In our latest showcase of new writing at Edinburgh we look at a newly-published pair of plays by Chris Thorpe and Hannah Jane Walker, which satirise some of the minor miseries of modern life.
I Wish I Was Lonely is currently on stage at Forest Fringe, for many the creative edge of the Edinburgh Festival, and examines the curse of connectivity in the 21st century. Flaunting one of the theatre world’s strictest taboos, the show invites the audience to leave their phones on and experiment with the consequences.
Our new volume pairs I Wish I Was Lonely with one of the smash hits of the 2011 Fringe. The Oh Fuck Moment is a hilarious and cathartic celebration of the human capacity for cocking up. With an ingenious format, in which the audience are involved in an interactive office meeting, The Oh Fuck Moment is part performance piece, part poetry gig and part communal confessional.
This week, in the spirit of perpetual connectivity, we are taking to Twitter to ask our followers to share their #OhFuck moments. Prizes will be awarded to those who can prove they have truly mastered the art of the fuck up.
Meanwhile read on for some inspiration from Hannah and Chris:
C: A man wakes up on an airbed with no land in sight.
H: A poker player with four Kings stares down the barrel of four Aces.
C: A violinist stops on the street, visualising her instrument on the back seat of a taxi.
H: Two teenage boys realise too late, that the gun was loaded after all.
C: A family get off the train and soldiers and barbed wire fences.
H: A zoo keeper hears heavy breathing in the cage she thought was empty.
C: A man puts down an empty shot glass and feels his heart skip its first ever beat.
H: A midwife wakes in a cold sweat realising that she’s tagged the babies wrong.
C: A chemistry student realises why it’s a bad idea to drink liquid nitrogen for a bet.
C: A phone rings in the execution chamber a minute after the switch is flipped.
H: A man slams his laptop shut just that crucial second too late.
C: A woman wakes and realises that dream she just had about drunken sex was not in fact a dream.
H: An S&M enthusiast realises he has forgotten the safe word.
C: A surgeon misreads ‘Circumcision’ as ‘Castration’.
H: The president realises that the mic was on after all.
C: A parachutist looks up to see the reserve chute tangled in the main chute that she has just cut away.
H: I used to work in an office.
More specifically, I used to work for a marketing company in Norwich.
One of the good things, I guess, was that everyone seemed to have something outside work.
I mean they weren’t making fusion reactors in their sheds or homemade porn or anything but some of them were really into skiing, or playing the tuba and there was this one woman, she was about five years older than me, and her thing was riding, horse riding.
Her name was Emma.
She probably does still have horses.
Emma used to finish her working day, and go straight to the stables because she used to have a number of complicated things that she needed to do with the horses, you know, maintenance and stuff to make sure their legs didn’t fall off.
And the reason I know this, is that Emma liked to talk about her horses.
She liked to talk about her horses a lot, in a voice that is just like a radio that’s just slipped off its station, in the open-plan office, where we all worked.
She could throw the word ‘dressage’ across the room like an ice-pick to the ear.
I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m totally
I wasn’t the only one who got annoyed by it, my mate Kat used to send me one-word emails that just said ‘neigh’.
Mostly it was fine though, I got on, I ignored it, talked to
Emma by the microwave, I once bought her a birthday card with a picture of some stables on it.
But one day, it got really bad.
It got so bad that I felt like she was basically standing right next to my desk and screaming the word HORSE into my ear every two or three seconds.
So I sent this email to Kat.
And the email was very short.
It just said: ‘If she doesn’t stop talking about that horse,
I am going to blind it, cut its fucking head off and leave the head in her bed.’
It was basically just a bit of a tension reliever.
I’ve got no idea how you’d actually go about cutting a horse’s head off.
But of course, I sent the email to Emma by mistake.
It took me about ten seconds to realise what I’d done,
two seconds to completely shit myself, and about three more seconds to come up with this plan.
I rang Kat at her desk, and I asked her to distract Emma,
basically to come up with any sort of reason to get Emma to leave her computer for a minute or two.
And I casually walked over, ducked down next to her
computer and her email browser was open, which was good.
Except it wasn’t because I could see my email in it
and it was already marked as ‘read’.
Basically, I sent a really horrible email.
A really offensive email.
As a joke.
To relieve some stress, but still a really horrible email about doing something hideously violent to the thing a blameless if annoying person loved most in the world – and because they read that email I put that image in their head, simultaneously hurt their feelings and probably made them think they were working with a psychopathic horse-fucker.
Things really couldn’t get any worse.
Except it could get worse, obviously.
Because when I stood up to leave, Emma was just standing there at the entrance to her cubicle.
Just looking at me.
Any normal person would have said sorry.
But not me.
What I did was
I leapt at Emma.
Physically, I levitated through the space between us,
and for no reason that I can explain I wrapped my arms and legs around her
and I just hung there for dear life.
So I was there.
With my arms and legs wrapped around Emma,
and she hadn’t said anything.
And I realised, I was going to have to let go
at least so she wouldn’t have to go home with me wrapped
like a panicky starfish.
So slowly I put my feet back down on the ground.
and I stepped back
and I looked Emma right in the eye
and I opened my mouth
and I realised I was going to say sorry.
I’m not quite sure what I was going to say sorry for first:
threatening to kill her horse, reading her inbox, probably
contrary to the Data Protection Act, or, physically assaulting
her in the workplace.
So I stood there, with my mouth open, just looking at her.
And I realised there wasn’t any apologising for what I’d done.
And there wasn’t any way back.
And the first words out of my mouth.
In fact the only words for quite a while, were ‘oh fuck’.
And I don’t work for that company anymore…
C: But that is the definition of an oh fuck moment.