Sightings of Made In China/tip-offs for future glimpses
By A. Sortoffanof-Theirs
I have been following Made In China for several months. Not so much because I love them, I mean ok they put on these shows that aren’t so bad and all that, but more because I chanced upon the writer-one-of-them at a folk music night back in August, and I’m pretty sure he picked my pocket which was full of Halls Soothers. Later that night, in my dingy bedsit beneath the tracks at Paddington (yes you can live under there, it’s just not particularly tranquil) with a tickle in my throat and a stuff in my nose, I reached into that cavity (no, not that one; I mean my pocket) and grasped with futility at air.
The bastard writer had stolen my cough sweets.
So began a search for this elusive company of two. What follows is an account of snatched sightings over past months, and conjecture on possibly upcoming opportunities to get my own back. How? All I can say is it involves a bumper sized Olbas-oil, tweezers and a funnel. You, dear reader, do the math. s.
October 16th, 2011. I am in Lincolnshire. The land is flat like my native Holland. No Edam to speak of though. And don’t even mention windmills.
In a field by a great castle a fair is occurring. A myriad of stalls arranged in a great circle on an immaculate lawn. The castle looming above. At 2pm I sight a Canadian with sticky-uppy hair riding a bucking bronco with great aplomb. He wears a boilersuit and is spattered with porridge. I am told by my local informant that the sticky-uppy fellow is an associate of the Chinese. My informant adds as an aside that the cheeky buggers are not Chinese at all. He drove them from the local town out to the castle this morning. The Canadian one is Canadian and the hardcore members are American and (my informant spits) English. My informant then explains how he longs for the good old days of the real IRA. At 3pm, after a small amount of deliberating, I fire my informant.
At 4pm I have them in my sights: Made In China are running a stall at which they lure members of the public under their awning only to engage them in ridiculous food-based games. Typically, they have covered their trail, disguising themselves in said boiler-suits and porridge-masks, and double-naming the performance: is it Moronic Food Games? Is it Around The World Adeventure Challenge? No, it’s sheer idiocy tinged with political incorrectness.
There is too much porridge flying for me to get to close to my wheezy nemesi, and by 5pm, just as the porridge flinging abates, they are whisked away to Newark North Gate and the East Coast non-main line, by a man in be-badged top hat. I have blown my chance of catching Made In China at Home Live Art’s Alternative Village Fete (for this was reason for the non-Chinese’s foray into the badlands of the east.)
November 17th, 2011
At BAC. Weather unseasonally mild. No need for my Dutch Lama-wool thermal pants just yet (to pick up a pair visit www.lamarama.ne).
Made In China are upstairs, in the Council Chamber space, doing a workshop. With children. Who let these sweet-snatching monsters near children? What kind of world do we live in? Today will surely be carnage, I think. Like taking candy from a… –I am interrupted by the sound of faint laughter and then the sound of a giant ladder crashing to the floor. Though I am so close I can practically smell them, this is clearly no time for me to cause a stir. I mean, think of the children.
I select Michael Jackson’s Earthsong on my ipod Nano and drag myself reluctantly out onto Lavender Hill.
December 4th, 2011.
The Basement, Brighton. Here, I feel I can be as Dutch as I want. In Lincolnshire, in London, there was a sense that my inner-Nederlander must be tempered, but now, o now, he is free. More to the point, I am within spitting distance of my nemesi, the non-Chinese. I refrain from actually spitting at them because let’s face it the American is a girl and even us Dutch have standards. Also, it’s the sort of thing the non-Chinese might actually do in their shows, and I’m no hypocrite. I’m a man of substance. I pull my deerstalker down over my eyes as Made In China begin their performance at Supper Club. It is a brand new show, which they have been working on in recent weeks while I have been fruitlessly searching them out. Again, the rascals are disguised, this time in wigs of bright garish green, pink and sickly white. A new performer, presumably a decoy, is with them. She is Ira Brand, I learn, and (I nearly spit but again just manage to reign it in) a German. She is infuriatingly watchable, for a decoy.
At one point Made In China attempt to frighten me off their tracks – they must have sensed how close I am – by smashing the entire set to pieces. A shard of profiterole-sticky plate flies from the stage and embeds itself in my cheek. ‘Not to worry’, I assure the small yapping dog I have acquired during my 3 months of Made In China-stalking. ‘Not to worry, Doggerel’ (so have I wittily named him): ‘the profiteroley plate will serve only to spur me on’. At the end of the performance I am suddenly coerced into an hour-long walking-audio- tour of the local streets by a man named Ben Du Preez. Doggerel and myself have an enchanted time, but return to The Basement to find our nemesi long-gone.
January 17th, 2012
A call from a new informant sends me and trusty Doggerel scampering along The Cut, SE1, to the Young Vic. Apparently, Made In China have just submitted an Arts Council application. The give away signs, says my new informant, were a succession of fist-beating rages from the American (‘I hate budgets!’) and a corresponding series of useless attempts at placation from the Brit [‘what actually are budgets?’] in front of a laptop, followed by the swift consumption of pints of lager and humungous beefburgers. But when I arrive, all that remains of the pair is the scent of well-cooked beef mixed with artist-sweat, and a feedback form on the table left for the benefit of the restaurant staff. I just have time to see that the Brit has given everything an eager-not-to-offend 4 out of 5, while the American has suggested they improve their range of mustards, add pickles as a side order, offer at least 3 levels of cooked-ness, and smile a bit more. I feed the feedback to Doggerel, who feeds on feedback like that, and we step outside, hail a cab, off to cuddle beneath the tracks.
Speculations on future sightings:
I hear that the non-Chinese are mounting a run of We Hope That You’re Happy (Why Would We Lie?) at BAC in March. Every Bleeding Night, 6 nights a week, for 3 weeks. If that’s not the chance to unload my bumper-sized Olbas Oil into that writer-one’s face, I don’t know what is.
Ah yes, hang on, I do. They’ll be performing the same show in Cambridge, at the Junction, on 1 Feb, in double bill with the bird-loving Dan Canham. Seriously, he loves birds.
And so, dear reader, with these dates in sight, I set to polishing my funnel (no, not that one).
Please post any sightings of Made In China to: A. Sortoffanof-Theirs, New Depths, Level -1, Paddington Station, W8 2LO. Reward for tip-off resulting in successful Olbas-Oil-related revenge is one pair Marzipan Clogs (actual human size, use by Dec 2007).