OFFSHORE GALLIVANT DIALOGUE
Gladys v/o ; One two. One two.
Voice ; BFI Tall stories production. Director Andrew Kotting and today’s date is 8th of the 11th 95.
Gladys ; no Andrew. No. I think you’re barmy (mad) doing it. Come out you’ll get frozen.
Here we are, get hold of this and pull him out.
Where is he?
He’s being silly isn’t he, as daft as they make them.
The winds blowing ninety miles an hour.
You silly bugger.
(Eden laughs throughout.)
Eden; Papa likes being in the sea.
Always has done.
But not Gladys.
She was my Big Granny.
Michael Oram ; Hello
Andrew ; Hi Michael its Andrew kotting. So what’s the news today then?
Michael ; the choice is yours really. The forecast for tomorrow is right on the sort of weather you want to or whether you’ll not want to. I mean its up to you. It’s 3 to 4 going northerly 4 to 5 and rain in the morning.
Eden ; Papa found a boat to cross the channel. It was called Gallivant.
Andrew ; Hello is that Ian.
Sean ; No it’s Sean here the vice captain.
Andrew ; I’d rather talk to Ian please first.
Sean ; Well it’s the vice captain.
Andrew ; Are you still the vice captain?
Sean ; Yes
Andrew ; OK well the news is that we have to make the decision whether to go or not.
Sean ; Shall I put that to the team?
Andrew ; Yea
Sean ; Team…. Read out the actual weather report.
Andrew : Repeat after me, it’s 3 to 4, 4 to 5…
Sean : ok when’s that. What times that?
Andrew ; 3 to 4, 4 to 5 is 4 o’clock this morning through to midday.
Sean ; so from 4 o’clock this morning through to midday it’s 3 to 4, 4 to 5 with a south easterly?
Andrew ; south easterly with a north westerly building up.
Sean ; with a north westerly building up and then from midday it goes?
Andrew ; it goes 4 to 5 south easterly turning into a north westerly stronger at bearing 5
Sean ; Ok so from midday it goes 4 to 5 south easterly bearing north westerly errr … with errr loads of turds on the left
Voice ; and that the small egg shaped objects in the sack are called testicles.
Voice ; fuck me I bet they’re freezing their bollocks off!
Voice ; we thank you for your attention.
Voice ; you have a new message waiting for you
Janni ; Hi Andrew I don’t know what’s going on but err could you just ring me and let me know about that? Bye.
Voice ; we thankyou for your attention and hope that you enjoy the crossing
Voice ; meaning
Voice ; sillyness
Voice ; grotesque
Voice ; Dennis Compton
Voice ; birds
Voice ; feathers
Voice ; sub aqua
Voice ; lungs
Voice ; cliffs
Voice ; dover
Gladys ; it’s a long way down to the sea
Eden ; yea
Eden ; hello. Papa starts the swim he is the oldest. Hello Papa. Everybody swims for an hour.
Alison ; if I put in there it’s going to come off
Michael ; put it through the little hole, there’s a little hole. See
Alison ; the little one
Michael ; Don’t worry he’s got no sense and no feeling. So don’t worry about it.
Andrew ; be as rough as you like Alison – I don’t even know what you’re doing
Alison ; ok then. Sorted
Andrew ; say that again
Alison ; I’ll undo this
Michael ; Let’s get you round there first. Round the other side
Voice ; get lost
Voice ; when are you leaving jock?
Voice ; half an hour
Michael ; right when you’re ready
Voice ; go
Joey ; on your marks
Voice ; hang on not yet, not yet. Wait.
Mark ; You’ll get us disqualified
Gladys ; look at daddy look, look at daddy then
Mark ; Allons y
Voice ; faster
Andrew ; something like that? Is that all right? Is that ok?
Voice ; you’ve finished.
Voice ; do you want to start again?
Voice ; twenty seconds
Voice ; keep swimming
Iain Sinclair ; This was a very curious voyage. This was a real ship of fools somewhere between England and France with one odd element because on a ship of fools all the fools stay with the ship and in this case they all jump overboard. It’s as if they’re abandoning the only thing that could keep them alive. A very strange business. And when they’re in the sea they try to swallow it and when they’re back on the ship they regurgitate endlessly. It’s as if speech bubbles had turned into dirty water
Andrew ; it’s really very hard to hear anything at all.
Michael ; team meeting you lot. I don’t think you’re up to swimming today.
Andrew ; right
Michael ; it’s entirely up to you but he’s already doing breast stroke, you can’t stay with the boat with this wind and you’re doing such a slow speed you’re looking at over 20 hours.
Andrew ; oh right
Michael ; and he’s not coping already. He’s only been in the water 5 minutes and he’s doing breast stroke. It’s up to you but if you’re going to swim you need to know what you’re up against and you need to understand that you’ve done about a mkile and a bit and if you’re the best … (laughs)
Andrew ; well it’s choppy. It’s choppy
Michael ; it is a bit breezy . you can carry on if you want , it’s just crunch time and I think you’re not up to it.
Andrew ; I think we should carry on
Michael ; all right it’s up to you then
Andrew ; if it takes twenty hours it takes twenty hours
Voice ; god we don’t like to complain but there’s the cold and the dark
Iain Sinclair ; and they’re all half blind and they’re all half crazed and the only person who seems to make any sense is this Captain Ahab figure who keeps telling them that it’s all doomed and they’re all going to fail and they’ll never get there but they persist.
