26. A Memory of Abel in the future

Abel, monoprint and pen
Abel at Barons Court Station. Monoprint and pen.

The harmonica woman is sitting in the corner of a dark damp tunnel. She still has the white face paint on and bright red lipstick, though it’s running somewhat, giving her a monstrous appearance. She is stitching something together, slowly. carefully, in the candlelight. Her thoughts are of Abel. How she first saw him at Barons Court Station, as we saw him, horror on his face, blood on his hands, in the near future. How he loves Elsie then, oh yes, how he will love her then as he never loved her when she was alive.

Time will go slowly then, so slowly. He will live every second since his very first Spletzer-Martin tablet as detailed pictures in his head. But all that is yet to happen for him. This horror he knows only as confused drug inspired dreams, along with his own death. Currently he lies semi-conscious at the harmonica woman’s feet, registering nothing but the flicker of the candle flame.

She is stitching herself a child.

 

Last episode Red Wine and Revolution 3.

For a list of all the Spletzer-Martin 5 episodes go to The Further Adventures of the Spletzer-Martin 5

25. Red Wine and Revolution 3

Finally the next part of The Spletzer-Martin 5. This is a fictional story set in London in the not so distant future. If you are interested in reading the story so far it starts with What YOU Need! It is very much a work in progress. This bit follows on from Red Wine and Revolution 1 and Red Wine and Revolution 2, unsurprisingly.

Unfinished paintingElsie was on her third class of wine by the time Jackie turned up.  With skin a deep brown contrasting her white hair Jackie was one of those people who age suit. She had just got back from a trip to Africa where she’d had an exhibition in Cape Town. She sat down on a rather flimsy chair and ordered another bottle of red wine for the three of them.

Glad to escape Louise’s dark conversation Elsie started the usual polite questions required when a friend returns from a long trip. However, to Elsie’s dismay the light tone didn’t last long.

“Water is the problem” said Jackie “Or rather the lack of access to clean drinking water. Hundreds of people are dying out there since N got the contract to own the water. The company pump it out direct from the springs, bottle it and sell it to those who can afford it. Those in the villages and the squatters towns can’t afford to buy the bottles so they drink what they can get hold of, which is dirty contaminated water, and of course die they from it. Hundreds are dying monthly, its like a silent slaughter of the poor. ”

“But we don’t see this on the news!” exclaimed Elsie

“Do you see much about all those living under London on the news?” sneered Louise “come on! Think about it, who is the media owned by?”

“Big companies like N” whispered Elsie, barely audible as she shrank into the large sofa. Now she felt stupid and guilty. Jackie’s words reminded her of those distressing thoughts she’d been having earlier that evening: Douglas’ cheerful statements on how the poor must be killed to save the planets resources. It was all too similar. It was already happening! And Elsie worked for an arts organisation that got its sponsorship from the big companies, including N. She was supporting the killing of hundreds, if not thousands of people! The thought was so preposterous Elsie couldn’t continue thinking it, she gulped down the rest of her wine.

“What we need is a revolution!” she said with drunken enthusiasm.

Next: A Memory of Abel in the Future

Links to all Spletzer-Martin 5 episodes so far The Further Adventure of the Spletzer-Martin 5

24. Winter

Winter

Mosaic made from street litter.

“It is winter now. Wait. Inside her. Her three aspects. Girl, Mother, old woman. She as the single cell ameoba. She as the whole of nature. All matter is energy, and all energy has the potential for thought. What is thought? The ability to make a decision? When matter is thinking it may be conscious? If cells collaborate they can behave like a multicelled creature. The many as one, the one as many. Yet all still part of her. Can she behave somehow like a singular organism. Like a conscious creature? Perhaps this is fate. It is winter now. The Sun’s magnetic poles shift. We must wait to be reborn.”

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21. A Spletzer-Martin 5 Moment

Spletzer-Martin No.5Sit for a moment, just sit, and do absolutely nothing. Allow your senses to take over and let the talking you fade; if the voice continues to babble on just let it, it’s not the important thing now. Breath deeply: in, out. Feel the air going into your lungs, filling you and going out again. You are not separate from your surroundings, your surroundings are not separate from you.

What can you feel?

What can you hear?

What can you smell?

Think how much stuff there is. How full your senses are. So much. How rich it is, this tiny bit of now, amazingly rich, immense and unfathomable.

