertical part of the seat and both my feet resting on the floor facing forwards. I always sit down like this because it’s how everyone else does it. I tried doing it differently once and a bunch of teenagers started laughing at me and calling me a rusty sheriff. One of them even stole my glove puppets and sent them on a one way mission down the shit pipe.
I’d bought myself some lunch at Waterloo Station so I opened the bag to see what I’d bought. Unfortunately I’d got confused by a man dressed as an alligator on the station forecourt and become flustered causing me to wander into Tie Rack and buy my lunch there.
I sat there chewing on the tie which had pictures of stationary embroiled into the silk whilst an elderly woman stared at me across the carriage as if peanuts were falling out of my nose.
“I got confused by the crocodile man and I accidentally bought this for lunch” I said to her as damp strands of thread dangled down from my between my teeth and sopping clods of silk flopped into my lap like a fish falling in love with a kettle.
She got up and walked off. By the time I arrived in Andover I was alone and my stomach felt like a galvanised sod.
12:03pm – I walked from the station to Clark’s house which was easy because Clark lived seconds away from the station in a small concrete hut directly next to the train line. It was the sort of hut you would usually see from a train window. Looking at Clark’s house you’d expect to find it full of railway sleepers, buckets of tar and discarded high-vis jackets and you would be right to think that because that’s exactly what was in there.
None of us were exactly living like kings since the bad day.
“There he is” Said Clark. “You look like a million conkers, come in, come in”
We hugged awkwardly like a couple of spiders who’d been introduced to each other by a pheasant.
We talked for ages. I told Clark about Ian Pin and my trip to visit Yarnold Pentecost.
We talked about the time we went on a cottage holiday near the Norfolk Coast and we’d done a Ouija-board and Ian had ended up being bummed by the ghost of a farmer.
We didn’t talk about the Bad Day.
“Oh, You’ve got to see this, Follow me, said Clark out of his mouth hole.
We walked out of the rectangular shaped hole in Clark’s concrete house which represented a door and headed into the undergrowth.
Clark told me he that he’d been looking a gift horse in the face and ever since his wife had run off with a tom boy his life had just been one big damp squid. I told him he’d got all three of those expressions muddled up but he wasn’t listening, he was crackling with excitement and energy which I found intoxicating, unnerving, and not just a little bit sexy.
“I’m going to be an entrepreneur” he said “Going to finally make a name myself and get things back on drag, you can join in if you want, I’ll give you shades in one of my companies” he continued
“What have you been working on Clark?” I enquired as we continued into the no man’s land of suburban railway property scrubland littered with discarded super strength ciders and bongo mags.
“I’ve got a few irons in the blender” he continued
“I’ve had an idea based on Bitcoin” he said smuggly.
“I’m thinking of designing a new crypto currency that’s made of metal, actual coins. So you don’t loose it all every time your computer catches fire, you can keep it all in a tin underneath the knackered concrete railway sleepers you use as a bed”
I was just about to tell him that he’d re-invented money when we arrived.
“Here it is” he beamed “My my bride and joy”
I surveyed the landscape. We’d arrived at an opening in the trees. In the middle was a filthy pit about 4 or 5 metres down and the same across, and next to it, a mound of recently excavated earth and hard core. The sound of trucks and cars thundering along the A303 in the distance provided a suitably mundane and depressing soundtrack to the moment.
“I had the idea when I was in America with Emily, before she left me” he went on.
“You see in America, when you’re driving around the highways, they have all these funny little roadside attractions. We saw the world’s biggest shoe…look” He thrust his phone into my face displaying a picture of himself stood in front of a large shoe clumsily constructed out of timber
“Oh yeah, that looks shit” I said
“But there’s other one’s” He continued
“We saw the biggest ball of elastic bands, almost as big as a car, can you believe that?”
