On Thursday 1st March 2012 I flew from Liverpool to Belfast International to be met at the airport by Spurs-supporting Micky. Driving me the 45-minutes north east through the Glens and the highest town in Northern Ireland, Micky chats about his time in Liverpool managing Pogue Mahones on Seel Street, explaining how he became involved with Bill and the Tower and how some of his fellow villagers resent it as 'a symbol of British imperialism'.
Over the next twenty-four hours I would meet Micky's brother and fellow 'flesher' (butcher), the Radiohead-loving Zippy (email is "fitter happier"), be given the keys to the tower, shown the two tape decks that we struggle a bit to operate and spend time around Cushendall, albeit with a head-fxxxing flu. Static's Paul Sullivan has removed thirteen years worth of residency artworks and damned them to the Tower's dungeon. I inbolted the dungeon door and entered, sitting in there with laptop, starting a text for Stimulus Respond, pondering the utter pointlessness of making art and the pointlessness of not making art.
I wandered the beach, Micky's words ringing in my ears 'you're nearer Kintyre than Belfast' and my singing voice, rusty since duetting with Dougie on 'Trail of the Lonesome Pine' back in 1976, sings McCartney's 'Mull of Kintyre' into the blistering wind. The wind refused the words and blew them right back. I took a copy of my '44' CD 'Adventures in numb4rland', fresh from the pressing plant, and left one on the shelf, my homage to Drummond's '45'. My flu gets worse but I chat to the librarian - she looks extremely puzzled when I ask for any literature about the Tower - and the Tourist Information (she also finds it hard to believe I am interested in the Tower). She phones for the bus times out of Cushendall and I smile when I hear her saying '1.45'. I chat to the Senior Butcher who recommends Jimmy Joes, but with that not opening until 8pm, I have a chaser and a pint in the old man's Central Bar. I mean, really old men.
I write and I write and I record the sound of a young man looking 'for the fucking restaurant' just outside the dungeon. I edit the sound and browse the shelves and art-free walls. The one-handed clock, the registration plate, the 'redrum' and hand-print on the bathroom wall, the 'take me home' red text on the top floor window, the closed hatch that leads to the Bell that was rung every night at 9pm, curfew time.
I sit in the kitchen, the Bunnymen-Teardrops poster on the ceiling and the Big Log Book. How dare some artist from Birmingham rip out three pages. In April 2001, John wrote in it: 'surrounded by Foot & Mouth, after five days we concluded that the Tower is peculiarly irish, and the Irish are great writers. Shouldn't we be writing here?' I turn to the next blank page and only write a tiny '44'. Ask me why but don't ask me why.
I ask the Senior Butcher why the Tower was built. His face says he has never considered this question. The elephant in the room. Zippy talks about how he got involved, of the person from Cushendall who saw a woman looking at a map and she turned out to be S. Bin Astrid trying to get to the Tower and she ended up on my 'Revolution' CD. Built by Francis Turnly in 1817, the Tower is the fireplace in the middle of this cross-shaped village. I say to Zippy that the locals must always know when an artist is in residence and he wisely nods and adds 'yeah, especially when they shut one of the curtains'. Forgoing the offer of a lift, I find a bus to Ballymena for a bus to Antrim for a bus to the airport.
More to follow, in Stimulus Respond and in the audio file entitled Alan Dunn sings Douglas Gordon singing Bas Jan Ader singing The Velvet Underground singing Chris Watson singing Alec Finlay singing Clive Powell singing Maria Jardardottir singing Paul McCartney singing Susan Philipsz singing Denny Laine singing Zippy singing Radiohead singing Pogue Mahones singing Uncle Rab singing Ailís Ní Ríain singing Pendle Witches singing Paul Sullivan singing Bill Drummond singing 45