I don’t write for therapeutic reasons, or as a means of catharsis.
My dad had a Toyota Catharsis and it was a terrible ride, so I write for the simple reason that writing is easy, writing is a bumpless road paved with good inflections… once you don’t concern yourself with quality… or critique… or self-awareness… manage that, and writing is easy, honestly, so simple that even I can do it. Plays are hard though, as in technically, as in remembering who said what and to whom, that sort of thing, and poems, poems are hard, not just the rhyming, but the non-rhyming ones as well, and novels, they are sooooooo long and you have to be careful you don’t forget what they are about, and short stories are really hard, harder than novels because you have to say as much but not write as much… yeah, writing is really easy, really really easy.
She’s Tall for a Dwarf.
Mum had said take a coat. But mum always said take a coat. In July, mum would say, take a coat.
Not make sure your underwear is clean like most mums would say, in case you had an accident, but make sure you had a coat. I think it was to do with appearances. People could see your coat. If they saw your underwear, then they were probably circumstances where perhaps etiquette had been bypassed, and having a coat or not would not diminish that indignity.
“Take a coat “, she had called from behind her latest copy of Hiking and Hillwalking, a magazine she subscribed to, not because she enjoyed these pursuits, but because everybody in the pictures always had a coat on. Even in July.
I pulled a coat off the rack in the hall and quickly slammed the door, and could sense her jump in her chair. She didn’t like loud noises. Or the Spanish.
I threw the coat on to the back seat of my car, a Toyota. Not sure why I always think of my car that way. But whenever I think of it, I always add Toyota at the end. Like, yesterday, when mum asked if I had any coins for the car park, I had said, yeah, I have some change in the car…the Toyota. It’s not even a nice Toyota, or a new one, it’s a basic saloon designed to be not pretentious, but a strictly A-B nose to the road unambitious car……..a Toyota….my car’s a Toyota.
I double checked the small recorder was working before putting my seatbelt on. A voice recorder, not a recorder, a musical instrument recorder, like the ones they gave out at school because they just knew you were either too stupid or too untrustworthy to be given a violin. It was working, and I reached behind me to put it in my coat pocket…. except my coat wasn’t there. One of mum’s was. I drove off. She hadn’t specified which coat I was to take.
Five years it had taken me. Five years of e-mailing someone called Ludo, who it turned out,
wasn’t Mr Lynch’s factotum at all, but his dermatologist. Though there was never any confirmation that he was passing my requests on for an interview, I assumed Ludo, who I have now discovered is a Serbian refugee who fled his homeland and a mother-in-law who hated him, was in fact, doing just that. Luckily, because he wasn’t, I had several other leads, a couple official but most bought from a varied group of people who had crossed his path, and in the case of Olaf., of the building company, Olaf and Sons, someone who had actually built him a path for his house in the Bay of Fundy.
I had e-mail addresses. Phone numbers, and Facebook conversations with anyone who even remotely had a connection. I had even followed Laura Dern into a men’s room in a London restaurant after seeing her by chance through the window. Of the restaurant obviously, not the men’s restroom window, and as she was relieving herself, asked if she could help me get my interview. She didn’t say no. But that was because I had actually mistaken her for the actor Rob Lowe, who it turns out, is a remarkably polite man, but couldn’t help me. I congratulated him on having a very large penis and we parted amicably, my search for that elusive solid contact still solidly elusive.
Then a miracle. After e-mailing a shoe shop in Turkey, who re-directed me to a Danish butcher with alopecia, I felt a little frisson of excitement, because Jens, the balding Danish butcher, had that summer been mugged by a Japanese tourist called Yoshi who had proceeded to sell his stolen watch to a bloke in the pub who had once dated Mr Lynch’s cousin, and her brother collected watches and in fact had a watch his sister had stolen off their cousin….Mr Lynch…who had filed a police report and that police report had Mr Lynch’s phone number on it and the bloke in the pub had taken a photocopy of it and sent it to his ex-girlfriend who collected erasers but had given it to her hairdresser who collected police reports and the hairdresser, Alan, was only too keen to show off his collection, and Alan, which is the miracle bit, just happened to be over there by the jukebox……
It had been while this was going on, that Mr Lynch had rang me.