This sounds a little like a meditation, but I present it to you now because that intense awareness of the moment is what the Spletzer-Martin 5 can give. All your senses are heightened, everything is at its fullest, most intense, most alive. And not only does the Spletzer-Martin 5 give you this amazing feeling, it gives you it for days with no sleep required and no physical side effects.*

* It has recently been reported that there are some psychological side effects. A deep addiction to the heightened feeling. As one takes more and more of it ones brain may become confused, forget the difference between you and your surroundings, loose the talking you in the many other voices of fans, sirens, dish washers…. Hallucinate creatures in the corners, eyes in the machines. You may be terrified. Out of control. Your brain desperately seeking to rebuild you and the safe reality to exist in, but sometimes the brain may find a different reality, reinterprtations of the previously understood and previously ignored, an interpretation that makes just as much rational sense as the old one. Then, what if you find others with the same alternative interpretation? What if you are living in a tunnel under London where the alternative reality now makes a lot more sense?

20. Red Wine and Revolution 2: The Luxury of Atheism

moon and sunThis is part of a fictional story called The Spletzer-Martin 5 set in London in the not so distant future. It is very much a work in progress.

“Atheism is a luxury of the rich!”

This was Louise saying hello. She flopped into the large expensively embroidered armchair and let out a rather melodramatic sigh. Elsie didn’t bother to ask if she was okay, nothing Louise did was ever so bland as to be okay. All blonde hair  and long disapproving nose, she’d been chatting up the 50 something bar tender who now gave them the benefit of candles and canapes on the house. An office party had been held there earlier and the food would only go to waste.

“its alright for you” she said to Elsie “you can afford to buy food, you don’t need to scavenge like this”

There they were, both in this exclusive London club due to Louise’s abilities to blag. Elsie watched her nibble fussily at the snacks, picking out the bits that weren’t to her taste, and couldn’t help but smile. Louise was perfectly suited to her situation. A Twilighter (1) extraordinaire.

There was something different about her now though, a darkness round the eyes, less playful than before,  hard-edged somehow, with age and fatigue collecting at the corners of her mouth.

” a friend of mine died from the cold six months ago, and now another one has gangrene in her foot and may loose it.” She said this to Elsie in an accusational fashion.

“Is she in hospital?”

“Of course not! She has no money for hospital. There’s a “See-er” in the tunnels taking care of her”

“A See-er? What’s a See-er”

” Like a witchdoctor, shaman healer type, there are quite a few practicing in the tunnels now”

” But surely she could find a charity or something to help her?”

Louise didn’t actually spit at this comment but only because that would mean them being thrown out of the club. Instead she glared a silent glare for a whole 60 seconds. Then finally she hissed:

“She’s ill, she can’t walk, how can she go hunting out charity hospitals! They’re over crowded anyway and she’s likely to be dead before she gets seen! Besides she’s been living in the tunnels for three years now, since she lost her job and couldn’t pay the rent. The Underlondoners (2) don’t trust anything belonging to  above-landers”.

Elsie was silent.

More calmly Louise continued:

” they’re starting their own religion down there, they need it to survive. Money doesn’t rule them down there. What is important is knowing the way round the tunnels. Where to find clean water, where’s best to come to the surface to scavenge for food, what remedies can be obtained from weeds and found remains. They’re returning to old folklores. When I first found out I was thinking they’d be bound to die out then, but no, it’s what is keeping them alive. Belief, psychology. is incredibly powerful”.

She took a sip of red wine, formed a deep frown across her forehead and looked directly into Elsie’s eyes

“Are you an Atheist?”

“Yes, of course” said Elsie “aren’t you?”

“Not anymore – If you are lying on a sodden blanket in pitch darkness, in severe agony, knowing there is no one coming to help you, if you’re convinced you are about to die, slowly, painfully and alone, do you rationalise it? Do you way up the scientific odds? Sing “Always look on the bright side of life”? No, you beg God – and any god will do at this moment, you’re not fussy – to save your life. I know, I’ve been there, and until you can say you’ve been there and didn’t find yourself begging God, you’re Atheism is shallow”.

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1. Twilighters – The term Twilighter started being used in the early 2000′s by the arts council of England to distinguish between respectable people and the type of person who was not worth counting as potential audience. It was later adopted by the government and media to describe a section of the public who were poor,  in temporary accommodation, in unstable employment if any. With the reforms to arts funding and low income self-employment tax it came to include most artists and musicians.

