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Simon Ford

TED GLASS STIRRED: 'Wall of Sound' by Throbbing Gristle blared into his ears from the CD alarm clock next to his bed.

'Time to get up!' he said to himself as the sonic abuse pounded his ear-drums.

The blonde girl sharing his futon groaned. It was only six o'clock and she was still recovering from last night's sex magick rituals.

Ted was up early because he was off to Exeter on a trip that promised both business and pleasure. The success of Luther Blissett's Industrial tribute band - The Australian Whitehouse - had finally spurred him into action. Whitehouse had always been a mere comic parody of the one and only, truly industrial noise terrorists, Throbbing Gristle (or TG as they were known to initiates).

Ted had been a fan of the group from the first moment he heard the excruciating tones of Second Annual Report in 1977. At last he'd found something that could approximate the alienation he felt from late capitalist society. TG's disbanding in 1981 had caused him real psychic distress and created a lack in his life that he was still finding difficult to come to terms with. This was all, however, about to change. The idea of forming a TG tribute band was just so perfect he wondered why he'd never thought of it before.

Ted had always been complemented on how much he looked like the electronics expert of TG, Chris Carter, and he'd recently come across the spitting image of TG's sampling supremo Peter Christopherson at a sleazy disco in Soho. All that remained now was to sign-up a duo that could pass for the kinky couple themselves, Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti.

This is where Alex and Kim, currently residing in Exeter, entered the frame. Ted had known them for years. They had all been fellow TG Control Agents and hard-core Terror Guards back in the hey-day of Industrial Records in 1978. Ted had talked to them recently on the phone and after he'd explained to them his plans they were just about ready to sign up for the band. Ted's mission was to get their signatures before they changed their minds.

'Time to get up!' Ted said aloud this time.

Ted was already up and running. Lay-ins were anathema to him, excess sleep meant less time for life and Ted now had a real lust for life. He grabbed a towel from the nearby radiator and made his way to the shower. The pulsing white noise of the water reminded him of the 'Wall of Sound' that had just awoken him. He allowed the cacophony to envelope him, closed his eyes and assumed power focus. The will to power was Ted's gospel, what he did not control worried him, discipline formed a coda to his every thought and action.

He pulled himself back from his reverie and began to wash his hair thoroughly. The day was going to be long and he wanted to look his best. Finally, after every square inch of his body's surface had been scrubbed clean of the night's excesses, he reached up and stemmed the flow of the shower. For a moment he stood still, letting the water drip from his now glistening body. He looked down at his penis and contemplated its enigmatic powers.

'There are no answers,' he thought, 'in the end we all die.'

On this deeply profound thought he pulled back the shower curtain, wrapped the towel around his waist and returned to the bedroom.

'You still not up?' Ted was getting angry.


'OK, I'm going.' The blonde emerged from beneath the black duvet. Normally Ted would have invited her to join him in a few pre-breakfast rituals but today was special and Ted wanted to keep his elixir potent for whatever eventualities lay ahead. Besides he also had a coach to catch!

As the girl pulled on her now dishevelled khaki T-shirt and camouflage patterned trousers, Ted gathered together his kit for the mission ahead. He reached into the dark interior of his wardrobe and pulled out a black shirt (with TG lightning flash patch), a pair of black para-military trousers, black boxer shorts, and a pair of black socks. He dressed methodically, taking particular care with packing his survivalist kit into the bulky side pockets of his trousers, before sitting down to pull on his heavy black combat boots.

The greatest dilemma that faced Ted that morning concerned suitable reading matter for the journey. This particularly occupied Ted because he was a librarian, a librarian with a difference; Ted was an INDUSTRIAL LIBRARIAN. In 1979 he had taken literally P-Orridge's statement that 'Real total war has become information war' and immediately given up the beginnings of a lucrative career in the art world and enrolled on a librarianship course. Most of his friends thought he was crazy but Ted considered if information was to be a weapon of the new world order then librarians were to be the storm-troopers to operate it.