I didn’t know what to say because I was getting bored so I just said the word ‘finger bobs’
“Finger bobs” I said
“That’s what this is going to be” he said
“The deepest hole in the world, going to just keep digging and then build a cafe or something next to it and clear a path to the motorway, I’ll make a little sign and then I’ll just sit back and wait for the money to come boning in”
“How deep does it have to be Clark?” I enquired
“Dunno, Haven’t done much research” he said.
“I guess when I hit the Earth’s core I’ll know I’ve cracked it, I don’t think anyone’s made it to the core yet have they”
“You’ll burst into flames like a kangaroo’s backpack I said”
Clark was staring at me like a puppy that had biscuits for legs
“It’s great man, I said, really great. You’re like James Dyson if he’d made his money digging holes in the woods instead of inventing complicated vacuum system using cyclonic separation technology”
Clark looked as happy as an egg
“I’ll get you a spade for Christmas” I said
“So you can stop using your hands
I looked at Clark’s hands which were red, bloody and raw and coated in dirt like two bits off gammon that could travel through time.
Clark hugged me and we wept.
I got back on the train later and got my note book out.
I turned to the back page and wrote a list of all the names. I crossed out Yarnold Pentecost and Clark Bunting. I wouldn’t say they were ok exactly but they were certainly better than could be expected for now. For now, they were at least alive.
As the train rumbled through the darkness the occasional flash of car headlights illuminated the raindrops on the window which danced and vibrated in rhythm with my thoughts.
I was so tired I felt like I could sleep on a chicken’s lips but I was a afraid to go to sleep. Last time I’d fallen under the sandman’s curse whilst aboard a locomotive I’d woken up in Bridlington and ended up fighting 2 swans so that I might sleep in their nest and stave off the biting teeth of naughty Jack Frost.
8:34am – I awoke chewing cud.
I’d somehow managed to clamber inside my next door neighbour’s lawnmower. I must have, during the night, scrambled into the netted basket bit that hangs on the back and collects the grass and chosen to sleep inside the cosy belly of the machine.
I spat out a wet mouthful of pungent turf, stretched out my limbs and spilled out of the back of the contraption onto a shiny marble floor, like a tiny giraffe being born onto kitchen island.
I looked around and it didn’t take me long to realise I was in the middle of the Nissan car garage showroom on the industrial estate near my house. I looked around at all the staff in their suits staring at me. Then I looked down at my winkle which had unfortunately made an appearance as well. A couple of the staff made whimpering sounds like some sort of dog hostages. “I don’t want to hurt anyone” I said causing a female member of staff to start crying and hide behind one of her colleagues. I screwed my eyes tight and very slowly began rocking forwards. As a child I’d learned how to close my eyes until I could see geometric 3D shapes flying towards me like a spaceship flying through an asteroid belt and I’d learned that if I slowly moved forwards it would release endorphins and make me feel nice. My friend Bunty Fundall had told me that this sounded like a type of transcendental meditation. I didn’t know about that but it wasn’t working. I glanced sideways and caught a reflection of myself in the windscreen of a Nissan Quashqui, as naked as a fisherman’s hat, covered in flecks of grass and rocking backwards and forwards like a peanut made of rice. “This doesn’t look good” I said. As a policeman ran in and tased me in the back.
11:27am – I was returned home from the police station by a man in a uniform who reminded me of a packet of Gary Cocktail crisps even though he neither smelled nor looked like one and also there’s no such thing as Gary Cocktail crisps.
Apparently I’d been sleep walking again. I’d stolen my neighbours mower and had broken into the car shop. The staff had found me snoozing and called the constables because they were worried I might fucking kill everyone.
I’d been told I had to go and have another meeting with Bunty Fundall. Bunty thought she was my therapist and I thought she was my wife. Only one of us could be right and I reckon it’s probably her. I’ve started seeing a lot more of Bunty recently.
