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Fortnight. Mary-Ann.

  Wed 26th October 2011

I'm a participant in an art project called Fortnight. Every day we receive text messages telling us to go somewhere to do something. We wear felt badges to signal ourselves to others and in which are contained little microchips which set off the machinery which is often a catalyst to the activity to which we are called.

Today, we were invited to go the old Port Commissioners' Office on the Quay, and look for a record player. Tapping my badge on the record player produced a recording of Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballet or whatever she's called, singing histrionically.

As it was playing I got a text message telling me to go through the door on the right. In the room was a table, a chair, and a selection of postcards. Old Penguin covers, much-repeated artwork, that sort of thing. We were invited to put on some headphones and listen to some music on an iPod whilst writing a postcard to "someone you are thinking of today". I think of Mary-Ann all the time.

I don't think I've ever held an iPod in my hand. All I ever get from them is that someone stops the conversation for five minutes while its owner searches for a photo, before they finally say they can't find it, and then they look at me to crank up the conversational engine once more. But only until the next distracting spark of never to be fulfilled illustrative promise stamps on talk once more. I pressed several buttons and it implied that it was playing some sort of Arabic music; but I only heard silence.

I had a couple of drinks afterwards - an amiable nuclear engineer who was about to go to play football. Working and middle class, a foot in both camps, like me. Really though. All middle class people say they're working class and you can suss the fakers out in ten seconds.

On my way home I texted Fortnight.

Today's thing at the Quay has contributed to an incipient, I was going to say love but let's more realistically say lust affair with someone. There are other thanks I could give you but to give me an unexpected way of giving a little tap to the spinning top of our relationship was the most important one of them all.

Their response was flattening and, over-reacting a bit, I found it very irritating.

Did Fortnight (almost) get you laid looby?...TELL!x"

I looked at the phone, downturned.

Oh no, it's not about "getting laid", it's not about striving to have sex with someone, "Wow, thanks Fortnight, I got fucked, in 7 different equally satisfying positions! Bit like porn! Wow! I must Facebook it to make it real!" No no no no, it's about mutual wanting, it's about becoming closer, and about having a fortuitous chance to express this. And for that, thanks.

Lots of other things to talk about, about our ridiculous council controlling Guy Fawkes Night, but in my head, Mary-Ann, Mary-Ann, Mary-Ann. I've suggested Sheffield: woody parks, good pubs. I will book a return ticket for the same day as an insurance policy, as an antidote for any reckless suggestions that her adverb-twisting, desire-inspiring wrenching of our native language might provoke.


Comment from: [Member]

although that’s a bit of a down twist, the Fortnight project sounds very interesting… i follow the activities of “Improv Everywhere", which seems to use some similar methods for various events…

Wed 26th October 2011 @ 22:49

Mutual wanting and becoming closer?! Is that it, then?! Do you know I was well into my 20s until I discovered that foreplay did NOT necessarily involve incessant begging. Imagine that! Now you tell me its about mutual wanting. Pish.

Wed 26th October 2011 @ 23:03
Comment from: [Member]

DF: It was a bit of a contrast to the kind of language she uses, but it’s only a small, nitpicking wrong note in an otherwise very enjoyable and original project.

UB: Ha ha… I recognise that ("Oh hurry up, can I, er… yet?"). This is completely different. I feel a bit foolish even talking about someone I haven’t even met yet but even virtually, it’s exciting and lovely.

Thu 27th October 2011 @ 07:30

I don’t want to appear to be a antisocial scientist-type here, but that art sounds like the biggest load of shite I’ve ever heard.
It’s pretention level is super-stratospheric. It’s got as much relation to art as Hitler did to world peace.

It reminds me of a piece I once saw in Dundee. As you got in an elevator (in the art school) you were presented with a TV chained to the floor, showing a looping video of a couple making love. As the elevator reached the top floor, the couple orgasmed, and white aerosol was ejected from the top of the TV.

There were 20 or so of us, all science students, going to a temporary lecture theatre in the Art school, and after a momentary embarrassment, we all started to chant, “WHAT A LOAD OF SHITE", with 3 of us adding the word pretentious between A and LOAD, and one young lady who also added the word F*CKING before SHITE.

Sit and look at a Rodin sculpture, or a Monet piece. That’s art, which can be seen and understood in extreme emotional depth by most people, working class or not.

Please do not be offended by this, it is purely my own personal opinion, and is open to dispute and discussion.

