HONK review by Kevin Boniface

HONK, Contents May Vary, Bates Mill, Huddersfield. Friday 21st November 6-8pm

It was wet, dark and very cold. The white Citroën Relay was parked outside Bates Mill and a man in a baseball cap and hooded top was sat smoking a roll-up in the front load space. He asked me whether I’d like to buy a watch. I said I wouldn’t. He said he had these watches; “made in Iran and hand-stolen by the tribes of Liverpool”. He got out of the van and showed me the “iced-out” gold watch on his wrist. He enthused. He seemed confident I’d appreciate its qualities and be keen to have one for myself. He said “200 quids worth - yours for a tenner - come on mate, I can’t say fairer than that” etc etc and so forth.

He was shivering from cold.

“Why don’t we try one on you? Here...” and before I’d had chance to refuse he’d reached into the van and begun to wrap a watch around my wrist; “there you go mate”, he pulled hard on his cigarette, “beautiful isn’t it?” He held up my wrist to the light of a street lamp for me to admire. As his foggy smoke breath dissipated, I looked at my wrist and, in the orange glow, I saw the watch - made from corrugated cardboard with a hand painted dial of Tippex; it was twenty-five-past-one.

A tall man passed by and asked us for directions to “the show” in a Dutch accent. I said I didn’t know but the hoody man pointed him around the corner. The Dutch man thanked him and set off, only to be distracted by a group of half a dozen or so people in woollen hats and overcoats clustered round the back doors of the van. The Dutch man went over to join them, I followed him. An animated film called Brown Paper Bag Box was being projected onto the rear bulkhead of the white van’s interior. The brown paper bag in the film twitched and crumpled as though there was something inside, weary and confused by its confinement. It was trying to fight its way out; a couple of lame kicks and a punch and then apathy set in for a few seconds before another half-arsed attempt and so on and on and on. A man with waist-length dreadlocks asked “How long does this go on for?” and somebody said “fifteen hours”.

I went round to the front of the van the hoody man blagged a cigarette paper from me as I passed.

I looked in at the cab of the van. It was brightly lit by three cheap LED cupboard strip-lights. Scattered about the front seats were a dozen or so paper “take-out” coffee cups with plastic lids. Each cup had been expertly decorated in old Biro with press-shots copied from newspapers - Agyness Deyn, Max Mosley, Jay-Z etc - as though a bored old photo-realist had had another very long day on the road, looking for somewhere he could finally lay his hat again.

I made my way home, past Centrefolds - “The hottest lap-dancing club in Huddersfield”, the Mecca Casino and the enormous new church building that God has provided for The Huddersfield Christian Fellowship. At home, it was warm and dry but when I switched on the TV Gordon Ramsay and Kirstie Allsopp were preparing a classic 1970s steak Diane with a modern twist.

Kevin Boniface

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