Wednesday 3 July 2024

HELPING PEOPLE (2024) - COLE DENYER Text by Sam Wilson Fletcher




Text by Sam Wilson Fletcher 





What follows is not very informative. The names (and the people they belong to) that appear in this text and in the show are very important: they are crucial. At the same time they arent. The work is I think an outgrowth of internalised damage, like antlers. Made of what? Not bone. (Frozen blood maybe - have you seen the brinicle? The finger of death.) One kind of surrealism (the whacky kind) is putting an egg on a roof. The other kind is a method - a way of embodying knowledge. But I dont like the word surrealismand all its connotations (or the word embodying) and probably neither do you. Also it goes without saying that the Ithroughout is animal, it is performative. 



alcohol is also a medicine - it helps me drink 

im so tired i cant speak  

i have some kind of a disease - my throat is full of 

something - insulation? the remnant of uncounted 

sagging estates 

- the four horsemen of the britfash acropolis 

the 4 horsies of the agitpropolis 

the 4 hobbyhorsemen on their private broomsticks 

like harry potter - that aspiring gp! 

(nobody had to teach him the basics - 

cremasteric reflex gandalf! expeliamus drop your trousers) 


roaming the deadstreets of the flatbrick mazy plan 

far from the flyover and far from the upstairs bedroom 

of commerce where the people they are 

casting their votes like skimming stones 

onto the waterbed on which cutouts of 

the 4 hearsemen are spread 


(1) sir john ritblat 

a charming rogue a bit of an oldfashioned spiv 


(2) david hart - black ear of thatcher 

worm of thatcher, black earworm 

curling in the dark liquor of thatchers sour soul 

(even the ministers were wary of him 

inside her cloak 

like a bit of dried umbilical) - 


abroad on the elysian field 

of waves - albion 

submerged to his ears, the bright prow of his forehead is gleaming 

and blake is here 

- see him through thick foliage 

he is crouched inside the overgrown ruin 

of a motorway bridge  

with dental glue and a tiny spatula 

he is applying to the walls 

a mosaic 

of the shards of one (1) exploded olympic village 


and look! there is a demon at his shoulder 

- a whisp of black shit, a being entirely of bloodstool 

fibrous melanoma, bloodpudding and hemp 


it whispers with pneuma, it talks in silvery bubbles 

the slight wind now carries its smell to you 

- ah, like a good cigar! 


and what of (3) mike weatherly? who died of the cancer in his lungs 

michael richard weatherly 

born in the postvictorian seaside town of clevedon 

oh how i have wandered the seawalls at night 

bearing in my palm the bright candle  

- in the decades of postwar slump 

it was a citadel of charity shops - cliftonites 

came to nab bargains from struggling old people, a form of philanthropy 


the football is on the big tv 

with his eyes my grampi is watching 

the morrisons - he has his bright eyes 

on the yellowsticker bird 

a smell of wool and gravymix, a smell of rust 


(i am handwriting this on the train 

sat across from a man who is angrily 

brushing sandwich crumbs off his expensive suit 

and some of them are going on me! 

he is picking his nose and flicking his crumbs 

and biting his nails, this anxious child 

of commerce, this son of home investment / invasion, this speculator) 


my grampi was a feed salesman 

he said the tea he was served on the farms 

was heavy stuff - oily with great black flies afloat in it 

and the cider! it really did have great black rats afloat in it 


- death is not an alternative to it, he said, it is part of it 

it attests to the fact that there is jouissance in it 


the english unemployed did not become workers to survive 

they - hang on tight and spit on me - enjoyed  

the hysterical, masochistic, whatever exhaustion it was  

of hanging on in the mines, in the foundries, in the factories -  

in hell, they enjoyed it, enjoyed the mad destruction  

of their organic body which was indeed imposed upon them 

they enjoyed the decomposition of their personal identity - 

the identity that the peasant tradition had constructed for them 

they enjoyed the dissolution of their families and villages  

and enjoyed the new monstrous anonymity of their suburbs  

and the pubs in the morning and evening1  


- and the great black rats afloat in the air 

in the room of rotten england 

they are blinding us with their feces 

they have left mouldmarks all over the ceiling 


which is sagging like the ceiling of the sinkhole cavern under england 

that hollowed out world of toxic roots 

through which sir john strides  

like a pair of callipers - he measures 

the extent of need  

and then, with the precision of a neolithic mason 

seeds another monolith 


- ok, but i am not a scholar and do not pretend to be 

i am only a gentle clevedon boy - i am only a gentle sussex boy 

i was born actually in a petri dish, i grew upwards 

from the wound surface of (4) roger scrutons peeled chest  

like red coral 

- i glistened and grew fat 


together we walked the glassy crick 

for i am only a gentle boy of the hills of west v 

and on the diet he coaxed me with, which was rich  

with the crispy fragments of the exploded 

mahogany drawing rooms of old europe 

i grew fat 

with stretchmarks like a map of antiquity 

that together we explored 


i was his leviathan, his muse 

and he was my huck finn 

rafted by my bulk we sailed to the mouth  

of the gulf 

and among the clotted islands  

of oil - out into open sea 


pausing in the great sargasso 

that he might parley with his family 

who of course forgave him - he was that loveable - 

making a gordian knot of their bodies 

those eels offered us up  

to the blinding sky - white star night 


but sadly thereafter i was relegated to the shadows 

i may not present myself  

to his esteemed audience, i may  

whale at his feet 

only inside the secrecy of his college rooms 

i watched him make sex with many acolytes 


feeling pangs for the goodoldays on the crick 

i snaked along the corridor of death: that queue 

to see the queen in state (17 September 2023) - 


i flowed along the thames (so many bones you harbour 

i have seen the uber boys  

hoik the bodies of so many 

thames, i did not know you had drowned so many) 

