Script Extract

The stage is set with a table, a chair, a hatstand.

A BIOGRAPHER enters and puts a laptop on the table.


The memory can play tricks on you. Have I said that already?

But here’s what I remember about the last year. I’ll start with me.

I’m a biographer. My first book – the life of my Grandfather – he worked in the pharmaceutical industry – created Addictin, a drug that has no actual discernible effects apart from causing a craving for more Addictin – made a fortune for Pfizer and they add it in trace amounts to pretty much everything they sell now. The book went down well. My second one, went down not so well. My third and fourth went down and came straight back up.

A FOOTNOTER enters the story.

Footnote 1. This is true so far as it goes – the first book was a success, there was no great call for the others.

I have been resting on my laurels, which if you happen to have laurels, I recommend you rest on them, they can be very restful.

In my work I use a technique called peripheral specificity. I don’t tell linear “then this happened” type stories, I focus on the tiny details, the minor bits of living that eventually become a life. Not just what someone does but how they are, who they meet, what they wear, what’s in their pockets. I am a detail devil, a between the linesman. And I need lots of details. I won’t tell you how many, I mean I could, but I’d probably exaggerate, and believe me I know the 4000 rules of exaggeration.

2. There are not 4000 rules of exaggeration. That was a joke.

Later, the Biographer tracks down a piece of music called the Rogers Creation. . .

I don’t know much about music but my friend Alan does. Have I mentioned musician Alan? The memory plays tricks sometimes.

He’s a descendant of the composer Handel – hasn’t inherited his talent, but the name opens doors. Alan made his way writing the beeps for medical equipment but his career is now on life support. He was gutted when Brian Eno had been appointed by the WWF as the official composer for the extinction of the rhino – haunting tunes – and was taking up a consolation posting as composer in residence at the last days of a certain African dictatorship. He said he’d look it up and get back to me. While online I paddle the news websites – another birth bombing on a bus in Jerusalem where heavily pregnant Palestinian women set off life; this time the birth toll was four including a set of twins.

Then I go ogle the Creation myself. I find a few references but nothing firm. A few people have heard it apparently but there’s no real description of what it sounds like.

6. D. E. Rogers composed and recorded his Creation in 1923, his only known work. He said the tune had come to him while a soldier in the World War One trenches, an echo of heaven while being deafened by hell. Rogers then seems to have disappeared. The recording Alan would burn onto a CD for the biographer had been sitting in the basement of the BBC music library since the 30s waiting to be heard once more.

The next week I meet up with musician Alan at The Cram, London’s smallest bar. We have gins and tonics made with 110% proof gin, so powerful it sucks in the alcohol of drinks around it. He looks like a railway junction with all the features leaving his face in different directions at different speeds. He hands me a CD of the Rogers Creation and asks why I wanted it. Just research. He always had a doomed thing for Meredith and asks after her. I say she’s sort of seeing someone, which may or may not be true. We go onto a retro gaming arcade playing Morris Dance Dance Revolution and Grand Theft Tram. Ding ding.

I’m mentioning people in the wrong order. Mere is my ex-girlfriend and current flatmate.

Meredith’s a journalist, she is generically pretty, has whisky and water hair and chocolate eyes on a long skinny body, and she moves like a fading civilization, worried about its future. We’d met when she was doing an article about my ex-ex-ex-girlfriend Sandy.

And then a postal delivery. . .

Autumn performs its slow striptease. The conversations about Christmas starting earlier every year start earlier this year, but pretty soon it’s card sending and receiving time. I send off and receive . But the week before Christmas something appears in the pile of post and it takes me aback a bit. A bit aback.

It’s just another envelope. No stamps but it’s with the other cards. What’s this, I ask Mere. No answer, or at least none before the end of recorded time. It’s a diary. Someone had sent me next year’s diary – the first page – my details had been filled in. I flick through, there’s a ton of entries – it’s actually virtually full. Names, phone numbers. Things to do, notes on things done. Is this a joke from Mere? No answer. It’s actually a neat present. They’ve faked my handwriting really well. What’s going to happen in the first week? Brunch on New Year’s Day. I always do that – it’s an annual thing. I make it my new year’s resolution to make others break their new year’s resolutions. There’s a big table of food and booze and cigarettes, it’s bad dirty fun.

But looking at some of the other entries, bells remain unrung.
Poodling? No idea what that is. The Museum of Upturned Cups. Nope. The Burn. The Chapel of Impact. Life as a rollercoaster. Lots of mentions of Rogers – is the Creation going to be my next subject after the Baddlesmeres?

The last entry is on September 22nd, then there’s no more. According to this, nothing would, will or did happen to me after that.

It’s one of those things you know you could spend some time and thought on, but the time you spend thinking about how much time you should think about it seems to be enough, so I put it down, get a drink and see what Meredith is up to.