2.  Underlondoners – Those who live in the tunnels under London. Read Water

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19. Red Wine and Revolution – Elsie’s thoughts.

19. Red Wine and Revolution part 1 – Elsie’s thoughts

Carnival masks
Masks

Elsie stared intensely at the reflections in her wine glass, every now and then she swayed it gently from side to side and watched the ripples of wine roll. The sofa was large and comfortable and this evening she had time to think. Then again thinking was really what she was trying to avoid. Recently she’d found she preferred being overwhelmed, swallowed almost, by the small things, like the redness of her wine, or the reflections in the glass, or the old well worn rip in the fabric of the sofa.

She still missed Abel but her real concern was currently Douglas. He had gone from depression to jovial optimism. At first this had pleased her, but now it seemed to evolve round “jokes” about the extinction of large quantities of the human race.

“The human race is too large” he said with a grin, “the planet can’t sustain this level of consumption, something must be done.”

She couldn’t argue with his logic, but the solution…

It wasn’t genocide exactly, in that it wasn’t based on any ethnic group particularly, it was simply based on the idea that those with money and education should survive, along with a small number of obedient serves to oversea machinery (most labour could be done by computers after all), whilst those without would be killed – humanly of course. He said this grining the whole time, a joke “ha ha”, and Elsie would laugh along too. Still, something told her he might be serious.

Douglas seemed to separate people into three different groups, there were those like him – intelligent, rich, educated –  the true survivors and evolutionary successors. Ones like Elsie – educated, intelligent and useful – deserved to stay alive, and the rest – the poor, the disabled, the stupid, the uncultured, the uneducated –  should be wiped out. The global market had been separating the world into the rich and the poor for some time now, this was simply the ultimate and most sensible solution.

Elsie shuddered at the thought. She returned to the beautiful reds in her wine, the long narrow stem of her wine glass, the smell of candle wax and the kitchen downstairs. She’d arrived early and  was waiting for her friends, Louise and Jackie, to turn up. Jackie was a retired academic now artist who had turned seventy and found her career suddenly blosom.

Louise was a single forty year old artist/twilighter*, glamorous in an arty second hand way. She survived by squatting and begging and blagging. She was particularly good at blagging, it was through her that Elsie was now sitting as her guest in this private members club. Louise had somehow convinced the clubs board that she was a renowned artist from New Zealand who was part of a show coming up at the Tate and who would pay her club membership as soon a her agent sorted out this irritating bank confusion that had occurred.

She was actually completely unknown, had been banned from the Tate for striping off and covering herself in cellotape (she called this protest art) and came from Hackney.

*For a description of a twilighter go here

Next – 20. Red Wine and Revolution 2: The Luxury of Atheism

18. The Mutation

17. Elsie’s Pragmatism

18. The Mutation

Oil on Canvas
Originally an oil painting commission for the Cancer Research Laboratories in South Mimms.

What happens to the Sin Eater once he’s eaten all your sin?

Well he’s cast out of course. Lives as a hermit on the outskirts of the village. Who wants to know him? He’s eaten all that sin!

But I race ahead of myself here, for we haven’t got to the Sin Eater of our story yet.

Douglas was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the spring. It was in the early stages. The chance of full treatment and recovery was very good, but it terrified Douglas like nothing had ever done before. The word “cancer” rung over and over in his ears. Until that moment of diagnosis Douglas had been immortal, now he was merely human. A damaged human at that. That he, such an important individual, could have the possibility of death hang over him, seemed appalling. Unacceptable.

There must be some meaning to it.

What this meaning could be started to dominate his every thought. Luckily Elsie was there to look after the art business, and counsel him during his darkest moods.

And they were dark, for the ego of a successful man realising he is mortal can have some real hatred in it. How unfair it was. How there were others more deserving of death. He had so much more to give!

There must be a reason.

Elsie tried to cheer him up. Point out that he wasn’t dead yet and the chances of full recovery were great. She was his best friend during this time. She would not sleep with him, the thought repulsed her, but that didn’t stop her caring for him immensely and feeling sorry for him when  he tried to stroke her knee.

So she sat and listened to him. Listened to his rants, his cursing, his bitterness, and when he was finished let him sob into her shoulder. Her grand boss, the charming, influential Douglas, reduced to this.

There was a reason.

So Douglas discovered. The reason was very simple, the reason was that he should realise how wondrous life is and that he should teach people. Teach people that some are worthy of this fantastic life, and some are not.
17. Elsie’s Pragmatism