Helter skelter, the iconic slide of British funfairs, dates back to 1905 and refers to a much older adverb meaning ‘confused, disorderly haste.’
The ride inspired the Beatles song of the same name. Paul McCartney once said that he was “using the symbol of a helter skelter as a ride from the top to the bottom; the rise and fall of the Roman Empire – and this was the fall, the demise.”
He later said that the song was a response to critics who accused him of only writing sentimental ballads. It was McCartney’s attempt to create a sound as loud and dirty as possible. It is regarded as a key influence on the early development of heavy metal, as well as attributed as inspiration to the homicidal cult of Charles Manson.
Here, Helter Skelter is stripped of its function and remains as a sign of escapism and the chaos and disorder it tries to evoke.
Jannetje in ’t Veld, Toon Koehorst