Breaky machines

Oops. It’s twenty to two in the morning. I was asleep and woke up when a motorbike blitzed past my window. I’m sleeping on the sofa again with Tom in my bed. He’ll be up in a few hours for an interview and I need to be as well in order to do many things. Mainly right now it’s lines. I’ll be in front of a paying audience in times of covid giving my Bottom twice on Saturday and in the current state of my lines it’ll be mostly paraphrased with tremendous confidence.

This evening I jumped in the car and shot across to The Kirkaldy Testing Centre. It’s good I’m back in London for this sort of thing. A site visit. I have no idea what I’m going to be doing there, but it’ll be something that’s partly made by me and it’ll take the history of the building into account. It’s another of those weird secrets in London – a huge building in Southwark filled with gargantuan Victorian machines. Their purpose is to test things and see if they break. There are devices for breaking chains, for flattening things, for pounding and rolling and twisting whatever you put in them. Strange inevitable metal monsters equipped with dials and gages so they can give back readings as they destroy your thing. “Waterproof up to X foot”? There’s probably a pressure tank here somewhere…

Being in there is like being in a forgotten part of the past. These destructive machines, but housed in wood and displayed alongside poems and books in a mostly forgotten huge building on a busy London main road. They recently filmed something Sherlock Holmesian here, in the stinky corridor under the street. A damp handwritten script is still there, left perhaps by one of the actors that likes to scribble things down for memory still. I get that. I can’t learn lines off a screen very easily. My brain is used to paper. As I lie here on my sofa I’m surrounded by print-outs. I think it’ll be ok. But I’ll only be ok once I’ve made it ok, and this is one of those patches where I have loads of demands on my attention. Hence why I forgot to write anything until the scream of an engine woke me into guilty realisation.

It’s an interesting place, the kirkaldy – and I’m immediately thinking about all the ways it can translate into art. Testing things to destruction? It feels like this is what has been happening to most of us this last year. All of us, grabbed in the steel pincers of one of these horrible things, crunching and twisting us through all the ups and downs of this awful global mess that seems to be going on and on. I guess the destruction wrought by the machines gives knowledge of how to protect all the other things not put into the machine. Maybe those of us who properly went through the wringer will be able to help others…

There’s a lot of thought I can bring in about these breaky machines. Mixed with Victorian parlour games and so forth. Fun. Another thing to think about certainly. Bedtime.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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