broomway_webSome years past I became the boss of a record company called Six Inch Records, because I was under the impression that it would be a good idea to have a hobby. I thought it would be an easy gig, all expense accounts and cocaine, but no. And I was wrong about a hobby being a good idea too. But anyway, I released three records, all in editions of 333, for £6.66 each, and in its pointless and futile way it was a success. All the records were sold, and we had a launch party where I took the opportunity to sack all my artistes, and myself.

Five years later, when I thought I was out of danger, I ended up discussing making a pop video with one of my erstwhile acts, The Joy of Living. The band proposed that the video should be made out on the Broomway, an utterly bleak place on the Essex coast, where low tide reveals a barely-perceptible footpath across the treacherous mudflats of Maplin Sands to the deserted island of Foulness. Aside from the very real risk of drowning or being swallowed by the mud, the place has been used as a firing range for missiles for decades, and is littered with unexploded bombs.

Here is what the website for the Broomway has to say: “Walking the Broomway is exceptionally dangerous, because navigation in such self-similar terrain is difficult even in good conditions of visibility, and because the tide comes in extremely fast. It is quite easy to get lost on Maplin Sands, and if a walker gets lost out there he or she is almost certain to drown. So two things are absolutely crucial to a Broomway expedition: a compass, and tide times.”

Last summer I found myself on these notorious mudflats, far from the path itself, with no compass or tide-times, with only two members of The Joy of Living, two film-makers, a dancer, a video camera, and a large box. The band members, the dancer and myself were wearing large animal heads made of felt – there was a crow, a seagull, a fox (the dancer, Jennifer Essex) and a hare (myself).  The idea was that the crow and the seagull would appear in the far distance, at the flat horizon, in the mist, and walk towards the camera, carrying the large box between them. Upon arriving in front of the camera, they would lower the box to the ground, whereupon the fox would emerge from it, dance for a time before getting back into the box, and then the crow and seagull would carry the box back out into the void. I, as the hare, was required only to ‘mooch about’.

Well, we didn’t get blown up or drown, or I wouldn’t be writing about that strange day now. And the pop video was made. Some time soon The Joy of Living will release a record on vinyl, and post the video on the internet somewhere. I’ve made some drawings for the record sleeve, one of which – of the empty Broomway – is shown above. And more details about this fucking weird project will appear in good time on this very website.

10th March 2015