Throwing a Sausage Back and Forth for Five Minutes Without Letting it Drop
He threw the sausage right at me. I caught it easily enough. As I’d predicted. Felt very greasy though, as if straight out of a Dublin Coddle. Nice to the touch, don’t get me wrong, but very slippy-slidey, as I said. It wasn’t supposed to be this elusive to the grip.
Pedro started singing and clapping just after he’d thrown it, and oh my god, it sounded nice, oh so very nice indeed. It was all going to plan. My plan. What I had to do was make sure the sausage didn’t drop to the floor while I listened to Pedro’s dulcet tones—all improvised in the heat of the sausage moment. I had to throw said sausage right back at him gently, gently though. While the sausage was flying through the air and then while it was in his hands before he threw it back at me, I had to likewise improvise on the spot and sing-a-sing-song music right back at him—and the band. When he was busy with the sausage I had to sing and when I was busy with the sausage he had to sing. Only a very gentle and soft throw of the sausage would make this performance a success. I knew that. We all did.
‘You can’t change yourself, no matter what you do,’ he sang and clapped in syncopated fashion. I threw the sausage right back at him at neck height then up, up, up it went and down slightly in the air towards his chest and into his hands. I mouth-dived in and trotted lightly with his given thread.
‘You can’t change yourself, not at all. The same old person you’ve always been, ten or twenty years ago.’
Then the band started up. This was their cue. Howie, Roberta and Millicent. Behind us on stage. A bit contrived, maybe, but the space was theirs if they wanted it. They’d have to take that space from us, the sausage throwers, themselves though, with their instruments—or voices. I wrote all the guidelines down beforehand on a very square piece of white paper, so they'd know, so everyone would know, it must hold some sort of authority.
The band thus tucked our already past-tense lyrics into their chests and instruments and their consequent improvisations tossed and turned them like pancakes in a pan and pumped them up ambidextrously robotic. Pedro caught the sausage again. He let the band play, threw it, slowly, which allowed me to catch the greasy sausage easily enough once again—for the band played on. As I said. I could almost taste the coddle I’d have afterwards. With my mind I searched the kitchen-space at home and Eureka. I reckoned that I did actually happen to have the entire makings of a coddle ready and waiting for me at home with open cupboards.
Watch the sausage though—I refocused—and Roberta’s Pussy Riot influences were now threatening to wipe away all my good intentions, she was too young, perhaps, to construct things aesthetically on the hoof just yet—she’d learn—but now she was using rough toilet paper basslines and leading Howie and Millicent away from our Can’t-Change-Yourself motif.
Her basslines threw images up onto a giant screen behind us in the auditorium and over and through our bodies in multicoloured blobs like a Pink Floyd LSD happening of yore. Bass lines that produced and flung fluently her wiped-bottom images up there for all to see with only the flying sausage obscuring their view up on the full screen slightly every now and then as Pedro and I continually threw it back and forth between us.
The sausage was a bog-standard pork sausage which may have prevented it going as far as it could have. Roberta’s basslines didn’t seem to be connected to anything Pedro or I had sung out loud and clapped along to while maintaining the back and forth motion of the sausage. Because up there on the bassline inflected big-screen was Gerry Adams with a finger covered in blood. His index finger. Human blood it was. We could almost taste the smell. Would I enjoy a coddle after this? Gerry’s bloody finger? No. But yes, I would. Definitely. Then beside Gerry on the screen behind our heads appeared Osama Bin Laden with four fingers of one hand covered in blood.
The smell was tart in our nostrils. Gerry beside Osama onscreen held in place up there by Roberta’s propelling basslines, Howies’ syncopation and Millicent’s rhythmic guitar patterns and shapes nicely blended. One finger Gerry. Four fingers Osama.
