Welcome To The Dark Ages Pt.3 – Thursday: The Day Of The Book

ChurchThursday – dubbed ‘The Day Of The Book’ – started with drama. At the Dead Perch first thing I was passed by Jimmy who was holding a tin of white paint, his face and shoes flecked with spots of it. Upon arriving at 10am at the Bombed-Out Church (originally the Church of St Luke – a stone’s throw from the Dead Perch), word quickly went round that he and Bill had painted Phil Blake‘s Ford Timelord car white, erasing the JAMs and KLF logos, much the same as they did in The White Room film. Footage was already on YouTube, dubbed The Death of Ford Timelord’ in which a smiling but obviously mortified Phil turns up as they’re finishing and, seeing they mean to cover the whole car, drives off before they can quite complete the task. It was a strange way to start the day and one which wasn’t mentioned again save for one request for film or photos of the deed from those who’d witnessed it.

Later the web was aflame with keyboard warriors proclaiming it was a premeditated stunt, set up by those involved and that the paint was emulsion and could easily be washed off. I’ve known Phil for years and spoke to him later and I can assure you it was no stunt, he was absolutely gutted that two of his heroes were erasing his tribute to their past and it was not emulsion. He drove it away and immediately set to work with white spirit to undo the damage, managing to get most of the paint off before returning and making sure he parked well away from proceedings from that point on. Phil is one of the mellowest people I know, he’s just not the sort of guy to fly into a rage, especially at two people he admires so much despite what they were doing to his property. For all the armchair commentator know-it-alls out there watching from the outernet – he bought a ticket like everyone else and he’d have much rather not have had this happen despite the incident now placing him firmly within the Liverpool events for all eternity.

Why did they do it? Erasing their past maybe? Blotting out what they saw as an object that threatened to upstage them and didn’t fit into their plan? They certainly weren’t afraid to reference their past throughout the proceedings with the T-speaker, the Ice Kream Van, the Mu Mu gowns and the Dalek from the ‘Doctorin’ The Tardis’ video present at various points. The act left a bad taste in the mouth and I felt sorry for Phil, hoping it hadn’t ruined his enjoyment of the event. The JAMs have never shied away from pissing people off, defacing other people’s property or doing the unexpected and this seemed like a spontaneous but cruel reaction. For all the acts that they’ve perpetrated over the years there’s never been a direct victim in the way there was here. Perhaps Phil got off lightly as rumour went round that they were planning to steal it and drive it into the Mersey.

So, back to the plan for the day, we lined up either side of a central pathway inside the church and were given the designation ‘even’ or ‘odd’ by Oliver and Daisy again, depending on which side we were on. Drummond & Cauty arrived and then proceeded to tear out a page of their ‘2023′ book and present it to each of the 400, if you were in the odd line your page was the odd number and vice versa. We were instructed to respond to anything on our given page within the next eight hours and report back to the church at 6pm to present our findings. Whoever got the first page of the chapter you held the page from was the Chapter leader who we reported to and who would collate the creations for later.

Church inside
Drummond pageCauty page Mypage OliverChurchoutsidepano

At this point proceedings started to take on the air of an art project and I was getting flashbacks to the days of Camberwell college and an impending crit. People leapt at the challenge though and were creating posters and banners before we’d even left the church and we observed little clusters of ‘Chapters’ working out what they would do. I spent part of the day helping paste up my friend’s one-off single cover for a fictitious band, Flies In The Maelstrom. They were sworn enemies of Badger Kull (due to a love of badgers presumably) and who’s name, song titles, label and lyrics were all taken from page 205 of ‘2023′.

Flies coverFlies back cover

We pasted ‘their’ single cover over existing Badger Kull street posters and hash-tagged ‘KillTheKull’ on the web. The artwork was pasted over an existing Mike Oldfield record and sellotaped into a huge book provided by Daisy Campbell entitled ‘Grapefruits Are Not The Only Bombs’. This held descriptions and examples of the day’s work by all who decided to submit it and was later presented to The JAMs. But not before we’d convinced Ian Shirley – editor of the Record Collector Rare Record Guide and new KLF history ‘Turn Up The Strobe’ – that it was an original, one-off lathe cut single which we’d recorded and got pressed that afternoon. A message was even hand etched into the run out groove.

Etching
Flies postingFlies posting 2

Each chapter had to present their day’s work to The JAMs at 6pm inside the church grounds and some had really gone to town with the conceptual nature, factoring wordplay, numerology and symbols already present into their poems, plays, songs, conceptual pieces, posters and sculptures. At one point we all found ourselves throwing tangerines at an effigy of Donald Trump, emblazoned with the words Tangerine Nightmare – a fictitious group from the book.

TrumpTangerinesTangerine
TrumpthrowChoose poster Notice Soldiers Work begins

Some of the work was of course toe-curlingly cringeworthy, resembling the worst excesses of student juvenilia, BUT! everyone got into the spirit, got on with the task at hand and didn’t question the instructions despite no clue being given as to exactly what this was all for. In hindsight it had the effect that I imagine punk had, saying, ‘you can do this, NOW, don’t wait, get on with it, who says you can’t? get off your arse and make or do something, ANYTHING, and see what happens’. It was liberating, taxing and frustrating, it made you competitive, collaborative and use the resources to hand without worrying about the finish or making excuses. It made us, the 400, the focus of the day rather than the passive observers of the night before and, again, the work was done by others and then observed by The JAMs at the end of proceedings with little comment although Drummond seemed to be enjoying this a lot more than the hearing. It was becoming increasingly apparent that other people were making The JAM’s comeback happen after they had put the pieces in place.

JAMs 2 JAMs watch

Postscript: Speaking to Phil Blake about the car incident at length when I returned home, he told me this anecdote about the aftermath of the painting. After driving off he parked a couple of roads away and purchased bottles of white spirit and rolls of cloth with friends, then set about cleaning the car as best they could. Nearly three hours later they’d got most of it off and he drove back round the block to the bombed-out church where the proceedings were ending as people went off in their groups.
Suddenly he spotted Jimmy walking down the road so he put on the siren and shouted, ‘Thanks Jimmy!’ across to him whilst driving by. He said Cauty’s jaw dropped and he later heard that they thought he had a second car as a back up, not believing that he would have been able to clean it all off so quickly and thoroughly.

Part 4 here

3 thoughts on “Welcome To The Dark Ages Pt.3 – Thursday: The Day Of The Book

  1. I bumped into Gimpo coming out of Tesco,s as I was looking for something cheep to eat he asked did I want one of his scotch eggs as he had bought a double pack of them and spoke to him about the car incident. He did say he had warned Phil that the Jam’s would do something like this or push it into the river and I think he was warned twice before the painting. I said as there was video footage of them doing this that Phil had an original peace of art which could have been sold for ££££ which Gimpo said and laughed that would really piss them off greatly. A missed opportunity perhaps but he did get a good story out of this even though he was devastated and angry at the time. I hope he enjoyed the rest of the event.

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