KLF Khronicals #9: Graduation Ball, The Rites Of Mumufication, Toxteth Day Of The Dead
Vicky Pea hereby bestows her remains to The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu for the purpose of building The People’s Pyramid.
The Rites of Mumufication
August 25th 2017
Where the FUUK do I even begin? I’m currently sitting in bed, face caked in paint, utterly spent having had approximately five hours of sleep and six items of food in three days, with a seven hour train journey ahead of me tomorrow, and staring at a brick I’ve placed across the room. Despite spending several days denying the fact I’ve joined a cult to my friends, I’m pretty sure I’ve joined a cult. Prepare yourselves for the most incoherent nonsensical entry yet.
I shall start at the end.
Fucking synchronicities. My journey began with them some six weeks ago and it ended with them with the best taxi journey I’ve ever taken. I left the Invisible Wind Factory and walked back into town to catch a ride home. “So is that your usual Friday night get up?” was the first line from the drivers mouth.
“Here we go,” I thought.
“I can assure you it is most certainly not, do you mind going across the water” was about as much as I wanted to say to him, but as taxi drivers do he enquired further as we took off. I asked him if he knew the KLF. “Oh Bill and Jimmy? Yeah of course I love Bill, read all his books.” Holy fucking shit I’ve met the most cultured taxi driver in the world.
What followed was a 20 minute or so flowing conversation in which he recommend Bad Wisdom to me and I attempted to explain what had gone on for the last few days before departing with him heading back to the IWF in hopes of picking up more of the 400 to hear their stories. As he drove past me he yelled “Kick Out The Jams Motherfucker!” from the window. Legend.
Cut back to noon earlier today and I arrived at the Florrie to report to Gimpo as instructed by the card I was issued on Wednesday. On the way I had heard stories of people pushing the iconic Ice Kream Van from town to the Florrie due to ‘mechanical issues’ and it became pretty apparent this would be the large heavy object we’d be dragging.
It took a fair amount of time to figure out how we’d do this with Gimpo saying “We haven’t really thought this through” (I’ve paraphrased because I simply don’t have the skill to accurately transcribe anything that man says) as he handed us each a small length of rope that we were expected to secure to two longer lengths attached to the van as Jimmy and a mechanic attempted to get the engine up and running. There would be 23 pullers for each of the three legs of our journey totaling in 69 pullers.
Eventually we were all secured and ordered with the tallest at the front of the rope and the smallest at the back closest to the van. Once again as with yesterday’s entry I can only provide details of my own day, plenty other things were happening at this point but I had my role to deal with so that’s what your’ll be hearing about.
Next I joined the queue to get my face painted. Some people thought we were supposed to be badgers, but of course we were skulls, it being Toxteth Day Of The Dead and all. But I can’t help but think we ended up looking like a mass of pandas, which I already looked like anyway to to my medically concerning lack of sleep.
During the gap between this and being beckoned to begin the Rites Of Mumufication Tommy Calderbank aka Toxteth Tommy gave a fantastic oral history of the Florrie and its significance to the volunteers, an inspiring establishment in its own right and one I hope to visit again on many occasions, especially in regards to the new Liverpool Arts Lab currently in its early infancy.
The Rites Of Mumufication took place upstairs where the volunteers were seated in front of three large screens somewhat representative of pillars. I do not know what the space is commonly utilised for but it certainly looked like a church or place of worship which was fitting for what followed.
As expected this was another of one of those ‘you had to be there experiences’ but I will do my best. Our host Oliver gave a brief introduction. Oliver has been spectacular throughout this whole event and has enamoured himself to all of us. His works are another of which I look forward to discovering over the next few weeks as his presence and everything he did was a joy and should be applauded.
Three volunteers took to the stage in robes and triangular hats as a film was shown across the three screens to which they accompanied with a choreographed physical performance. The film, 2023 The Triptych, is abstract and centred around the pyramid that adorns the front cover of 2023. Tangerines, Vladimir Putin, Starbucks cups altered to show the image of Yoko Ono, an ‘all seeing’ eye, war, bombs, images of destruction, a concept called ArtWar and more were featured in the images that flickered, flashed and protruded from the screens. A bit like episode eight of the new Twin Peaks.
Following the film two individuals took to the stage an identified themselves as Undertakers, or Undertakers to the Underworld as it would soon be revealed. Our first hymn was a repetition of “Don’t be afraid, you’re already dead”. We were informed of the impact our ancestors have on us as the living but our ancestors are not just those blood relatives that have gone before us but everyone and thing that has influenced our lives.