I hear you are looking for an interview, he had said. I was unbelievably calm, almost outside myself. I can’t remember the whole conversation, even if it had been a short one. He hadn’t even asked my name, who I worked for, or why I wanted to interview him, just asked me if I could come to his home, around morning, on Tuesday. Of course, I had said, no worries. I was just about to ask where his home may be, already thinking about flights to Canada, or U.S.A., or the freaking moon if needs be when he had said,
“I presume you know where Scunthorpe is?”
Scunthorpe was an hour and forty-three minutes’ drive away from where I lived, according to the AA route planner I printed off the computer. I gave myself four hours. Just in case.
When Mr Lynch had given me his address and disconnected, I had stood there for a few seconds, holding on to the receiver like letting go of it would snap reality back into place. The landline’s dead tone buzzed in my ear, not interrupting the thousand and one questions which were buzzing themselves. How did he know. How did he get my number? Why the fuck did he have a home in Scunthorpe? of all the places in England, why Scunthorpe?..of all the places in the world, why England. ? I slowly put the receiver on its cradle, and shouted to mum in the kitchen.
“Mum, bloody hell…..I…..I’ve only gone and done it!. I’ve only gone and got myself an interview with Mr Lynch…..Mr Lynch mum……..a goddamn bloody interview at last with Mr bloody Lynch…..”
“Tuesday morning mum”
“Well make sure you take a coat……………”
I drove off, and even though I had four hours to drive an hour and forty-three minutes, I didn’t want to waste any of those extra emergency minutes running back in the house and swapping mum’s pink anorak for a coat of my own. I have never been so nervous behind a wheel of a car,,,a Toyota, before that morning, and even though it was barely six o’clock, the roads felt clogged with danger. Every car that approached me, had the possibility of being driven by a suicidal maniac, every pedestrian that I passed was a second away from detonating his suicide vest, every tall building or bridge, a depressed person was waiting to commit suicide by jumping off just as I was approaching. I realised then, that firstly, I needed a coffee to calm myself down, perhaps a bacon buttie as well, and that secondly, I realised I had an unhealthy obsession concerning other people’s suicides.
The first sign I saw for Scunthorpe filled me with mixed emotions, but mostly filled my lap with a hot splosh of coffee as I nearly missed the turn off. I had avoided the motorway, too many bridges, too many oncoming vehicles, and so because of my unfounded fear of being inconvenienced by suicidal people, had taken the scenic route. Well. As scenic as this part of North Lincolnshire can get. Scunthorpe…. famous for steel……and….. having a swear word in its name which makes it notoriously hard to google if you are a child. The land here is flat and farmy… fields and not much else, I almost imagined that you could see a shrew’s arse every time it lifted a leg to fart it was so flat, but I didn’t
I turned on the radio….. and I imagined how fucking freaky it would be if the first song I heard was Twin Peaks theme…..I tried for about ten minutes…..pretending that every time I turned to a new station, that was the first station… but it wasn’t to be. The closest I got was Ace of Spades by Motorhead, whose lead singer Lemmy, had once had a torrid affair with Kenny Lynch, that black bloke from the telly in the 80’s who couldn’t sing or dance very well, but was always on the telly singing and dancing not very well.
It was getting on for nine o’clock, and my satnav said Mr Lynch’s house was six minutes and change away. “Turn left at the next roundabout” it commanded…. well Piers Morgan commanded…it was a gift, the Satnav, from my sister and her husband. He had swapped the nice lady for Piers and had somehow managed to password the function that changes it back, I suspect it was his revenge, because I had let him marry my sister…. she really is a total twat. But I didn’t care , this journey was more important than that, I had my planner, that I had laminated, and the address in the satnav, and on the satnav app on my mobile phone, and on mum’s mobile phone, which I had taken this morning while she was screaming at a picture in her Hiking and Hillwalking magazine which showed a man halfway up Scafell Pike in a short sleeved shirt….
