September 18th, 2014

Two Dogs, One Poo Bag



Taking our regular walk from Victoria Street, past Pizza Express and via The Fountain, he squatted. Django Reinhardt that is; my retarded Shih Tzu. Reaching inside my bra for a poo bag, I found what I was looking for. I scooped, welcoming the warmth on this mellow but mildly chilly night, tied a knot, and continued along my way. 


Rounding the top of Harbour Street we entered the Harbour. 


“Hi!” She called. It was a lady from choir; quite a respectable lady who had just joined and who was taking a walk with her husband.

“Hi”, I responded. 


What followed were the usual pleasantries, during which an unfortunate odour omitted. She made her excuses and left; after all, I had only known her for one week and it was unlikely she wanted to witness her new choir mistress picking up Dave Brubeck’s shit.  


I reached inside my bra and the shit bag dispenser (bra) was empty. Usually in circumstances such as this I look for a recycling bin and have a bit of a root around for a sufficiently suitable receptacle with which to scoop the poop. Only this time, on the vacant Harbour, there wasn’t one. Thankfully, I still had on my person the now-cooling bag of poo. Opening it, I managed to position its contents and angle appropriately to top it up. 


We headed home, past the New Inn and The Fountain, and I felt a gentle tug. In times such as these, such a tug elicits anxiety in the humble dog walker; especially when their sole poo bag is already full with not one, but two rounds.


Django, my aging - but bountiful - Shih Tzu was going in for a dreaded number two.


“You alright?” He called. It was John, a mate of mine, having a fag outside the pub. 

“Yeah, I’m good!” I replied. 

“You been busy?” 

“Ah, ya know. Busy as always…”


It’s funny how when you can’t really talk you become embroiled in situations such as this. 


I was tempted to just walk away and leave it, but Django had deposited a proper Cleveland Steamer right outside the pub door and John was sole witness to the event. He’s also a decent person, which doesn’t help. On past walking occasions, when I have found myself in this situation and with no access to recycling bin fodder, I have just walked. Only OCCASIONALLY though, like twice a year, and not for at least a year because one year ago I was caught short by St Peter’s Church on Sydenham Street and scooted off, hoping no one had seen me. But when I returned the following morning, someone had stuck a tiny home-made flag in the staling turd with the words: “I’m watching you” scrawled on it. This made me paranoid. 




I sighed. There was nothing for it but to open the already brimming bag and go in for the kill. Angling appropriately, I couldn’t do it. My only option was to empty the entire contents onto the street and start again. Bent over, at 90 degrees, my arse in the air and desperately trying to prevent my long hair from dangling in it - something which has, unfortunately, also happened on a few occasions - I was caught short when an elderly man came out of his house. 


“You had better pick that up!” He shouted. “It’s disgusting!” 

“You don’t have a bag do you?” I asked. “I’m caught short. They’re shitting for England.” 

“I do not!” he replied. "And watch your language, young lady!"


I tried this angle, and that, narrowly avoiding my thumb. I looked a state, stood there in the dim light of The Fountain; two dog leads under my left foot, using both hands to scoop a mother load of shit into one small poo bag. Django looked like he was smirking and Dave didn’t give a shit, as always. 


I managed though. Thank fuck. And now I’m having a cup of tea and writing this. So there. 




P.S. I promise to never leave a poo in the street again. Yes, I have seen the ‘anti dog poo’ posters on Regents Street and I fully support them.

P.P.S I have only left a poo a few times, and never in the middle of the street.

P.P.P.S Are you the person who left the flag in Dave’s turd?

  • two dogs one poo bag public emilie dog poo
September 14th, 2014

The First Fag

It was a moment of clarity; I had niggled for days, asking friend and foe alike: “do you have any tobacco?” Only this time, when I asked the response was yes. Stood atop the Hotel Burstin, kitted out in climbing harness, having just returned from the ledge, it was bright and hot and the moment was rife. 

I rolled and it fit; fingers dextrously folding tobacco, filter and rizla into a thin, neat, ‘prison’ roll, just the way I like it. Sweet mother of fuck! It tasted good. Hitting the back of my throat, stinging as it entered, I thought of him and held it a while before exhaling slowly. 

