slug and woodlouse death it may be, but death all the same. And Glasgow is
no stranger to it.
Hundreds of people die in Glasgow every year due to accidents, ill health
or face stabbings.
The deaths on this fine evening were instead stood on and dried up death rather
than a dramatic piercing of skull tissue. But it B
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the literally two dozen people or so who passed by, inquisitively looking
into the metal storage container that sat parked at the side of Glasgow’s
busy Sauchihall Street.
A lesson was learnt. There are not many insects around in November, or people.
Summer would probably be a better time to host the Battledrome, but then a
force like Insect Battledrome does not let the seasons hold it back. Wherever
there are children with money, there must be a Battledrome. And wherever there
is a Battledrome, there must be endless merchandising opportunities!
I had advertised Kriss Akabusi as the host
for the evening on the poster,
and sent a letter off inviting him along.
It didn’t happen, but I did receive a nice
reply, with Kriss personally wishing me ‘all the very best of luck
and success in achieving my goal’. Since my goal was the death of insects
cheered on by a frothing mob like crowd, I think my initial feeling was right
in inviting Kriss to the event. A man after my own heart.
couldn’t make it, and my attempts to get a lesser
celebrity failed also. It was left to me to take the ‘mic’
and get the crowd going. But there wasn’t a microphone, just an old
broken tape player - playing the Insect
Battledrome soundtrack and occasionally switching off or hissing loudly.
The large majority of visitors enjoyed themselves and had a lovely time but
one wasn’t happy. He was reading the poster on the side of the cabin
and I asked him if he wanted to take a look, he took a step back and
at me, “I don’t want to see any insects.” I thought he was
scared. Doesn’t like spiders, got stung by a wasp when he was five,
I didn’t want to push him, he looked on the edge as it was. But he was
still there. “Are you sure? it’s free for adults.” I told
him, but he looked at me again. “I don’t believe in exploitation.”
and he walked off, keeping eye contact with me until he was out of view, like
a crab walking sideways away from something it morally disapproves of. I laughed
You’ll see on the video,
if you can stand the download, a man of 35 delighting in insects like he was
a nine year old up to his face in garden muck. Taking one of the boxes used
to transport the insects to the event, he directed a Woodlouse’s path
along one of the red and white arrows painted on the base of the Battledrome
until it reached the end. It took a few minutes. His daughter looked on, bored
and more than likely scared. But they both left with an experience they will
probably not forget for the rest of their lives.
Woodlouse’s were about as exciting as the Insect inventory got, and
they all escaped after an hour, two making a get away while one was sadly,
yet justly crushed under foot of an unknowing spectator. But it knew the risks
involved before it entered the Battledrome and it must live, or otherwise,
with the consequences.
slugs turned up after that and they just slimed all over the place, refusing
to engage in any actual fighting. We shouted at them, but to no use, at least
they were moving. The flies I had forgotten and left in boxes at home probably
weren’t, the Woodlouse wasn’t. The slugs were all we had. Some
ideas were floated as to how to make them more angry or violent. Among suggestions
were head mounted salt spears, razors, various drugs and a large god-like
random squashing hammer that would attack any slugs found not to be pursuing
actively the death of their fellow competitors. I went and got some chips
from the fish shop we were positioned outside, and they were nice.
2003 Darren Cullen