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THE OVERGROUND/UNDERLAND CONVERSATION. WALKING IN ONE DAY AROUND LONDON’S RAILWAY NECKLACE.

“While we were plodding, not yet foot-foundered, through Andrew Kötting’s familiar Surrey Quays territory, I told him how much I enjoyed his fragmented contribution to the anthology, “London, City of Disappearances”. All those clashing memory raids and riffs. He has a profound and undeceived sentimental attachment to streets, shops (selling hard hat, big boot, work-fetish kit), Italian cafés, Millwall chants, foot-bridges,  condemned tower blocks, heartstruck courtships, scrap yards, labouring years, gyms, mislaid friends, messenger boy dock-delivery anecdotes, drunk-drowned comedians, cabbies, skinny trees, slack rivers, gay junkshops thick with incense. Re-reading his fat hardcover ‘Deadad’ book, I found it as ripe as his films: a chaotic (but canny) collaboration of peers and siblings and then some potent autobiography, real writing. And so, as we munched our super-spiced slabs – ‘More mustard, more gherkins, more everything,’ he cries – I proposed a viewing of something from the notebooks he filled with such diligent neurosis. Then, moving down the line, and climbing over Peckham Rye, the Kötting memories turned to more explicit favours in remembered rooms, art school knockabout. And I forgot all about my request. Andrew didn’t, despite the wonky knee, the difficulty of hauling himself out of a pub in Kentish Town, for the last crawl, now on all-fours, to Pentonville and Islington and Hackney. Here is what he sent.”

Iain Sinclair

” Iain – 14 days ago we prepared to put foot to pavement, so by way of ex-voto I give you 14 ponderings culled (on your orders) from my Books of Mutter.’

Andrew Kötting

Fourteen ponderings for fourteen hours of wondering.

 

FROM PILAR TO PAST

 

1

Stumbled into a life with Deptford;

Carry me home you old sea spray

Drag me back to a life with Deptford.

We were young in old Deptford.

When the wind blows east and the ferryman pulls away from the pier

He might carry me home to Old Deptford.

 

2

When was the last rapture?

Between me and my lover?

A few nights ago actually

Which is a good way to offset the jitters that I now feel towards her

Hindsight a deadweight in retrospect

And the Pyrenees lie just around the next weekend.

 

3

The sun sets on the Belgian border

The sun sets on the French border some time in June

For the time being we’ll carry on swimming in this ocean of malcontent

The stroke pulls easy through the water

There she is back on the shoreline

My daughter

But not her mother

She has better things to do with her time than wait for me.

A mid-life realisation

And coming-to-terms

With ignorance as my self-importance

Without the luxury of independent thinking

So

Back to the beach and some seaside flowers

 

4

Sunglasses, golden larch label, bones and a pearl necklace

I want to tell her that it’s been thirty years that we’ve been doing this thing

Down here

I want to tell anyone that will listen;

We’ve been doing this thing

But it will sound

Irritating

As loud as a great roll of resounding nostalgic

 

Nothing.

 

 

5

Stuck here looking out the window like putty

Time has lapsed

On a window

In the deepest Pyrenees.

The wall of green closing in on me

And

Us.

Butterfly beach and the garden of green.

Is it me that’s the ox bow lake or just the work?

All is moving in on me

Stuck.

 

6

Beach bum

A dog

A little monkey goes like a donkey

That means to say

That means to say

That moves to sigh

And at last goes;

Leave it

That little monkey goes like a donkey.

Tender buttons and objects like a rain man.

Bikes surrounded by I don’t know what.

Butterfly mountain

Mountain people

That means to say;

When we just tolerate each other it is not such a good place to be

 

7

Let’s see how he feels in a few years time when he works out that vegetarianism and no responsibilities doesn’t equal a world piece.

Peaches on a tambourine

Gouache

Peaches

Paint brushes

And a tambourine

Peaches on a tambourine

Religion was a lie that we had recognized early in life

And we found all religions offensive

Considered

Their superstitious folderol

Meaningless and childish

The tooth fairy begetting new miseries through baby talk and self-righteousness

The sheep.

The sheep of it all

The naysayers and avid believers.

The hocus pocus and fancy dress.

Deathgod and their obsolete fantasies.

There are only our bodies

Born to live in

Then death decided by the bodies that had lived and died before.

The sperm that got lucky in the race for the egg.

Paint brushes and gouache and varicose veins on a leg.

Peace

 

8

Poolside flowers and the last great outburst of everything

Our river is a parrot

A multitude of voices

A multitude of noises

A tractor

A baby crying

Bones breaking

And then the legionnaires go marching past

Old age isn’t a battle

Old age is a massacre

 

9

Cemeteries bring out a yearning for their living

And a greater sense of my being and their hasbeen

Palpable as I look upon Armandine buried down there with her family

Asleep but calling

I register the fact of death once more and that overwhelms everything

Ruining me

Sat here thinking once more

Paint brushes and jelly beans

 

10

An arm around a memory is not as good as an arm around your child

Lek’s boots, Alex’s shirt and a bowl of fruit

The smell of sea air and a scorching sun

Waking up again

To the thing

That is Palestine

Why?

There seems to be an ever increasing pressure to explain, contextualise, theorise and over dramatise every piece of work that one makes. I stand by the necessity and value of investigating vague notions. It’s by walking into a cloud that one can sometimes come out the other side with a vivid understanding.

 

11

I fell off the horse and into the grass

That art is somehow sacred

Somehow

But maybe it’s because I fell off the horse and into the grass.

An unanticipated aesthetic dimension that leaves me bruised and dumfounded

Like a peach barty with Mark, Macleod, Leslie and Pea

Wherever did my brother go?

 

12

And thus it goes on;

This morning I dressed a disabled woman

Again

Making sure that her breasts were tucked in properly

And that her bra strap was tight enough

She can put on her own socks and pants

But that’s about it.

Afterwards she might make her way downstairs for breakfast

And thus it goes on.

 

Now the rain hammers down on the disabled woman

Who is sitting on a bench in the pouring rain waiting to be taken home

To take her bra off

(Private)

She is soaked to the skin and ready for bed.

 

13

We own the forest but the moths own the light.

Reproachful.

Nature is lacking in many things

Including milk

Chainsaws and fixative

Meanwhile there are so many more things we might be doing

Save watching the light

Summer moves into winter and my daddy moves through the water

The story of the day

The mother never forgets the child inside her

The ultimate achievement is to live beyond the end by whatever needs possible.

(In praise of all the dead)

(In praise of all of those that came before us)

 

14

Ambiguity is vital to the strategy of the object being described

His sources innumerable

And

Unexpected

Everything might have been read

But

Not by others

His erudition is profound

He does not mince his words

They slide out him

Notes from a piano

His feet traipsing the ground

But

The role of enigma and obscurity is by no means vital to life’s strategy

A life partially revealed is a life revered

 

The wind is seen to blow through the limitations of human intellect

The odd one out in all of her splendid grammatology

A life without wellington boots and a torch

He enters the winter of his life

And all the flowers are dead

I am dead

Now

This is all I leave behind

Fitful concentrations for someone else to work out

 

I can’t

Didn’t

 

On

A

Rain swept night in order to make more work (as if it might be needed)

Andrew Kötting

Photos by Andrew Kötting

 

 

 

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