Monday, April 23, 2007

May Your Nose Be Red and Shiny

Look there Mama, there goes the good tramp, the happy tramp. See that red spotted handkerchief at the end of his stick? It is full of shit. I mean, actual human shit. But not tramp shit, not his shit. Clown shit. The shit of a clown.

Binko Constant, leaping between bushes, darting behind grey boxes of electrics and bits, follows his friend the tramp as he follows his calling toward the horizon, treading neatly the rotting wooden slats that sit between endless parallel lines. That is, following the railway line towards the horizon’s new sunset, as tramps often do. And yes, he is but a small silhouette against the dazzle of the sun. But what wood, out of interest, the sleepers? Ah, Teak, Cape Iron, Mahogany and Panga Panga.

This Binko Constant, better known as Binko the Clown, is a notorious shitter, the art of which he often incorporates – depending on the audience – into his act. A tent full of kiddies? No shit. A tent full of braying middle class city boys who may as well be at the dog track for all the fucking difference it makes? More shit than you can poke a stick at. (And for each of these city boys later, at home, a discovery of unlimited pocketfuls of shit that just keep on giving.)

As for magic shit. The gift from Binko to his friend the tramp is a handkerchief full of magic shit that, depending on how it is used, will protect him from danger and even, possibly, bring him a good degree of good fortune. It is Binko’s vanity that causes him to follow his friend, to see how the magic of his magic shit will pan out. And to be there for when the gratitude, the plaudits, and the expressions of undying love come his way.

But first.

Ah my wife, our boy has disgraced himself yet again with his disgusting toilet habits and pooping. Why the newspaper all over the floor? Why does he still refuse to take the toilet? Do I not pay good money for that toilet? Already six-years-old and he poops like a drunken pig. I should give him to the circus. But no, wait, don’t cry, I too love him. Together we will make him change. We will not abandon him or kill him as my father tells me to do. We will sort him fixed, I swear. We will sort him fixed and then once again we will hold our heads up in the street.

What Binko’s parents failed to spot was the sheer magic of their boy’s shit. Quickly flushing it away or screwing it up in newspapers, they didn’t see the small cities of wonder that sprang up in the sewers, on the beach, at the processing plants, or wherever Binko’s shit happened to land. Or how everything in those crumpled newspapers sprang to life: the advertisements, the stories, the cartoons, the editorials - each one of them taking on brief existences on small, unnoticed stages.

Binko, Binko, where yer gonna go-e-o? as his playmates used to shout, referencing Jim Reeves’ 1956 hit song, Bimbo. To which Binko would of course reply: I’m going down the road to see a little girl-e-o. Except he wasn’t doing that at all. He was going down the road, more often than not, to see a little shrink-e-o. Whose job it was to cure him of his extraneous shitting activity.

The short of it was: the magical properties of Binko’s shit soon became apparent to the psychiatrist who made false claims about the boy’s sanity in order to have him taken into care - whereupon the psychiatrist abducted him, faked his death, and took him on the road as the major attraction in his brother’s travelling freakshow. Surprisingly, Binko was treated very well by the psychiatrist which, naturally, led to the inevitable father and son type bond growing between them. But then, wouldn’t you know it, the psychiatrist’s crooked (as it turned out) brother snatched Binko away one night with the intention of selling him to a Russian circus. And while the psychiatrist arrived just in time to save the boy from the evil clutches of Ringmaster Rompiski, he met his own end at the hands of Lempulio, the circus strongman. Binko, now fully aware of his shit’s magical properties, restored the psychiatrist to life just long enough to tell him how much he loved him. And moments before the psychiatrist’s second, and final, death, Binko promised that he would return to his parents. Of course, it later transpired that Ringmaster Rompiski was, in fact, his father in disguise, while his mother was the bearded lady. Trapped by his promise to the psychiatrist, as well as by his understandably confused familial feelings, he eventually decided to stay with his parents’ circus and become – as he most certainly did – the greatest shitting clown the world has ever known.

And his friend, the tramp? He marches on, red spotted handkerchief dripping with shit. But what does he wonder, this pathetic old tramp? From where does he come?

The origins of the tramp, as a recognisable cultural force, are by no means contentious. They are, however, before we become too complacent, fraught with all manner of small difficulties. The most obvious arises when we consider the popular image of the tramp: the gentle, big-hearted, down on his luck loner who would never, for instance, stuff his hands down the pants of a twelve-year-old girl. Neither for him, this product of popular contemplation, the drugs, the blowjobs for drugs money, the violence, the alcoholism, the mental illness, the aggressive begging, the torture, the thieving, the animal abuse, the vandalism. But rather the helping hand to the damsel in distress, the befriending of crippled kids, the revelation that he is, in fact, the wealthy, handsome son of a ruthless industrialist who he, the tramp, has helped to uncover and expose. Our tramp, as it happens, is none of those things. Fade.

Cut to:

Park. Exterior. A beautiful summer’s day. It is full of people, all enjoying the sun: kids playing football, young couples strolling hand in hand, families taking picnics, old people feeding the pigeons etc. It is a postcard picture of a perfect day. This idyllic scene is suddenly disturbed by the appearance of a gang of around thirty clowns, all brandishing guns. The clowns quickly run through the park, terrorising people and demanding cash and valuables. Everyone, of course, is much too scared and much too sensible to do anything but what the clowns tell them to do - everyone, that is, except Big John Martin who, when approached by one of the clowns, simply pulls out a gun and shoots him in the head. The rest of the gang quickly rush over, firing their guns. Amazingly, Big John stands his ground, the bullets bouncing off him. He picks off the clowns one by one, smiling to himself every time they go down. In a matter of minutes, all of the clowns are dead. Cut to:

Park. Interior. Shed. Through the dusty window we can see the commotion in the park. People are running and screaming while Big John steps over the clowns and makes his way towards the gates. Moving into the foreground, and blocking the view through the window, shuffles a certain Charles Blakely. Admiring himself in the mirror, he adjusts his scuffed bowler hat, straightens his wilting yellow carnation, taps his cane against his right leg, lifts his feet one after the other, touches his tie and smiles.

CHARLES (to himself):
Perfect. Now I can truly call myself a tramp.

He lifts his hat to the mirror, winks and heads out of shot. We can tell, by the way the sunlight floods in and quickly disappears, that he has left the shed. We see him a few seconds later, through the dusty window, heading down towards the park gates, a spring in his step. Fade.

What happened was this: Binko was part of that clown gang but was there as a mole, an undercover agent. But, of course, he hadn’t reckoned on Big John Martin. Luckily for Binko, Big John’s bullets hadn’t reckoned on Binko’s magic shit which, oozing out of his arse as he lay there breathing his last, slowly began to restore him back to life. And because it was Binko that the shit was working its magic on, the life restoration thing - instead of being a fleeting shout - was permanent and fully effective. And as Binko lay there, slowly recovering, Charles (who had, as you may recall, just decided to become a tramp) lifted him up and carried him back to his shed. Over the course of the next few days, he helped to nurse Binko back to full health.

Firm friends then. With a whole cavalcade of crime-fighting adventures. The years pass.

Until the day came when Charles, too old and too tired, decided to give it all up and, at last, hit the open road. Just like a proper tramp. The indication to his good friend that this journey would be his last (i.e. I’m going off somewhere to die) was enough for Binko to press upon him the red spotted handkerchief full of magic shit. Because he knew – because he knew his friend well – that when it came to the actual business of facing death he would want to reach out for life. Even if it meant reaching out for a handful of shit.

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