“THE HOLE PUNCHER” | HAYLEY MCCULLOCH.

The hole puncher was a heavy steel manually operated thing, lacquered in flashy red enamel. I sometimes preferred it to toys. Maybe it was reminiscent of a mini Ferrari, a glossy candy apple, the made up lips of a Hollywood starlet. Cast ergonomically, it provided a satisfying fit in the palm when cradled in the hand. It was made to remove two small holes from the margin of a piece of A4 paper so that the person punching the holes could then file the sheet in a ringed office binder.

The underside was capped with a frosted plastic tray, which caught the fall out dots of paper. When it got full, I’d strain the tiny discs off into a tea cup and save the collection for future use as confetti. If somebody within our circle of family and friends announced that they were getting married, hole-punching would commence with frequent intent.

Minded towards such an occasion, festive enthusiasm led me towards colorful papers. I began punching holes in things that I had no business punching holes in. Punishment was dealt for the pockmarking of my mum’s wallpaper samples and for the cratering of her magazines, so I took to yesterday’s tabloids, which recently boasted that they were now ‘In Full Colour!’—as television media had done over a decade before my birth. I’d intuit when my folks were done with the papers, and then slide them from the marble patterned formica breakfast bar.


“At 6 or 7 years old, I hadn’t actually considered it a deconstructionist retaliation to the media’s attack on my forming consciousness. But in potholing and pitting this stuff which was presented to me as newsworthy, I waged an assault on the duplicitous offerings of the adult world and assailed its efforts to Swiss cheese my brain.”


 

A pinch at the point of contact between head-butting football players, or the snip of a nipple from a Page 3 girl, wouldn’t be detectable amongst the flurry thrown over the bride and groom. Only a mote of a blue and a red jersey, here, might perhaps collide with a muzzy peach color, there, within the airborne regurgitation. Nothing would be recognizable from whence it came, abstracted as it was now, showering down in samples of its original whole.

Eventually, the red hole puncher was implemented as a weapon of attack—biting out eyes from the faces of disingenuous looking MP’s, removing teeth from the mouths of quick-tanned soap opera stars, guillotining gatherings of puffy faces strapped in yellow hard hats who lined up mugging in the British landscape amidst ghostly sketches of proposed housing units. Lifting bits and bobs from the confines of their initial context became to me, a thrilling practice. Scissoring the debatable validity of information presented in 5 page-pull-outs, I abscessed arbitrariness and atomized it into my world.

To trace its evolution, the hole punching practice was relative to my former pen based affronts to the printed image—a wieldy expression which has provided great kicks for scores of common school kids and a singular Marcel Duchamp. Movie stars suffered black eyes, sportsmen were granted big boobs, lipstick and negligee, half bare women donned eye patches, facial hair or the bodies of goats, and without fail, politician’s sprouted horns, tridents, pointed tails and sharp teeth. The coronation of an extreme head-willy was bequeathed Margaret Thatcher; that or the gleefully mutinous issue of heavily crossed out eyes and forehead swastika tattoo. The image of any hallowed Pop Star was left untouched. Faces poised in testament to some artistic victory, their photographic likenesses seemed at once to convey the merits of self-governing and participating in creative pageantry. On our kitchen table, were they ever featured in an article, never would anybody witness the face of Adam Ant or Siouxsie Sioux defiled.

But with this new endeavor I soon discovered that I could travel through the whole paper, ploughing through stacks of gossip columns, television schedules, reams of sports and advertising specials—there was no arts + culture section—scything multitudes of multi-colored dots by folding the newsprint several times before applying the hole-puncher. When I was done, the carcass of the paper appeared riddled by some censuring insect who delighted in devouring sickening claptrap.

