Pleased as Punch by Mark Kelly

 In Pleased as Punch by Mark Kelly, a Punch & Judy show comes to life in the dying light of day. A comic tragedy. Unreliable narrators. An undeniable punchline. The joke is on us. A book unlike any other book which claims to be unlike any other. Also includes “Exhibit A”, a short essay on culture and the “free” market. This project was made possible with Lottery funding from Arts Council England.
 

The three opening sections of  ” Pleased  As  Punch ” :


Prologue.

In the beginning, the word :

“Oh!”

What happened next and next, was a bumpy evolution of  beauty and logic
and a lumpy confusion of beauticians and logicians.

No like is the same.

One world wrapped in a shifting blanket of swirling gases.
Half of the sky covered by clouds : the shape of Australia, the face of a gargoyle.
The cover which saved Kokura and sent a thousand suns to bake Nagasaki.

It rains on us all, living or dead, hollows changed into puddles, soil into mud,
the earth’s dirty washing hung up and strung out, disturbing the depths
to which we have sunk….

A finger tip. A fist. A twisted arm.
Matted hair. Eyes staring, seeing nothing.
Limbs akimbo. Identity in limbo. A man abolished.

Truth will be told, flaking away as flesh from bone.

In the end, a second opinion :

“Oh, shit!”                                                                    

Another  Prologue.

” When he went to the door and asked, ‘Are you there?’ to a person supposed to be
  in the passage, the answer in the unusual voice was immediately ascribed by the audience
  to a person actually in the passage ; and upon shutting the door and withdrawing from it,
  when he turned round, directing his voice to the door, and said, ‘Stay there till I call you’.
  The answer, which was lower, and well-adapted to the supposed distance and obstacle
  interposed, appeared still more strikingly to be out of the room. He then looked up to
  the ceiling, and called out in his own voice, ‘What are you doing above? – Do you intend
  to come down?’ to which an immediate answer was given, which seemed to be in the
  room above. “I am coming down directly.’ …. Other scenes which were to follow
  required the imagination to be too completely misled to admit of the actor being seen.
  He went behind a folding screen in one corner of the room, when he counterfeited the
  knocking at a door. One person called from within, and was answered by a different
  person from without, who was admitted ; and we found, from the conversation of the
  parties, that the latter was in pain, and desirous of having a tooth extracted. The dialogue,
  and all the particulars of the operation that followed, would require a long discourse,
  if I were to attempt to describe them to the reader. The imitation of the natural and
  modulated voices of the operator, encouraging, soothing, and talking with his patient,
  the confusion, terror, and apprehension of the sufferer, the inarticulate noise produced
  by the chairs and apparatus, upon the whole, constituted a mass of sounds which
  produced a strange but comic effect. Loose observers would not have hesitated to
  assert that they heard more than one voice at a time ; and although this certainly could
  not be the case, and it did not appear so to me, yet the transitions were so instantaneous,
  without the least pause between, that the notion might be very easily generated.
  The removal of the screen satisfied the spectators that one performer had effected
  the whole. ”

  from :  ‘Account of the Performances of Different Ventriloquists,
             with Observations on the Art of Ventriloquism’
             – Edinburgh Journal of Science, (1828).

A Third and Final Prologue.

Exploding – Bottle Opener                1.20p
Exploding – Chewing Gum                1.20p
Exploding – Cigarette                         1.40p
Exploding – Coins                              1.20p
Exploding – Golf Ball                          1.99p
Exploding – Hand Shaker                  1.25p
Exploding – Money                            1.25p
Exploding – Pen                                  1.20p
Exploding – Soap                                1.20p
Exploding – Toilet Seat                      0.50p
Exploding – Bomb                               2.75p

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