2014 Referendum, Abortion, Blogging, Cointreau, Crazy Clown Time, David Fincher, David Lynch, David Lynch and Mark Frost, Diabetes, Drink, Edinburgh, Fascism, Fascist, Feminism, Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl, Horror, Insulin Overdose, Pub, Scottish Independence, Suicide, Television Review, Twin Peaks, Writing
[SCENE: The doorway of the Green Mantle. James is walking past when he pauses.]
James [gloomily]: Oh hullo you two.
[From the shadow of the doorway, two red dots are lowered and the figures of Tychy and Pablo step into the light.]
Pablo: Eh Jam-es, would you like a cigarette?
Tychy: Hello James. Why don’t we sink a few pints? Send a few to the bottom of the ocean?
Pablo: But a cigarette now? [He slots a cigarette between James’ lips and lights it.] Where are you going, anyway?
James: My friends, I was… I was… [He inhales.] Hey, you know I only smoke Lucky Strike. This is vile.
Pablo: Oh no, my cigarette is not taste nice. Oh, we are all little girls now?
Tychy: You know, I think that James is going to kill himself.
Pablo: ¡Joder! What this is?
James [uneasily]: You know me very well, Biggy.
Tychy: When I was living with Pablo and his girlfriend, there was this one morning when I had a really bad vibe, an immense feeling of dullness and oppression. I couldn’t shake it off. The next day Pablo’s girlfriend told me that she had had an abortion. I’m getting exactly the same feeling now.
Pablo: You son of a puta! My girlfriend had an abortion!
James: Biggy, I’ve given myself a massive overdose of insulin.
Pablo: My son – my own son – his life destroyed by this whore of the galaxy!
Tychy: He could have been a daughter, Pablo.
James: I was going to walk to Holyrood Park and lie down under the moon until I lapsed into a coma and died.
Pablo: I will phone her now [he begins to fiddle frantically with his phone.] Eh, you bitch? You bitch it is me, Pablo. I know you conceived my son and then you had him killed you whore but I find out your slimy little secret. There is nothing you can ever hide from me you prostitute the size of a planet! Eh, oh shit! Oh, I’m sorry miss. Oh dear… Yes…
Tychy [to James]: He’s always doing this. He’s phoned his boss. She has the same first name as his ex-girlfriend and he’s muddled up their numbers on his phone.
James: I don’t know how this has happened but you’ve both intervened and my life has been saved! It’s a miracle!
Tychy: The ex is constantly wondering why Pablo keeps phoning her up early in the morning to announce that he is sick.
Pablo: My honey, it is all a case of the mistaken identity! I confuse you with a prostitute!
James: Whatever inscrutable wisdom orders our lives has seen fit to… oh, am I obliged to believe in God now? I feel somehow imposed upon.
Tychy [sternly]: To counteract the insulin, you will have to drink a significant amount of something sweet. I reckon Cointreau. It’s essentially the cream fondant from inside orange-flavoured Cadbury Roses, but alcoholised. How many bottles?
James: Maybe three, but I think that I would rather die.
Tychy [Entering the pub]: Barman, I would like to order fifty shots of Cointreau. Line them up along the bar. It’s a medical emergency.
Barman [putting down his newspaper]: Repetitive strain injury is a medical emergency. I have to pour out fifty shots?
Tychy: Roughly fifty.
Barman [suspiciously]: But you’re paying for fifty?
Tychy: I mean that I want approximately fifty.
Barman: Okay, but I’m taking a cigarette break half way through.
[The barman pours out the first shot. Tychy impatiently encourages James to drink and James downs it.]
James: Christ this is horrible! It couldn’t be worse if I’d been actually shot.
Tychy: Forty-nine to go! Hurry!
[With tremendous deliberation, the barman lines up three more shots along the bar.]
Pablo [entering and still talking into his mobile phone]: So our son? You had our son killed? A new sacred human life and you had him murdered. You’re lucky you’re in Dundee – if you’re in front of me I would throttle you completely dead you fucking whore!
Tychy [glaring]: Keep it civilised Pablo.
Pablo [hanging up]: You tell me how I can talk to this whore my girlfriend?
Tychy: She’s your ex. I won’t have you insulting a lady when you’re not in a relationship with her.
Pablo [standing in the middle of the bar with tears rolling down his face]: Oh my proud beautiful son, I would have spent all the years teaching you how to shave and how to play cricket and how to get into the pants of all the young girls. I would have laughed with you, weeped with you, leaned on you when the old age came and I needed somebody to get me ready every morning! Now this whore, your mother, has splatted you like you were a cockroach!
Tychy: I’m sorry that I’m laughing Pablo… Please forgive me, it’s impossible.
James: Yuck. That’s the second one.
Tychy: Forty eight!
Pablo: Eh, give me a shot. I’m inconsolable.
Tychy: They’re for James. You would be literally drinking his life away.
James: Take some. They’re disgusting.
Tychy: You’re in some senile pre-death stage of consciousness. You have to keep drinking.
