From One Escape to Another
by Beauchamp Art
(An Epilogue: Drinking After ‘A Better Place, A Non-Place’)
[Because Gilbert & George Did It And That Makes It Art]
TMI – I
Immediately after concluding my ‘A Better Place…’ performance at the Sainsbury Centre, I waited for any remaining crowd to dissipate, before getting up, switching off my equipment, and heading unmoving to the bar.
I had left a Snickers Chocolate bar in the keeping of the DJ, but it had been eaten. I lied to get back into the bar, saying I was with the DJ helping dismantle his set up. After a minute or so, the room was clear, but for the drinks left on the tables.
I threw back an orange juice (with something in it), a third of a bottle of red wine, 1 practically full bottle of beer, followed by around 5 more dregs.
I left the false escape of the Television screen for the disembodiment of intoxication.
Returning to take apart the rest of my piece, I found another end of a beer unclaimed.
The rapid consumption and varied intake of alcohol had already begun to take effect before I had left the building, like I had seen an advert and the desire for the product lingered, growing.
A swig of ginger beer, I do not know whether this was alcoholic or not.
After abandoning my TV and camera equipment in Henry’s garage after the lift home, I headed on to commiserate/celebrate a friend’s final university submission.
Another beer, maybe 2, the end of a plastic bottle of Tesco brand brandy, and more red wine, I cannot feel my face but the burning on my lips from the supposed whiskey.
Earl Grey tea, that would be a treat, but I was told if I had that I should leave. I have to keep drinking to be included. I have to stop being me to be someone in a social situation as this.
Conversation goes nowhere; I am lost.
I dance badly to old swing music playing at a comfortable volume for once.
The three others, who I have joined mid evening, begin inhaling nitrous oxide from balloons. They go red faced, eyes bulge, and giggle. They are, for a moment, in another room, somewhere padded and comfortable, not slouched on old wooden floorboards surrounded by gas canisters, cigarette stubs, beer cans, unwashed glasses, and unwatered plants. They are high, looking down on the room and seeing a clear floor, they have risen up like the rubber balloons they shared a breath with.
I film; I have been told to film, I record so the footage can be played back for amusement. There is nothing in this scene for me, I am somewhere else.
I am at railway station, waiting for a train that never arrives, that never set off.
Despite of the volume of water I had been consuming parallel to the alcohol, and now exclusively, my level of otherness; my intoxication; is epitomised when I find myself; find myself on the floor, clutching my face, gnawing at the floorboards and my friend’s legs as I have let slip a truth.
I am back in the room, reality has returned through this mishap. My inhibition, my defences, fell momentarily, and I have fallen from a mature state of readiness to an adolescent again, who has drunk too much, and gone away after staring into a screen for too long.
It was nothing, really, nothing significant. Four hours in front of a TV is a non-event. There was nothing to watch, there never is on TV, just the same old over and over. I was doing nothing poignant. An evening of tele followed by a night and morning of heavy drinking, both regrettable, both valueless.
The whole night was a sham.
I wake up mid morning with a headache and a determination to stay asleep. But I am wearing someone else’s jumper, which is comfortable, but too warm for the bed, whosever’s that may be. I get up, go down stairs after looking through the rest of the house and see no one is around.
Still in a doze, I cannot bring myself to go home yet, so begin to tidy; picking up cans, bits of burst balloon, smoking paraphernalia and dispose of the waste, organising the rest of the mess accordingly – putting things of use on the table set out in a grid-like fashion, and fill a black hat – a trilby, I think – that I had worn previously, with the used nitrous oxide canisters. They are small, around the size of one’s thumb, but shaped like little Fat Boys (the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki), clicking and chiming together without rhythm as a deposit them out of the way.
My eyes ache, I am dehydrated.
They ached during the performance, they ached during drinking in a smoke filled apartment early on the Saturday morning, and they ache now upon reflection, whilst staring at my computer screen.
I am not here, I never am, I am in a memory, or transported away by technology or fermented liquids, or in the haze of a dissolution meander through the day.
I want to go nowhere, but I do not wish to stay here.
Apparently people were commenting on my intoxication at the end of the Museums at Night event, and one person observed my scavenging of around 7 beers, though I do not know how accurate this is, given this is second hand information, and my memory of the night is falling away from me, though was never wholly in my grasp.
Ten green bottles, sitting on a wall… drawn down canonically until total obliteration engulfs them, in broken mounds they drift and are worn down, returning them to the sandy debris from which they were wrought, caught in dry winds, and eroding minutely with minute passing friction, until everything decays into dust, cast about in the vacuum of space.
Static shows the birth of the universe in the long forgotten, distant radiation of the Beginning, when view through existentialist eyes epitomising the End, and the pointlessness of everything in between.
He has gone to a better place…