I knew a girl called Kung Pow once


By Jack Pedder

Originally published 23 August 2016 on Facebook

A name has been censored by request.

Sitting in Turtle Bay next to a man called Lee.

Lee says ‘I knew a girl called Kung Pow once’

No one responds.

‘What a ridiculous name!’ Lee says, seeking a response.

Rosie asks if I’m writing down snippets of conversation, and I say yes. I don’t try to hide the phone from her. I usually hide my phone from Rosie. It’s usually unforgivable stuff, when Rosie tried to look at my phone.

Anna, Rosie, and I are drinking soda waters.

A drop of water falls on Amina’s head.

Rosie (in an unrelated world) spasms.

I look at Lala’s shocked face (shocked at Rosie’s spasm). I like it: the eyes are ginormous and white.

She looks at me. She says something I can’t hear. I laugh.

I don’t think I was supposed to laugh.

Amina’s asks what I’m doing. ‘Not a great deal.’ I say, preceding an ironic coquettish giggle.

Everyone talks, it’s pleasant, not the kind of thing you write a poem about being a part of instead of being a part of.

Amina gets a plate of king prawns and pushes them across the table towards me. I eat some king prawns and hope I don’t have to pay for them.

I go to the gents. There’s a suspicious amount of cubicles. For a second… But no, a urinal.

I think of the gents in Hallward library with no cubicles. I shiver.

I go back to the table and talk to Rosie. Rosie has bought some pink hair dye which she intends to use in the near future. ‘I would never dye my hair.’ I say. ‘I don’t like messing with everything.’ I gesture to ‘me’.

Rosie makes a counter argument, which I immediately agree with.

‘Jack is dying his hair blue’ Rosie says.

I mourn, as a hypothetical blue-haired man, for the impossibility of a life in office.

I want my appearance to always have the potential of becoming Prime minister.

Jonathan Swift wore wigs, I think to myself. Jack Pedder had blue hair, I think to myself. Permissible, I decide.

I’ll look even more conspicuous at Catholic Mass. ‘Who’s this blue-haired goon, receiving blessings?’ They shall say.

I’m not sure I can face walking slowly toward the St Barnabas altar, looking up at that gory Christ, surrounded by devout believers, with blue hair.

No one has blue hair in Fra Angelico paintings, I think. There isn’t much cultural precedent for blue hair.

If the background of Michelangelo’s last judgement was hair, Michelangelo’s last judgement would have blue hair.

I think about blue is the warmest colour and that scene where Emma (the blue haired one) talks about Satre on the bench.

I think about the difference between Emma and Rosie’s love of Satre.

I paraphrase the last few sentiments of this poem to Rosie.

‘There isn’t much cultural precedent for blue hair.’ She says.

‘I’m way ahead of you.’ I say, pointing at my phone.

I go to the gents and look at my spot.

Coming back from the gents I look at my spot in a mirror on the stairs.

I come back and sit in what was Sam’s chair. I put on his jacket.
I drink my cocktail and eat the ice and listen to Lee talk about dementia.

‘Why are you eating the ice.’ Amina says. ‘That’s so random.’

I miserably and spitefully reply: ‘because I enjoy it.’

‘To feed the ice in your soul.’ She says.

I end up talking to Sam about Anglo-Cathololicism, Keanu Reeves, and so forth.

-THE CENSORED MAN- talks to Lee about tax law.

I sip Amina’s cocktail and zone out.

‘It stars Adam Sandler,’ Sam says, to Amina ‘in a serious role.’

Sam is talking to Amina now. Lee is talking to Lala now. -AN UNNAMED PASSERBY- is talking to Gurujosh now. Gurujosh is whispering something and Rohan is conching his ear.

I am alone, by choice. I am not drunk but I am quiet the way I get when I am drunk.

Lee talks about his school.

‘You used to be able to do whatever you wanted.’ He says. ‘You used to be able to go home when you got sent out of lessons.

‘Then some idiots burnt the Quran. They rolled it into a spliff and smoked it.’

-CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS- rolls back laughing.

‘It was classed as a hate crime’ Lee says ‘and the school went down the pan.’

-IMHOTEP- stops laughing to argue that burning the Quran shouldn’t be a hate crime.

Lee responds with something about respect.

I butt in with something about culture.

-STEFFI GRAF- and I end up having a vague discussion about libertarianism, acknowledging that neither of us have ever been offended by anything, ever, in our lives, so don’t really understand what these laws MEAN to anyone, regardless of whether or not they are a good thing.

-UNKNOWN- stares at my spot several times throughout.

I can’t imagine -JOHN MAJOR- going ‘oh, that’s awful’ about anything.

I can’t imagine myself being worked up into such a state that I break a boy’s back (this happened to one of the Quran burning boys).

I genuinely can’t imagine the psychology. I can imagine wanting to hurt a child, and I can imagine the utter disgust and loathing at those smoking dope with the most precious object in the world, but I can’t imagine the actual moment of breaking the boy’s back. I can’t imagine hearing the crack and saying ‘yes, this is who I am’

‘After they burnt the Quran’, Lee says, ‘school got proper strict and shit.’

I say a sentence with the word ‘precious’, that -REDACTED- likes and types on his phone. He quotes (possibly) Voltaire back at me.

Everyone leaves.

Lee wants to have a big night out. He’s young. He’s got so much life he can waste before he’s in our boat.

The group gets smaller and smaller. The last person I walk with is Sam.

I feel proud pointing at this beautiful house saying ‘this is me.’

I reflect, before bed, that blue hair is probably a bad idea if I’m going to be a teaching assistant, which deflates me.

A fly is buzzing invisibly. I want blue hair.

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