Pablo: But why Jam-es you try to kill yourself? You have a puta for a girlfriend too?
Tychy: Since we’re in the process of saving his life, it’s probably not the wisest time to ask. He might have a perfectly sensible reason.
James: Oh my friends! It’s the Scottish independence referendum!
Tychy: We’re in the clear.
James: The disappointment is abominable!
Pablo: But this website of yours…
Pablo: It supported the No side?
James: Goodness! Number four – my head is spinning.
Pablo: No is the best, eh? Why do these lunatics want to break up the glorious England? The country of Shakespeare and Milton and Mr Bean, eh, which set up America and invented the train and…
Tychy: Defeated the fascists.
Pablo: Never! These fascists were not one real fascist all put together! Hitler was a nice guy, but weak and the Jews stabbed him in the back! Like they fucked up the First war too! But this great country fought better than the useless France and the estúpido America and the Russia who were worse than the pigs in the fields!
Tychy: This is probably the best case for the Union that I’ve heard so far.
Barman: I’ve poured out sixteen shots. I’ll give you some time to catch up. We’ve only thirty shot glasses in any case.
James: I thought that living through the referendum would be to experience pure history. And I was bored rigid for most of the time. We were told that it was a festival of democracy, but in the days leading up to the referendum, everybody kept asking me when it was going to be over. We had weeks of being engulfed in Twitter and bombarded with emotion, as every new poll ramped up the voltage. Suddenly, it’s all been cut off, like someone has pulled a plug, and we’re left standing frozen, listening to this uncanny silence.
Tychy: When the referendum was over, you were stupefied with relief. You said that you had got your life back.
James: I’ve realised that my life never went away. The referendum was my life. I’ve devoted everything to writing about this referendum; it was what I was put on Earth to do. I’ve spent years amassing the necessary skills and knowledge. If there had only been a Yes vote, then I would be now happily reading government reports on devolved currency options. But I have nothing! There is nothing for me to live for anymore!
Barman [turning newspaper page]: Fucking hell, I don’t believe it!
Pablo: Eh, what?
Barman: They’re making nine new episodes of “Twin Peaks.” I never thought I’d see the like.
James [sitting up transfixed]: What did you say?
Barman: Nine new episodes. They’re being broadcast in 2016.
James: Let me see! Yet is David Lynch directing or is somebody else doing it?
Barman: David Lynch is directing all of the episodes. And Mark Frost is writing them too.
James: Quick, my friends I have to live! [He begins to desperately slurp shots of Cointreau.] Hurry – pour them into a pint glass, a bucket!
Pablo: Jam-es, there’s no point making a new “Twin Peaks.” All the sexy girls are now… is it on the slagheap?
Tychy: On the scrapheap, Pablo. James in the last eight seconds you’ve drunk more Cointreau than me and everybody I know have drunk in our entire lives.
James: I feel amazing. I’m not even drunk – I’m full of unbelievable energy!
Tychy: Steady, don’t test this by trying to walk.
James: It’s not just fantastic that they’re remaking “Twin Peaks.” It’s the news that Lynch is directing again! He’s been on holiday since Inland Empire in 2006.
Tychy: You don’t count the 2011 album Crazy Clown Time?
James: I suppose it’s an achievement that a man over sixty has made a basically respectable electronic pop record. But it’s otherwise like asking Rene Magritte to paint your skirting boards. Lynch is a surrealist supremo, maybe the last genuine surrealist left. Anybody could have made Crazy Clown Time. Moby could have made it. Lynch’s record ultimately reminds me of those crooning albums which Silvio Berlusconi released in his early sixties.
Pablo: But “Twin Peaks” is from the old days when girls were pretty and they knew not to answer back. There are lots of cool kids in a tiny town, when today all the sexy people have left these towns…
Tychy: “Twin Peaks” was already nostalgic in 1990. Indeed, it was modelled with embarrassing sincerity on prime time soap operas with mass audiences, such as “Dallas” and “Dynasty.” It had the same homely glamour and the same cosiness. It’s going to be very hard to reconnect with this life source, because modern soap operas are gritty and bleak and cynical. For all the incest, “Twin Peaks” was never any of these things. It reminds me of the BBC show “Have I Got News For You,” which was launched in the same year as “Twin Peaks.” HIGNFY is today somewhat unhinged because the game show formats which it parodies no longer exist and half of its guests cannot remember them.
James: There will be more new “Twins Peaks” episodes directed by Lynch than old ones: six to nine. And Lynch’s latest films Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire are both old world film noir and exhilarating experimentalism. Yes, it will be a challenge to plausibly locate Twin Peaks in a world where the new, younger characters are constantly plugged into the internet and iPhones. It will be difficult to find the series in today’s small town America, which is recession battered and Tea Party riddled. Lynch has spent most of the last decade fluctuating between Los Angeles and European capitals and states of transcendental awareness, rather than living in America’s depleted heartlands. But it’s going to be fascinating to see how he approaches these obstacles. Remaking “Twin Peaks” is probably one of the most audacious projects in the history of television. There is so much at stake and, if Lynch and Frost succeed, so much to gain. It might put the world forward another ten years!
