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By Scarlett Thomas (18 November, 2001, The Independent)
By Bill Drummond
ABACUS pounds 8.99
In August 1994 the trustees of the K Foundation - Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty - burned a million pounds on the island Jura, off the west coast of Scotland. They'd originally made this money through their adventures in pop music, manifesting themselves as various groups, including the Timelords and the KLF. (They'd been so successful that after the Timelords reached Number One with their only single: "Doctorin' the Tardis", they wrote a book called The Manual: How to Have a Number One the Easy Way). Having filmed themselves burning the piles of pounds 50 notes, they entitled the film Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid.
For various, complicated reasons, Drummond and Cauty decided to hold a special screening in December 1995. Wanting to provide refreshments for the audience, they created a perfect cube out of exactly 6,250 cans of Tennent's Super lager, had a Union Jack made up to drape over it, and more to hang around the Brick Lane car park in which they were planning to screen the film. Realising that their event would now look suspiciously like a Nazi rally, Drummond and Cauty got cold feet and screened the film in a pub instead. But what to do with all the Tennent's Super? They took an ad in a national broadsheet (the K Foundation took out many such ads at their peak), which simply said 6,250 CANS OF TENNENT'S SUPER. Then, in a blatant and doomed act of art terrorism, they set out in a van with the cube and the Union Jacks on Christmas Eve and gave all the cans away to the homeless.
You couldn't make any of this up. You certainly couldn't make up the other accounts in this book, like the one relating how Bill Drummond, the king of imaginary pop, decided to invent a Finnish music underground after unsuccessfully trying to release an album of music inspired by his trip to the North Pole with an icon of Elvis; or his hilarious account of managing Echo and the Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes; or the description of the time he drove around the M25 for 25 hours. Anyone who can come up with this stuff, and the lyric: "Doctor Who. In the Tardis" must be a genius. This is what you do with culture: you don't blindly consume it - you change it, destroy it, burn it and hold a mirror up to its meaninglessness. Inspired.
Caption: A kilt figure: Bill Drummond (left) with Mark Manning (aka Zodiac Mindwarp) in Helsinki
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