Darren Allen and William Barker Interview
Honest sat down with Darren Allen (r) and William Barker (l) to discuss escapades with the Queen, new year ambitions, and the renowned trustworthiness of carrots.
What animal attribute, power or feature would you like to have?
Darren: Well I think I’d have a giraffe’s neck. Not all the time — like this head sort of swaying about up there in the wind — but if I needed to look over a high fence or something like that. I could just sort of ‘giraffe up’.
William: Yeah, be good for picking fruit.
D: You’d have to pick it with your mouth.
W: It’d be good for changing cathedral light-bulbs.
D: Still the mouth problem though. For that I’d have to have a mobile flexible mouth as well.
W: Like a giraffe?
D: Alright, so I’ll have a retractable giraffe’s neck and mouth then.
W: I think, for me, maybe the talons of an Eagle. I’d use them for cooking. If you’re cooking minced beef, it’s all sort of lumpy, so with talons, I’d scratch around, make it all lovely.
W: It would be perfect for gardening actually.
Do you have a garden?
W: Well no, but if I wanted to get a job as a gardener, it would be an added extra that I could include.
D: Gardener wanted; must have own talons. You’d walk that.
W: There are loads of gardening jobs you could use talons for. Not just for weeding, for creating little furrows.
W: That too.
“There are loads of gardening jobs you could use talons for. Not just for weeding, for creating little furrows.”
The way people react after dropping a plate of food they have lovingly prepared reveals a lot about their nature. What’s your reaction?
W: I think it’s just ‘oh, dear.’ My first thing is ‘oh no,’ but then, ‘but what am I going to eat? Oh, I’ve got something else in the fridge.’
D: For me there is a touch of sorrow. Sympathy for the struggle of life, a sadness that life should be this way.
W: I find it was just meant to be.
D: Yeah, me too, but its tinged with a kind of beautiful tristesse, like a well-loved friend has died, and you can feel them warmly with you. I often well up a little bit.
If you could Skype with your 20-year-old self for ten minutes, what would you say?
D: I’d show him round the flat. I’d lord it over myself.
W: My younger self would want to know if he’s going in the right direction.
D: He’s not though is he?
W: No, I’d say, for the next twenty years you’ll be going in the wrong direction.
Since we’ve just hit the new year, is there anything you did NOT do last year that you would like to NOT do again this year?
D: I’d like to not be possessed by the devil. Let Satan into my life, or be possessed by any malevolent demon really.
W: I think for me, this year, I’ve not been the president of Poland, and I don’t want to be again next year.
D: It’s a lot of hassle.
W: It would be incredibly difficult.
D: Have you had any dark occult happenings recently?
W: Not really.
D: What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and the devil was in your room, advancing towards you in an ‘I‘m going to possess you’ way?
W: Explode. I’d blow up in the devil’s face.
“I think I would live with [the Queen] for a year in a south London squat, or some shell of a town in Essex.”
If you were given one wish, but it had to involve the Queen of England, what would it be?
W: Oh, that’s easy. I’d go on a road trip of America. Definitely. I’d want her to dress down a bit, for it not to be obvious that she is the queen. But I wouldn’t mind if people occasionally worked it out.
D: A big old road trip?
W: Yeah, motels, diners, maybe a brawl in a Louisiana bar or something.
D: I think I would live with her for a year in a south London squat, or some shell of a town in Essex.
W: Why would you do that?
D: She’d go through a profound psychological reevaluation of society wouldn’t she?
W: You’d go through all of that for a year so she could go through that?
D: Yeah, when she returned to Queendom, she’d do a lot of good.
W: Life’s too short. Wasting a year of your life with the queen in a bloody squat? No thanks.
D: You’re so selfish. Just gadding off around the states as soon as you get the chance. Have you no sense of social responsibility?
W: No, not at all.
In English it’s quite normal to say ‘Mmm’ to mean ‘I’m just thinking’. Have you ever had to shout that ? Does your loudest Mmm manage to maintain the sense of a gentle enquiry or does it start to sound aggressive?
Imagine you’re on a construction site and someone shouts over the machinery ‘do you need the spanner’ and you need to convey a hesitant uncertainty…
D: I’d switch to an ERRR!!!?
W: But remember you’ve got to include the sense of it being an enquiry.
D: You’d raise your hands and shoulders in an exaggerated way, otherwise it would look like you were having a fit.
W: Any subtlety doesn’t go well with volume.
D: Yeah, you can’t very well bellow a sweet nothing.
W: There must be some way though. Maybe into a pillow?
D: Or maybe if there was a thousand of you going ‘mmm’, that would work.
W: Oh yes.
D: If there were a thousand of you, now, here, what do you think would happen?
W: We’d be in total harmony.
D: But 999 of you would have to leave.
W: I suppose so. But would there be one original me?
D: No, all original.
W: We’d have to draw straws then.
D: Yeah, the winner would stay and 999 of you would have to make your way in the world. Do you think you’d keep in touch?
W: Er… no. There’d be nothing to say.
“I’ve killed just about everything that walks or crawled
at one time or another.”
Have you ever killed an animal?
D: Yeah. The last time was when a clutch of chicks was born slightly deformed. Not completely, not like they all came out crippled, just after a few days or weeks, they began to walk weirdly, or get pecked by the others and waste away, so I had to pull all their heads off.
W: I’ve done it myself.
D: You’ve pulled a head of a chick?
W: Oh yeah, I’ve killed all sorts of things. I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed just about everything that walks or crawled at one time or another.
D: For food though right?
W: No, no, for the sheer joy of it.
What were you before you existed? Can you describe this entity in terms of colours, smell and basic dimensions?
W: It would be about the size of a mini-bus and I think it would be a kind of plasma, something like that, multicoloured, but sort of electric threads of colour running through it, a bit like a kind of jellyfish.
D: I’m thinking more of a ten o clock Sunday morning next to an empty south coast beach, sunny, calm, late spring, bit pebbly tang of salt in the air… That, about the size of a jack-o-
W: Oh right, my mood is that its existing, somewhere in outer space, in isolation, nothing much around it.
W: Fruit of the forest.
If your entire message to mankind could be reduced to one word and that word could not be ‘Love’, what would it be?
D: Can I do a gesture or a movement?
D: I think I’d do the Lindy Charleston.
W: I think my word would be ‘flapjacks’.
The most honest being is…
D: A carrot.
D: They are so undeceptive aren’t they? Have you ever been deceived by a carrot?
W: I never know how to read them really.
D: I think they’re pretty straight up.
W: For me, I’d say maybe my calculator.
Belly Up! Part One is out now.