Ted finally selected Colin Wilson's The Outsider. Although Wilson's theories were simplistic, and his books often based on unreliable research, the original 'angry young man' had been satisfying Ted's appetite for sensationalist subject matter - murder, sex, and the occult - since his early teens. Since then Ted had increasingly identified with the alienated and the 'outsiders' of society.

The girl looked around the room. She had never seen so many books. Her original attraction to Ted had been purely physical, now she caught herself wondering about his mind. She was about to say a few words of farewell, but Ted obviously didn't want to be disturbed. She saw the concentration on his face and the precision of his movements as he dressed; this was a man-machine that was going places.


Ted waited at Victoria Coach Station to board the 501 National Speed service to Exeter. He could have taken the train but found the thought of five hours amongst cars and articulated lorries on England's finest autobahns strangely compelling. For Ted the bleakness and monotony of motor way travel in post-industrial Britain constituted the height of aesthetic experience.

The stewardess lingered as she checked Ted's ticket. The librarian before her exuded a pagan sexuality. Her husband, a former childhood sweetheart, had neglected her sensual demands for weeks now. The barriers that held in check the flood waters of her desire were in constant danger of fracturing; the librarian could be the one to burst them.

Ted made himself comfortable at the back of the coach. By looking suitably aggressive the librarian had managed to discourage the other passengers from sitting within five rows of his staked-out territory. Ted did not like being disturbed by screaming kids, personal stereos, and nattering holiday-makers.

As the coach crawled through the congested early morning traffic of Hammersmith, Ted watched the masses going about their daily commuting rituals. Ted believed man had stopped evolving with the passing of the Industrial Revolution. Since then Civilisation had been progressively alienated from the shamanic potential at the core of its industrial self.


As the coach hit the motorway, and its engine settled down to a steady drone, Ted began to feel the vibrations pulsing through his body. The internal combustion engine vibrated at a frequency that activated genetic codes deep within his brain. This archaic industrial language was translated by the librarian into a throbbing hard-on. Ted shifted to ease his cock's transformation from passive softness to active solidity. It was at this moment that the stewardess began to move down the aisle towards him.

The swaying vehicle only marginally hindered her progress. Ted saw her approaching but did nothing to hide the straining member making a tent out of his black combat trousers. The stewardess soon realised that because of their position at the back of the half-empty coach, she and the horny librarian would be invisible to the rest of the passengers. She had been taking orders for light refreshments, now she was in search of some for herself.

The coach swerved suddenly and the stewardess dropped her pen as she reached for a nearby seat to steady herself. The pen hit the floor and rolled under Ted's seat. The librarian's and the stewardess's eyes met and each instantly understood the other's craving for relief. The stewardess sank slowly to her knees amongst the discarded sweet wrappers and empty cans.

Ted stared out the window at the banal landscape. If the individual is to free him/herself s/he must cast off all restraints, everything was permissible. The stewardess's fingers found the buttons of his fly and proceeded to release his 'manhood' from his black boxer shorts. The industrial librarian felt a veil lift from his consciousness as her hot breath tickled his cock. As her lips tentatively closed over the end of his penis, the doors of perception were cleansed and Ted saw things as they really were. As the girl sucked him deeper into her mouth and began working his length, he walked through the doors into the landscape of the imaginary.

Ted reached under the stewardess's uniform and located her moist centre. Like her mouth his fingers spoke the language of liberation, the promise of eternal play, the ecstasy of annihilation. As his fingers caressed her creamy slit, she joined him in the realm of the imaginary and they roamed the landscape together, marvelling at its wonders. The colours they saw were intense. But before they could comprehend where they began and where they ended, they were momentarily engulfed by darkness before bursting through into the blinding light of cataclysmic ecstasy.