Three and a half years since the last fag and so much has happened. Well, of course. My dear mum, who still sniffs me when she leans in for a hug, will be mortified.

I purse and pop it in; round, shiny, phallic and fulfilling. I write. I compose. I smoke. This will kill me, but so will living.


September 11th, 2014

Hixter Bankside Calls for Free Musicians

From: Peasgood Emily <>

Subject: Call for Musicians

Date: 12 September 2014 01:52:57 BST



For the attention of the Manager at Hixter Bankside,


I am responding to your CALL FOR MUSICIANS advert for musicians to perform at your London restaurant in return for food, water and exposure.


First of all, thank you for this opportunity to perform at your restaurant. However, I must decline as I am a professional musician, and as such, I need to charge for the work I supply to my clients. As do other musicians, whether in training, starting out or professional.


I am sure you appreciate that working without pay is not economically viable. Whilst I appreciate your offer of food and water, this is a standard requirement of a musicians basic rider when employed to work within a restaurant or bar, and it is expected as a matter of courtesy. 


The exposure a musician may (or may not) receive by providing their services free of charge will not pay their business overheads, let alone provide an income to live on. Additionally, offering services free of charge more often results in an increase in requests to provide more services for free, and not in future paid work, as you allude to through your offer of ‘putting your name out there’.


Being a professional service provider yourself, I am sure that you will understand my position on this issue. I am confident that you do not provide your professional services to your clients free of charge, as you too have to make a living from your business. When you ask musicians to work for free in this way, I think it would be a valuable exercise to think about whether you would offer a dedicated, individual package of your professional services to that musician free of charge, should they approach you in the manner you have approached them through your ‘call for musicians’. Should I be wrong, I have copied my personal ‘call for restaurateurs’ below. If you feel you would like to gain exposure and an opportunity to promote your restaurant, do get in touch.


I appreciate that there are many amateur musicians who may be willing to provide the service professionals offer, free of charge, but I am confident that you will agree that the standard of service they provide would not be of a professional standard that would reflect the standard of services your restaurant offers its patrons.


I have pasted below some helpful and informative links on the matter and look forward to your response.


The Musicians’ Union’s ‘Work Not Play’ campaign

The 24 Hour Musician: Rights, Respect and Exploitation

Why Musicians Shouldn’t Work For Peanuts

Current Gig Rates for Freelance Gigs in London

On Perceived ‘Exposure’. A Case Study - The Olympics - Musicians Need To Be Paid Too


Best wishes and have a lovely weekend,

Em Peasgood



September 10th, 2014

Return from the Edge: ‘This is reality. Dirty dishes, house that needs cleaning, dog that smells of sick, nonchalant cat and fingers that smell of dog shit. Reality is not Vigil. Reality is here’…

I wake early, put on my climbing gear and stand in front of the mirror. Surveying my harnessed self for the final time; Batman T shirt, hat and a hint of developing bicep, I feel like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, only quite a bit chunkier. All in all, I think I look alright. 




I visit the ledge for the final time and brave the protruding middle platform. I sit, with my legs swinging back and forth, a 180 ft clean drop below and an expansive view of Folkestone Harbour and the English Channel beyond. I can’t believe I am doing this. I’m shaking; only 7 days ago I had a phobia of heights and now I’m here and doing it.




I leave the ledge, climb the ladders to the balcony and enter the room where I collect my things. I walk to the elevator, press ‘G’ and descend to the ground floor. As I leave Hotel Burstin, now affectionately known as The Grand Burstin Hotel, I look up. I can’t believe I was there. 


I have a fry up at the nearby Cabin ‘Station’ Cafe and once again look to the place I have just been. I actually did it, and now I have handed Vigil over to an artist named Paul Smith. Although I am glad he is going to experience what I have, I am jealous that it is him who now sits on the ledge, swinging his legs back and forth as he surveys the world from my Vigil.




Exhausted, full of grease and in need of sleep, I stumble to the car park and throw my bags in the boot; my rubber chicken is relegated to the dash board where it will likely remain until I return on October 25th.


