Thursday, 29 October 2009

THE BOOK PAGE




While I was reading or skimming this, I learned of a wee drama in a local care facility. It wasn’t bloody or anything or prolonged or even sadistic per se, it was just entirely shocking; it was the sort of thing that normal young people don’t do. Oh I know pissed-up teenagers are revolting and most of them are revolting even sober, stupid, idle, violent; bad parenting and testosterone. But they don’t do this shit. It’s this sort of off-the-wall shit that leaves social workers fucked six ways to Christmas. If one of your own kids did this shit you’d want to drown them and then drown yourselves, the social worker, though, has to get real close but stand back, remember that this little monster is also a damaged child; it’s not his fault, even if you wanna kill him.

It happens all day long this stuff, the victim-perpetrators fetch up in the poorer quarters, where the ragged people go; sometimes they slay their own dragons by killing Baby P, often, they do abuse unto others as it was done unto them and fetch up in some institution, hated, every man’s hand against them, their wounds called Evil, their Sorrow Cruelty, reviled and despised and rejected for what some grown-up made them. And the social workers know all this Merry Go Round of Wickedness stuff, ride it themselves, really, fucked if they do, fucked if they don’t.


Anyway, Brand’s life, by this telling, is a panoply of shocking and disgusting events. What sets him apart from all the others, abused and who self-harm and whose every sexually eccentric action wounds and marks their prey is that he’s a luvvie. In his times of mad excess and degradation he had, surprisingly, an agent, making drama of Brand’s squalid life and he dipped in and out of drama school, was indulged by the impressionist, Rory Bremner’s, production company, Vera; no business like show business; Brand, filmed masturbating another man in a toilet for want of something more creative to do or slashing hinself with broken bottles or imbibing fatal quantities of booze is lionised by luvviedom, sent, eventually, to be filmed retracing Jack Kerouac’s footsteps across America, not, granted, in an E type or astride an Indian for he would surely fall out or off but in a somehow appropriate SUV, for all the world as though he was an homme de lettres, as though Beat was just an early form of Brand’s marketable degeneracy; he and Kerouac, soul brothers, fellow travellers through Life’s cottages, her celebrity re-hab clinics.


The people at the top of this are unlikely to be picked up by Maestro Bremner or tutored by the great Svengali, Jonafun Woss but will probably just disappear into one of many cellblocks in HMP UK, surviving as best they can, somebody’s client, somebody’s caseload, somebody’s inmate, Brand at some vapid awards ceremony, they on the Sexual Offenders Register. But Brand has lived a life that KeIth Richard plays at, not for Brand the millionaire, junky chic of a one-trick, popstar playboy; no, Brand has been full-on, hard-core and, like Richard, has succeeded at something that he’s not, actually, terribly good at, but which strikes a wan chord with many.


I have championed his stand-up comedy, not difficult in a world of Petulant Jack Dee and Zany Paul Merton; he is brave and shocking and original, makes you laugh, even though it's not funny, really. That he is his own material is fine on stage but on the printed page his stuff comes to resemble a series of social enquiry reports or case conferences, all written by the subject and it is profoundly depressing. Many venture Outside but not all are so narcissistic, so utterly self-consumed as Brand’s booky-wooky reveals him to be; his need for love is overwhelming, almost as great as his need to disappoint; this book probably satisfies both.


43 comments:

The Dyer's Garden said...

This "bravery", presumably is different from the bravery invoked in your immediately preceding post. So different, in fact, I haven't a fucking clue what you mean.

call me ishmael said...

The word brave was deployed in a theatrical, artistic context. contrasting Brand's quizzical, compassionate ouevre with that of more mainstream funnymen. It's not always to do with charging the ramparts, is it? So, yes, it is different but surely not a usage beyond the pale, beyond your ken. Some performers are bold and inventive,trusting to instinct, creating from chaos as they go, others are catch-phrasing, formulaic, all writ down. You don't need me to explain that, now; come on, mr TDG.

I think you would like young Brand, a soliloquy and a penance run through his raps, rich, inventive, spontaneous and didactic, he is also his own Chorus; but then I thought this was one of my more affecting posts, true beyond pedantry, beyond semantic.

The Dyer's Garden said...

I am not talking about English usage, Ishmael. It was the clanging juxtaposition with the previous post that caught my eye, and the equally dissonant juxtaposition of Brand's talk with (say) yours. His variety is the variety of vomit, the spontaneity that of faecal incontinence, his richness of movement the shudders of the epileptic - it is all (or so at least it seems to me) deeply pathological and life-destroying. But maybe I have not heard enough of him.

call me ishmael said...

I, too, have only seen a little and it may be all of those things, Mr TDG but I found it, also, illuminating and achingly funny. You know me, seeking benevolence where I may.

davina's sista said...

20:57

so narcissistic, so utterly self-consumed

russell, you really must try to cut out all this obsessive self-loathing - by the way, what made you choose mr ishmael as a pseudonym?

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