It’s Tuesday 13th July 1789, the day before the storming of the Bastille.
And boy is it cold.
But today is the day. Nothing can stop them. The plan must be executed.
As Glenn shivers in the corner of their cell, quietly reciting the incantation under his breath, Andy kneels down and reluctantly offers his open mouth to Ritchie. Standing astride the brave sailor beneath him, steadying his hands despite the bitter cold, Ritchie slowly lowers the makeshift pliers into Andy’s pie-hole.
All around them, in the surrounding cells, fellow prisoners push up against the bars: squashed faces look on in horror, and hope, each eager to see if the threesome’s long-planned escape will finally be realised.
The plan itself was pretty simple:
Over five weeks the three miss-matched friends would collect what bits of metal and wire they could from around the prison yard until they had enough that, from the scrap, Ritchie could model a rudimentary pair of pliers.
With the pliers, he would remove a tooth from Andy’s beautiful mouth.
It will come as no surprise that the decision as to who would lose a tooth was not easy. But, after deeming it unfair for Glenn to lose anymore teeth, and the fact that Ritchie’s teeth were, like his head, simply too square, Andy was nominated for the sacrifice. It was also a bonus that Andy’s teeth were “as strong as shit” after years of grinding chicken bones between them. As both Ritchie and Glenn forcefully argued: a tooth purloined from Andy’s mouth would surely last longest when used as chalk.
Indeed, that was the final – and most crucial – step of the plan…
The tooth removed, Glenn would use it as chalk to draw the required rune markings that, along with the necessary incantations, were required to summon the Quantum Hen. Once summoned, the Quantum Hen would rush them out of this Bastille shit-show and they could carry on playing jazz-influenced indie-rock to small gatherings of alternative and DIY-minded people, predominately around the northeast and west of England three centuries later.
(Admittedly, there’s a timeline issue here. But, well, that’s how it is when you get the Quantum Hen involved. Time is a wrong ‘un and paradoxical vibes are just something you need to ‘get with’ where the Quantum Hen is involved.)
Anyway, back beneath the Bastille:
Ritchie flies across the room, pliers clattering to the ground. A tooth bursts forth from A.Love’s open jaw. The other prisoners follow its graceful arc through the air, awestruck, like watching a tennis ball be slowly struck out over a Centre Court crowd and directly into Cliff Richards’ gormless face.
Glenn leaps. He catches the tooth and quickly starts scratching it on the ground, drawing a pentagon, and, inside it, an eerily accurate portrait of Marti Pellow, the drug-troubled lead singer of the pop group, Wet Wet Wet.
Suddenly there is a flash of white light.
As Andy, Glenn and Ritch’s eyes adjust to it, they see before them something they have long longed to see for so… erm, long.
Of course we should point out here, that for many years the story of Andy, Glenn and Ritch and their escape from the Bastille has been well documented in DIY-punk circles. A sketch by the 18th Century artist David L. Benjamin was uncovered around 2004, capturing the moment the Quantum Hen leapt from the French prison into the sky with the Grimsby three-piece safely buried beneath its wing.
But it is only now, after new footage has been discovered by meme-archaeologist, T. Y. Lukeman, that we have exposed the truth of the escape and are finally able to vision the Hen’s path up and out of the French Kings’ torture Travelodge.
But still, the saddest fact remains: with the benefit of hindsight we now know by the time they executed their crackpot plan, there was actually no need to escape. The very next day, on the Wednesday in fact, a revolutionary crowd would storm the Bastille and help them escape with much less fuss.
Yes, summoning a Quantum Hen was sheer idiocy. And no, Andy need not have lost that tooth. But we must ask: if Andy, Glenn and Ritch had not escaped that day, would they have gone on to write a bunch of songs that messed about with time-signatures before it was cool? Would they have made life-long friends with equally strange people across the country, from Margate to Manchester, and Derby to Durham? And would they have given so little of a shit as to how they looked or how ‘cool’ they were considered to be, to the point where Andy would genuinely wear Korn and Star Trek t-shirts with no sense of irony?
All we can do is wonder. Like the mystery of Ritchie’s naked body resembling uncooked toast… but not resembling bread… these mysteries will remain just that for many years to come.
But at least now we can understand more about the band’s final moments. Indeed:
As the white light disappeared into the night and their eyes readjusted to the murky gloom around them, there it stood. Defying space and time, spitting in the gash of wrong and right, puffing out its feathery chest in all its dirty glory…
The Quantum Hen.
It looks down at them, its plumage resplendent, and despite the cell being too small for it to do so, it raises its wing…
And as they move forward to be taken, quite literally, under its wing, Ritchie turns to Andy and whispers in his ear:
“I love you, you filthy beast.”