I wrinkle my nose. My car stinks of shit. Located within the vicinity of the front passenger seat, I had forgotten about Django Reinhardt’s deposit, the day before Vigil. In the midst of pre-Vigil excitement, I hadn’t time to fish it out and hoped it would have dried out, losing its odour, by now.  


I spot the offending item down a small crack between the passenger seat and gear box. Grabbing a tissue I have a good root around. It’s no good; it is well and truly wedged and the tissue only adds bulk to my fingers. I go in bareback and rummage around until my finger alights on the offending article. Why the fuck is it still sticky?! Prodding here and pushing there I gently ease it out until it emerges betwixt index and middle finger; a fucked up trophy, of sorts. Thank you Django, I curse before opening the door and tossing it into the car park.


Even after I have cleaned the shit off my fingers, they still smell.


God, I am tired, and my head thuds as I plug in the sat nav and start the engine. I turn round and out and I am off. On the drive home I ring Grandma. 


‘How was it up in the pod?’ She asks. Grandma is a fretter; so much so, she elicits genuine panic in many an unfortunate family member on the receiving end of her daily fret-a-thon. She often rings to remind me to do things I already do. ‘Remember to check your insurance covers your new mobile phone’ or ‘I was just thinking, has that chip in your car window been fixed yet?’ are such examples.




So, when I decided to go and sit on the Vigil ledge, 180 feet up, in an exposed and seemingly precarious location, I told quite a big lie. Grandma thinks that for the last 5 days I have been inside a pod, a bit like one of the London eye pods, with a double bed at one side - covered up, so the rain doesn’t get in - and an open ‘balcony’ area the other, where I can sit and watch people. ‘Oh, a bit like David Blaine, then?’ She asked. ‘Yes Nan’, I replied. She even thinks there’s a fridge, running water, radiator and a ready supply of warm meals.

‘How was it up in the pod?’ 

‘It was great Grandma’.

‘Was it worth it?’

‘Yes. It was amazing. I got heaps done.’

‘Now, don’t forget to get that chip fixed in your car wind screen,’ she frets, clearly un-phased by my week in the ‘pod’. Just wait until she gets the postcard.




I arrive back in Whitstable, and pull up outside my house. Sally and Dierk from across the street come out. ‘Well done!’ they say. They are ace; I really couldn’t ask for nicer neighbours. As I unload my possessions, I hear the dogs snuffling by the front door. ‘I bet they have missed you’, says Dierk.


When I open the front door, they look at me with tilted heads. Dave Brubeck asks for a belly rub and Django Reinhardt licks my shin. Dave then wanders into the garden, to lie in the sun, whilst Django goes to sleep on the sofa. Is that it? ‘What kind of a home coming is that?’ I ask, incredulous. Usually, they yap with excitement, following me from room to room; my own personal cheerleaders, telling me how awesome I am, how much they love me and how they never want me to leave them again. Today, it seems they don’t give a shit.


Matilda pads down the stairs, looks at me, makes a ‘brrp’ sound and runs out of the back door. 


I sit on the sofa. It smells of dog sick. So does Django Reinhardt, come to think of it. And so does my house. I have a sniff around, lift up a cushion and find a puddle of congealed, fresh, doggy puke.   


Opening my mail there are five bills and a Notice of Intended Prosecution from the Metropolitan Police for speeding. For fucks sake. I only just took two courses: What’s Driving Us and the National Speed Awareness Course. I still drive like a total twat, it seems. I sign the acknowledgement form, scrawl ‘I am really sorry’ on the letter and shove it in an envelope.




I look around. Possessions, things, stuff, everywhere. My house needs a clean. There’s a pile of junk mail on the window sill and two-week old dishes in the sink. The dishes in the dishwasher have black mould growing on them and a rank odour wafts from the bin. This is home. Reality. Dirty dishes, a house that needs cleaning, a dog that smells of sick, another who hasn’t missed me, a nonchalant cat and fingers that smell of dog shit. Reality is not Vigil. Reality is here. 