11:48am – I thought about breakfast but decided that a mouthful of grass, being tased in the spine and wanging my jaw into the boot of a Nissan Juke was sort of like breakfast, albeit a very unpleasant one, so it was time to crack on with the day
I was on my way to see my friend Corky Jackson. Sometimes I can only think about puffins for hours and hours on end and that’s annoying. I was on my way to see my friend Corky Jackson, he lived in New Cross Gate in South London which is the capital of England mostly.
I was working my way through a list of names but I couldn’t always remember why and now was one of those times which was frustrating and made me feel like a bag of everything.
12:37pm – I got on the tube tube train and sat opposite a man with hair. I kept throwing my shoes at him until everyone told me I had to get off the train. One man made me get off by introducing me to his balled up fingers at about 60mph so I got the next the train with red blood coming downwards out of my nose face.
I was having a bad day and I knew it. Everything was as fuzzy as possible and then I remembered I hadn’t eaten my magic tic tacs.
I swallowed hard and leant my face against the carriage window and watched as the city skyline traced before my eyes like a city skyline out of a train window.
By the time I got to New Cross Gate I felt a lot more like myself and remembered that the magic tic tags were called medication and also that my morning had been an absolute shit museum. I needed to start keeping it together more if any of these visits were going to be worth it. I looked at my feet and they turned into a couple of snails with faces like Gary Pallister. I slapped myself.
“Come on, get it together you fruity fishcake” I muttered to myself under my breathe as two school girls giggled and marched away from me like a couple of chuffed gulls.
1:40pm – I was meeting Corky at a Warehouse in a run down and derelict ex-shipbuilding area between New Cross and Greenwich. We’d agreed to meet up but he’d been offered work last minute and managed to put me on the the list for the job as well. A chance to catch up but also £100. I could use the money even though I sometimes think that money is the same as wasps.
I stood outside the gates of the warehouse and rang the bell. Momentarily the gate opened and I saw the front of corky’s outer skull where his face lived.
“Mate, it’s great to see you” I said
“ Captain, It’s been way too long, how the dickens are you?” He replied.
We hugged and it felt like 2 men hugging because that’s exactly what it was.
“Let’s just do this thing and then it’s pub-o-clock and we’ll have a proper chat” said Corky.
“I don’t know what a manatee is” I conceded. “is it a sort of water hen?”
Corky said we could sort that out later but now we needed to lock on.
Corky had done quite well since the bad day. He’d found himself working in advertising. Having any job at all was no mean feat and I had to take my hat off to him so I did even though it was full of head smells.
“Warren” shouted Corky to a man sitting in a very tall chair. “This is my friend I was talking about, he’s here”
Warren looked like some kind of director. He even had the words, some kind of director printed onto his baby blue T-shirt in black caps.
“Good” shouted Warren. “Lets get this show on the road, put him in position”
“What’s going on then Corky?” I said to Corky using the English language
“Come over here and I’ll explain everything” He said “Great to see you, How’s the gang?”
I told him that he was only really my third and so far Yarnold Pentecost, Clark Bunting and Ian Pin were all still alive, in a way.
Corky beamed. “Awesome. It’s mental that everyone’s still alive”
“Yeah it’s great , man” I said. “We all have to go to this big thing soon I think, but we’ll talk about that later” I stated before being cut off by Warren, barking his instructions through a loudhailer.
“Go and stand over there you gibbering Susans” he barked. I looked over at him, as cliched as a smokey funnel.
I surveyed my surroundings.
We were stood in the middle of a large open-plan warehouse. Surrounding us were about 30 or 40
machines. They looked like they had cameras on top of them and underneath seemed to have a sort of mechanism like a tennis ball launcher but instead of holding tennis balls they seemed to be housing some sort of darts.
“What’s all this then” I inquired to Corky’s face?
Corky told me this was a brand new advertising campaign for Brewster’s crisps which involved a bunch of dart firing machines armed with cameras that could be controlled via the Internet by people who enjoyed Brewster’s crisps and also enjoyed firing darts into the flesh of living human beings.
