I looked at the pictures of faces in the exhibition of pictures of faces. Two of them were so bad I wanted to phone some kind of very specific hotline and tell them it's their fault I'm infuriated and demand that they compensate me in ways it's not my responsibility to imagine, except to say that if they're not at least prolonged and terrific they'll be no compensation at all. I knew why I disliked these pictures, both at the original viewing and when I went back during lunch to check that I was still pummelled into froth by absolutely every aspect of their existence. But the good ones just made me think things like: yeah, good that, tones etcetera or: that's a really nice fence in the background there, a decent arrangement of shapes and colours, and I like shapes and can tolerate colours. For the bad ones I thought: these pillocks look like they've been asked to look like they're feeling the feelings people in compelling photographs feel, but all they seem to be feeling is the hope that the photograph might be good, which it isn't, because the hope for a good photograph is getting in the way of what's worth photographing, or is this actually the whole point and it's actually very successful, hence its inclusion in this travelling exhibition of successful large photographs, I wish I was looking at something less complicated. And when people asked how the exhibition was or why I'd been on lunch for ninety five minutes, you're not in France anymore mate, I didn't say anything about my detailed dislike of the things I disliked, for fear the amount of detail in the dislike would reveal other unpleasant character aspects, ones I don't cultivate on purpose, which might then ruin my chances, of what I'm not exactly sure.
Bournemouth was dark and breezy and trousers-wise I was strictly business. Because I forgot to pack the jeans. I've never been casual below the waist anyway. It's hard to find the town centre if you walk in the wrong direction. The first night there was silent lightning below the clouds above the sea. Lone cars stopped on the road to watch it. Lone men sat at tables in bright pubs watching the lone cars watching it. I lone sat in Wagamama at a table with twenty-five absent people. I got smiled at a lot, by the staff and the people at the other tables. I couldn't help thinking this wasn't necessary. Maybe the smilers were somehow vicariously amused by the amusing book I was reading, maybe the brisk dialogue was blasting out of my scalp. More likely the smiles were acknowledging the blue ink that'd gone from my pen to my pocket to my fingers to my face without me noticing until hours after, in the hotel room, burping. Wagamama: you should've told me. They'd've told me in Tampopo. They'd've rushed over with some helpful fluid to wash the stain or drown the sorrow in Tampopo. And then they'd've asked me what I was even doing eating evening bowl-food without a zesty and mysterious companion. I rang them to verify this and they said A: where've you been lately, and but before you answer that, where has she been lately, and B: we welcome any facial blemish regardless of hue, as you well know, your face having displayed many alarming and unnatural spasms of colour in the long but not long enough time we've known it, sir. And the hues, lately, have been intense, we've heard, please accept our vigorous sympathies and consider buying a gift voucher for your famished pals this Christmas. And before Bournemouth I'd been swept up in a compressed-head delirium and spent all night believing my eyes were about to burst like squeezed peas, and every change of position made it worse, and all I'd wanted to do was to hammer nails into my face until whatever was in me was gone and I could enjoy a wet heap of something with not too much coriander in it. Wagamama didn't press me for these details. Their dish of nuanced liquid, tender dead things and small long hot things was fine, but in and around and during and amongst and after it I couldn't detect a single concern for my wellbeing.
Situations lunge. I said yes to a three-day course in a town by the sea. The Union will welcome me and I'll be fully informed and riled up for baptism. I've put a toothbrush and all my prejudices in a sack made of high horse leather. I'm already practising responses to being called comrade and hearing it spoken between respectable folk. Weeks ago at the sixty-thousand people thing I couldn't stay for the speeches. We shuffled and whistled and listened to the chants. I found it hard to want to start chanting, after listening to the chants. I smiled at the bits of the air the chanting was in, and at the helicopter above it. The Union had a large yellow balloon and a band. Back at work I was interviewed for the same job as now but for forever. The questions were the questions for when the job was for six months. As soon as I noticed this I made up a rule that I couldn't use any of the answers that I'd used the first time. This was unexpected. I spent so long answering one of the questions that I forgot what it was.
A man put a mask on and attacked the drumkit set up in front of the stage. Between the mask and his mouth was a small microphone. Between his back and the stage were two large amplifiers. His singing came through some looping and distortion and reverb boxes and out of the amplifiers. He played very fast and loud and intricate things on the drums. It was unclear whether he was enjoying himself or not or almost. The singing didn't involve words and the treble was like rusty sideways-raining needles. Eleven years ago, in a DVD, he jumped off a fridge and landed on his drum stool and immediately played exactly the necessary thing no sooner or later than it was required. He controlled the looping and distortion with his left foot. Men shook their hair and grinning women danced. A bald man plugged his ears with tissue paper. Absent people would say it wasn't music. The drumming stopped and over the applause he told a story through his distortion and reverb. The only intelligible words were Motley Crue.