I’d tried my very best. I resorted to the overuse of 23 in the lesson I was teaching, whilst the names were being drawn from The Hat. I think the kids started to notice. On Friday, Grace came to tell me that her Dad had taught her a special trick to multiply by 23. Is eleven too young for this kind of thing?
Between Monday and Friday, a whole lot of magick was happening behind the scenes, much of it without my knowing. Suffice to say, The Wayward Sisters had my back and at 3:02pm I left my school for the 2hr30 drive down to N1 5RY, a postcode that seems to be lodged at the front of my brain. Earlier that day, my one to one session with Aden was cancelled which allowed me an unexpected extra hour of preparation time for BTS. I managed to find a driveway close-by to Kingland Towpath and for £9.95 the driveway of 23 ****** **** was mine until 4am – 3am plus an hour to get from wherever I was going to be to wherever I’d left my car.
As I walked from my school to the car, I triumphantly opened my shirt, Superman style to reveal the yellow 2023 T-shirt underneath. Yeah, pretty fuukin’ heroic. I had bought with me 10 stamped copies of Whatever to give to The 5 and sell to The 99. I also had eight hundred stickers, to be used appallingly.
The only highlights of the tough drive down – aside from the random soundtrack of The JAMs previous life – first out on shuffle was ‘Build A Fire’ – was when the ever useful GoogleByte Maps suggested a short cut around Holloway that would save me 23 minutes. I arrived at number 23 and made my way to meet Scaramanga at The Stag’s Head, passing through a new development built by Mu-llarney Construction. I arrived bang on 6pm and found Scaramanga, Ade and Amanda in the back room. Books were stamped, stickers distributed, superstar DJs signed up for projects and alter-egos distributed to two of The Wayward Sisters.
We made our way the short distance to The Barge House, swapping books on the way. The stamped books were no longer for sale – they were a currency of gratitude, a replacement for ZitCoins. Entry was trouble free, hand stamps were received – never gonna wash – and job cards chosen. Oliver was his usual charming self, except he now recognised me. A lot has happened in 13 weeks.
Oliver looked like he had his hands full with Job Allocation and I didn’t want to spoil the line of his suit with my booky-wook, so I thought I’d leave his until later. Back upstairs in the bar, a bottle of DPA was procured and then who should me and Mr Silk bump into but Daisy Eris herself. She recognised Silky, presumably because he’s helping with her archiving of her Dad’s stuff, but then, totally out of the blue, she recognised me, well my name at least and the time was right for the first presentation to The 5.
Daisy Eris Campbell
Daisy took my book eagerly and stuffed it into her waistband like it was the done thing. Perhaps that what warrior priestesses of theatre do these days. I might try it, but not at work. Definitely not at work. Soon after, we headed downstairs for the first book reading. I’ve been to a fair few of these in the past, but this was different. Less a book reading, more a book being. For 15 or so minutes, Daisy inhabited the characters from Book 1 Chapter 3, in much the same way as Oliver became RAW for the Cosmic Trigger audiobook. If you’ve not listened to it, add it to the top of the list of things that you really need to do since WTTDA. Oh and all the way through the reading, Whatever sat proudly at her waist, a product placement that money couldn’t buy.
We can get into the next hour or so another time. Let’s jump forward to Gillett Square. Emboldened by a shot Jura and a Mu pie, I approached the next of The 5.
“Hi Jimmy, I’ve written a book and I’d like you to have it.”
“Oh thank you. Oh, you’re Andy”, his soft Devon drawl stretching my name out for an eternity. “But, are you Henry?”
“Sorry, what? No, I thought that was you.”
“No, nothing to do with us,” he plausibly denied
“Well, whoever he is, he has nice taste in lamps.”
“Yeah, he does.”
“OK, thanks again, I’m going to see Oliver”
Second attempt at presenting to The Officiator was much more viable. He had his big coat on with pockets big enough for the play wot I wrote. He thanked me warmly and handed me a fly poster.
“Go and see Bill to get a bucket of paste.”
William Ernest Drummond
I know he shouldn’t, but Bill still terrifies me. He often seems so committed to his work and I don’t want to be the idiot that wrecks something, by not ‘getting it.’ So he gave me two buckets with dry paste, rollers and bottles of water, and I gave him Whatever.
He chucked it into the back of the van.
Alan ‘Gimpo’ Goodrick
Gimpo got his book just before we went into MacDonalds on Kingsland High Street. I’d been monitoring the storage facilities of his apparel for the last 20 minutes. He’s a very hands on kinda bloke. He needs a big pocket if he’s going to carry my book around.
I’ve just remembered something from earlier on in the evening. Just after Oliver had read the piece about Young Henry. I spotted Gimpo hugging a young girl and saying ‘Good Night’.
A reminder to us all of the sacrifices that are made for this.
Images by Ade Cartwright and Becci James
Whatever is available, unstamped, from Amazaba.
Or from here.