“Nice one” I said. “this your idea Corky?” “Advertising is one hell of a trendy industry”. Before Corky Answered, the image of Bobby Davro’s head made into an enormous galleon and firing its canons at the Spanish Armada popped into my head, but, to be honest, that is irrelevant.
“I’m just a bitch” said Corky
“I’m mainly on bin duty” he continued.
“I’m sorry I brought you here. I just though…I just thought.. you know…It would be good to see you and I know you can handle it” He waffled.
Corky closed his eyes and clenched his fists like a metal grasshopper that was waiting to evolve into a shoe.
I looked around me as the lights dimmed and the sound of electronic machines buzzed and fizzed into life. I looked at Warren as he blasted a bump of nose dust up his beak and sat resplendent on his lifeguards chair on the side of the room.
A man who I’d seen on the telly walked on in front of us and started talking about Brewster’s crisps as the semi circle of robotic cannons and cameras zzzzzd and flllleeeeeped around us like an aviary of blood thirsty metal hawks but with a menacing edge.
“Sorry mate, money is money” said Corky as the man from the telly pegged it out of the inner circe like a man who’s head was made of mince.
“2…..1… Action”, shouted some peanut from the gloaming.
All of a sudden a voice thundered over the PA. “Brewster’s Crisps introduces, Shoot a Plonker”
My head spun like a mad owl.
“I’m not a plonker I shrieked.”
All of a sudden the machines came to life. They were being operated remotely by people in their bedrooms at home on the Brewster’s Crisps website. Apparently they signed up, bought a crate of Brewster’s and were then free to operate a robotic dart firing canon via their home computer for 20 minutes. Apparently yesterday Jesse from a pop band called Little Mix had taken one to the eye and had to cancel the remainder of their tour.
I shut my eye’s and pictured the face of Timmy Mallet but that didn’t help. It never does.
I called over to Corky who was dancing from right to left like someone who knew what a tennis racket was.
The light went red which is the same colour as red.
A klaxon sounded which also sounded like red
Suddenly darts started flying across the room like mince pies that were actually darts. The first one I saw smacked into my upper thigh like a toaster that had had been drilled into someone’s leg. It hurt like Jethro Tull. I yelled the word “Wessex” and fell to the floor.
As I surveyed the scene I realised this wasn’t a normal day again.
The speaker was blaring “Eat Brewster’s Crisps, Eat Brewster’s crisps” I writhed around on the floor like a world war man. I looked back towards the machine as a dart whizzed past my face casing my eyelashes to bend into my eyeball and itch a little bit. It was a war-zone. Still the message rang out over the tannoy “ Eat Brewster’s Crisps”. I arched my neck in the other direction and noticed it was Phillip Schofield barking the instructions to consume these starchy snacks into a football commentators microphone as he bounced up and down like a chubby boy.
I looked at a skylight and saw a seal with wings turn inside out and shower me in its personal Ribena juice.
I looked back towards Corky and saw James Arthur from XFactor stroll into the arena of pain wearing a Brewster’s crisps t-shirt he looked at me and smiled, no sooner than he did, a dart spangled him directly into then left side of his cheek sending a couple of his teeth bouncing across the floor like a couple of little white cube-shaped emu’s.
My head spun towards Corky
“See, They’re not really trying to hit us because we ain’t famous” He said. “We’re just here to make up the numbers”
I told him that I thought we were just meeting for a drink and he said it was the same thing except one of us might go dart blind instead of getting drunk.
I cowered behind an foam target for the next few hours and received only darts in legs and feet, unlike Sue Barker from A Question of Sport who was only there for 12 minutes and took one in each tit.
The camera’s suddenly bowed their head’s like robot disciples the red lights turned to normal lights.
Warren honked another load of nonsense off his own thumb and stood up like a Jesus man.