Thu 27th October 2011 @ 09:49
Comment from: ISBW [Visitor]

I thought it sounded like a bit of a laugh. Things like that are always hit and miss, but if they stimulate a bit of interest or reaction that’s fine by me. I’d rather people were having a go and risking putting out what can be pretentious or ridiculous, than nothing.

It certainly stimulated something in Looby.

Thu 27th October 2011 @ 10:39
Comment from: [Member]

TSB: Your reaction is similar to the reception that the Impressionists, and many other artistic movements which have now been taken into the mainstream, received when they started out.

Sounds to me like you can’t be bothered trying anything new and dealing with the fact that 95% of everything is shite. You want other people to do the critical effort and pass it, before they give it to you to call real art. Although I’d have loved to have been there when that uproar broke out.

If we had more time, and we were in a pub, I would convincingly demonstrate that artistic and scientific enquiry are, at root, born of the same impulse and that you are WRONG and I am RIGHT and we just need four more pints of Orkney Skullsplitter to sort this out.

Thu 27th October 2011 @ 12:33
Comment from: [Member]

ISBW: It stimulated me to write unexpectedly to Mary-Ann, and apart from the fact that I don’t know her address and the card is still rather uselessly pressed against my tit in my jacket pocket - just for that, it was a great idea.

Thu 27th October 2011 @ 12:36
Comment from: smallbeds [Visitor]

All middle class people say they’re working class

And all middle-class academics say “oh, I don’t think I’m any class, really.”

Despite her environment and the influence of relatives that I too knew and loved in my childhood, my Mum has tried really hard all her life to make herself as middle-class as possible; K’s parents, on the other hand, achieved a hippyish kind of middle-class long before she was born, moving to the metropolis of Cardiff and away from any destructive, “getting above yourself” working-class prejudice very early on. You can just about tell the difference between our two slightly different brands of middle-classedness: K’s more well developed; mine occasionally, falteringly non-U.

But then however bad the Welsh valleys were in the 1950s, they could never be quite as harsh as the (basically) slum properties that some of my Mum’s cousins and friends grew up in. It was those that made my Mum force herself to adopt middle-class values, and especially middle-class attitudes to money and finances; the memory of playing and going to visit in those one-up-one-downs, lurking in the shadows of the gradually expiring cotton mills, drove her relentlessly to a different class. Coincidentally, their location: Mary Ann Street, Blackburn. Not very complimentary to your own Mary-Ann, but metatextuality knows no favour.

Thu 27th October 2011 @ 12:54
Comment from: [Member]

If you were a girl I’d start chatting you up.

Thu 27th October 2011 @ 12:56
Comment from: smallbeds [Visitor]

And that art project sounds fantastic, like being parachuted into some kind of steampunked, Lynchian landscape of hidden meaning. I love it, and I love your experience with the iPod. A serendipitously revealing breaking-down of the artwork.

Thu 27th October 2011 @ 12:56
Comment from: Furtheron [Visitor]

I’m working class… I’m not having the debate again. Nothing to do with what I own, drive, earn, have learnt etc. it is about a sense of belonging, of where you came from and will continue to go to etc… Go back nearly 200 years my great whatever Granddad was a brickfield labourer who couldn’t write… that’s working class. You try to tell the kids today etc. etc.

Thu 27th October 2011 @ 15:04
Comment from: peach [Visitor]

TwistedScottishBastard: I fucking love the sound of that ‘experience’ that someone created for you ! I would have loved to have been a witness/observer/audience - how hilarious. It is inspired! An elevator taking you to climax? you don’t GET THAT? it’s fantastic fanTAStic! And the aerosol? Fucking genius. I don’t get how you don’t get that, even as something amusing!? It doesn’t matter of course, just that I rather liked it.

Looby: Don’t bloody make up the rest of the woman that you’ve only met in text and typed word - dear god you are setting yourself up there darling. But wishing the best for you, nontheless and, by the way, when are you coming to London please? X

Thu 27th October 2011 @ 23:25
Comment from: [Member]

I know, that’s why we’ve decided to push it along with a meeting as soon as we could. I’m full of trepidation that we won’t be able to continue in person what is so lovely online. I don’t want to lose this and have it all in fragments on the floor but at the same time I don’t want a disembodied literary affair.

Not sure about the next trip to the smoke but whenever it is you and me are going our for a drink or six. And perhaps you could meet my friends Helen and Melissa, as I imagine you plus them two would make the evening go with a bang!

Fri 28th October 2011 @ 09:27
Comment from: smallbeds [Visitor]

If you were a girl I’d start chatting you up.

There’s your new “about me” text for every dating website there is, right there. Short and to the point.

Mon 31st October 2011 @ 09:15

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