I feel emotional. 


What am I to do now? There are no hourly logs to post, no people to count as they wander around Folkestone Harbour, no observations to be made of the weather, tide or sea state. I sit and observe my own reality. There are changes to be made. I recall the opportunities which have been presented to me since taking part in Vigil; opportunities I am going to accept. Yes, there are changes to be made. 


But for now, I suppose I better go and wash my hands. 




September 7th, 2014

'To make matters worse I have no edible food and I’m down to just seven sachets of mayonnaise…'

This is my fourth day on Vigil. Four days of sitting on a platform, 180 feet high, with my 1987 Casio, harmonica, melodica, pineapple shaker, 10 pairs of knickers and a shag load of sweets. I am exhausted, bone-weary, frazzled, dog-tired and WEAK from being kept awake at night by a) seagulls b) rock n roll music c) pubs keeping their doors open during massive discos which last until 3am and d) Sharon screaming: ‘Gemma, Gemma! You get your arse here now, you fucking slag! I’m gonna fucking kill you!’ and ‘Gemma! Gemma! Don’t run away from me. Get you arse here. Now!’ 




I have reached a whole new low. I migrate from platform to platform, in a daze. I unzip the tent, stare at its contents, and zip it back up again. Occasionally I take a pair of knickers - now a designated handkerchief (in hindsight, taking ten pairs of knickers for a 5 day stay was rather hopeful) - and blow my nose. I’m so tired my hay fever is playing up and one of my eyelids won’t fully open. When I’m tired my lazy eye becomes an exaggeration of its former self. And the quizzical eyebrow above my normal eye - caused by a plucking mishap, aged 16, when I plucked from the top, something you must never do - doesn’t help. It’s been wonky ever since and today I look more like Sloth from The Goonies than my actual self.


To make matters worse I have no edible food. I’m down to seven sachets of mayonnaise, which I pilfered from Googies last week, and found, just now, lightly coated in handbag crust at the bottom of my purse. But after a quick dusting, they’re good to go. 




I always thought it would be fun to fill an empty mayonnaise jar with natural yoghurt, and walk up and down Whitstable high street eating it straight from the jar with spoon. But I also thought it would be funny to go into the butchers, slap my breast on the counter and say: “that much ham, please”. 


Forget the false jar. I am now eating actual sachets of mayonnaise. I have seven and I’m going to eat them all. The first one tastes good; it is thick, and creamy, with a light tang. I squeeze it into my mouth, mush it around a bit and swallow it down with a swig of stale water. The second is a little harder; it seems thicker and sweeter than the last. But I manage. The third… WOAH. I just can’t. I don’t want it. It’s like a slow form of hideous torture. 


‘Don’t make me, don’t make me’ I plead with my gut.

But it replies: ‘GRSRSBRRBBRBRBR’ and I submit. 


It’s not that I don’t have other food to hand. I do. And I can easily obtain fresh food. This is more a combination of psychological factors and sheer laziness. I actually have bread, cheese, pickle and an absolute shag load of M & S Sours and black jacks to hand. I just don’t want to eat any of these things ever again. EVER. AGAIN. 




I’m pretty sure my sweetie aversion is a transient feeling like when you get really pissed, feel the full throttle of a force ten hangover, say you’ll never drink again, and then repeat the experience the following weekend. I’m hoping that’s what it is, anyway; I used to gain so much enjoyment from the pinch and pucker an M & S Sour elicited. And how I adored the bitter gag of aniseed as I popped another black jack in. Then there’s the laziness. I’m just too tired to obtain fresh food. My arse is a lead weight, pulling me back to Vigil. I can’t leave. 


So for now, I am sucking mayonnaise out of the sachet, because I have no other choice but to.


I’m leaving tomorrow and the first thing I’m going to do is sleep in my own bed, followed by toast. Shag loads of it. With butter on. Then the next day I’m going on a diet and exercise regime to challenge the toughest of tough. For reals. If I can sit at 180 ft high for four days, with a fear of heights, I can sure as hell get my fitness on. You watch me. By the time I return to Vigil in October - yes, I signed up to do this TWICE - I will be as buff as batman. 

