Television may represent a threat to our culture analogous to the threat of atomic weapons to our civilisation.
– Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History.
I’m running the show alone again.
I switch on the lights. I turn on the camera. I call action to a nonexistent crew of nothings and no ones. I’m so fucking tired I can barely even speak.
A million eyes expectant.
My mind has gone a blank.
The studio lights, so harsh and blinding.
So, “Curtains,” I say. “Curtains. Curtains. Curtains.”
But it’s too late for all that, they have waited long enough. The studio-audience erupt in an orgy of pyrotechnics and canned laughter and good old gratuitous violence. Eyeballs fly (Raimi-style). Someone screams, “You plonker!” Crying in the orchestra pit, calling for their mother.
Slight, silvery confetti dances in the floodlights above. An electronic sign is insisting that we LAUGH. The fire-escape is blocked with blood and sludge and pulp and crud, that ungodly mess we can never get enough of. The news crews enter from stage left, lingering and salivating and striking an elegant pose, perfect white teeth from the worst of your nightmares spewing filth and hate and garbage.
Old and forgotten theatre curses slither and skitter through the frenzied carnage: a hapless understudy, whistling to avoid unwanted attention, is ravaged by the cast of a certain Scottish Play before being consumed by ghost-lights and boom-mics. We listen as he squeals.
The Chairman and the Director-General, saddling their snivelling board of directors and their wild and mindless executives, are each incandescent with a white-hot rage.
Ratings will be down!
Funding will be cut!
The license-fee will wither and die!
The bewildered public will be forced to creep into the unforgiving sunlight and pray to a newer, older God!
A seasoned stage-hand rattles and yawns, angry, so very angry. The well-trodden boards beneath her are screaming bloody vengeance.
The director has gone mad.
An old cabaret act gurgles, lurching from a bloated grave.
That’s someone else’s face gurning in the smouldering monitor.
That’s someone else’s shadow dancing in the harsh and blinding light.
Laa-Laa and Forsyth and that dirty bastard Savile waltz in the dazzling flames. A bear, bandaged and feeble, is feeding on the tired blood of the young and the helpless, winking endlessly into the abyss. An old war broadcast, blaring from the decrepit tannoy system, is spluttering and slurring in a long dead language.
Those still alive on the balcony whoop and applaud.
“They love me. They really lov
READING: The Lost Machine, by Richard A. Kirk.
LISTENING: Fire Water, by Dirty Knobs.