The stewardess rearranged her uniform and dusted down her knees. Using a Kleenex she wiped the white and sticky fluid from around her mouth and strolled back down the aisle. As she walked past the other passengers they wondered what had happened to their tea and coffee; the stewardess wondered what had happened to her psyche!


Ted sipped his soya milk whilst Alex and Kim ate their vegan meal. Ted hated soya milk but he would drink anything, even his own urine, to ensure TG's successful reincarnation.

'How's Exeter then-' Ted asked to break the silence.

'Crap,' replied Alex in disgust. 'It's full of morons.'

'Yeah,' agreed Ted. 'I had a look around town earlier and couldn't find a single light engineering works. What's an industrialist meant to do for entertainment around here!'

'Exeter is and always will be a mindless shit hole,' said Kim. 'We're looking forward to getting out of here. I think we're too big for the provinces. London is the only place large enough for ambitious couples like us to fulfil our potential.'


Ted was glad to hear of their dissatisfaction, the TG tribute band required their total commitment.

'Sure,' he said, 'I can see us going a long way. With your outrageous stage act and my marketing skills, we'll form an unbeatable team.'

The two performance artists returned to their ideologically-correct fodder. Ted had already got them to sign the contract, so now he could relax. He emptied his soya milk and opened a can of lager. Ted was bored and felt in need of alcoholic refreshment. To the librarian drinking was a fine art. Whilst others treated it simply as an aid to breaking through repression, Ted drank for drinking's sake. It was one of the few pure things left in his life.

As Ted had planned, his visit to Exeter co-incided with the day of the local art college Degree Show. Ted, Alex and Kim saw the show as an ideal opportunity for causing trouble. An excited crowd of recently graduated students, their loving parents, plus illiberal doses of alcohol would provide the perfect brew for a demonstration of auto-destructive art.

By the time Ted had drained two more cans of Stella Artois the industrialists were ready to hit the road. Because of its useless public transport system, everyone walked in Exeter, it was a pedestrian city in more ways than one. The route to the art college was long but uncomplicated. Ted continued drinking. He realised that to get free wine at these events you had to arrive early, but as everybody knows that was not cool. Ted was determined to be late for his own funeral.

The industrial librarian switched to Tennants Super, it was to be alcoholic quantity over quality for the time being. He passed the cans around to his new business associates and opened one for himself. The frequent pulls were a fitting accompaniment to the grey and banal landscape through which they passed.


Exeter School of Art had gone through many changes since its founding at the turn of the century. During the 1970s it changed its name to Exeter College of Art and Design and moved out of the city centre to its present site at the end of a leafy cul-de-sac lined with large semi-detached houses. In the 1980s, after being swallowed up by the Thatcherite Plymouth Polytechnic, it had become known as Exeter Faculty of Art and Design. Its latest manifestation was as Exeter College of Arts and Crafts. The title clashed with the architecture of the college, which was closer to that of a 1970s hospital than a rural retreat, but Ted had come to find the design apt, especially considering the emotional cripples it housed.

The change of name had consolidated the college's position at the head of an arts and crafts revival that was currently making the blood boil of all true industrialist's. The student's work reflected the college's idyllic location in the middle of the West Country, with everybody busy making ceramic pots or whicker baskets. It was as if the Vorticist Wyndham Lewis had never blessed England in 1914 as an 'Industrial Island Machine.'

Ted blamed William Morris and his middle-class socialist followers. Ted believed that taking pleasure in an idealised rural culture was a sickening betrayal of England's status as the first Industrial nation. For the industrial librarian, true art took the form of aggression against culture, the only way to change everyday life was to alter matter at a physical level. He'd realised long ago that it was only high culture that possessed the ability to transform the fact of its disappearance into exchange value.