Pablo [looking bored]: Eh, but my favourite was the sexy girl who almost fucked her father by accident…
[There follows half an hour in which the three men quaff Cointreau and discuss who was the sexiest girl in “Twin Peaks.” You can rehearse this debate yourself in your own time.]
James: But sexy girls weren’t everything. There were four ingredients to every successful “Twin Peaks” episode: sexy girls, twitchy jazz music, some wacky comedy, and real horror. Lynch is only “Lynchian” when the horror begins.
Tychy: Yes, in the years after the Berlin wall came down, “Twin Peaks” seemed to be on Polish TV 24 hours a day. It was generally assumed to be a realistic portrait of American life. I was seventeen – I hated all of my early girlfriends because none of them were Audrey Horne – but many people who were children back then, such as my ex Renata, were absolutely terrified by “Twin Peaks.” The dwarf from the Red Room, played by Michael J Anderson, was peeping out of millions of children’s wardrobes and slithering about under millions of beds. There was something breathtakingly eerie about Leland Palmer’s demented dancing. Leo Johnson was one of the most frightening presences on television.
James: “Twin Peaks” functioned up to the revelation of Laura Palmer’s murderer, whereupon it split apart and lost the horror element which had fuelled it. The series became just another soap opera, albeit whilst retaining some mopey film noir. The hayseed comedy predominated and any remaining horror resembled the sort of trivial wickedness that you find in regular soap operas. Long-running storylines, such as Leo Johnson’s paralysis and Josie Packard’s bitter tragedy, were frankly bungled, concluding abruptly and squandering weeks of suspense. Neither did the final episode nor the movie Fire Walk With Me recapture the lost territory. Lynch and the horror were back, indeed the horror was more frightening, but the direction was too cold, the comedy seemed flat and weightless. The peril with these nine new episodes is that they won’t calculate this delicate balance correctly, that they will be too chilly or too sunny.
Pablo: Eh, but these episodes will be shown only to begin with in America?
James: I have to move to America! Our review must be at the front of the crowd! We have to publish immediately!
Tychy: James, moving to America for nine weeks will cost thousands of pounds. We could probably get an interview with Lynch himself for the same money.
James: Money is no object… aside from the fact that I don’t have any.
Barman: Hang on, so who is paying for these shots? You’ve so far drunk twenty-eight.
James: How much does that come to?
Barman: £84. It will be £150 in total.
Tychy: That does seem rather steep for saving your life, James.
James: I’ll refund you at the earliest opportunity. By the bye, speaking of reviewing, we need to send somebody to watch the latest David Fincher, Gone Girl. You’ll remember that we reviewed the original novel by Gillian Flynn two months after it was first published – before flocks of book clubs descended on it – and this has since proved a shrewd investment.
Tychy: Strangely, we both went to see Gone Girl before coming here. It’s seriously good. Much better than the book, in fact, but very different. It’s colder and less chatty than the novel; its fantasia of implausibility doesn’t spin so quickly. The satire of the American media couldn’t be more ruthless if this film was commissioned by the Islamic State. But I think that you’d like the horror best.
James: There’s horror?
Tychy: The whole thing has a deeply claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s like the horror is always there but it’s just waiting patiently to appear. It finally leaps out stark naked in the scene when Desi, played by Neil Patrick Harris, has his throat slit with a box-cutter in the middle of some steamy sex. It’s like an impassive face has finally grinned. The direction is superb.
James: But when I reviewed the book it was largely to admire the feminism.
Tychy: This is not really a factor. Rosamund Pike’s “cool girl” is rather watery and the film is uninterested in flipping so dramatically between the two contrary Amys. I suppose that most of the audiences will have read the novel and so for the masses the film arrives already pre-spoiled.
Pablo: Though this is a brave, good movie. This Gillian Flynn is a real fascist.
James: Pablo, not so fast…
Pablo: She takes the mask off all women and we can see the real face, eh? Amy is the only woman with brains and she is like a vampire, a cannibal. Her husband, Ben Affleck, gives her a good prize smack and her head bounces off the wall!
Tychy: He whooped and shouted “bravo.” Everyone in the cinema looked at us. I wanted to die.
Pablo: Like this whore my girlfriend who murdered our son. And you! – yes, you! – you knew about this and you did not tell me! You knew a year before me?
Pablo: You did!
Tychy: I did.
Pablo: Eh, can I have another shot?
Tychy: You’ll forgive me for concealing the “murder” of your “son” if you can have another shot of orange goo?
James: Am I sufficiently out of danger to stop drinking now?
Tychy: Absolutely not. You have at least twenty more to go.
James: Scottish independence – drowned in Cointreau! Let us drink to happier times. To “Twin Peaks”!
Omnes: Cheers! Salud!