Our ancestors are the authors, musicians, characters and artists that have ever meant anything to us as well as the people we have lost. The first people we betrayed, the first songs we loved, the dreams we gave up on and so much more. In my mind they were saying that our ancestors are simply a combination of all the experiences we’ve ever had. Anything that has shaped you to be you as you currently stand which is perfectly prudent as these things have a far greater effect than the people you’re born into.
They told us about a voodoo type spirit of death that had been passed through locations and beliefs that enjoys acid house, being talked dirty to, expensive rum and cheap cigars. There is literally zero chance of me remembering the name of said spirit right now (I’m writing this at 3.45am). We are forced to consider our own mortality as unavoidable as it is. I do this on an hourly basis anyway so no big deal.
The Undertakers, named Callender and Callender have now joined forces with Bill and Jimmy to become Callender, Callender, Cauty & Drummond Undertakers. The services that the aforementioned business would offer is that of Mumufication.
Mumufication would consist of receiving an unfired brick with Mumu engraved upon it. A brick to be displayed in our homes for the rest of our lives. That would remind us that one day the death spirit would visit us and that he would not be sending a ‘friend request’. A brick that our children would creep up to in the middle of the night, in the dark and hold in their hands. When the day the spirit visits us our deceased remains would be cremated and 23 grams of our ashes would be put into a hole in the brick which would then be fired and taken to be placed as part of the Peoples Pyramid on the annual Toxteth Day of the Dead, declared as the 23rd of November and they would remain there until the end of time. Oliver assures us this is very much real.
I’m aware this sounds all very bleak but trust me it was a lot of fun too, with more fun to follow. Callender and Callender presented with great humour and it wasn’t at all an entirely serious or morbid affair as much as the content may imply.
The first ever Toxteth Day Of The Dead begins. The second would take place on November 23rd 2018. A precession enters the room followed by two coffins. The volunteers choir take to the stage and a figure hooded and cloaked joins them. Our second hymn begins. Justified & Ancient. The hooded figure reveals himself to be Jarvis Cocker “They called me up in Sheffield Town, They said Jarvis stand by The JAMS“ and he did. The choir perform beautifully and the hymn ends with the room standing singing “All Bound for Mu Mu Land, Mu Mu Land, Mu Mu Land” as the precession then exits the room followed by all volunteers.
Outside The Great Pull North begins headed up with a banner, bagpipes and drummer. The plants collected by those with that particular role are spread across the road as The JAMS and two coffins are pulled in the Ice Kream Van by the leg one ‘pullers’. The rest of the volunteers join the procession and we’re off.
Chants of “Badger Badger Badger Kull Kull Kull”, “What the FUUK is going on”, “Toxteth Day Of The Dead” and more sporadically broke out over the course of our three mile journey. In case anyone has any illusions that The JAMS and their collaborators had cleared any of this with Liverpool Council, I can assure you first hand they did not. We were in charge of our route, holding up traffic, running red lights and generally causing the best kind of mischief on the roads of Liverpool all the while relying on Gimpo to keep things progressing.
We were attracting quite a lot of attention and it wasn’t long until we encountered the police for the first time. A friend of mine who was given a hi-vis jacket and tasked with ensuring no one got run over was beckoned by the police to their car. They asked him what was going on and if they had permission. He played ignorant and ended by telling them if they wanted to talk to the guys in charge that they were in the Ice Kream Van.
Shortly thereafter is was my turn, as a leg two ‘puller’, to take up my role. As a short arse I was positioned closest the van with my main responsibility to make sure the rope stayed taut enough that it would not end up under the van itself.
Here I was pulling a van with two old bastards and a couple of coffins in and I loved every minute of it. Our leg took the van straight down The Strand, the main road in Liverpool adjacent to the river. It went pretty smoothly all in all, I even managed to crack a beer open as we dragged the van under an arch, onto the sidewalk and before getting ourselves back onto the road itself.
From the few glances I took over my shoulder Bill and Jimmy seemed to be enjoying the whole thing, alternating between playing the siren and honking along to our chants which at one point broke out into a rendition of When The Saints Go Marching In.
We handed the pulling over to leg three at the end of The Strand and that when the real fun started. A police van had decided to pull up and begin to block us off. Gimpo and a handful of loyal volunteers took it upon themselves to get behind the police van and push it along refusing to allow it to slow our progress. When it became too tough to combat the breaks a group ran ahead and planted themselves in front of the van to halt their attempted buzzkill. Somehow I ended up in this group. Standing in the middle of a road being nudged in the knees by a Police van. They quickly gave up, gave way and let the procession pass, following themselves from a distance and we reached our destination.