“Great Work Maggots” he yelled. “ Today probably cost about ‘£850’000’ and we probably sold 35 bags of crisps. Modern Life is a fucking clown shoe auction, see you all tomorrow” he slid down his ladder, bumped another line of gibber-powder out of a little bag and disappeared trough a door that had a picture of a collapsed lung graffitied onto it.
I looked over at Corky. He half smiled. I looked at my trousers what had blood on them what with the thanks from the darts.
I gave my bank details to the girl who worked for the ad agency. She had pierced her shoes. She said I’d be paid sometime in the next 2 prime ministers.
“can we go to the pub and have a chat” I said to Corky
“Yes Sir” He said
“You know that most of everything isn’t real” I said
“Yeah, I know there’s something that matters coming up” He replied
I looked at him and he grew Mickie Mouse Ears and his eyes went inside out and it was then and only then, that I realised I’d let myself down in my own pants.
“The case is coming up and we all need to try and remember” I Said
It was a dumb thing to say as trying to remember was so hard. We only ever had flashbacks and then everything would just go back to being as blurry as a finger food buffet.
Me and Corky went to the pub and had a chat. He asked about Ian Pin, Clark Bunting and Yarnold Pentecost. I told him his head was on fire, then I told him it wasn’t and he understood because we were all in the same boat.
I told him the big meet up was coming soon and we all needed to stay alive, keep taking the meds and keep trying to remember. The big meeting would be useless if everyone was just kicking bags of lemons at Dr Tixy Lix.
At one moment we had a real memory. We could tell it was real because everything sort of lined up and and didn’t feel like drugs and dreams. We remembered about Kenny and the helicopter. We remembered it right with none of the nonsense and then that faded away and Corky started talking about living inside a big puffin which flew to the International Space Station every night with him in his belly. I nodded along but knew we’d touched on something real that I had to keep a hold of, so I wrote it down in the back of my book. As I lowered my pen I saw a filing cabinet run across the road wearing a ball gag, only I knew it wasn’t real, as I was starting to cotton on. Knowing when the real things happened and the pretend stuff was there was starting to become a craft. It was important to try and know the difference. I’d broken into the mortuary a few weeks ago and planted birthday candles into the tummy of a bloke who’d died in a fire and everyone wasn’t very empathetic because they thought I should have left him alone. All the embalming fluid trickled down his flanks as the candles went in. Some of the feelings you get from things like that give you a clue that you’re in a unique situation and you should break back out and go to bed.
11pm – Me and Corky cuddled each other by the bus stop and I told him I’d see him soon. I just needed to go and find the others first.
12:32am – I closed my eyes and stared at the ceiling at the same time. The lights of the passing cars flicker through the gaps in my curtains and fired into my eyelids creating an ambient scarlet light show in my retinas. I decided that tomorrow I’d speak to Bunty Fundall. It might be a good time I though.
I still needed to make contact with Facsimile Destitute as well. I knew speaking to her was important even though I didn’t like it and couldn’t always remember who she was or what she wanted.
I’d do that soon I thought. I still needed to tick a few more of the lads off the list.
As I slowly drifted off to sleep I started singing Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen at full volume which woke me up. So I tried to go to sleep again and this time it must have worked.
9:02am – I woke up with Japanese legs. So I went back to sleep for a bit and waited for that to not be a thing anymore.
9:45am – I woke up with a start and span out of bed feeling rejuvenated and adroit. I whistled and punched the air confident in the notion that today was going to be a productive one. I got dressed and looked in the mirror only to realise I was wearing bread. In my excitement I must have confused the bread bin with my wardrobe. I got changed in clothes apart from the little jerkin that I’d constructed out of muffins. That could stay.
I went into the garden to feed the ducks. I fed them into my Hyundai HYCH7070 6.5hp Wood Chipper. Beaks and feet hummed and cracked as they were pulled into the whirring cogs of the machine and the air was thick with a fug of iridescent oily feather and ducky blood mist as the loud mechanical hum cleared the starlings from their resting place in the monkey puzzle tree at the bottom of my neighbours garden. It didn’t take me long to realise that I didn’t in-fact have any ducks in my garden or indeed a wood chipper for that matter. I took a few steps outside of myself so that I could see what I was doing and quickly realised that far from destroying mallards, I’d simply been sitting in the middle of my lawn, squirting myself in the face with a Karcher pressure washer.
(African) My brain was speaking to my in Rwandan and I couldn’t understand what it meant. I was feeling all over the place like a cactus sellotaped to rabbits face.
I went inside and found the little box that Bunty Fundall had given me. I removed 2 pills from their foily beds and put them up my nose. I just a chopstick to push them up there until I felt them teeter on the event horizon of my throat before tumbling down my gullet like a couple of anthropomorphic piggy wigs at a waterpark.
10:22am – I left the house. I locked the front door and span around to face the garden path that leads away from my bungalow. I usually spin 180 degrees and then start walking, but today I kept spinning, I span all the way up the garden path. I span and span up the pavement until dizziness finally got the better of me and I lost my footing causing me to come tumbling down, knocking a man in a suit off his perch at the bus top. “You tripped me over you little crusty cornflake”
The man got very angry and pushed me off him great force causing me to feel the sensation know as G-Force. He then called me a “storm force 10 cunt” and punched my lights out.
I woke up moments later feeling better for the little snoozy Susan I just had in the bus lane, snuggled up with the Johnny bags.
I was on my way to meet my friend Kenny Shipment. Kenny lived in Macclesfield and I was staying with him all weekend. I wouldn’t be getting to him until the evening and he’d told me he had plans for the evening so to wear something nice. I’d texted him and asked if wearing a little jerkin made of wholegrain muffins was ok and he’d just texted back a little picture of a yellow face with water coming out of its eyes.
11:30am – I got to Euston and found my train by showing the railway station staff my ticket at knifepoint. I walked up the platform adjacent to the giant pendalino and decided it might be fun to ride underneath the train for a change rather than sitting down on the seats inside which can get very boring. Also if I was outside then it ,meant I’d be able to smoke, not that I did smoke, or not that I had any cigarettes but the voice behind my eyes told me that didn’t matter. I rolled down a gap and scrambled across the greasy brown pebbles that adorned the space between the tracks. I found a couple of pipes and pistons that looked like they weren’t attached to the great big silver wheels. I figured that if I touched anything attached to wheels I’d end up getting minced up like a
Sausage sculpture in a gorilla hospital.
11:40am – The train departed Euston and quickly gained speed. It was the worst 3 hours of my life. I’m sure I almost died every 5 or 6 seconds.
2:45pm – I arrived at Macclesfield Station and I scrambled up onto the platform from the belly of the beast feeling like a deconstructed Godfather. One of the guards ran over to me. I showed him my ticket and he said he wouldn’t call the mandem this time. He told me I’d lacerated my forehead and I told him that that was off of a rabbit from around about the Leyton Buzzard that had had struck me in the face and exploded like an egg in a microwave.
We kissed until we stopped.
I walked up the platform and saw Kenny who came bounding over to me like a Labrador’s back legs, front legs and the rest it.
Kenny was a bit younger than the rest of us. He had jet black hair and boyish features armed with a cheeky grin. His left arm and neck were quite badly burned which had caused his sleeve of tattoos to warp and marble like a picture book through the eyes of a kaleidoscope. His tattoo of the Tasmanian Devil now looked exactly like Dean Gaffney pushing frogs into a lay-by.
Kenny punched me in the tits. “Hey buddy, long time no see”
I told Kenny it was great to see him as well. We both fired nautical distress flares into the traffic to celebrate.
“Right we’re off back to my house and then we’re off out” I’m in a band now and we’re playing tonight” I told him that sounded good so we bought 400 bags of satsumas from Costcutter and headed to Kenny’s
“You really seem together, Kenny. It’s great”. He said he felt great. I asked him if he was having any wobbles at all and he said no. “You seem a lot better than the other guys Kenny. Everyone else is having a bit of a shocker since the bad day”
“and what about you?” said Kenny
I looked down at my hand and it turned into a lotus with loads of woodlice crawling out of the centre and shouting the word ‘wanger’ in my face
“Ups and down Ken”, I said “`Ups and downs”
We went into Kenny’s flat and made a start on the satsumas. Kenny lived in a nice modern open plan flat with a couple cats and music equipment and memorabilia collaging the exposed brick walls. I asked if I could wash my clothes because they were filthy because I’d used the train inside out. I bundled them in and turned on the washing machine and scrambled into a fresh t-shirt and chords. The door opened and a young lady walked in and threw a couple of bags for life full of satsumas onto the kitchen table
“Ahhh” said Kenny “This is my girlfriend, Clara” Said Kenny. “And this guy”, he continued, needs no introduction. Clara smiled and leaned in and gave me a reverential and firm handshake, her long pink nails dug into the back of my palms which made me feel like I’d just fed my hands to a trout. “We finally meet, I’ve heard all the stories, thanks for everything you know. Thanks for…well..Kenny”
I smiled. This was nice.
Suddenly Clara arched her neck over my shoulder and looked at the washing machine with a befuddled expression.
I turned to follow her gaze. A pair of pants, my pants had been pinned against the glass window displaying the contents of an unexpected bowel movement inspired by moment that I lost my grip on the chassis of the railway carriage near Tamworth and had to use my legs to lever myself away from the zoetrope of certain death. My besmirched knickers sat there as the rest of my washing continued its rotation of redemption, framed in Kenny and Clara’s lovely flat like a particularly incendiary piece of modern art. Like a a dirty protest being displayed though a submarine porthole. “Sorry about that” I mumbled. “Sorry”
Kenny and Clara laughed and took a photo and put it on Facebook and tagged me in it. I don’t know how to untag myself so I just had to pretend I thought it was funny as well.
7:36pm – We packed up Kenny’s car with guitars and synthesisers and set off. Clara couldn’t come, she was a nurse and she was working nights. We drove for about half an hour across the rolling hills of the peak district. Dense towers of cumuli Nimbus clouds hung in the sky and cast gigantic shadows on the sloping moorland in the Spring sunshine.
Me and Kenny chatted away. I told him that apparently female baby humans are apparently born with all their eggs which means, in theory you could make a test tube baby using the eggs of a one day old baby and the sperm of a 100 year old man. I told him I’d like to see the results of that little experiment. Would the baby be normal or could it possibly result in the baby having special powers. Kenny said he was going to have to report this conversation to the authorities the he got home.
We arrived at the venue and I burped with my mouth closed and a jet of air blasted up from the bottom of my eyelid making my eye tickle. I then ripped out a big lump of heather and chucked it onto the bonnet of Kenny’s car. Kenny frowned and then smiled and shook his head. “You’re mad you are” he said. “come on, let’s unload the gear.
We lugged all his music equipment into the venue in inverted commas. It was empty and looked suspiciously like a barn, so suspiciously like a barn that it actually had cows living in it.
“Are you sure this is the venue Ken” I pondered.
“Yeah, totes” he replied “it’s just early innit, it’s alway like this around soundcheck”
We unloaded the equipment from Kenny’s boot and arranged it on the stage. I sat down on the edge of rusty water trough and watched as Kenny plugged in his various guitars, keyboards and boxes of thinking lights and pedals with metres and metres of leads and chords.
“Anyone else playing tonight?” I enquired
Kenny was distracted as he blasted out pulsing waves of synthesised chords and drum loops. “yeah, a few other bands are coming down. It’s sold it” he said
The cows slowly made their way out, presumably agitated my the the noise and wandered over the brow of an adjoining field.
Kenny started setting up lights and strobes before setting up a bar in the corner using a Black and Decker work Mate and a box of small Belgian beers.
