The Promised Philosophy   Leave a comment

Right, so I’ve promised philosophy, but its hot, one of my kidneys hurts and I’ve got Thomas The Tank Engine blaring into my right ear. Its not really philosophy you’re going to get anyway, its more like some sort of discursive confessional.

All I wanted to say really was what a headfuck the whole Strawberry Fair wandering-freak thing was, even if you disregard the context of my personal emotional landscape at the time. Nico once told Iggy Pop that to be a performer you had to have “ze poison”, which I take to mean that all stage-monkeys of every stripe have to have a little fucked or broken bit inside them that they feel they need to reveal, and that is why their art works; because they have to do it and thus they convince. Even someone like Gareth Gates has the poison. So yeah, I’ve got a little black part of me that makes me want to do something like what I did at Strawberry Fair, even when I’m semi-unhinged at the time. That Alice O’Keefe thing was doing my head in too* I dunno, I guess that, er, as an artist or whatever you just keep pushing yourself towards this goal which you don’t really understand the nature of, like all the pressure is coming from behind, and it just felt like I’d pressed hyperspeed and lost control of the ship a bit. And afterwards I found myself wondering what the fuck it was all for, really. I was talking to Man From Uranus once about SPACE, and he responded to my characterization of the cosmos as big and scary with an assertion that he would GO INTO SPACE tomorrow, given half a chance. Well, imagine I’m Phil MFU and I’ve been to space and I’ve come back rattled because it was:


So be careful what you wish for, Captain Jam.

I was typing to K. Goater, my bi-polar chum, about our mutual interest in seeking attention for ourselves, albeit in radically different ways. Goater is deeply suspicious of arty wankers and has always questioned the motivational urge that transforms me from shy and dithery Pete into professional performing gibbon UM, and she concluded that while she was a weird normal person, I was just a normal weirdo. This sort of makes sense to me. I like the idea of myself as your typical, run-of-the-mill oddball, of which two can be had for a penny. Anyway, I know myself pretty well up to a point, and I’ve always understood that the reason that I perform is not because I’m “brave” like people seem to think, but because I can only really live in little bits, and normal life can wither on the vine as long as I get to sing a few tunes now and again. I don’t want to sound like Judy Garland or whatever, and I am exaggerating for effect, because I do enjoy fine cheeses and women’s shoes and so on, but anyone who knows me knows this stuff is at least a little bit true. Sam says she has to come to Um gigs to remember who I am, which is a bit sad isn’t it?
So, I don’t know if you’re with me, or if I’m even present myself, but I’ll attempt to carry on. The basic crux of the biscuit is that when I’m doing my thing at The Portland Arms or whatever, people (though they may be few) have paid money to come and see someone perform live at a venue, and though the artiste may have contact-mic’d tits or be dressed as a giant shoe, everybody involved understands the context in which all this keraaazy human interaction is taking place. Ain’t nothing new under the sun, or crappy lighting even. The performer performs whilst the audience stands about with beers. I don’t want to sound jaded, because I will always go to gigs like some people go to church, and expect to get the same result or better, but Strawberry Fair shook up my snow-scene a bit. The thing was, although it’s a festival, and you can see people on stilts and so on, it’s pretty random, a bit like actual real life. When you go up to people with a mic and GF777, they look a bit surprised. Some of them are absolutely fucking gobsmacked even, and you can tell by their open mouths. Now, when I’m at The Portland, I try, on a good night, as hard as I can, to both delight and confuse, but because there’s only 8 or 9 of us (that’s humour, it’s more like about 17) and because of the set and setting, we can all only get so far. And it isn’t SPACE, even when Chris Massey-Lynch is doing his projections. But here at Strawberry Fair, in front of an ever-changing tableau of people and tings, life was the gig. Do you see where I’m at? Suddenly Um was performing live, in real life! But there was no wise psychoanalyst to introduce my different personalities to one another, only drunks who wanted to steal my microphone, pregnant women who wanted to steal my beer and kick me, and lots of other folk with their mouths open. Don’t get me wrong, it was really enjoyable, but maybe enjoyable like running a marathon or something. I’ve been particularly grateful to those who said it was their highlight of the day. The best of these was on the Sunday when I bumped into Kevin Duffy, who is now a magician with a special and beautiful and magical moustache, and as he was rating me Number One a drunk punk girl who was litter-picking for food (cooked by Sam) started randomly going on about the superlative quality of that same food. I told Sam this and she gave me a high five.

OK, I’m sort of done. I just feel a bit confused as to:

What the point of doing it was.
Why I actually did it.
What am I supposed to do now?

I have been offered a gig at The Frogstock Festival (near Bury St. Edmunds) on August 14th at which I will utilise the box. I am to perform in a tree.

*(I just assumed she’d been abducted). The Fair felt wrong, even if I only know her from the shop.

Posted June 17, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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