LONDON 2012: FUCK EXERCISE. THIS IS REAL SPORTS
Image by Richard Manders
I play real sports, not just being the best at exercise.
- Kenny ‘Fucking’ Powers
So. This bit isn’t relevant to the Olympics and chronologically I’m shooting myself in the foot here but fuck it cause it happened and it’s nice and necessary to record life’s diversions from its mute insistence on being profound and profane. So. A little background. The house I live in is huge, a whole block of apartments. It was squatted in 1979 by this guy who still lives here and his school friends and yeah it's still here now, but we pay rent but not much and there are no locks on any doors and we have a cinema and a bar and blah. So. Point is we needed to renovate for the summer. So I got back from work and Kali and this guy who we’ll call Tom for the purpose of this sketch, who’s like 7 or 10 or 20 foot tall greeted me with those wide bird eyes and tell me that we must WE MUST paint the whole room white by the morning because they’ve been eating mushrooms and they HAVE to finish before dawn and I’m the first person foolish enough to wander in here and join this drug fuelled chain gang.
* As a footnote here, the room is already white and was painted just last year. In England we have no squats left and in Germany they repaint the rooms twice a year. Tom’s sweating and mixing the sweat into the paint and making the pipes glisten white, meanwhile he’s seducing himself IN A DANCE AS OLD AS TIME:
“What am I to do when I fall in love with myself, but I don’t want a relationship?” Tom is damned, forced to confront the universe’s greatest mysteries and destined to spend an eternity making white rooms whiter. “I take drugs to understand the misunderstandings” Of course, nothing is of higher priority than to finally unravel what it is that is going on here and why it insists on flickering between sense and absolute chaos. It’s like old comedy tumbling, we wrestle with brushes and ladders, with our own disobedient bodies, we flip flap and moon at the walls until we believe that everything is white. Then I slept, kind of, and dived again into the soapy waters.
So. I load up my boss with lies about my intentions in going back to England. I always find in cases of employment that never telling the truth when a well placed lie (white/beige/grey) will suffice is the best approach. Anyway I cloud his mind with ‘family issues’, undertones of sickness and vague suggestions of deep genealogical tensions. I prepare myself mentally for London by imagining myself cartwheeling through an abattoir, my path illuminated by neon strip lighting. In the centre of the blood-splashed corrugated iron room hangs a disco ball that spins backwards, shaved apes kneeling before it smoking their own fingers. LDN bruv. I cycle a belt across Berlin and arrive home to find the sun has pulled a swift one and risen without me noticing, sleep is out the question - a friend is coming on the sleeper from Paris…
The next day (or some days later, fuck chronology) I receive an email with all the information I missed at the Olympic induction day, as well as a reminder that I will receive my hat, jacket and cap at the start of my first shift. Shit, uniforms - the very thought of them makes me wriggle, shit. A cap, come on! A cap! There is no more disgraceful sight than that of an Englishman in a baseball cap, and although, as I’ve already stated, I’m not nationalistic, I have some sense of aesthetic patriotism. What's this world come to if I’m to be forced to parade around London surrounded by soldiers and undercover Blackwater assassins in a fucking cap. I am also reminded that I must bring lunches, that they cannot provide nutrition, but that I will receive a paid half hour break to make up for this, but that in this half hour break I am forbidden from buying food from vendors inside the arena and I cannot leave the arena. There is no way I will be preparing lunches. It is at this point that I paint DEATH TO JOBSWORTHS on the back of my jacket. I’m going to need a uniform if I’m going to war.
“Remember you are the Front Face Of The Games!” …. Blah blah blah…Smile! Remember we want every customer to buy two copies of both programmes - one for reading and one for selling on eBay IF(WHEN) IF? a terrorist attack occurs, as we all know the powerfully stimulating effect terrorism has on the economy.
MINT CONDITION OLYMPIC PROGRAMME STILL STAINED IN BLOOD AND SLIGHTLY BURNT (GENUINE)
Anyway I’m forced to board one of those horrid rocket ships and endure an hour of live Bid TV courtesy of Ryanair. The plane crashes into the concrete and hurtles into Stanstead, the wings fall off, fire, fireball, puddles of liquid steel, fire, everyone is dead. In the queue to have our passports checked we’re behind the Serbian Olympic team, 30 or 40 of the best lads in the Balkans head to toe in blue tracksuits, smiling, laughing, not letting it get them down that their country is run by a flaunting war criminal, after all, whose isn’t? Anyway I manage to scout ahead and walk in step with the head Serb and the milk-drinking shorts-wearing Olympic welcomer vampire. The conversation goes something like this:
INT. STANSTEAD AIRPORT. DAY
A tall SERB with a shaved head is walking along side a MILK-DRINKING SHORTS-WEARING OLYMPIC WELCOMER VAMPIRE.
