Saturday, November 14, 2009


I had a helluva week. Theatre in Oldham last Thursday, the youth play "Heaven Spot" developed by Oldham Coliseum; music at the academy on Saturday, a sold out Yo La Tengo; and literature on Monday, Elizabeth Baines reading in Chorlton at the Book Festival. Knuckling down since then, working hard, cold nights, a certain waiting-for-the-weekend angst. Now its here, and I need to slow down, and then speed up. Ideas flashed by me all week, are those stories? or concepts? or am I too unobservant to see? I spent a while working through the back catalogue on Monday, getting back as far as 2002, in my writing, (a year when I seemed to write primarily about the internet and paranoia), and listened to a cassette I'd recorded as long ago as 1985, putting it on a second time as I struggled to recognise who it was that I was then.

I seem swamped in memories at the moment, echoing in my dreams alongside more troublesome thoughts. I'm thinking of myself as a little boy again, the age of innocence, and it's hard to do that without a certain pain. You remember the awkwardness rather than the innocence, I Think. I don't think I could write about my childhood - isn't it too generic? Yet I can smell the classroom, and there's something ineffably modern about my life, even as far back as 1972, a five year old in a hospital being saved by "modern medicine." Images of the hospital ward as I convalesced are some of my earliest memories. I didn't want to get out of the dream anaesthesia state; I remember a white hotel room surrounded by cards, and as I recovered, the squirrels - my totems - on the hospital lawns coming up to the window.

Memories are almost like the impressions left over from the stamp of life, they are inert, and unchangeable, but you can, like an archivist, find something more, go deeper into the canvas, go "oh, yes, that was why." Watching a drama of Margaret Thatcher's last days in power on the television it treats it - perhaps as it should - as a Shakespearean political drama - yet the life outside the commons, led by that disastrous administration, is absent. We only see the Conservative party as a comic creation, more Dickensian than Shakespearean. 1990 I was unhappy in my first job, or was I, at that stage, at least happy in it? I'd just bought a house, moved in, set up home, cut the lawn, filled the fridge. The unhappiness grew over the next couple of years; no political responsibility for that, I guess. There's a photograph somewhere of me at the Labour party winning party during that year's local elections. Thatcherism had no answers to the questions that it raised. Scorch earth policy, and the north has not yet quite recovered; yet they talk of this recession as the "longest" or the "deepest" - it doesn't feel anywhere near as disastrous? The social contract has held; but for how long? Next year we will see.

I half feel I should start another blog for my thoughts on politics, technology and the like; yet I distrust the truthfulness of commentary; of think tanks. I still have the higher respect for the truth that fiction can articulate. I need to have a read through the Times' "Best hundred books" of this underwhelming decade, to see if we are still managing it.

No comments: