A few days ago I received an email inviting me to take part in Bill Drummond’s latest project. Here is an excerpt from the email.
I’ve been a fan of Bill Drummond for many years since his days in The KLF, through The K Foundation burning a million quid, to some great books, such as “45” and “The 17”. The 17 explores Bill’s relationship with music and he tries to imagine what it would be like to start creating music all over again as if it had never existed in the first place.
The score that I and 99 other people would be performing was Score 328, called “Surround”. This was conceived as being a trilogy with it being performed in Scotland, Lebanon and Syria. The Scottish and Lebanese pieces have been done, but obviously it is impossible to do in Damascus at the moment so Bill has recreated the city walls of Damascus in London.
I do hope I don’t get placed south of the river though, and that I’m not in a busy shopping street. I am quite nervous about this as it does involved standing in a position, waiting, and shouting, then waiting again till the call travels right round London (aka Damascus) and shouting again five times.
This is the score we will be attempting
Well, I am going to get ready and head to the London School Of Economics where Bill will explain this in more detail. I’m also boyishly excited to get the chance to meet Bill Drummond as well!
|The17 – Me kneeling beside Bill Drummond at the bottom right!!|
Well it is now the next day, and what an exciting day it was. I followed my map and arrived at Tower 1 of LSE where there were already7 or 8 others hanging around. A few knew each other, but most had arrived by themselves. We stood around and chatted awkwardly for a bit before eventually being led up to the 10th floor where the chatting soon got less awkward and we were soon discussing how we heard about this project and swapped various takes of art, music and comedy.
Bill arrived and addressed us all so we all knew what was going to happen, He spoke of previous performances of this piece and explained how we may feel both while we were doing this, and afterwards. He said it was common for people to try and run away, but when this happened the guilt would draw them back, because if one link in the chain goes, the whole circle is broken.
We were given our T-shirts and gathered downstairs for a photo or two. Then we were off. This was the longest part of the process: making sure everyone is in position. As we started walking I was at the front with Bill. I told him I was quite excited about this and also rather nervous. “Not as nervous as I am” he said as he chuckled!
We started at Victoria Embankment and Bill explained that he was going to pace out 50m intervals and each time he stopped he expected one person to stay there. This was where I made my mistake. I volunteered 2nd. I should have kept walking with everyone and tried to be last, as it meant that I had to basically stand there for an hour.
I had to keep number 1 and number 3 in my sights (we were self policing and had to make sure no one tried to leave.) I was nervous and excited all at the same time. I was glad I wasn’t standing outside a Tesco, but I was standing in quite a touristy area and I really didn’t want to bellow as a nice family were going past.
The girlfriend of number one kept coming up to see if I was getting lonely. I was. It was both a communal and very lonely experience. My phone battery had died. This meant that my brain had to think. I asked this lady how she found out about the performance and she explained she had links to the Syrian community. I asked her if she knew anything about Bill Drummond. She hadn’t, and was quite surprised when I told her he used to be a pop star.
After a long wait, I saw number 1 waving at me and saw Bill running towards her. The circle was complete. Without pausing, both number one and Bill loudly called out:
I turned to number three and repeated the cry:
|Courtesy of @Littlepixel|
We slowly started to come together again, and even though this was a very public display (I wonder how many people were on the route round London that heard it) it was also very private. No one who heard it knew why we were doing it. Even now, I don’t really know why we did it. But everyone was happy. A hundred people united at the start and at the end, and soon we drifted our separate ways and will never come together as The17 again.
And I even got my copy of “45” signed. What an uncool way to end a very very cool day!