September 6th, 2014

'When I went to bed tonight, getting into that sleeping bag was like trying to climb inside a regular sized condom during an MRI scan'

If you’ve never tried to get into a sleeping bag ~ which is clearly designed for men with slim hips ~ whilst wearing a climbing harness which is attached to the roof of 180ft high suspended tent, with only a foot and a half width to play around with, and no room to manoeuvre, you’re lucky.


When I went to bed tonight, getting into that sleeping bag was like trying to climb inside a regular sized condom during an MRI scan. And when I eventually wrestled the bag into submission, and was in up to the waist, I realised with utter dismay that I couldn’t pull it any higher because my harness needed to be hook into the red ropes above me. ‘FUCK’ I cursed, trying to find something to put under the remaining part of my body, so I wasn’t lying hips higher than head.


I sat up and experienced what can only be described as ‘the butchers shop’ experience. My climbing hooks hit me hard and square in the forehead. It was like waking up on a butchers table in a horror movie, with hooks and meat cleavers swinging above me.


I tried to lie back down but couldn’t because my harness had now dislodged and was riding inappropriately high. I wrestled with it for a while, loosening and retightening, with no luck. The harness won out and I lay there awkwardly, until I drifted off to sleep. 




I wake up to the gyrating grind of my hips.


Bum, bum, you look at that body,  I WORK OUT!





What twatting twat, in twatsville, has decided that it’s cool to have a MASSIVE disco, in a pub on the harbour, with the doors wide open?! 


I sit up. CLONK. There go the meat cleavers again, right in the middle of my forehead. I take my mirror out and have a look. No bruise. Thankfully. But what stares back is not pretty. When I went to bed, I looked like this: 




Now I look like a wretched old sea hag with ringed eyes and sweat dripping down my nose. It’s 4am, I can’t sleep and I’m so tired I feel nauseous. I open the tent and stare out at the night. Oddly, the music doesn’t seem so loud anymore.




Yesterday was an odd day. I mostly spent it creating LIFTED, swaying between moments of introspection and day-dreaming unexpected scenarios.


In one, a street lothario called to me: “Emily, Emily, let down your hair!” I relinquished my long blonde wavy locks into his extended arms. Only they didn’t go down much further than a couple of feet and I realised I was fucked.




In another, the kindly old white-haired man I saw through my binoculars earlier stopped and looked up at me. Only now, after he waved he put his hand in his pocket. He fumbled around for a bit until he touched it and removing a Werther’s Original, he winked. To my amazement, his arm extended go-go-gadget style, all the way up to my ledge. "Thank you!" I shouted. "Do you want me to come up?" He asked. "I have more where they came from!" 

"No thanks", I replied, "but thank you so much for the sweet!" 





Apparently, each of the 12 pins which support my wall-side camp hold 3.5 tonnes in weight. Despite this knowledge, I still thought I’d be too heavy for the platform. 


I also thought my derrière would be too big for the harness. 


I was wrong. The harness hugs my rotund derrière, just so, emphasising and highlighting its fullness and providing a little added lift. My butt looks almost proud. It’s quite a fetching look, yes? 






I’ve been typing for an hour and it’s 5am. I need a wee. I’m seriously contemplating pissing into my spare bottle. Don’t worry. I won’t. Not unless I’m REALLY desperate. Nope. I’m joking. I won’t. Please don’t text me, Vigil management team, and tell me not to. I’m not going to really. Well, maybe…


I’m going to try and get some sleep. Ha! Fat chance. But I can but try. I have an eye mask and tissue for my ears. And this is for the twat who thought it was OK to leave the door of the pub open whilst hosting the most chavtastic disco I have ever heard. You twat.



September 4th, 2014

It’s 2pm. I’ve been here for 3 hours and I’ve already eaten my emergency Bounty


It’s 2pm. I’ve been here for 3 hours and I’ve already eaten my emergency Bounty, half a bag of M & S Sours, 6 black jacks and a cheese and pickle sandwich. 