Voice singing ; What shall we do with the drunken sailor early in the morning
What shall we do with the drunken sailor early in the morning
Gladys ; all I worry about is you people and whether you’re all right or anything like that.
Voice singing ; Hooray and up she rises, hooray and up she rises
hooray and up she rises
Voice ; you watch the boats when they go out, just there, well you can see them from here, you’ll see a white on the waves. See it coming round on there?
Voice singing ; Early in the morning
Gladys ; we’re going. Hold on tight.
Gladys ; water is the worst thing that you can ever have. Fire you can fight but water you cannot. Eventually the sea is going to well err kill itself, isn’t it? Who’s going to pay for this telephone call?
Voice ; some times there’s a continuous sheet of cloud, it looks gloomy but it doesn’t rain.
Iain Sinclair ; they needed this Cartesian proof that this element is negotiable and therefore they do it, and it’s called Gallivant and it’s first a film and then it’s a boat and the film has two extraordinary presences in a grandmother called Gladys, who’s a voice and a child called Eden who is like a kind of magic bird twittering away, and she’s the one who’s left in the end to carry the story as she sits, she doesn’t go on the voyage – you can’t have women in boats because they’re as unlucky as rabbits. You must never have them. So it’s just left to this strange bunch of men. Who keep leaving and coming back leaving and coming back and none of it makes any sense.
Gladys ; I can’t swim but I can bugger around in the water
Eden ; testing testing testing testing
Eden ; everybody is very sick on the boat.
Gladys ; what shall we do with the drunken sailor? what shall we do with the drunken sailor? Push him over the sea. We’ll push him over the sea.
Voice ; this was a magic moment for all of us.
Gladys ; clap clap clap clap
Mark ; I really didn’t want to get out. I didn’t want to get out of the water. I thought oh no and as soon as I got out I was sick again and that whole feeling … because you knew you were going to be sick you might as well do it in the water rather than get out and then lean over you know. So yeah it was all sickness, sickness and sea for me.
Gladys ; the words I said was what have they done to deserve that?
Iain Sinclair ; and it was such a surprise when this bird finally appears out of nowhere . it’s like after the flood with Noah when suddenly a bird announces the fact that there is land somewhere.
Gladys ; shanny (type of bird)
Voice ; oyster catcher
Gladys ; oster catcher
Voice ; kitty hawk
Gladys ; sandpie
Voice ; it’s a yellow warbler beside it’s nest in the tress
Iain Sinclair ; you don’t know who they are. One of them has a Russian unorthodox beard and looks like a priest, one of them claims to be a taxi driver , one of them may be an artist or film maker they’re all separate, they’re all very solitary, they’re melancholy. It looks like a sheer fact of the sea.
Gladys ; The sea? Here it comes. Yea here comes the big sea . Look here it comes. Look
Gladys ; you’re a man aren’t you but you don’t know much about boats.
Voice ; at the back of them is a super tanker. A super tanker were a big thing. There was this nuclear submarine and then you realise how big a super tanker is.
Gladys ; here comes a big one.
Gladys ; I said I wouldn’t have thought if he could swim he would have killed himself. Would you have thought so?
Eden ; they still can’t see the French coastline yet.
Gladys ; here it comes. Hold your head still or else it will fall off.
Gladys ; yea the next big one, here it comes look.
Gladys ; put your tongue in. shut your mouth. That’s it.
Voice ; your mouth is open very wide, you should always put your hand in front lest people see inside.
Sean ; seeing super tankers in the same water as you is quite scary I remember. I remember the whole thing was quite frightening.
Gladys ; oh you’re not English and we can’t understand you. No he threw himself over.
Michael ; you need to swim alongside the boat, to stay with the boat, the boat doesn’t follow you.
Andrew ; right right
Michael ; we’re already too far that way because we were following you.
Andrew ; you want to be over there?
Michael ; well we should be over there but I have to follow the swimmer , you see if I lose sight of you.
Andrew ; right
Michael ; so it’s up to you to stay with the boat.
Joey ; a strong memory is of just looking out through the water and thinking fuck I am going to die
Voice ; slow slow loathed to go, hope holds up its head.
Gladys ; get your finger out of the way
Voice ; and if you took a piece of wet string you’d get an even longer distance, in fact it would boil down to the question of how long is a piece of string
Andrew ; (Sings) a sailor went to sea sea sea , to see what he could see see see and all that he could see see see was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea.
Voice ; god you in your well lighted sky watching the meteors whiz
Sean ; What the fuck am I doing this for and then calming down, so I had a little panic and then calmed down and got on with the swimming
Gladys ; is it worth it, look, catch his death of cold.
Iain Sinclair ; and my role in this was to notice and to conjure a narrative out of shapelessness and as they arrive with the sun disappearing sure enough the bird lands on Cap Gris Nez announces that they’ve made it and that this impossible voyage has some sort of conclusion and that England and France are connectable.
Gladys ; yea here they come, here they come here they come clap them
(Cheering and wohaaaing)
Gladys ; yes I’m going to clap you for that, clap them
Voice ; he sees lost of fish swimming in the water.
Gladys ; (singing) I do like to be beside the sea side, I do like to be beside the sea, beside the sea, beside the sea, beside the sea side, beside the sea
Gladys ; god!
Gladys ; don’t tell me you’ve been recording all that else I’ll strangle you
16 mm Bolex
Gallivant boat team
Michael Oram, Derek Carter and
Alison Streeter (Queen of the Channel)
Accordion and Voice
Film London Producer
Film London Head of Production
Funded by Arts Council England, London with the support of Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network