Those words spiral in white from a gobo across the floor of the new cafe in Broadcasting House. Free-standing plastic pillars are covered in catch-phrases. It's like the Millennium Dome, except it's a corridor. It employs whatever the opposite of Feng Shui is, a bit like that triangular cell I hypothesized about a month back, and is an even worse place to stay behind and have a drink in than the Drill Hall, which may be the point. Oh you BBC!... whose buildings have inspired literary and filmic dystopiae for nearly a century now. Always at the forefront of baffling and inhuman architecture. "This is what we do." Isn't that what they hung around Morgan Freeman's neck in "Unforgiven"?
What I was there to see was excellent however, and not the work of idiots, so I'll stop being mean: Two recordings of "Safety Catch", a new sitcom about a hapless arms dealer by Laurence Howarth (an alchemist of comic assonance - eg. "infertile wind-surfer") and an excellent idea all round as it gives him the opportunity to a) write a treatise on the nature of evil without anyone minding, and b) have carte blanche to a motherlode of new and amusing-sounding words like "Uzi", "Howitzer", the "Gambia", and "Chad".
These two nights of recording ran either side of Chris Goode's last London preview of "Hippo World Guestbook", which was also an excellent idea perfectly executed (and an uncharacteristically simple idea for Chris): the reading aloud of a selection of six years' worth of comments from a hippo fan site guestbook... first about how much they like hippos, and then about how much hippos suck, and then about how much people who think hippos suck suck, and then how about much they like to fuck hippos if anyone is interested in visiting their site to watch, and then just endless adverts for internet gambling and viagra, and then nothing... in short, a neat portrait of the death of, well, hope Hahahaha. In the bar afterwards ("Bar"? Pub. Downstairs) Chris said something about being "surprised by the people coming out of my mouth" and I thought to myself: "He's talking about acting. *Gasp*. Not theatre-making, not even "performance" - which he's said is like Texas and I can't work out why - but Acting. Capital A. Pretending to be someone else. Awwwww, he's got it!" Which was pretty petty of me actually. It's on in Edinburgh. It's very good.
When Chris originally told me about it I was immediately reminded of my own first glimpse into the dark heart of an internet community, when I finally got broadband and discovered youtube and found a lovely little film someone had posted spoofing someone else's lovely little film, and then read the comments beneath... There were over a thousand. Some people loved it. Some people didn't "get it" and made the usual complaints about "twenty-five seconds of my life I'll never get back". Some people retaliated with the usual "you wasted even more time writing in to complain" which in turn inspired charges of retardation and general volleys of hatred increasingly based on what country a post had come from leading in turn to heated debates about the state of Israel and the existence of God, the War, and on and on and on and it went EVERYWHERe, and it was all AnGRY and in a way... actually... that was the one thing I missed from Chris' show: None of the dissenting "Kill All Hippos" posts that he read out had to be taken that seriously. They were evidence of vandalism, nothing more. Sad, but not scary. Not as scary, anyway, as an open forum's flip into the dark side can be.
Nor as scary as, say, my own flip...
When I last visited Chris' blog I did a very bad thing, and I'm not sure I can go back. Why does this happen? I'd just come home from Dungeon team-building exercise. I had made someone cry without noticing. Go team. I was a bit rattled so I sat down to the powerbook and saw that Viv had just joined F*c*book and posted photos of Sofia, so I cheerily insulted her ("hunchback") and then her baby ("Dylan Moran") and then moved on to Chris' glowing review of my friend Mel's astonishing Edinburgh show "Simple Girl" and insulted that ("I..." actually what the hell am I doing quoting this stuff again) and then went Ahhhhhhnm-nm-nm-nm-nm-nm-nm and got into bed and went to sleep.
And then woke up.
And waited until twelve.
And made some phonecalls.
And received some texts.
In our kitchen now are five large bin-liners full of uneaten cake from Morgan. And there's a sixth in the hall. And I'm off to Edinburgh today. I still don't feel that well. I'm just waiting for the water to stop dripping from the lightbulb above me and the ceiling to stop fizzing from where I let the bath overflow and my room to stop smelling of Copydex. I may be gone some time.
And I am so very sorry.
(To come in Part 2: Nice stuff about the BBC... and everyone... redemption... padlocks folded into swans.)