What was a fear of heights has become a session of euphoric, high-flying, sugar consumption, accompanied by Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. Sugar + Reich + sitting on 180 ft high precarious-platform-suspended-from-side-of-super-high-building for art installation and creative inspiration = fucking trippy.


An elderly lady has been watching me from the street for ten minutes now. I wave but she doesn’t respond. I pick up my binoculars to check she isn’t simply cock-eyed and I’m right, she IS staring at me. I wave, bigger sweeping gestures and still no response. She is perhaps 80, has two hiking sticks and looks like she got kitted out at Mountain Warehouse. She even has a full set of waterproofs on, and gaiters from her hiking boots to her knees. It’s a sunny day and we’re in bloody Folkestone, not the Andes.


I reckon she’s staying at Hotel Burstin, a place where the menu is designed with dentures in mind; white bread sandwiches with the crusts cut off ~ less a morsel of outer crispiness catches, rudely removing an old dears set of falsies ~ followed by blancmange for desert. Soft, waxy, jellied, no-need-to-swallow-because-it-slips-right-on-down blancmange. 




Hotel Burstin ~ the place I am suspended off of, for Vigil ~ is an odd place. The average patron is 80. The carpet is a deep stained red. The furniture is second hand and plush, with occasional smearings of mush. Probably blancmange. 


It reminds me of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel; just out of its glory day, a haven for old-timers, cheap and cheerful and kind of skanky, albeit lovely, way.



IF IT ISN’T RED YOU’RE DEAD! They told us that at rope training.


Everything is tied to something else. 


As I write this journal, my pen is attached to a bit of string which is attached to a carabina clip, which is attached to a red rope. My notebook is similarly attached to a bit of string which is attached to a carabina and then to my harness. There are two large ropes coming out from my chest which are attached to more red ropes - one inside the tent, and one behind me. 






I spend most of the day looking down, occasionally waving at passers-by. Sometimes I write and sometimes I try out melodic ideas. Most times I eat sweets, sips tea, contemplate going to the toilet ~ before deciding not to, because it’s too much hassle ~ and then I find a nifty retro beat on my Casio and laugh to myself, like a crazy person.




It’s 4pm. I look down. The sea is calm; mid tide. It’s cloudy and warm. The harbour is noisy, the seagulls noisier. The children scream, the old ladies sit inside Hotel Burstin, sipping blancmange, and I see invisible ropes between the people who pass me by. 

September 3rd, 2014

It’s the eve of Vigil and I’m shitting myself.

When I was ten I got on a roller coaster with my Dad. 


“Does it go upside down?” I asked. 

“No”, dad replied.

“Does it go really high?” 


“Are you sure?” 

“Yes. Don’t worry Emily. It’s only a little one”. 


It started. Slowly and first, gradually getting faster until it bumped and heaved round tight bends and came to a sudden halt. We started a slow ascension up a steep and long incline. My stomach sank and I clenched the sides of carriage. 


Then I saw it. There was a loop.


“It goes upside down, Dad! You lied to me! It goes upside down!” 

“I didn’t realise Emily. You’ll be fine. Hold my hand”. 

“I don’t want to hold your hand. I want to get out, Dad. Can you make it stop? Please make it stop. Let me out. Let me out!” 


I started crying, and screaming, and then I stopped breathing. I was having a panic attack. Other passengers started to call for help and the roller coaster slowly reversed back to the start. 


I never went on a roller coaster again.


Today I went through the ropes, tried on the harness and practised my hardcore climbing face. I felt like the business.




I even tried out Vigil 2, a replica of the real thing. Only Vigil 2 is ground level, and the real Vigil is 180 feet up.


Vigil ‘2’: 




The Real Vigil:



I’m shitting myself. 


I’m going to wear nappies in case I actually do. I’m also going to wear my superwoman, and my bat man T shirt when I’m up there, so I feel like a superhero. 


I’m going to try and be very serious and write an amazing choral work, which will be performed by 70 singers in a lift. I’m also going to post short updates on the Vigil website here: SHORT UPDATES and longer journals here: LONG JOURNALS. These will be quite tame because I can’t be rude or inappropriate on the Vigil website. The not-so-tame blogs will be here, on Public Emilie.