In Beijing and Sydney it was no problem…
MILK-DRINKING SHORTS-WEARING OLYMPIC WELCOMER VAMPIRE
Yes, well, we didn’t realise there was going to be a problem in the village with smoking in the rooms
It’s a big problem for my guys…
So. Yeah, whatever event this Serb's in he’s my man, a man who hasn’t let all this butchery get to him. I mean fuck it if you can’t smoke in the trenches what’s the use in any of it. So three and a half hours later and I’m in East London heading to the place where I gotta collect my pass. I get off the train in West Ham and there's soldiers all over and I can tell from the burnt tops of their cheeks that they’ve just come back from one of those death pitches we’ve been busy establishing all over the Middle East. I queue for an hour next to a collection of soldier who stand up right, rudeboys with their hands in their pants and confused but keen looking Baltic workers. The woman who does my photo asks me about the Hemingway book I’m reading and asks me if I’ve followed in any of his footsteps, I tell her that I’ve been to Havana. She nods and tells me, “he was famous for the bars though wasn’t he, famous for the bars…”
THE OPENING CEREMONY.
I’m given a pass that will give me a ringside view of Boyle’s multi-million pound spectacle. I wander past fences, soldiers with their berets pulled down and Met firearms officers, clones with pinched cockney mouths and silver hair. I’m dispatched to one of the gates to await the first wave. I keep my cynicism down, but after a short conversation with one of the volunteers I’m becoming feverish in anticipation and as the gates open I realise I’ve pulled myself deep into a fantasy of my own creation where I expect not men but jellyfish with bin bag vacuum mouths to come streaming through the doors. But mere mortals pass over the concrete and drop money like breadcrumbs. Once the happening is in full swing it’s very much like a school play on steroids. Volunteer dancers dressed as urchins and nurses linger by the entrances. They are reinforced by fake Mods and Punks and Ziggy Stardusts. I walk through the crowd of ersatz sub culture and try not to look at the spectacle. I’m under specific instruction that I’m not to look, my contract doesn’t entitle me to visual stimulation of the degree Boyle has arranged today.
I get into the swing of the programme seller tango pretty quickly and set about establishing the most important coping method in my arsenal of self deception I let my accent take a wander down the motorway and halt somewhere near Watford. I peel bits of flesh off the faces of Peter Akroyd, Charlie Slater and Chaz and Dave and sculpt a good cockney mug for my character, the avatar, the daemon familiar that I’ll be employing to create a severe break between myself and the job at hand. If I am to accept that it is myself at 24 walking around the recently constructed mausoleum to London and flogging a gossip magazine disguised semantically as necessary and informative in an orange T-shirt then I’ll surely suffer one of those eye jolting moments of terrible realisation. So yeah anyway there’s a small London market trader in my head and it's him who's working 8 hours shifts as a bottom feeding whore. SO I walk loops around the stadium and let the market trader do all the talking. Anyway so the place is also swarming with soldiers which only adds to momentary pangs of fear I get that perhaps the reason this all feels like a big school play is that it is, that all those tangent bashing conspiracy theorists might have been right and that tonight is to be a piece of monumental historical theatre on par with D Day and the JFK assassination and that thing with the planes that happened and took the lid off the shit fountain and opened up the can of worms that Artaud was so keen to unleash on the stage and put an end once and for all to the linear progression of history. I can hear George W now, “you were only s'pposed to blow the bloody doors off”….
* For the sake of clarity I don’t buy the 9/11 was an inside job jive, I believe that there are things in this world that make men crazy, mad and angry that cause them to commit acts of high bravery and acts of severe lunatic cowardice, I believe that there are viruses, bad thoughts made whole in words, hosting on desperate people who’ve been failed by the big rolling balls of scale, by Olympus and Olympians. Sad lonely boys with word maggots on the brain. That's who fly planes into buildings.
…. I have a cigarette and a coffee and watch a man dressed in drag as the queen parachute out of a helicopter…I watch the pantomime of time…I finish asap and rush back onto the tube before the sad lonely boys with maggots on the brains get here and fill the tunnel with fire and shrapnel….I did manage to steal glances at Boyle’s spectacle but it's unimportant… Remember there is an I in society (Rand be damned) but there is no WE in nation…
He's been with the world
And I'm tired of the soup du jour
He's been with the world
I wanna end this prophylactic tour
Afraid nobody around here
Understands my potato
Guess I'm only a spudboy
Looking for a real tomato