- and in that sample of island england i saw 

especially: intense young men 

and roger, they had your books in their hands! my heart leapt 

(where are you now?) 


and who are you, sweet little puffer fish? you do look smart 

are you the exchangeable spiv brain 

of the 4 horsemen? are you their rascal spirit? yes you are 

their yellow charm - you can get away with anything with murder 

if only you click your heels and 

allow the wind to muss your hair 


ah, (3) mike weatherly - 

you who loved the foxes and hated the hounds 

and the spongers cluttering the bookies mouth 

there is a body frozen blue outside the empty bungalow of england 

the empty white bungalow of england 


mike, you loved rock n roll so much  

you promised to wear your iron maiden shirt inside the commons 

but the speaker wouldnt allow it!  

the speaker wouldnt allow it 

mike, can you hear me?  

the door appears to be bolted? 

im in my dressing gown 

i only went outside to see about the noise 

and now im locked out 


im locked out 

and the skeletal horses 

that (i see now) arent really horses at all  

but the skeletal 

blackbodied greyhounds of commerce 

are towering along the street 

- and there you are - mike, can you hear me! 


john and david and roger are with you 

riding silently 

there is a black space where a mouth should be 

there is a black sound where a heart should be 

- i see you 

weeping and fluttering your hands 

and rocking back and forth - what are you summoning? 



landlord of the universe 

whose pelvis is a fortune cookie 

and the note inside is blank! 



who relayed from the sac of his toxic kidney 

the drops of a rich liquor into maggies ear! 



positioning the sharp of the spade silently 

to stamped off our sleepy heads! 


and roger 

dear roger - you are corpse jelly 

sliding along on a film of thought 

you sanctioned those who sheltered  

beneath the wiry wing 


(wing of one beechcraft 200 

sailing high on the air over london 

when the doorlight flashed on 

and one (1) isabel ritblat fell out2)



This case is to decide whether underneath your friendly and lovable exterior there is a darker side lurking. 

- Sasha Wass QC 


such animals often move in a disoriented and dizzy fashion, with the brains arguing with each other. Some simply zig-zag without getting anywhere. Heads may attack and even attempt to swallow each other 


- Prof Georgina Lake (UCLA), private correspondence 



1. Craniopagus parasiticus 


and what of the mirror that sits 

inside the body, intersecting the self?  

it produces fatal abnormalities 


het kint with 2 of everything - two minds two faces 


het kint 

who does not make it beyond childhood, who dies on that black slab 


a mirrored sword - the guillotine of england 

which makes of a man a beast of two backs  


or - depending on where you stand 

(perhaps you cut the rope?) 


the doubleheader called craniopagus parasiticus 

by medical science: the parasitic twin 


the 2nd palm is black 

handshake like an inkcap 

it is the mark - 



2. The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp 


There is a precedent for such dark duplications in art history. In Rembrandts turgid lamplit The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp, a man named Adriaen het Kint lies on the slab (supposedly). Het Kint: the Kid. He was a thief. His right hand had been chopped off before he was hanged. Rembrandt initially painted the corpse like this but later changed his mind. This added hand is dark and discoloured and disproportionate. Meanwhile (as noted by Sebald and many others), his left hand is not actually a left hand at all but some chimera: the visible tendons of it, which according to the location of the thumb should correspond to the palm of the left hand, are in fact the tendons of the back of a right hand. In this room there is one right hand too many. With two right hands you cannot pray.  

3. Tryst 

In the late 90s, Harrisdaughter Bindi (now Ava Reeves) learned of her fathers trystwith her childhood best friend, which began when she (the friend) was 13 and continued into her adulthood3. In her anger, Reeves reportedly smashed up Harrispaintings. 



4. Rolf on Art (2002, BBC) 


For Rolf on Art: Rodin, Harris made a sculpture of Reevesright hand, ‘… first modelling the hand in clay and then casting it. To my amazement I was told that Rodin used exactly the same single hand sculpture. If you look closely it is definitely NOT a pair of hands, it is a repeat casting of the same [right] hand, but placed in a slightly different position, at a different angle. Id like to thank the people at the casting foundry who nursed me through the whole process.Many were made. Now purchasable from several online galleries for a few hundred quid - nearly worth it for the smelted price. 



5. Kids Can Say No! (1985) 


In Kids Can Say No!, Harris obfuscates by sitting under a tree. He warns children between the ages of 5 and 8 against sex predators. Paedophilia was finally coming out from under its veil of secrecy- by the time of the films release he had already committed 9 of the 12 assaults he was later charged with. As though in premonition, the film concludes with two (blue) right hands, holding holstered nightsticks. Which is to say, the film ends with a song: My Body, sung by a group including Harris, two police officers and some children. 


My body's nobody's body but mine 

You run your own body 

Let me run mine 



6. Schadenfreude 


Kids Can Say No! may be seen in retrospect as either monumental self-delusion or a sign of deep, self-lacerating guilt. This seems too generous an assessment. But supposing he was actually human? There is avoidance is our portrayal of paedos as diseased bleeding lizards. It almost allows us to write them out of history as aberrance - statistical, rather than a social consequence of power and its abuse, which they are?4 By October 2022, Rolf was unable to talk, his neck full of cancer.