In addition to these crimes against inhumanity, Ted's hatred of the college was fuelled by his having been a student there, along with Alex and Kim, in the mid-1970s. Their lack of interest in rural matters set them apart from the rest of the students. The tutors, embarrassed by their inadequacies in the face of such conceptual rigour, left them well alone. Their graduation had been a formality, their teachers had been so intimidated by the sheer physical presence of the extremists that they didn't have the nerve to fail them. One of their works was to form a performance art troupe, the Excrementalists, advertising their flat as a venue open 24 hours a day. Anyone who came to see them perform was tied to a dentist's chair and forced to listen to the group denounce them. They were only allowed to leave after they had also renounced pre- and post-industrial culture. Ted's art college years had been fun but like the rest of society, they still owed him.

'Let's go through the back entrance,' Ted said as they approached the college. 'It's probably best if no one knows we're here.'

The industrial librarian reviewed his resources: a few friends, a knowledge of the college layout, and a desire for noisy destruction. His mind pondered the irreducibility of corporeal phenomena: instinct had a funny way of telling us to do things our conscious minds would never contemplate.


For the show, the building had been converted from studios and classrooms into a rabbit warren of makeshift display boards. The college authorities knew how dangerously combustible the large wooden screens were, but the money was not available to replace them. Instead they'd paid a contractor to paint the boards in fire-resistant-paint. The contractor was also suffering financial problems and fire-resistant-paint cost the earth. The cowboy firm immediately saw an opportunity to increase their profit by using ordinary emulsion. No one would know the difference and besides the possibility of a fire was minimal. However, a visit from a pyrotechnically inclined industrial librarian had not entered their calculations.

Ted turned to Alex and Kim as they toured the show.

'Our mutual desire for destruction will soon be satisfied,' he said. 'Tonight we will be striking at the heart of the arts and crafts movement, tonight we'll do our bit for urban culture.'

The stench of country life singed Ted's nostrils. Only a semi-rural post-industrial state of repressive tolerance could subsidise such silage. The sooner the crafts men and women of Exeter were on the dole the better.

'This is so depressing,' moaned Kim. 'Let's go on to the party at the Double Locks Pub and drown our sorrows in some liquid engineering.'

But Ted had other plans. He noticed the door to the student canteen had been left open by the catering firm handling the hospitality contract.

'I'm just popping in there,' Ted said pointing to the kitchen. 'Cover the entrance and don't let anyone in for a couple of minutes, then get out of here quick. I'll meet you round the back of the college on the path to the Double Locks.

'Can we do anything to help?' asked Kim.

'This'll only take me a minute,' Ted replied. 'It only takes one person to light the fuse of a second industrial revolution.'


Ted left Kim and Alex and disappeared into the darkness of the kitchen. His eyes soon adapted to the dim light. Outside the darkness was broken only by flashes of lightning; a fitting apocalyptic backdrop to the 'last degree show'. The electric blue light illuminated the stainless steel surfaces of the kitchen equipment. Ted went round turning each of the gas stove burners on. Soon the room stank of the escaping gas. Ted picked up one of the paper towels laying nearby and carried it with him to the window. He opened the window and pulled himself through. He then took a lighter from the survivalist pack in his trouser pocket and attempted to ignite the paper towel. The wind and the rain hindered him but it eventually flared into life. He threw the lighted towel into a pile of other towels just inside the kitchen. He then closed the window and ran like hell!

He didn't look round as the first explosion pounded against his back. The kitchen was located at the back of the college and at first the fire spread slowly. The visitors had been alerted to the danger by the explosion, which was fortunate because the fire alarms didn't work. The startled students and their guests had just enough time to get out and assemble in front of the college to watch the towering inferno.

Ted decided to call this particular work Exorcism of Shit. The awed crowd felt some kind of sublime terror in front of the destruction but were too blind to see the compulsive beauty before their eyes. 'But is it art?' many wondered.


Ted caught up with the others as they walked to the pub. They had observed the auto-destructive spectacle from the path and were suitably inspired.

'What a mind snap!' exclaimed Alex.

They all felt relief at the art college's demise. Its existence had been a continual reminder of their wasted youth.

