Monday 10 November

If you are alive and have at least intermittent access to a portable puppet show then there is a good chance that you have watched, or simply heard about, The String, the most addictive pastime to cross the pond since the scalping craze of ’52 destroyed some of the best minds of my generation and rendered others (myself included) struggling to regain more than a limp modicum of whisp. For the uninitiated the series is set in one of America’s infamous ‘hatless’ estates, just along the coast from relatively New York. Here the boundaries of good and bad, hatted and hatless, are blurred by the obvious corruption to be found in city halls (step forward Sir Dempson Makepeace) and the reluctant honour periodically perceived amongst thieves (behold Scarface and Shifty scrapping over the tab end I’ve just nonchalantly flicked from my window). The universal appeal of such unpredictable and more than occasionally violent drama is obvious and while some wait months for the latest script to arrive via carrier eagle, others flock to the Langworthy estate where Badger Box Office presents the unusual spectacle of local lads acting out the very latest scenes – not, thank Barksdale, as a result of some winsome youth theatre programme – but due to specially trained electric eels who swim over from the States, up the nearest canal, and spasm a cast of swarthy-faced miscreants into an uncanny recreation of life ‘on the corners.’

Introducing Gerard B Spittoon as ‘Omar’

As with many such miniseries, we are soon identifying our favourite characters, then identifying with them, then – if we are not careful – being identified as them by starstruck policemen and banged up in gaol (spelt wrong). Whilst my Russian ‘friends’ will no doubt return one day to administer their fearsome vengeance as I’m tied to a chair in a cargo ship, at least part of their mission will be to retrieve the advance copy of Grime and Bumishment I stole from them mid-parody. Reading this apparent amusement some weeks ago I grew a beard, an overcoat, a rubbish alibi and a manic grin before I knew it, becoming the scoundrel Raskalbotham almost overnight. Here, Larry Pekalowski is bearing an uncanny resemblance to a smooth-faced gangland overlord while Bateman, confounding expectations, has taken on the characteristics of McGuilty – a ‘cop.’ I’m not sure where it will all end – series five presumably – but if we don’t watch out The String will have us all strung up, unable to tell right from wrong, black from white: and then where will be?

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