“Don’t be shocked by the tone of my voice
Check out my new weapon, weapon of choice”
So sings Fatboy Slim. ‘Me and my M60’ is a study for a painting I will be making later this year. I ‘came by’ my weapon of choice. It fell off the back of a lorry in Norfolk. I always kept it secret – in a cardboard box, under the bed.
Nicknamed ‘the Pig’ by Grunts in the shit because the sound of it being discharged was likened to ‘barnyard hogs’, the 7.62 calibre M60 is a pig you certainly don’t want to get on the wrong side of – it’ll tear you up something chronic.
For a light machine gun, the M60 is deceptively heavy. In Hollywood epics, Sylvester Stallone shoots from the hip with one, making it look easy. In my experience, most firearms are weighty. I once handled a Glock 9mm pistol. It was a bit like holding a house brick.
Don’t believe Tinsel-town nonsense when you see Helen Mirren in Red 2, popping away at baddies out of car windows. She’d have to be a weight lifter to do that, never mind the Boutros Boutros Ghali.
When I was 19, I had the peculiar fortune to be at the scene of a gangland shooting. It wasn’t pretty. A lot of Claret; debunking any glamour associated with guns. The smell of blood like a mortuary, the chaos and disarray; what was once someone’s child in a mess on the floor. An aspect of guns the film and TV industry never shows.
At a St. Martins’ Christmas panto, Robin Bagilhole and company threw fresh offal into the audience, for realism. Quite good I thought. All gun worshippers should be made to experience something similar.
Placing a stark, photo-realist image against a backdrop of paint-fling, which appears like a field of flowers or a crowd, my M60 is pointed out of the picture at an imaginary target. ‘Me and my M60’ sets the scene for a larger painting in which I expect the image to change away from this initial creation.
I ran art classes at HMP Cornhill, Shepton, to help rehabilitate offenders. My group consisted of life-sentenced murderers and rapists. We were in an isolated part of the education block, with no screws (guards) on our floor and the green button (panick alarm) didn’t work.
If trouble was brewing on the wings it would drift over to the classroom. On one occasion two cons were about to come to blows. So I said a thing or two and stopped the scrap. It was my tone of voice that did the trick, no one got hurt. My weapon of choice.
Special thanks to J Ferguson, J Ford and Christian
Pic of students at St. Martins, courtesy J Wakeling
Photos by Chris Dee and Alan Dedman
Title and lyrics by Fatboy Slim