One Song For You

the notes I wrote on hollow walls

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What is Love, Anyway?

Yesterday I went through to Edinburgh to see Richard Herring's latest show, What is Love, Anyway? and to catch up with a few friends.

This morning, I woke up with a heart shaped balloon hovering over my bed:

Given that the stated aim of Herring’s new set is to destroy love before it destroys him, I found myself wondering if this was love’s way of taking revenge on me. Was I going to experience Prisoner style trauma at the hands of this helium powered monster, or would I just turn over and go back to sleep? [1]

It seems to me that this incident echoes nicely with the theme of Herring’s show, which starts from the basis that love is just our daft way of contextualising a freak series of occurrences and chemical reactions and then builds up a powerful argument for the existence of love anyway.

Of course, Herring being Herring, he also chastises parents for failing to take care of their sexual excrement (or "sexcrement"), invites the audience to imagine an absurdly dystopian scenario that’s quite literally built out of Ferrero Rocher pyramids, and performs a routine about his one hundred-year-old grandmother that manages to be both close to the bone and genuinely moving at the same time. [2] Somehow, Herring manages to structure all of this so that it end up underlining his point - that the absurdity of our romantic ideals doesn’t undercut the (irrational) power of love.

It’s worth noting that What is Love, Anyway? is a lot more poetic than I’m making it sound here. If you’re familiar with Herring’s work, it’s closer to The Headmaster’s Son than to ménage à un. If you’re not familiar with his work, then there are plenty of crude jokes in this set, but there are also passages of unashamed lyricism that succeed without pratfalls or punchlines. [3]

Still, you might reasonably be asking yourself by this point what all of this has to do with a pink loveheart balloon, and nothing and everything would be the only honest answer!

The balloon obviously isn’t an agent of love, out to destroy a sleepy blogger for his dubious taste in comedy, but that doesn’t mean that this novelty hen-night leftover doesn’t have any significance for me. I’ve spent a lot of the past month wiped out with an infection that just wouldn’t fuck off, and this balloon has been floating around my room the whole time, watching over me while I tried to sleep through headache and fever like a cheap knock-off version of Barbelith

This is just another delusion, of course, but the balloon was left there by my girlfriend Karen, so it’s become an ever-present reminder of the care she has been lavishing on me on a daily basis. [4]  When I saw it hovering over me all sinister like this morning I couldn’t help but laugh at how easily this silly symbol of affection had transformed into its opposite.  The only meaning it has is the meaning I’ve allowed myself to attach to it, and if this seems startlingly obvious to you then it wouldn’t have felt that way to me while I was in the grip of the fever!

Of course, the damned thing could burst or deflate at any moment, but hey - that’s just how it is with love. [5]



[1] Reading over this, I can almost hear Big Ghost slagging me off: “Son’s living in fear of a loveheart b! If you beat the shit out of this emotional motherfucker his bruises is probably going to come up designed by Cath Kidston yo!” and so on. Ah well, what can I say - I’m not worried about being dubbed The Softest Blogger in the Game.

[2] Despite what you might of heard, this Terribly Manful Mindless definitely didn’t need to choke back a tear at the end of this climactic routine.

[3] Herring’s the kind of comedian who can use a "Give Me Head Until I’m Dead" t-shirt as the jump-off point for a philosophical discussion about the nature of heaven, which is to say, he’s my sort of guy.

[4] Softest. Blogger. In. The. Game.

[5] If the balloon drifts down and smothers me in my sleep tonight, can one of you please report its actions to the police as soon as possible?  Despite what I said above, that fucking thing definitely is out to get me. I just haven’t found a way to prove it yet is all…

Filed under Barbelith Edinburgh Fringe Richard Herring What is Love Anyway? Who Is Number One? You Are Number Six Unavailable Light

  1. mondoghosto reblogged this from illogicalvolume