At 6 or 7 years old, I hadn’t actually considered it a deconstructionist retaliation to the media’s attack on my forming consciousness. But in potholing and pitting this stuff which was presented to me as newsworthy, I waged an assault on the duplicitous offerings of the adult world and assailed its efforts to Swiss cheese my brain. All of the things which unbeknownst hailed down on my cousins in their bridal gowns and suits: snippets of rage spouted and transcribed from miners strikes, just the word ‘ape,’ clipped from a rape and murder headline, the word, ‘lost,’ taken from an obituary memorandum, a prize onion secateur-ed from a snap shot at a harvest festival, a puddle of blood scooped from the documentation of some pavement brutality, a nibble of half-price Tesco ham and a gulp of bubbles captured in a champagne toast from an Ascot photo-op. These sound and image bites grabbed from journalistic spreads which failed to thoughtfully regard economic disparity and social crisis—opting instead to superficially plumb and distort the state of the human condition in order to take the form of skeezy gazette content—were punctures in a pack of lies now conflated as my claimant, and then released to billow as repurposed confetti.


“I can feel the tingle in my fingertips, this revolt of the psyche. I can feel the bristling, indignant, juvenile anarchy fizz in my hair follicles. Puncturing the thickness of thieveries made by the leaders and perpetrators of rampant greed and stupidity, snatching it back to be far flung by the wind—a deranging of the empire was rendered to a molecular level.”


1981 – The ornate wedding of Charles and Diana, along with its extensively reported prelude and aftermath, was pitched by the tabloid media in states of near hysterical fervor and fawning religiosity. Held down on the floor of our living room, the royals were afforded no protection from the cruelties of life. Silk flowers were picked from Lady Di’s dress, as I pocketed jewelry, snipped medals of honor, dazzling smiles and jubilant tears. They might have netted a representational drop of an unfathomably distant heritage, as the token redistribution of wealth and prosperity later rained down on my own less well-off familial newlyweds.

I can feel the tingle in my fingertips, this revolt of the psyche. I can feel the bristling, indignant, juvenile anarchy fizz in my hair follicles. Puncturing the thickness of thieveries made by the leaders and perpetrators of rampant greed and stupidity, snatching it back to be far flung by the wind—a deranging of the empire was rendered to a molecular level. The power it might have held in print now assimilated into the collective consciousness to mingle energetically and then be further broken down by the elements—to float on a puddle in the street and return again to pulp.

It was exciting when the print was offset a notch. The dislodged colors produced a spectral haze. Preternaturally bright blues of irises hovered over the pupils of eyeballs, and yellow inks that usually contributed to the likeness of human skin color, when not in place, gave the impression that a bout of jaundice was escaping a person. Flouncy hairstyles appeared as renegade toupees and the misaligned comb-overs of old geezers finally piqued and flitted off. Feverish ruddy reds suspended like palpable frustration around the heads of bruised looking blokes in a pub lamenting their unemployment. The Houses of Parliament, a picture of which in some adjoining page, shifted to make the hands of Big Ben’s clock escape its face and hover in the air pointing skyward towards no number.

The Sun, The Star, The Mirror, The Guardian, The Herald, The Telegraph… the first two suggested that their concerns and philosophies were aligned with the celestial, and that their content might be illuminating, their issue divine, even. The rest touted names suggestive that they were entities who asserted themselves as being honestly reflective, having protective intent or holding dutiful rank in exalted positions where they were to be trusted with national and international message transmission. The titles which went before many of them denoted archetypal connotations that their existence was noble, reverential and maybe even of mystical authority, whose proclamations were as pure as forces of nature. They named themselves to have you believe that they were mindfully composed with leanings toward universality; but they were in this context, just sinister holograms coming undone.

Someone had programmed these images to fall in line, and some machine had betrayed this human intention to make this periodical seem solid and its offerings register absolute. Its resolution had been compromised. Elements of a compressed spectrum had sprung forth from their confines. Primary colors jutted from their allotted slots in advertising layouts, leaping from cigarette and toothpaste endorsements, not waiting a minute more to be associated with this utter shite show. The outline of a girl holding a bottle of dish soap dispersed into a bright greenish/electric blue field. In footage from a fox and hound chase, a bolting auburn fox sped over the bottom half of a centerfold—its smudged off kilter hide prickled with a pink-violet ink, like its spirit rising.


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