The sun started to set. I went for a little wander and saw a man scuba diving around a tree, collecting little bits of coral off the branches and putting them in a little bag only that obviously wasn’t real.
8:30pm – I wandered back and Kenny was almost set up. He hurried over to me
“Mate, the bassist hasn’t showed up, I know it’s not your thing but can you do it, it’s simple really”
I looked around. I didn’t know why he said the bassist hadn’t showed up, no one had showed up. I scanned the arena, Kenny had set up a merch tent over by the bales of hay. The T-shirt and hoodies said ‘Iron Maiden’ on them in colourful, bubble lettering.
“Is that what we’re called Kenny” I said
“yeah, it’s good isn’t it?” He replied
“Isn’t there already a band called Iron Maiden though”
Kenny looked at me unimpressed. “Well maybe” he snapped” but they’re not as good. We’re the real one. No one will remember those guys in a few years.
“I dunno” I continued” I think they’re quite well established”
Kenny told me that we were running out of time and he had to to show me which note to tap for all the songs. It was an easy note to remember.
Kenny said we were on live in 5 and asked if I could feel the rush I surveyed the empty barn. I gazed thought he barn doors over the never ending landscape punctuated by the faint site of Jodrell Bank, the giant intergalactic satellite dish, in the distance. I looked over by the bar which had a cow itching its face on the bottles of lager. It lifted up its tail and covered its surrounding in black skink mud.
Kenny came in holding a goose which flapped and honked like a kite in a wind tunnel. He lobbed it to the floor and it began circling around the straw chattering and honking with anger. Kenny ran up to where I was standing on the stage.
“Now” he said “Let’s start, the audience is here”
“What the goose? I replied
“Yeah, have’t you always wanted to play live to a goose? This is what it’s all about…Right 1,2,3,4”
Kent nodded and we started playing, me clumsily thumping the note on the bass guitar, him running about the stage seeming to pick up instruments at random and strum and strike them like a disbraxic shark in a lolly shop. It sounded awful. I looked out over the audience. The cow had gone and the goose had got trapped under a rotavator.
We played for 2 hours until Kenny indicated to me that we were ending. We bowed and strummed and Kenny crashed away on his symbols and then Kenny smashed the fuck out of his guitar.
I wondered where the farmers were and hoped Kenny hadn’t killed them. The gibber had obviously consumed his brain as well, he was just displaying it in his own way.
For me the next 5 minutes were all about crabs.
11:11pm – We drove home. Kenny was on a high. He kept watching the video footage of the gig he’d recorded on a digital camera which meant he kept crashing into trees. By the time we got home the car looked like a cat if cats had invented landmines.
We spent the rest of the night in Kenny’s flat. My foul undercrackers were still glued to the Zanussi museum of tod fo all to see. The cycle had finished but the door wouldn’t open. As far as putting on a wash goes, it was a fucking disaster.
We stayed up talking about the bad day. Kenny admitted that he wasn’t firing on all cylinders and knew that we all had to go to the big meeting in London soon if we were ever going to get to the bottom of it. Kenny also admitted that Clara wasn’t his wife and was actually his nurse who popped in to see him every day ever since he took his own feet hostage at the Yorvik Viking Museum.
2:05am – We fell asleep in front of Full Metal Jacket. As the warming dark shroud of unconsciousness began to take its grip I thought about all the rubbish int he world. I wondered what would happen to it all if the earth was still here and not subsumed by the Sun. If prehistoric rocks and crustaceans can get condensed over billions of years to create diamonds, Rubys and oil, then what new precious Jewells will be cooked up by mother nature in landfill sites. Perhaps when hundreds of tons of plastic are crushed between the sedimentary layers of time, new gems will form with properties not yet discovered by man. I started to loose track of this thought and it was replaced by that of the cow, lifting up its tail and Pollocking the barnyard floor with its tummy clay. Up with tail out with the black