Synaesthesia Magazine Cities - Page 83

We were somewhere around Redbridge on the edge of the flyover when the inevitable sank in. I remember saying something like, “I shouldn’t have eaten that extra bit of toast this morning,” when suddenly, there was a terrible roar from my belly which seemed to echo around the car as it went about twenty-one miles an hour.

The Junior Reporter then asked me how his driving was for the second time that day. It was almost midday and we still had more than five miles to go. Very soon, I knew, I would be stuffed. But there was no going back, and no time to rest. ‘Sprinkles Gelato’ had been open for hours now and we had to get there fast to grab a table.

efore hitting the road we had been given a Sony HVR-HD1000E video camera, two spare batteries, a tripod, an external mic, two tie

clip mics and a spoon. All this had been frantically rounded up back at the newsroom. The newsroom was bustling as usual when we filmed the introduction to our news story. Finally, after the seventh cut, we were ready. The only way to prepare for a trip like this was to starve myself for the last remaining hour or so.

A local tabloid newspaper had assigned us with this task and the small orange hatch-back would get us there.

So we took down the mileage of the Small Orange Pollock then drove very carefully across the car park and plunged onto Test Lane, heading East.

“How’s my driving?” asked the Junior Reporter.

“Your driving? Oh it’s good, real good.”

I loosened my tie a little and leaned over to turn the volume up on the radio. I glanced over at the Junior Reporter who was watching the road, driving along at twenty-seven or so.

The Junior Reporter’s humming quickly became song “hmm sexy lady uh uh uh huh Gangnam Style, hmm...”

We were both media graduates and we were on our way to Southampton to cover a story that would involve far too much ice-cream. The Southampton we needed was just up ahead. I could see the Atherley Bowling Club just South of Cemetery Lake. The Bfluent School of English was beaming at me as we finally turned onto Lodge Road.

We finally arrived at ‘Sprinkles Gelato’. I was forced to wait outside the American diner-style parlour and prepare myself for the registration procedure.

“Hi there”, I said, “My name is… ah, Joaquin Viscount… yes, hungry, that’s for sure. We brought this Orange Pollock all the way from Redbridge and now it’s time to eat, right?”

My legs felt rubbery. I gripped the counter and sagged toward it. There must have been more than thirty flavours of ice-cream to choose from.

“This man is here to take on your 10-scoop ice-cream challenge. My name is Nurse Oznog. Take his order. We’ll be over at that table,” demanded the Junior Reporter.

Friday, 1.10pm… Portswood, Southampton… Sitting at a table in ‘Sprinkles Gelato’, I saw it all very clearly. Sick to my stomach and nervous, I was looking at consuming a dangerous cocktail of dessert: mint, coffee, apple pie, hazelnut, fruits of the forest, white chocolate and pomegranate, vanilla, strawberries and cream, white chocolate and Twix.

The Junior Reporter set the camera on the tripod, looked at me and shouted “Action”. I looked down at the gigantic cone in front of me. “As a Junior Reporter I advise you to start consuming ice-cream.”

Ten scoops – a giddy, quavering sort of high that means the brain-freeze is coming, hit me. The possibility of physical and mental collapse is very high now…

…but collapse is out of the question. Indeed. This is the moment of truth, that fine and fateful line between control and disaster.

“It won’t last long,” the Junior Reporter said. “The first rush will be the worst. Just ride the bastard out.”

I could hear myself breathing heavily. The Junior Reporter seemed to notice but kept on filming.

“Just stay relaxed,” he said behind the camera. “Don’t try to fight it, or you’ll start getting brain-freeze…”

Two minutes into the challenge and the artificial flavourings and colourings greeted me with a friendly gesture of warmth and care … Five minutes. There it was, brain-freeze; my tongue felt like an ice cube. Eight minutes. I couldn’t move; every muscle in my face was contracted. Ten minutes. Pouring sweat and unable to concentrate. Death. I was sure of it. Pass the ten minute mark and I was a dribbling wreck. I was going to die.

My teeth felt like they had fallen out. Had they? I forced my whole hand into my mouth to check. “Still there, thank god.”

Scoop after scoop I felt the sadness and decay of bone and gum. Why me, why have I been put on this earth to participate in this devilish act of unhappiness?

Ice-cream was now my enemy, and ten scoops of it was my rite of passage to the fiery depths of hell.

“Am I dead yet..?”

Almost 15 minutes after I started the dangerous stunt I was done. Done with all the brain-freeze and nausea. Done with the pain of all that sugar. Done with the 10-scoop ice-cream challenge.

“You’ll have to excuse me now; I feel it coming on.” I turned away and reeled off in the general direction of the bathroom.

The Junior Reporter shouted “CUT.”

Parts of (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, 1972. Flamingo: London) have been used in the above text.