The scenario below plays out as Mrs Cresswell speaks. A young woman sits at a desk biting her nails frenetically. Her name is Katherina. Spread over her desk is a series of pornographic engravings by Agostino Carracci. Perched on the edge is a copy of a book explaining how to compose a good political speech. She’s biting so hard it’s like she’ll draw blood any minute. In the other hand, she has a quill.
I remember there was a young woman who attempted several times to snare a rich young heir through an elaborate pretense. After the failure of several projects, she resolved to make herself up to the ears in lust, so much that she couldn’t concentrate on anything else.
It’s diverting to plunge yourself into some sort of delirious sex fantasy. Feeling the thoughts swimming in your mind’s eye as you perform banal tasks, like scrubbing clothes, buying fruit, or shucking oysters. Listly staring as every mundane scenario activates the next improbable obscene image.
She decided to send letters.
Katherina begins to write. An anonymous voice narrates in a slow, drawn-out tone like a child sounding words.
I..think…about…you…all the time.
When I am…in a coach…I press…my legs…hard together..and think about…how…
I want…to touch your mouth….and run my tongue over your grey teeth…to see inside…to the back of your…throat….
I want to feel your…sinewy limbs…
I want you to gnaw…on my tits…and arse…and choke me while you…fuck me.
I’ll…keep squeezing…my pubic bone…and…try…to…cum…this…way…while I’m…on…the coach….
There is a long, crushing pause.
I bet…you’ve got a got...a big cock.
Mrs Cresswell returns as the narrator.
The sexual tension is boring. She sends the letters to the boy and intreats him to tear off the name to preserve her reputation. The milky youth was so charged with the weight of this attention it was like the lady’s favours were writ large on his forehead in black smutty letters, like the thrust of a good political speech.
A note on the framing – all male characters are cut off at the neck, obscuring their faces.
However, this singular treatment raised him above himself and he firmly believed her protestations to be real. He thought he had made an absolute conquest over the lady, a complete persuasion, like an angry mob quelled by a good political speech. But with her fondness slackened his respect – so she thought it expedient to carry the joke one story higher. Her and an actor, a flippant acquaintance of hers, conspired to meet at her lodgings whilst the young heir was there, impersonating a man of quality.
Accordingly, the mock-lover arrives, and as he climbs the stairs, the lady insists to the young heir that he hides in the closet, as the approaching man was a troublesome servant. Naturally, the young man obeyed and the gentleman entered.
In the Closet
The following sequence is seen from the perspective of the man in the cupboard. Everybody is breathing heavily. Amidst the breathing is the sound of an angry crowd. The actor doesn’t even say hello. He strides over and wrenches a breast out of her stays. She retreats onto the bed, legs in the air as if she were undertaking a gynecological exam. The actor unbuckles a clanky, heavy belt and his hard bent dick flops out.
On the Block
A man addresses the crowd.1
King Charles I: I shall speak a word unto you here, a good political speech.
I shall begin first with my innocence.
They began these unhappy troubles, not I.
Thus, I hope that they are free of this guilt; for I do believe that ill instruments between them and me has been the chief cause of all this bloodshed;
So that by way of speaking, as I find myself clear of this, I hope, and pray God, that they may too;
Now for to show you that I am a good Christian;
I wish that they may repent, for indeed they have committed a great sin in that particular.
My charity commands me not only to forgive particular men, but my charity commands me to endeavour to the last gasp the peace of the Kingdom.
Now, Sirs, I must show you both how you are out of the way and will put you in a way; first, you are out of the way, for certainly all the way you have ever had yet, as I could find by anything, is by way of conquest.
Certainly, this is an ill way, for conquest, is Sir, in my opinion, is never just, except that there be a good just cause. But if it be only matter of conquest, there is a great robbery.2
Now Sir, for to put you in the way, believe it you will never do right, nor God will never prosper you, until you give God his due, the King his due – that is, my successors – and the people their due; I am as much for them as any of you.
Good Political Speech
And truly I desire their liberty and freedom as much as anybody whomsoever. But I must tell you, That their liberty and freedom, consists in having of government.
A subject and a sovereign are clean different things, and therefore until they do that, I mean, that you do put the people in that liberty as I say, certainly they will never enjoy themselves.
I am the martyr of the people.
Take Heed of the Axe
Pray take heed of the axe.
Does my hair trouble you?
Executioner: It is fast Sir.
Charles: It might have been a little higher.
Executioner: It can be no higher Sir.
The Fuck is Bloodless
The actor folds her body into a sequence of positions, as directed by the Carracci engravings. It’s pneumatic and choreographed, with the actor’s penis always visible from anatomically implausible angles.
The Memory Fades
- What follows here are extracts from the speech delivered by King Charles I before his execution on 30 January 1649. This account was published by Peter Cole at the sign of the Printing-Press in Cornhill, near the Royal Exchange the same year. Generally considered to self-righteous, arrogant, and unscrupulous, Charles’ final words were not the makings of a good political speech.
- This is pretty rich coming from a monarch who oversaw aggressive colonial expansion and the germination on the transatlantic slave trade. However, this is not to say the Parliamentarians were not also culpable; they were in fact instrumental. After the Civil War, Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads abandoned their alliances with proto-Marxist movements like the Levellers to pursue liberal economic policy.