The final turn was approaching, and before I could confirm that I had indeed reached my destination, I stopped the car with a puzzled look staring back at me from the rear-view mirror.
Had I made a mistake? I know Scunthorpe isn’t known for its Edwardian townhouses, or its country retreats nestled in the verdant hills of gentle green , but I wasn’t expecting the address to be so….Scunthorpe.
I sat staring at the row of terraced house, not unlike my own, but these seemed to be on their tiptoes, as if at the first chance they get… they’re off, ready steady goodbye….
Number seventeen was, as you would assume, squatting menacingly between numbers fifteen and number nine. The one had fallen off, number nineteens, and was, perhaps jammed behind the fridge that was itself jammed in beside the recycling bin and another fridge. I don’t want you to get the impression that Scunthorpe’s streets are littered with abandoned white goods, but that the day of my arrival merely coincided with the rarely celebrated “give your fridge some fresh air “day. A tradition much practised nowhere.
I got out the car, a Toyota. Mainly because a man had passed me while I had been sat staring at Mr Lynch’s English pied a terre, and with the Lincolnshire charm that so embodies people from this part of the country, had stopped long enough to say, “What you doing sat there, you fucking nonce, waiting for the school run”…..after he had kicked the driver’s door twice, spat on the windshield and bent my wing mirror the wrong way, he left, and it was then that I got out the car…the Toyota, and hurriedly knocked on the door of number seventeen.
It opened and I was led through the narrow hall, made narrower by the brown wallpaper, and led through a small kitchen to a small back garden to a small table where sat the very large presence of a celluloid genius…. ladies and gentleman, I was about to interview the man himself, Mr David Keith Lynch.
He looked up from his copy of Hiking and Hillwalking, and growled something about cunts climbing Scafell Pike without a coat on, and flung the magazine theatrically, as hard as he could.
Unfortunately, the table was only a few feet from next doors fence and it thudded into it before sliding behind a fridge. He crossed his legs, one foot dangling a slipper, a big pink slipper shaped like a rabbit’s head, whiskers and everything. And silence….
I began to tell him why I was here and he just said no.
Just no. Smiling at me then like he was about to tell me that even though it’s not my fault, daddy is leaving home. But he loves you very much…Instead he says that the eggs in Scunthorpe are delightful and would I like to try some… I have literally no idea how to respond, and by way of not really committing to doing so, I say that a coffee would be great
“Oh no young man, the coffee in Scunthorpe is atrocious”, and I look at the cup of coffee in his hand, can’t stop looking in fact, and he leans over and says, “this………..(tapping the cup) is from elsewhere”, and there is no possible answer to that, no possible way I can then say, well can I have some elsewhere coffee because what he really was saying was this coffee is mine…..and so I ask my first question, but I am interrupted by the person who let me in. It is a woman. I noticed this much before but I never really looked…at her, just towards her, and now, in the garden, in the morning light for what passes as that here in sunny Scunny, I do look, and I nearly gasp with surprise.
“This is, as far as I know, Durj”, Mr Lynch says, smiling fondly up at the woman. “I can’t be sure, “he continues, she doesn’t speak English at all, wont in fact, refuses point blank to try, don’t you my dear”, Durj hasn’t moved, other than to stand still.
She is an albino. About six feet tall, I guessed, and wrapped in a Hello Kitty dressing gown with slippers shaped like Donald Duck.
“I met her at one of my Transcendental Meditation conferences,” he says, stroking her left thigh, just above her knee, “she is from Greece but only speaks a local dialect of Albanian that only three shepherds and Condeleeza Rice can understand. Remarkable woman is Durj, smuggled out of the country in her grandma’s vagina”
“What was?”. I had asked,
“She was. She had been promised to a goat trader who thought her albinosim was a sign from the goat god or some such nonsense…. she doesn’t say much, but my god dear boy, she keeps me warm.”..
