Friday, 15 June 2007

SHOOTING AN ELEPHANT in the ass: A rite of passage

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Two important crossroads reached today... the first, when I was suddenly asked if I wanted to play on the Girl's Team for the Works Do Five-aside (in many ways a dream appointment, ideally kept in a raffishly unbuttoned tux) only to back out because of a prior engagement to wargame over at Friend Ned Mond's. I am a boy.

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The second, upon the field of conflict: an "abandoned holo circus" (hollow circus?) beautifully stocked by said Mond. I have fought only once before. My gang "The Henmanunatics" (mutant fefugees from the subterranean Tim Henman Project), have met rival clown urchins "Hammertime" on their own turf. My general, Joyce "George, don't do that" Grendel (in foreground above) - oblivious to anything but showmanship, has raced ahead into the centre ring, stormed the podium and shot a giant wind-up lion in the ass, sending it charging into a dormant, military-issue firework which in turn blasts off to land at some as-yet-unspecified point in our midst in thirty seconds time. She then delivers a mortal wound with "double-barreled stump-gun" to some garish homunculus lurking behind the legs of a trampoline, BUT on turning to deliver a similarly fatal volley of whatever "stump" might be to his neighbour Pogo, her gun jams. So Pogo shoots her in the spine and she explodes. This is my first experience of a fatality. My gibbering, parthanogenic wrestler "Cupasoup" and inside-out werewolf "Mammal Night-Rate" both flee the field of battle in despair. Then the rocket lands just shy of my enemy sending up nothing but sawdust...


Now, surveying all this from atop a stunt ramp is my hopping mutant lieutenant, Jimmy 3-Knees. Joyce is dead, her murderers sheltering beneath a trampoline. So Jimmy - determined to take up the flame of Joyce's Romantic recklessness - bounds onto the back of an artificial elephant, from which - although totally exposed - he has a clear line of sight to the enemy's own hastily promoted commander, Dirtbox, whose gunning down would most likely provoke a rout and certain Henmanunatic victory. He shoots once. He misses. He has one shot left... Joyce would have taken it and hazarded whatever unobfuscated flack the enemy had to return. But Joyce is dead... And in that second, the cloud of Jimmy 3-knees' grief clears and he realizes: He's in charge now, it's not just his own life he's responsible for any more.

And can I just say, all these were emotions GENUINELY GOING THROUGH MY MIND as I sat on that mat in Ned Mond's flat faced with the following choice: Gamble my last shot on an act of typical, self-destructive, mutant panache, OR Shoot the elephant in the ass and send it - and me - charging out of harm's way.

Faced with this choice I turned a corner. Faced with this choice, I found what seemed at the time a perfect model of maturity... Reader, I shot the mechanical elephant in the ass. And nothing happened. I am now a man.

None of which, as I see, brings me any closer to completing my radio play about Frida Kahlo.

Below you can just make out, between the legs of the trampoline, Jimmy perched like Sabu on the elephant's back before the inevitable enemy flak sent him flying limply onto a tusk. Joyce Grendel lies fallen on the podium to the right.

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