My list of possessions has expanded vastly and frankly, I’m embarrassed about the amount of things I’m taking with me which now include: an additional 5 pairs of knickers (bringing the total to 10), a roll up piano, a pineapple shaker, harmonica’s in C, F, Bb and E and a melodica. All absolutely necessary for creative flow.


I have been reliably advised that if I don’t look down, it’ll be fine. I’m going up there at 10.30.


Wish me luck.



August 31st, 2014

What I’m Taking To Vigil

Black Jacks 

M & S Sours

Muzak / elevator music - Spotify playlists

Casio SA-20 + batteries. LOTS 

Flip camera


Macbook + charger


Pouches - to hold stuff in round neck

Manuscript pads x shag loads

Pens / Pencils x shag loads

Suncream in case it’s hot

Fleece in case it’s cold

Raincoat in case it’s raining

Skanky trainers

Baggy trousers

T shirts x 2

Socks x 4

Knickers x 5

Bra x 2

Book (in case go mad)



Whiskey flask



Tea bags




Prawn cocktail crisps

Pot noodle x 2

Diet coke x shag loads


Sleeping bag

Rubber chicken


Read more about it how I’m composing my next choral work on the Vigil art installation at Folkestone Triennial, 14 storeys up…

Read more about the Vigil art installation by Alex Hartley

Read more about Folkestone Triennial

August 28th, 2014

You call it ‘road rage’ and I call it ‘aggressively manoeuvring around assholes that don’t know how to drive’

I’m running late. It’s 12.20 and I have to be there at 1. It’s a one hour drive. 


Going to the Speed Awareness Course I run three red lights and get flashed by two speed cameras. 


The irony stings like lemon on an open gash. 


This is my second driving offense course in less than two weeks. Last week’s What’s Driving Us? has set me up with a defensive demeanor. I enter the classroom and adopt a new stride. The man with the register smiles and I glower. He is wounded and I adopt a new stance. I swagger into my room, take my table and open my notebook. 


I fill in forms with questions like: “how do you know what the speed is?” We are quizzed this same question on multiple occasions throughout the four and a half hour course. Pathetically, we succumb within hour one and scream in unison reply: “streetlights! And speed signs!” 


Q1 Name some reasons why you might have an accident?

Answer: Changing my clothes while driving in cruise control.


Q2 What causes you to speed?

Answer: Driving like a twat.


It’s not cool. I am a very bad girl. 


“What circumstances cause you to speed, Emily?” asks Phil, one of two instructors, both called Phil. 

“I speed ‘cause I’ve got a crap car”, I drawl.  


Everyone laughs. 


I’m aware I’m being a dick.


We break. There’s tea and quite nice biscuits. I chat to a couple of old men. They seem nice. “I got flashed on the way here”, I say to the one with the white moustache. “Ooh….” he inhales. “Bad luck. Hopefully there won’t be an actual camera in it”. “It’s unlikely”, I reply. “I got flashed twice!” “Ah…”, he shakes his head. “Well… you can but hope”.  


We are taught about tailgating. The best thing to do, when being tailgated, is to be patient, and to not wind the tailgater up by doing stupid shit like slowing down and refusing to let them overtake. If they’re really aggressive, you can pull over somewhere safe and let them overtake you.


We are taught about space. Apparently, road rage and speeding comes down to issues around personal space. Tailgaters behave like twats because they want us to get out of their road space and we sometimes react like twats because they’re invading our space when they get up our arses. They get more twatlike, and we get even twatier. 


Do you know that COAST stands for:







No? I don’t either. When we are asked to write down what we think it stands for I write:







They give us a free COAST pen to help us remember, before we are told to check our tyre pressure every fortnight. 


“When did you last check your tyre pressure, Emily?” Asks Phil.

“A year ago”, I respond. “Or when it’s flat”.


Everyone laughs, again.


On the way home I stay in the fast lane. This car behind me is right up my arse. “Fuck you, you twat” I mutter to myself, as I ease my foot onto the brake.