Monday, 25 April 2011

Plan For The Kidnap Of Princess Anne LP.

New from English Heretic! A special commemorative Black Plaque for Ian Ball. 
Plan For The Kidnap Of Princess Anne (Picture Disc LP and mp3 download)



Using found recordings, a research group from English Heretic have reconstructed the attempted kidnap of Princess Anne by Ian Ball. On the evening of March 20th 1974 Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips were returning from a charity film event in support of The Riding For The Disabled Association, when their limousine was held up along the Mall, by Ball. Eventually tackled by police officers, Ball was arrested. In May 1975, Ball was convicted of attempted murder and kidnap. A diagnosed paranoid-schizophrenic, Ball still remains in detention under the Mental Health Act.

In 2005, Ian Ball set up a website from Broadmoor Hospital. On the site he explained that the kidnap was in fact an elaborate hoax set up by himself, offering 1 million pounds to anyone who could prove it was a hoax. Ball also paid £15 to the Anarchist magazine Class War for an advert to promote his cause. He later sent Class War a letter complaining of their cowardice in refusing to display the advertisement. Class War did actually run the advertisement in issue 90. There has been some suggestion that the Ball's website is really a clever piece of viral marketing by Channel 4 – as part of the promotion for the 2006 docudrama To Kidnap A Princess.

In his explanation, Ball claims to be 'the most dangerous working-class dissenter this country has ever had and is ever likely to have'. At the time of the attempted kidnapping Ball stated his intention was to raise a ransom of 2 million pounds for the National Health Service. While the ransom fee has the ring of a comedic anachronism, there is an ironic resonance with the current political climate, in the run up to the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The main sonic refrain on this release comes from an LP,  "Music For a Royal Wedding -A BBC recording from Westminster Abbey on Nov 14th, 1973 – H.R.H The Princess Anne & Captain Mark Phillips". We took a small section of the recital of The Lord's Prayer from the wedding ceremony – in Plainsong – and reversed it to create the mantra that plays throughout the reading of Ball's hoax explanation. Additional analogue synthesis has been provided by the English Heretic Electronic Workshop, together with manipulated field recordings taken from the Mall.

What are we to make of Ball's hoax. Is the hoax itself a hoax? If it is a piece of viral marketing, then the Channel 4 copywriter responsible certainly has talent to burn – either that or they have a supreme grasp of the logic of clinical paranoia. Ball's monologue vacillates between megalomania and persecution; an individual tortured by isolation to such a degree that all other players in his reality are merely weird servitors of his self importance. In other words it is a mechanically perfect model of a severe affective disorder. There are even hints that Ball seems to be displaying symptoms of Capgras Syndrome when he 'realises' that Princess Anne has been replaced by a double during the kidnap attempt. But Ball also reveals himself to be a master of tragic fiction – the logical descent into madness echoes Guy De Maupassant's short story A Piece Of String.

In presenting the kidnap from different angles: Ball's confession; Reggie Bosanquet's slurred ITN news report; and the mumbling gaucheness of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips' recital on The Parkinson Show – what emerges is a Parallax View of the event. A cubist documentary in sound. Time conflates and distorts, the players exhibit distinct symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – flashbulb memories of trivial details magnify and the actual forensic truth smashes like a broken window in the back of Princess Anne's limousine.

“You can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and shape, and be no further on than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to the other pieces. The pieces are readable, take on a sense, only when assembled...” (G. Perec).

English Heretic, April 2011
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