ILM filming explosions for the Death Star attack in Star Wars in 1977.
David Cronenberg photographed by Caitlin Cronenberg
From “The Oxford Book of Humorous Prose” by Frank Muir is this delightfully surreal piece by Observer columnist Paul Jennings.
10 p.m. After dinner in basic French hotel (air mild, dense, brackish; shiny old wooden spiral stairs, grey doors with straight handles, giant’s-footseteps W.C., potatoey soup, beal or veef, hexagonal coffee cups, other guests all French except one morose English couple, wire wearing glasses, slack, high heels), in small town reached after whole day bowling over forested ridges. Ask patronne what are big buildings above river. One is seminary, one home of old priests.
10.30 p.m. As usual, head too low on long bolster under bottom sheet, but too high on folded pillow - presumably must be folded, because 4 feet square. Why? The obviously know there human shoulder comes, they haven’t got square bolster as well. Maybe it not pillow at all? Eiderdown for square child? Huge stomachwarmer, all French carry special tapes for typing warmer to their stomachs?
Own stomach unhappy about veef, or beal, or all those grapes,. As though little men inside trying to lift heavy cover off well down which they want to pour something. Suddenly they manage it; pripple-ipple-ipple gulLOY, it runs into a kind of lake at the bottom. But when turn over there seem to be other little men who want to pour it back again. Elsewhere pioneers digging new wells are right-angles (or blasting? Tiny muffled explosions). Parties of little men quarrelling (anti-bodies?), then uniting to blow up containing walls of several rivers, lakes, etc. Gurgling cataract rushes down smooth new channel, should be all right now; sense of release, peace in allegorical-symbolical landscape, in style of Dürer woodcut: Das Land der Inner Man, translated from ye German, London 1564. With ye mappe of Peritaltia. Peasant reclining by wide lake. But suddenly musket fire, ping, gromp! Pripple ipple, start again, lean cavalry scour plain, earthquake, smoke drifts across little low suns-orblets, anagram of bolster. Also lobster, bolters, roblest (roblest Noman of them all), sterbol (industrial detergent?), bestrol (pirate petrol firm) …
Jerk awake. Why square pillow? Chuck it out, try to sleep against bolster. Or belts. Or blest. Pak op trobles in ol kit bag … Old priests nodding, smiling, long grey hair like Abbé Liszt, in front row of armchairs at Christmas play by seminarists, mumming Trojan War with wooden swords, but one seminarist, dressed as maid, answer telephone in rapid French, which understand perfectly, for somehow it is in English as well. Suddenly curtain falls, chairs turned over as priests, seminarists, rush out to belfry and man ropes- 12 midnight. Old French hymn on bells in moonlit spire:
Bong, ting clang bong, clang,
Ting clang bong bing bang;
Bong, clang ting bong, clang,
Ting tong bing bong clang.
No. 19th-century hymn. Much more awake than in daytime not (ROTbels!), have super-consciousness of lacy Gothic 19th-cent. church, full of widows with pursed lips, Gothic bells in huge Dürer-Carolingian landscape, messages from Pope over forested ridges to Cologne, Rome, Aachen, Lindisfarne. meanwhile 19th-cent. atheists riposte with monster town clock, strikes every hour twice. No tunes, just BUENNG, BUENNG. Fiery atheist-syndicalist 19th-cent. mayor in tricolour sash, M. Alphonse Rataplan, unveiling municipal clock. name of a name, is not pure time the measure of human progress, mes amis, rather than the tunes of an ignorant past? Ceremony boycotted by widows. Band of sapeurs pompiers, poum poum poum. Battle of the Bells. Dong clang bong … Gromp, pripple ipple …
Try folding pillow then. Where hell it? Grope. Crash. Tinkle. Damn. Knocked over glass of mineral water, specially put on floor in case huge pillow knocked it off bedside table. lean firmly against pillow now foot high; perhhaps French sleep sitting up …
1 a.m. Bong Ting hymn is played every hour.
2 a.m. How did municipal clock manage to strike before Bing Ting this time? Atheist mayor in red night-cap, cackling to himself, climbing up stairs in clock tower with lantern to advance it.
In silence after mighty tintinnabulation, tiny waspish noise, growing louder. it is mo-ped, coming in over lonely moonlist forested ridges. Stops next door to hotel. Huge iron gates creak open, animated conversation. Mo-ped starts up again, no silencer (ridden by Monsignor with urgent message for Rome, not time for repairs), bwam bwam, off past snoring old priests, dreaming seminarists, lacy spire, into empty forest. What was message? Man next door now creak gates open wider, starts up huge diesel lorry, shouts for helpers to load it with buckets, planks, bins, angle-iron, bellbuoys, crankcases, billboards, gongs, clang-pots, thundersheets. urgent, driver impatiently revs up engine, finally roars off, gate creaks shut.
3 a.m. Entire performance repeated, although can’t tell whether it is a new Monsignor or same one back from forest. What they doing? Resolve to look out window next time, presumably 4 a.m., and see. Tie great pillow round head with luggage strap, both ears covered. Should probably have slept anyhow, anyway, next thing it is 8 a.m. All quiet as grave except for woman in dressing-gown taking down shutters opposite. Shall never know, now.
NAKED LUNCH / 1991 / DAVID CRONENBERG
Love, love, love.
My girlfriend sneezed and I accidentally said shut the fuck up instead of saying bless you
how do you accidentally say shut the fuck up
When I sneeze, I have friends say “When you die, nothing happens.” because I’m an atheist.
Been saying this for years.