Roberta probed onwards into the wild west like an unrepentant American cowboy scalping to her heart’s content. Tony Blair then appeared up onscreen and both his hands were covered with blood, all fingers and thumbs, blood which dripped down onto Pedro and I still throwing the sausage through the air between us beneath. Tony Blair’s face was completely blood-red too. He started to strip off his clothing, slowly revealing his entire body to be covered in blood from head to toenails.
Howie sprayed him with a liquid snare drum and hi-hat Burundi rhythms. But just as quickly as everyone watching had seen Tony’s flesh turn Daz and Omo white, as a result of Howie’s cleansing drumming, it coloured itself back to human blood once again with his smile nowhere to be seen for the first time in a generation.
Roberta couldn’t get her hands on anything by Pussy Riot—she was too poor to afford an internet connection. However, she told us that she heard their music in the news reports of the day, on various free television screens & newspapers around the city. It’s easy to hear them she said, just open your ears man, just open sesame and voila right up your being their punk sounds go pumping happily away, she said. But I hadn’t got time for all that nonsense. I thought I knew everything but then, just then, in that time-slot, she allowed Pedro and I to connect it all up again.
I’d just thrown the sausage, it was in the air, and I sang the chorus I think—others argued afterwards that this was the middle eight—but to me it was still the chorus, always the chorus.
‘Changing times, we all live in. Changing times but the same old skin.’
The band was right behind me loud soft loud soft loud as one together. I had planned all this, except the loud soft loud soft, loud, so I tingled with pleasure. The red Tony Blair rain stopped falling on our heads. The three men were fading in and out above and about our heads changing colours as the song ploughed onwards.
Pedro couldn’t wait to catch the sausage and throw it back at me. Gently. Gently. I thought. I willed him. Don’t make me drop the sausage when it’s flying so bloody well through the air. Please. Please. Please let me get this one thing right. Pedro please. But he looked like he was on drugs, so high, the world didn’t exist outside his own head. The sausage duly came back at me and he clapped and sang and twirled and did a few James Brown splits and back up again like an opening and closing upright pair of scissors. He watched the sausage go for me and he sang, ‘We don’t want to do it but we do it again. Again and again and again and again.’
I threw the sausage right back at him and sang, ‘Again and again and again and again.’
The band then took the light but couldn’t keep it steady. Flickers. A gasp from our audience went up which punched holes into Gerry, Osama and red Tony. Pedro had to jump up on tippy-toes and try to catch the flying sausage which had soared way too high between us just as our performance had seemingly reached its zenith.
It all seemed lost and about to be destroyed by Pedro dropping the sausage. Or I should say failing to catch the speeding sausage. All my fault for throwing it with too much vim. Roberta winked at me as if saying, ‘I’m not the only one.’ The audience knew the score. They knew that the premise was keeping the sausage flying through the air for five minutes and here it was now about to out-jump Pedro and flop to the floor.
Everyone knew that my instruction was if and when it dropped to the floor, that was the end, the full stop. Everything had to halt, otherwise whoever braved to continue musically would be forced to eat the sausage right there live on the spot in front of the entire disappointed audience. With stage sawdust, germs and hard sweat aplenty thereupon. They would have to eat it, get sick and possibly die. But Pedro was a vegetarian—it was a Linda McCartney sausage but no one knew that except me, so if he did drop it, I could ram it into his mouth guilt-free. The more likely culprit would be Roberta and her Pussy Riot notions of conformity or Howie on drums who had to finish out every time signature right to the bitter end. You couldn’t stop in the middle without the double tap and final full-stop whack as a cherry on top to bang everything to a most satisfying stand-still. You just couldn’t do it. He always thought like that. And he usually wasn’t afraid to show us either.
Howie said, sadly, that he’d eat the dropped sausage if it came to it. He wouldn’t get paid by me otherwise and he knew it. But Pedro actually managed to jump up and catch it. So the song ploughed on. The sausage flew on. The song played on. The sausage flew on. Into my words. Into Pedro’s hands. Into Pedro’s words. Into my hands. Getting better and better each time. And were people realizing just how I planned to finish it all yet? Were they? Or just tripping too high on the whole experience to even worry about a mid-twenties woman called Erica Earwig about to do that in front of them. No. NO. Pleasure comes first with this crowd and this band, my band.