Durj was beautiful I suppose, if you like your women with pink eyes and the skin of an Apple Store employee, and I’m sure she would keep a man warm, with or without a coat. I asked, “How do you both communicate with one another?…. a translator app on your phones….a sign language perhaps. Or a…..”
“Lego”, he interrupted to which I repeated the word in bewilderment
“Yes, Lego. We either build what we want to say..or we throw pieces at each other…it’s a bugger when you step on a piece though, hence the slippers, but we sit in silence a lot. Silences are much better at conveying feelings than words, facial expressions are more honest and not weighed down by verbal games of oneupmanship…. well, it works for us”. And he gently squeezes her thigh as she smiles at him before removing the fridge, it, presumably, having had its fill of fresh air.
There are typed pages all over one corner of the table, and I asked if they were notes for a new film, a prequel to Blue Velvet I asked excitedly, or perhaps a sequel,,,Bluer Velvet…..or …but I had looked then at his face, and he was right, facial expressions work just fine. He sighed and had said, “No…. I’m thinking of changing my energy provider and these are printouts I took of different tariff rates and monthly consumption…..please, can we talk about anything else but film? Who is your energy provider, ? EON?…Scottish Power?…British Gas?”
I told him I didn’t know and he looked so disappointed, only perking up when I said I would ring my mum up and ask. I went into the kitchen and I could see, through the partly open door into the living room, Durj, building a baby from Lego….and all I could think of was all those sharp edges would make her eyes smart if she ever had to do what her grandma had done for her.
I returned outside, where for the next hour we talked about weekend rates versus peak rates and discounts for having a smart reader……and why do we have tangerines when you could just have a satsuma…. we talked about Arsenal’s self-destruct button and why he thinks silence should be on the school curriculum…anything but film.
I could tell he was done with me, but I couldn’t go without getting something on the recorder, and put it on the table between us. He looked at it like it was a cup of Scunthorpe coffee but I didn’t care. “Mr Lynch, before I go, may I quickly ask just a couple of questions about your art….”, his silence was “A” level level, but I ploughed on regardless….” How influential was the work of the French new wave, or Germany’s pre-war expressionism…. errrrr, what about the body horror and unease through feeling alone in a crowd…of errrr,…..did Metropolis influence you at all”
“Not seen it…..
“Oh….. what about ….The Cabinet of Dr Cagliari….
“Not seen it”
“M…….The Bicycle Thieves….the 400 Blows…. A Bout de Souffle…”
“No… not seen them either”…..
“Okay, forget Europe, what about…Laura..no…..Night of the Hunter…..Bucket of Blood…..Whatever Happened to Baby Jane…….Psycho, come on, you must have seen Psycho….”
“No……I prefer films that make me laugh….like Beethoven or, anything with Adam Sandler, though he’s gone a bit serious lately….that Jewish jeweller one!!…never laughed once…….oh, and my favourite film of all time…….White Chicks… and before you ask, that has nothing to do with Durj being albino…it’s just so freaking funny”
I was speechless. The recorder sat between us, its silence baiting me to fill it with more errs and uhms….. Mr Lynch crossed a novelty slippered foot and my eyes were fixated on the rabbits face, and I said weakly
“Errrr,,,in In land Empire….the rabbit family…errr”
“Not seen it”, he said
“But….. its your film…you made it”
“Yes”, he said, “I know I did…….it doesn’t mean I have watched it though”
I was about to reply when a yellow piece of Lego shot out the kitchen window and hit Mr Lynch on the back of his head, coming to land on a page of Hiking and Hillwalking…..he studied it for a brief moment before saying that it was time to leave, as Durj had just informed him that the bulb in the back bedroom needed replacing……
I don’t know how I got home. Obviously, it was in the car…the Toyota, but of the actual journey I have no recollection. All I remember is this brief exchange on my return home,
“Where you been?”
“Out mum. I’ve been out”
“Well where you going now?”
“To kill myself”
“………………………well make sure you take a coat”