Crash and Bannockburn

By Sean Langan

Arena's braveheart fails to win Garbage's fair Shirley Manson.
A hotel in Mayfair.
May 23, 1996.
45 minutes.

Man From Arena:
I hope you don't mind me pointing this out, Shirley, but you're wearing the biggest pair of knickers I've ever seen.

Shirley Manson:
I know. I got them in America.

Right. (That makes sense). In the hippo store?

Ha, ha. No, for some reason their sizes are much bigger. I got sick of doing my laundry every night when we were on tour.

What? So you threw all your undies out?

Yeah. And bought an entire stock of these. They're supposed to be medium, by the way.

I liked the way you kept flashing them in the shoot. It was more of a fuck-off look than a come-hither one.

Well, you have to be careful. The tendency in this business is to make you look beautiful and perfect, but also submissive. And I don't want to be like that.

Something tells me that you don't have to worry about that.

People, especially journalists, can be so fucking rude. The boys in the band tend to swallow a lot more shit than I do, just because they're more laid back. I smell the shit a lot earlier.

Right. (Fee, fi, fo, fum, I bet this Scots woman can smell the shit coming out of this Englishman.)

I can detect it a lot quicker than they can...

You can?

Yeah. If someone has got a mean angle, I spot it before the boys do. That's one of my strengths, and one of my faults... I can sometimes antagonise people.

(And scare the shit out of them, I bet.) I, er, noticed. (Red hair, fiery Scottish temperament, ballsy, aggressive, prickly, bullshit detector on full. You weren't in "Braveheart," by any chance, were you?)

The boys are sweethearts, but they have a tendency to let things go. Sometimes I stir it up if I think they're being too laid back. I just don't think they should take it.

(You mean you pussy whip them.) Is that a maternal thing?

Often yeah. But it's also an instinctive reaction to people. I have unerring judgement. I've rarely been wrong about a person.

That's threatening when you say that. (Is she trying to tell me something here? Get a grip man. She's half your size, for Chrissakes. OK, OK. I can handle her.)

Well, I know who I like and who I trust.

Do you know that in seconds?


Right. (OK, here we go.) So what do your instincts say about me?

Laughing: No, unh unh. We won't go into that.

Oh. (Not such a braveheart after all, eh?) Don't you trust your instincts?

I do, but I won't make a sweeping judgement about someone immediately.

How long does it take?

Usually within three seconds.

That long? (OK, so she wants to joust. She thrusts, he parries. She bludgeons, he ducks... chatting up; it's just war by other means. Let battle commence!) That could put a lot of pressure on the person talking to you.

I'm sure. And I automatically err to the negative side. But if I then think, no, hang on, he's actually alright, then I'll talk to them longer.


Well, it's a way of marking your ground. Let them know you're not prepared to be a certain way.

I see. (Keep talkin', babe. Keep talkin'. We'll soon see who's the tough one in this relationship.)

You've got no time to pussyfoot around when you're working.

Is this something that's developed since you've been in the music industry? ...Or...

...Or have I always been a bitch?

No, no... I wasn't even thinking that.

Yeah, right. She laughs

(Phew, that was close)

It's just that as you get on, you realise you have to be strong or people force you to do things.

Hey, no-one made you wear those baggy knickers.

They're all I had. And I didn't want to wear someone else's.

I know what you mean. (Has anyone ever told you your prickly nature is extremely sexy?)

I wanted to wear my pants.

I understand.

I wanted to wear my pants... which my VAGINA has been in.

Er... I get the picture. (Did she just say that word?)

What's wrong? Did you go to public school by any chance?

No, no. (Oh no, how embarrassing. She's spotted the chink in my armour. Explicit girlie gynaecology! Yuk. And she can sense it, too. I know she can.) Er, no, I didn't.

I just wondered, because you didn't like me using... VAGINA

(Arghh. That word, it's like Kryptonite, sapping my masculine strength. Avoid her stare. Think about something fluffy...) Er... er, yeah, I mean, no.

It's just that I've noticed public schoolboys prefer soft words like pussy.

No, I think you'll find all men do.

No, I think you'll find some men like the word... VAGINA!

Castrated man from ARENA reduced to puddle on the floor
Ha, ha. (Mummy! I want my mummy.)

(Laughing victoriously...) VAGINA! VAGINA!

Please don't. (You win. I accept defeat. Take Scotland. See if I care. You heathen, you.) God, it's awful. I can't even look you in the face. Men, hey! We think we're so bleedin' hard, and all it takes is one word and we go all queasy... Vagina! There, I said it.

Well done.

Vagina! Okay. I'm all right now... Vagina! See, no problem. I'm fine. Va... va... Shit. Who am I kidding? (He lay slain on the Highland battlefield, his hard-man exterior mortally wounded in a sexual joust by a simple word. A pair of balls! My kingdom for a pair of balls.)

I enjoyed that. It was fun.

Yeah, me too. (Please, you've vanquished me. Don't make it any worse.)