The path to the pub led them through two muddy fields. The rain continued to pour as Exeter experienced its most violent thunderstorm for decades. Up ahead they saw the headlights of the flash cars belonging to the posh scum who'd assembled for the degree show. Rather than dampening the enthusiasm of the crowd, the explosive show had whipped it into a frenzy.

Why the Double Locks had become so popular, Ted found difficult to answer. It was situated a good three miles out of town on a strip of land between the canal and the River Exe. It was the most inaccessible and poorly designed pub Ted knew. Ted and his fellow TG fanatics were soaked through by the time they reached the packed and steaming bar.

'Three pints of Fosters,' Ted shouted as he caught the barman's eye.

'We're out of glasses at the moment,' replied the flustered barman.

'Well get a bucket then!' The industrial librarian was losing his temper. He lived in a consumer society and wanted to consume, what was the problem?

He was just about to explain the finer points of John Major's Citizen's Charter to the barman, when the glass collector turn up with a fresh supply. Ted scooped up the three pints of the amber nectar.

'And a pint of Bishop's Tipple,' he added.

The barman turned and pulled the extra pint. The bitter was difficult to draw and by the time he'd finished the librarian had disappeared.

'Shit!' A wall of thirsty punters confronted him, waving money, demanding drinks. He would be lynched if he tried to pursue the drink thief rather than serve the thirsty punters.

Ted did not usually go in for such petty scams but the pub's uncaring attitude to its paying customers angered him.

'Cheers,' the three esoterrorists bellowed as they raised their glasses.


The industrial librarian and his friends stood back and surveyed the scene. People were gesturing and shouting. Ted didn't know what they were saying and didn't care. He was looking for something new, something different. He relaxed and let his eyes drift out of focus. The scene became a blur and he retreated into his subconscious. The sound of the crowd became dull and Ted began to experience inner piece. With his ego separated from his id, he swam amongst the crowd, drawing on the energy the group dynamics were generating. Ted probed the throng and waited.

Ted came back to reality with a jolt. His eyes and mind instantly focused on a girl three tables away. She turned round slowly and Death smiled. The industrial librarian did not look away, instead he absorbed her penetrating stare. What was she seeing; salvation or annihilation?

The girl eventually looked away. Ted felt uneasy. He'd got this far in life by persuasion, when he could no longer convince people to do his bidding he was dead.

'I'm just going out for some air,' the disturbed librarian told Alex and Kim.

Ted was having doubts about his scheme. TG had not been an ordinary group, maybe he was unleashing something beyond his control.

Ted sat in the rain on the river bank, staring at the angry water. His drenched cropped hair clung to his fevered skull like a helmet. The girl from the pub approached him from behind.

'Let's fuck,' she whispered into his ear.

Upon hearing these words the industrial librarian instantly dismissed his melancholy thoughts. He held the girl's hand as she led him away from the lights and noise of the public house to a spot further down the river bank. Sheets of rain pounded the earth as the river rushed maniacally on its way to the sea. The two nymphomaniacs quickly undressed. The raging torrent, mud and storm provided a ideal setting for the dirty fuckers.

The lightning flashes periodically illuminated the girl's pale skin. Her brown nipples stood out like ciphers and Ted had no difficulty interpreting their meaning. The rain acted as a lubricant as their bulks collided and rubbed frantically together. They did not feel the cold, just a liquid warmth as their bodies were united and became one. His balls slapped against her ass, churning up and mingling with the rain, mud and love juice. As they approached orgasm, Ted suddenly realised that he was sliding down the bank toward the river. Soon, his feet were in the water. The overwhelming feeling of jouissance, however, blocked out anything he could do to stop what now seemed inevitable. Ted felt the current tugging at his legs. If he could only hold on for just a couple more thrusts

As he came Ted's world shrunk to a point of pure light. He was unaware of the water that surrounded him. The white noise of the raging river engulfed him as he shouted:

'EE-AH-OH, the mission is terminated.'

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