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Bill Drummond Shares New Forty Second Play, '330 & COAT'
The Quietus , October 8th, 2021 07:28

Artist, writer and friend of the Quietus, Tenzing Scott Brown, AKA Bill Drummond's latest play can be read in full below

330 and Coat, hanging from the painting ELVIS T’AMA** BILL on the beach at Great Yarmouth.

330 & COAT is a Forty Second Play by Tenzing Scott Brown. There are three characters in this play. They are 330, COAT and The Travelling Salesman. That said, some think that The 25 Paintings should be credited as characters but seeing as they say nothing, know nothing and are merely nothing more than avatars with no mind of their own – they don't count.

330 is a Gibson 330 guitar that Bill Drummond bought second-hand in a shop on Denmark Street in London in the Spring of 1972. It cost him a hundred and twenty-five quid, more than he had ever spent in his life before, or maybe even since. The money had been inherited from his Grandfather, who was in fact yet to die. Bill Drummond likes to imagine that 330 had a long and creative life in the 1960s, playing in several Beat and R&B and Blues bands across the city, in clubs like The 100 and The Marquee or even The Flamingo when these clubs were the places where things happened. 330 retains his American accent.

COAT is a long and very heavy and even more battered leather coat that Bill Drummond bought on Waterlooplein, the open-air flea market in Amsterdam, in the autumn of 1972. Bill Drummond likes to imagine that this coat saw action in the Second World War. That it had initially been owned by a German soldier who was killed in action, then COAT was liberated from the dead soldier by a local Jewish woman who was in hiding from the Nazi tyranny and used it to keep herself and family warm through the freezing winter of 1944. And this woman got rid of the coat when she immigrated to Brooklyn in the 1950s. And it so happens her daughter became a Brill Building writer of classic songs like Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?* And anyway, Drummond finally liberated it from a flea market stallholder for less than twenty Guilder. COAT retains his German accent.

The Travelling Salesman is a suitcase made from crocodile skin. It has been tumbling down the generations in Drummond's family for more than a century. Drummond likes to imagine that the actual crocodile lived its life on the Aird River Delta in southern Papua New Guinea, where it so happens his Uncle Oliver was eaten by Cannibals. And it was during The Travelling Salesman's previous life as a crocodile, that he picked up many of its personality traits. The Traveling Salesman thinks of 330 and COAT as mere upstarts with egos that block out any understanding of the real world – a world where everything has a price. The Travelling Salesman retains his East End wide boy accent.

COAT in the video for 'It's Grim Up North' 1991, photo by Paul Graham

330 and COAT have been constant companions in Bill Drummond's life for almost fifty years, it now being the early autumn of 2021 when this play is being written in the M&M Café Bar in Yarmouth. Drummond’s relationships with 330 and COAT have lasted longer than any relationship he has had with a lover, partner or wife. They know him in ways his children, or even his closest friends and colleagues, could never know him. But 330 and COAT have issues, both with him and each other.

This play takes place in the PRIMEYARC art gallery in the former Debenhams store in the coastal town of Great Yarmouth in September 2021. It takes place at night, when the art gallery is closed. There are no humans here to witness this play. The Audience for this play is The 25 Paintings. You probably already know who The 25 Paintings are.

330 and COAT are hanging off the back of two of the easels that two of The 25 Paintings are propped up on. The 25 Paintings don't talk. They are merely paintings, with no feelings or thoughts, let alone ambitions for immortality…

330 on the cover for The Man, 1986, photo by Bleddyn Butcher

COAT has been hanging on his easel since The 25 Paintings exhibition opened on the 10th of September 2021.

330 was only hung on his easel yesterday.

The Travelling Salesman is lying on the floor, filled with copies of White Saviour Complex and White Male Gaze to sell to the passing public for a tenner each.

And this is where the dialogue for this Forty Second Play begins:


    Why the fuck are you here?
    You are not art.


    I am here because he loves me more.
    And loved me for longer.
    And without me he would never have thought about making the music that he has had a hand in making.


    But if you were to look inside the head of anyone who has any passing knowledge of our man, you would see a memory of him wearing me.


    Yeah, but it was me that played the solo on Suicide A Go Go by Big in Japan, Iggy Pop's Jacket by Those Naughty Lumps and Touch by Lori & The Chameleons – all classics. And it was me he chose to hold on the cover of The Man album.


    Yeah, but it was me that was in the video of for It's Grim Up North, that was a proper top-ten record.


    Yeah, but you weren't there when they actually recorded the track, you were just a prop.


    The Brits, The White Room film, Top of the Pops, any number of photo shoots – I could go on.


    Yeah, like I said, just a prop.

The Traveling Salesman:

    Will you two shut up? I mean, 330, when was the last time he actually plugged you in and played you in front of an audience? And COAT, when was the last time he actually wore you to fend off the winter winds?

330 and COAT fall silent. They both live in fear of The Travelling Salesman absconding with the both of them and selling them on eBay to some JAMs completist.

Nothing more is said. Even the Twa Tins hold their counsel. As for The 25 Paintings, they are, as always, none the wiser. The darkness prevails until the gallery is opened by Jules and Kaavous at 10am, and the first visitor to the exhibition enters and wonders "Is this it?" – And both 330 and COAT are jealously wondering which of the two of them the visitor would like to touch first.

And somewhere, someone is wondering if they still have their copy of Iggy Pop's Jacket by Those Naughty Lumps.

The End

*Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin and although both of them were Jewish and Brill Building writers, neither of their parents or any of their relatives were from the Jewish ghetto that surrounded the Waterlooplein flea market in Amsterdam during World War Two. Thus this part of the play is a memory too far by Bill Drummond and not a mistake made by me, Tenzing Scott Brown, the writer of this play. I don't make mistakes.

Six of Tenzing Scott Brown's Forty Second Plays, collectively entitled The Edge Of The World are to be published as a booklet by Original Projects in a numbered edition of 40.

To mark the publication, two whims called UNHALFBRICKING and HEAD BUTT will be performed by Tam Dean Burn, Tracey Moberly and Bill Drummond on Saturday October 16 in Great Yarmouth.

Bill Drummond will also instigate a performance of MOTHER by Tenzing Scott Brown, one of the six Forty Second Plays included in The Edge of The World. 40 free tickets, and further details, can be found here.