from The Failure of Myth

Tim Allen

9. Mnemonic Plague

If maths isn't metaphorical then I know what is.

Ex pupils from Charm School log onto Friends Reunited only to find it deserted. If you are tempted by the amazing past forget it get lost for a few fun hours take the roof off the corridor and turn the wall into privet but coming the other way with nose to the ground is a scruffy little dog you find yourself asking it the time instead of the way.

I can smell the sea so where the hell is it?

Beauty delivers another glancing blow to a memory aid the sentimental fleet tries to follow the salmon it even learns to leap but these buggers jump so high they land on the moon. The scruffy dog is quarantined in the kennels of Heterotopia.

The tide drags Special Relativity across the stage depositing footlights and opera glasses in a similar way to the manner in which General Relativity was first proved.

The future begs to be given a chance so a lad emigrates without taking any of his girlfriends how can he do that? With her mouth still throbbing from the kissing competition his penultimate English girl arrived home to find her mother waiting-up for her goodnight peck while his last English lassie learnt another dead lingo such as Esperanto just in case the second coming resurrected Juke Box Jury.

Making connections and putting you through: the Poetry Exchange discovers Atlantis off the coast of a call centre.

Trying to escape the herd without appearing cowardly I grabbed an electric fence I remember the lay of the land the way the folds of Lincoln Green Dorset were truncated by the chalky light of the bay the shire dipped its toes in the trough full of sea and shared the shock momentarily losing nationality while whiskers sizzled now that did frighten the cows they checked my passport then parted to let me return the way I'd come down the track towards the adolescent stile wading in the milky evening light.

The situationists decided to visit the zoo but they never got there as a group they were known to arrive one by one over the coming months.

A group photograph gave no indication that the exiles all spoke different languages it was taken by an intense little Indian physicist who got away without buying his round only seconds after shouting 'The Milky Bars are all on me'. But there was one among them that was not animal vegetable or mineral – I think it was a poetic. A reporter from Tel Quel came to do an interview the misquoted poetic was printed in the next issue of that famous journal which also featured a personal mythology as seen from Space an article on the heyday of handwriting a weather forecast of how when the American professor in Arabic Studies meets the Saudi professor of American Studies they'll have nothing to talk about and a review of A Saint's Endgame a little known film by Bunuel in which the Milky Bar Kid is strung-up for carrying out a mercy killing on another victim of the mnemonic plague.

10. The Magician's Table

Free the night of its darkness squeaked the filmmaker's deathbed though the dying filmmaker didn't put it that way he was regretting ever asking the author of Is Death Dangerous to write his own screenplay. The gang had a dilemma, should they watch the film and then trash the seats or just get on with slashing this was in the early days of Rock when the filmmaker was young and the world felt international.

An abacus is strung across the Grand Canyon.

Whose is that shadow way down there like an insect in the distance? It is Maldoror. The diurnal moon tries to cross the sky.

The Argentinean football team sit in technical drawing class as their teacher demonstrates how an association runs up and down in its caged run. Mary Weiss, the lead from The Shangri Las, models for them, sitting on her high stool in the middle of a reverent hush that promises to remember how to reverberate her remarkable swollen with the truth singing voice. The Art School Dance might go on forever if it makes the right choice between a canal that cuts through space-time and a wormhole in the front garden but technique lies in explaining how a drunken student can hardly stand on the wasted hard standing that fronts his student house without resorting to a trope that associates something that exists with something that doesn't. The English teacher had to stand-in for the Games Master he had a magic touch.

Where are the old men wearing what they used to wear when they were young men in drainpipes or leathers? They aren't even in the mirror. A quizzical look lives in the moment that light is too quick for. The conjurer's wandering hands.

Gods taught men to speak like men but when men try to teach the almighty how to write he can't hold the pencil properly and anyway he's got nothing to say. In the prison library an enthusiastic sinner unenthusiastically reads a tatty paperback western vultures crack the branch of home-grown faith then fly off laughing raggedly which for our sinner could mean they flew off tattily and for our sins he wondered about the location of this tatty land where the tatty laughing of such creatures could resound.

Now the filmmaker is old and foreign nobody trashes the cinemas the multiplexes are capitalist palaces where the vandals come to replenish and draw strength.

Basil Brush as the manager of a pop group. He sits in his sports car in Chelsea making plans that include changing the name of the group from The Cul-de-sacs to Levi Strauss. A manager must understand the importance of style even when the style he is managing is not his own. Basil Brush as a football manager. Basil listening to Poetry Please. The working girl went on holiday and found out that Rock n Roll is old and was born in the USA but is not as old as the Grand Canyon which wasn't born in the USA and isn't American then when she returned the streets where she used to work had been replaced by a duel-carriageway. The whole universe was radical.

I looked at the dog and forgot what I was thinking.

In the centre of the veterinary surgery stood the magician's table.

11. Oz & It

A modern present that light is too slow to catch knows there is no such thing as eternity you only have to consider the limited options for school uniforms and team strips. Death's PR chief would have no truck with propaganda. Those who have disappeared merely disappeared some more save for a scarecrow twice the size of his uniform but nowhere near as sinister in the sticky early autumn when trees hiss a pallid tribal hippy dressed in nothing but beads of condensation thinks he hears a train but there is no railway out here, out on the moors, not now.

Kids on a coach in a narrow country lane read about ghosts and golems then a coach containing a Saga party comes the other way. Space is jealous of time's strangeness.

The cold war was between daisies and buttercups.

A toy tractor made in a factory in Sumatra threatened to crush the career of the most radical rock journalist on the NME in 1977 so it was left to oxidise at the edge of the Solar System. The last time I passed by Foot and Mouth was in full swing but now the farm shop is open again pick up a pamphlet about the seamless hand-over of power from Frank to Nancy Sinatra illustrated with that photo of fake alien corpses the rock journalist says he was there at the beginning in the potting sheds of the Lost Gardens of Helligan spying on the nudists while clichéd volcanoes puffed in the background and disinfected straw lay matted around every gate but was the apple that Newton watched fall forever at 4.00 the same apple that Eve ate at 8.00?.

Monet of fevers.

So anyway, as I was saying, Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons went to the Christmas dinner and dance dressed as Adam and Eve. The do was being held in an old orangery it inspired their editor to move them from Crime to The Arts, a sideways move in a career that had hardly begun, because he knew that nothing matters that long sessions in the tanning shop won't make this world a modern antique any more than Carol Anne Duffy's pronouns can eat their own flesh.

When I was in Primary School our history lessons were fairy stories set in some timeless land where all the weeding was done by Steven Hawking. He used to tug at the gnarled roots of revelation and was beginning to accept his lowly station when an explosion of pride ripped his animal logic apart. The newborn chicks stumbled across the floor of the incubator like victims of Charles Manson.

Heaven was a rude place where we were embarrassed for ever and ever but it didn't last even cassette tapes that made metal music sound like plastic lasted longer.

A yawn as deep and profound as local journalism dispatched me to follow the private dick he disappeared into the night I hung around beside a fenced-off compound and watched a caterpillar truck curl into a chrysalis I watched it all night with my trainee shorthand at the ready then at three hours three minutes and three seconds after sunrise it unstuck its wet wings from the puddled cement broke free and rose from the building site with its beautiful wings ablaze with Oz and It colour prints of acid green and acid pink. It disappeared into the day.

© Tim Allen 2006

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