Not many people can say they have inherited a moustache. Maybe old furniture, perhaps jewellery, quite probably money – but a moustache? No. However, when David Bramwell’s great Aunt Sylvia dies that’s exactly what he’s left.
So, what does one do with a 100-year old moustache? Well, in The Haunted Moustache, Bramwell charts his weird and wonderful journey to discover the story behind the ‘tash’s elusive former owner, Ambrose Oddfellow.
He takes us on his journey from Coventry Polytechnic to Woodhall Spa (a small village in the depths of Lincolnshire), with its still-operating ‘Kinema in the Woods’, before finally to Brighton – where he went for a day and never left- as you do. There he explores its seedy underbelly – spiritual churches, séances and an underground club, The Zinc Bar, where he unwittingly becomes the host of a modern-day freak show. Believing the heirloom is possessed, Bramwell joins a cottage-squatting cult, with whom he dabbles in telepathy-inducing psychedelics. The most dramatic episode of which leads him to Drako Zarhazar – a man who can remember modelling for Salvador Dali and hanging out with The Stones but not the day before.
The show’s second half was devoted to Bramwell’s theory of what magic is. Where traditional notions bind magic up in a material culture of voodoo dolls and hagstones, he suggests that magic is the intentional use of language to manipulate conscience. Nations, human rights and money – all examples of modern magic, or “inter-subjective reality” as termed by Yuval Noah Harari in his best seller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. That is, shared fictions that exist solely in collective imagination to allow strangers to cooperate and dominate both the objective and subjective worlds. He discusses the intersection of science in superstition. That contrary to rational notions, studies have shown that the mind is capable of healing in ways we still don’t fully understand.
Charming till the end – Bramwell holds his audience’s’ attention in his one-man show of heritage and curiosity, as he explores the life of Oddfellow and ideas of what magic is throughout society.
Image Credit – The Haunted Moustache, Dr David Bramwell