We were satisfied with ourselves at this juncture. Roberta repeated her basslines from the start once again note for fucking note for all her own reasons, and it worked, the sausage still flying between us back and forth, me and Pedro happy-go-lucky in a trance repeating what had gone before. I’d gone wrong here, somehow, for repetition to proliferate and make people just passive imbibers. No challenge.
It was my fault we went into, ‘You can’t change yourself no matter what you do. You can’t change yourself not at all.’ You see we think we are ‘the’ generation but we’re not. We have all the pens in the world but they never run dry. They never run dry at all. They break alright. Stop working and you get another one. But they never run dry with the amount of work we’re never doing. It’s all passive intake and regurgitation these days still. I went through the entire secondary school system without one Bic biro ever running out of ink. Was that just me? So too Pedro. Roberto. Howie and Millicent. A thought pestilential enough to make me drop the sausage right there and then. But no, I didn’t, so don’t fret, you rubbery, little-faced person of good taste. My darling too. I didn’t drop the sausage. It still flew through the Nite Club air and we repeated musically and lyrically once again what had gone twice before.
‘The same old person you’ve always been. Ten or twenty years ago. Changing times we all live in. Changing times but the same old skin. You don’t want to do it but you do it again. Again and again and again and again.’
The audience’s interest heightened and they clapped in our faces when we played and sang it twice through. We kept the sausage going. The second time they expected more variation but thought well maybe this is just about to get more interesting, it might just explode soon—but not in our faces. So they flicked out their boredom and hinged in closer to our stage. Then we went in for the third time. Our playing getting better, believe you me, real artisans us all now but playing the same thing for the third fucking time. Getting very near the truth.
There was great confidence in me and Pedro’s execution of the lyrics—a polish on top of the previously rough surfaces. But during that third time through the same musical sequence the audience copped on that despite the flying sausage this was stupid, absurd even and why are we here? And they got ready to leave.
But then we went into it an unbelievable fourth time and click-click-click it turned into art before their very eyes. We knew it. They knew it. The world knew it. Lives would be changed forever afterwards as a result. If we got to the end of the five minutes. A done deal. Unforgettable. Tears. This, us, the audience too, would be sold at auction for millions within the year if the sausage kept flying and kept ploughing on towards the end, the full five minutes without falling. As advertised. Soon. If we continued on to the summit. Damien Hirst: eat your gold-plated skull out.
However, the audience shook, flinched and rocked in distress when our allotted time was nearly up—just five seconds to go—and everyone watched the sausage flop to the floor. Everything stopped. I'd lost concentration.
People were stupidly afraid to clap now in case it ruined the moment of their lives. Because it wasn’t going to come now, was it? The moment of their lives.
I said I was going to do it—or inside my head I'd said it—and I would do it. I had to be brave.
I held the sausage aloft like communion and bit into it. With three bites it was gone into my stomach. Lovely, despite the sweat and the sawdust. You can’t tell the difference between a vegetarian sausage and a real sausage these days. The taste is so similar or so they say. And at that moment I agreed with them whole-heartedly. I was finally ready for my coddle.
was bored and braised in Dublin, Ireland. He has had work published in The Stinging Fly, RTE Ten, Headstuff.org, The Lonely Crowd, Thoughtful Dog, Honest Ulsterman, The Cantabrigian, The Bogman’s Cannon, The Queen’s Head, Litro, Fictive Dream, Silver Streams and other such organs of literature. Recently he killed the Prime Minister of Ireland in fiction in the Welsh literary magazine, The Lonely Crowd, in a piece entitled "The Assassination of Enda Kenny" (After Hilary Mantel).