Can a circular journey have an end?
If, as Alan “Gimpo” Goodrich has been doing for the last 17 years, you drive around the M25 for 25 hours sometime in late March, is there a point at which you can reach a destination?
As the Spin moves on from its early days, when there was almost a convoy of cars and trucks following Gimpo, to now when there are a select few in the van, we can see the evolution of a work that's playing with the idea of a journey. The Spin is as much about time travel as it is about the trip from Top Dead Centre to Clacket Services. You see, there is an end point to this circle. But it's a date, not a destination.
Dom and I loaded up the Docomobile and headed to the coast, to interview JMR Higgs (John to his friends). He's the writer of the recent, explosively successful KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money. John's exploration of the Justified Ancients Of MuMu and their most notorious act–the burning of a million quid of their own money in a stone hut on the isolated Scottish island of Jura–includes Gimpo as he creates his first major work of art. He was the guy that filmed it. He's a fascinating character to all of us, and it was important that we meet and talk about him.
Brighton in June. Dark, lowering skies and the stink of rotten garbage on the heavy air. It's a typical English summer day, and the binmen are on strike, fighting a four grand pay cut. We set up, defying the weather, in John's neat back garden. Ringed in cameras, and with a bottle of The Official Whisky Of The End Point Of A Circle to hand, we begin our own small trip into the mind of Gimpo.
John is clear on one thing. He's got no interest in trying out the Spin for himself. He's happy to take it on trust that it's taking place. He's also firm when Dom suggests that perhaps Gimpo could, in that case, do it in a conceptual rather than an actual sense: perhaps by pausing for 25 seconds on a bridge over junction 25. No, the Spin must be done. Someone has to beat the bounds. John points out that Gimpo is an ex-soldier. The ritual/ordeal aspect of the Spin takes on a whole new flavour when you add this information. Gimpo is on patrol, doing a round of the perimeter. A lone sentinel, marking the boundary of the capital, forever on guard.
We talk a lot about what happens in the future. In 2017, the KLF omerta regarding the burning of the million quid comes to an end, and I have my suspicions that they could use the occasion of the Spin to make their definitive statement about the events on Jura. Jimmy Cauty has certainly mentioned that he'll do the Spin on a significant anniversary.
Then there's 2021. The End Point. What happens then? I'd like to think that Dom and I have a part to play in whatever the artwork becomes after that. Would the 25 years of driving be seen as mere fieldwork, the gathering of material for the final piece? I think the Spin has always been more complex than that, much more resistant to classification. It's a slippery trip, to quote one of Dom's early film works. You can never quite get a hold of it.
John, like us, believes in Gimpo. We trust in him and his work. He does the Spin so that we don't have to. Gimpo drives for our sins. We toasted him with a glass of Jura, and contemplated the road ahead.
On the drive home, there were delays on the M25. It took us 25 minutes to get past the bottleneck. We wouldn't have had it any other way.
+++UPDATE CENTRAL: BREAKING NEWS+++
John Higgs did as he threatened, and wrote a piece about the Spin, in which he kindly noted our presence. Apparantly I dodged a bullet with his cat. Dennis seemed perfectly affable to me.
Meanwhile, Mark at IronMan Records kindly included us in his update of all things Spin. Loads of stuff on this year's trip, well worth a look if you're that way inclined.
And while we're at it, let's have a look at the film Mark put together for this year's spin. Watch the white lines blur!