We entered Clarence Dock opposite the Invisible Wind Factory where the Pyre awaited us. An impressive 23 foot wooden pyramid with torch bearers at the ready. The JAMS adorned their horns and retrieved their torches. The coffins were placed on the Pyre and then for 20 seconds I literally thought we were about to witness a human sacrifice. Oliver, who has looked sharp as fuuk in a suit all week ripped off his jacket and shirt and painted Mu onto his chest, parading around the Pyre with a megaphone chanting “All bound for Mu Mu Land”. Jesus Christ I thought, what the hell am I about to see. Thankfully Oliver is still with us and did not throw himself onto the fire that was lit by The JAMS. We stood in the warmth of the Pyre and watched it slowly crumble.
Oliver was right in saying Mumufication was very much real. The bricks had arrived and we now had the chance to sign up. By signing up we would receive our brick, provide our details and offer part of our remains when the time came to help build the People’s Pyramid.
As if the tattoo wasn’t enough I now have to explain to my Mum tomorrow that I’ve got a bloody brick to be buried in. On the other hand I have essentially saved my future family thousands of pounds in funeral costs.
You’re probably very confused at this stage. For more details I suggest you visit www.mumufication.com, the website for the services of Callender, Callender, Cauty & Drummond Undertakers.
I have an awful lot to say on this matter but now, at 4.48am, is not the time for it. I will follow up in a future entry. I’ll just keep this journal to the facts of the day an leave my interpretation of them for another as I envisage it being rather lengthy.
It was now time to graduate and become witness to the first live performance of Badger Kull who would take to the stage at midnight to perform their one and only song Toxteth Day Of The Dead. I’m still unsure of how the Badger Kull element of the three days connects to the rest of the events but I’m becoming more and more convinced that it is just a massive piss take of the music industry as I mentioned in a previous post.
Last time I checked, which was before the three days kicked off, the Graduation Ball had not sold out, after all most of the people who wanted to attend were already getting in as volunteers. I am unsure if it ever did sell out but the Invisible Wind Factory was certainly packed this evening for the show so I wouldn’t be surprised if it had.
As the 400 volunteers enjoyed a bloody well deserved drink and a dance the room filled with… ‘norms’. People who had no inclination of what we had been through or indeed what the FUUK was going on. They had paid to be here and ultimately paid to watch a 3 minute song consisting of four bass players playing the same one note and occasionally singing Toxteth Day Of The Dead (no offence to DJ Food and Greg Wilson who were both absolutely killing it with their sets, even if I did walk in to a Smiths song). If that isn’t hilarious I don’t know what is. It was easy to spot the volunteers from the ‘norms’ even without the face paint as we all went wild for the band whilst they looked totally bemused. Is this what they had made the journey for?
Many of them may have decided to come to the show because of the hype created by the Badger Kull hardcore fans and social media content. It was like the ultimate lesson in not believing the hype and climbing onto a bandwagon in my eyes. Another idea I’ll expand upon further at a future date.
The JAMS took up a spot away from the stage to offer us our Graduation Certificates, resulting in yet another moment of surrealism for me this week. Surrounded from all sides by volunteers and signing and issuing as quickly as possible Jimmy signed by certificate before handing it to Bill who did the same, as I turned to leave and get out of the way of the dozens of other volunteers Bill tapped me on the arm and offered me a handshake.
My week started with me being too nervous to offer a handshake of my own at the book stamping, instead spurting out some rubbish, and here it was ending by receiving one. For what reason I do not know. It may not mean a lot to you, but it’s one of those things that will keep me up for days (along with everything else). I’ve been brainwashed to find meaning in everything after all though my obsessive fast track education. Whatever the reason, thanks Bill, it’s been a pleasure!
I still have so much I want to say about the events of the last three days. The reason I haven’t been sleeping isn’t all because of the late finishes and early starts but because my mind has been racing. Every time I put my head to my pillow I think of what has happened and how I want to interpret it.
I will take this as a positive because although I needed it to be over, I’m sad it’s over. Knowing I have at least one more journal entry in me gives me a little something to hold on to, a permission to let myself think about it for a little longer. I’ll let the events stew for a few days and see what I come up with.
Lastly thank you to all the readers who have joined me on my journey, you’re all far too kind! I hope you can stick around for the next one and the first that I would have had time to fully consider.
5.57am, signing out from the newly tagged Badger Kull laptop.
To follow Vicky’s KLF experience between entries and bug her loads follow her on Twitter and Instagram @vxpeax
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