15 Seconds

Part 3

by Chris Dorley-Brown

Essex Indexicals

Tony White

A very different time. After university. At college. At primary school. At the minute. At the University of Essex. At uni. At university. I always tried to do my best. I am loyal and I help people. I can see things from a different side. I can’t really think of anything dramatic. I decided not to go back and do it. I did a lot better at grades than I expected and now I’m screwing up at A-Levels. I didn’t expect to do that. I didn’t have all the commitments I have now. I didn’t used to think before I spoke. I don’t know what I want to do next. I don’t feel like I’ve swerved massively. I don’t know why I didn’t do anything. I don’t think I’d wanna be anywhere else now. I enjoy it. I feel like I’m a completely different person now. I got a BA in Politics, International Relations and Linguistics. I graduated. I had a part time job. I have four children. I have no recollection of that period when you did the film. I haven’t played so much. I just acted. I just have a very boring and ordinary life. I just started working and liked the money too much. I just wanted to play with friends. I like what I’m doing at the moment. I look evil or something. I made a lot of good friends there. I maybe come back to Essex three times a year. I might go back and do something about it. I miss those days. I needed to be brought down a few pegs. I never moved out of Essex. I passed my driving test. I picked up working back in the city. I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed primary school. I remember it being fairly cringeworthy. I remember that. I started to lose my Essex accent. I still don’t mind. I stuck my tongue out. I think. I think I actually wanted to be a teacher. I think I was. I think I was at university. I think I went through a stage of really loving myself. I think she found it very hard to fit in with people. I think so.

I want to be a psychologist. I want to get a job in graphic design. I wanted to become an author. I was a bit more of an exhibitionist. I was a bit more subdued. I was a bit surprised. I was a gymnast. I was always told that I used to be very quiet. I was always told that: think before you speak. I was at Reading. I was at university. I was everything. I was naïve at nine years old. I was nine. I was probably quite carefree. I was still very comfortable in myself. I was ten. I was worried about lots of things. I was worried about university. I wasn’t expecting anything. I went to college for couple of years. I went to the seminar, type-of-thing. I work on the hot chicken counter. I’d been dancing. I’d like to be working with animals in conservation. I’d like to think I was hard working. I’d probably tell myself not to take anything too seriously. I’d say quite lively. I’ll get on with something else and that’s it. I’m a lot more assertive. I’m a lot more understanding. I’m a primary school teacher now. I’m a secondary school English teacher. I’m at college at the moment. I’m getting married. I’m hoping to go on and do that. I’m less judgemental. I’m looking forward to finishing my degree. I’m married. I’m not afraid to stand my ground. I’m not that person who’s on there any more. I’m really enjoying it. I’m studying for a law degree. I’m studying politics and history and business studies. I’m vastly different to that person I was there. In nineteen-ninety-four. In two-thousand-and-four. I’ve always wanted to be rich. I’ve got married. I’ve got two children. I’ve never been sure what I wanted to do. I’ve qualified as a solicitor and had a little girl. I’ve started jamming with some older people that I used to play music with. I’ve started to want that less. Maybe a couple of years older.

No, I’m pretty much still the same. No, I’ve always. No, just to become a lawyer. No, no, I’m quite happy. No, no, it was good. No, not everyone. No, not really, I just, no. No, nothing else, um. No, that’s the worst thing. Now. Right after primary school. Ten years ago. Then. These days. Those days. Twenty-fourteen. Twenty years ago. Um, a bit more outgoing, but not as outgoing as I am now.

Um, Bishop’s Stortford!

Um— Bless you!

Um, but apart from that not really. Um, but I think I was quite outgoing. Um, but I’m not a very good example because I did move away. Um, but we’ll probably be going down to ‘B’. Um, but yeah, it’s a good evening. Um, describe my younger self? Um, hopefully we’ll plant ourselves eventually. Um, I can’t say ‘alright’ properly now. Um, I don’t know if there’s anything that I’d rather be doing. Um, I just got embarrassed remembering what I was like before. Um, I live here in Colchester still. Um, I probably wouldn’t mind acting. Um, I think it’s quite important when you’ve got kids of a certain age. Um, I value my family a lot more now. Um, I was quite easy going. Um, I went to uni in Bristol, never came back! Um, I would like to go into management in the job I’m doing at the minute, but I’ve got to wait a few more years. Um, I’m a good friend. Um, just that I travelled more. Um, just the sixth form up the road. Um, my darts team play on a Tuesday night. Um, my life’s down there now. Um, no I’ve been really straight, narrow, nothing really, nothing. Um, nothing particular has happened. Um, politics was a last minute choice. Um, we’ve got Albert and I think we’re quite keen on having one or two more at least. Um, what was I like then? Um, when I started my law A-Level that triggered it off. Um, yeah. Um, yeah, because I find it interesting. Um, yeah, I suppose. Um, yeah, my mum shipped me off to boarding school.

When? Why did you do it? Yeah, basically. Yeah, because you lose contact with a lot of people. Yeah, I chose the boarding school. Yeah, I haven’t really got any worries. Yeah, I know. Yeah, I mean. Yeah, I think so. Yeah, I wanted to be an actress then. Yeah, I work as a midday assistant at my children’s school. Yeah I’ll work my way up from doing that. Yeah, I’m hoping to get a job at Colchester Zoo. Yeah, I’ve gone from being a Smirnoff Ice girl to a cider girl. Yeah, in the sticks a bit. Yeah, it went really well. Yeah, it’s a good evening. Yeah, it’s not too bad. Yeah, maybe I was a bit tired or stoned. Yeah, second year now. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, the eldest is ten. Yeah, we wanna get married, buy our own house. Yeah, you. You have to make new friends everywhere you go. You know I like to defy the stereotypes. You know I travelled. You know, my time. You speak. You’ve got the options. You were so concerned with what people thought of you; not so much anymore.

Author’s note

The word ‘indexical’ can simply mean functioning like—or displaying the properties of—an index, as with this text, which is created from an alphabetised re-ordering of certain utterances made by the subjects of Chris Dorley-Brown’s ‘15 Seconds’, during filming in 2004 and 2014. However, ‘indexical’ has a second meaning which is also relevant here. In philosophy, as David Braun explains:

"An indexical is, roughly speaking, a linguistic expression whose reference can shift from context to context. For example, the indexical ‘you’ may refer to one person in one context and to another person in another context. Other paradigmatic examples of indexicals are ‘I’, ‘here’, ‘today’, ‘yesterday’, ‘he’, ‘she’, and ‘that’. Two speakers who utter a single sentence that contains an indexical may say different things. For instance, when both John and Mary utter ‘I am hungry’, Mary says that she is hungry, whereas John says that he is hungry."

Tony White, London, April 2015

Tony White is the author of novels including Foxy-T (Faber and Faber), the non-fiction work Another Fool in the Balkans (Cadogan) and numerous short stories. Tony has edited and co-edited short story anthologies including 1999’s britpulp!—now reissued by Sceptre in ebook. His latest book Shackleton’s Man Goes South is the first novel ever to be published by the Science Museum. Other recent works include Missorts, a permanent, GPS-triggered sound-work for Bristol, and a novella, Dicky Star and the Garden Rule (Forma), commissioned alongside works by the artists Jane and Louise Wilson to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. Tony White is currently a visiting research fellow at ’Kings College London, and he chairs the board of directors of London’s award-winning arts radio station, Resonance 104.4fm. Tony’s website is pieceofpaperpress.com