Saturday, October 14, 2006

Swimming or Drowning

I've been a bit out of sorts this week, slow fuse, little things making me annoyed, and I seem to be making all the wrong kind of choices - mad ideas, that seem just plain stupid the next day. I guess you make poor judgements when you're feeling tense, or stressed, or simply frustrated, and its a combination of all three really. The warm glow of my 3 weeks off is in the distant past, and I think I need a few short weeks before Christmas. Maybe I just need to get away - I've only had a couple of short breaks in the last couple of years. But you also make poor decisions when you don't understand how the world works: and I think that's part of it - I'm a bit isolated creatively, this blog aside, and I guess every creative person sometimes thinks "why am I doing this?" I think I began an odyssey when I started my creative writing course in 1997, but its one that's left me no nearer land than before, and, I don't think I've learnt that much from the journey either. Ho hum. Perhaps I'm destined to remain in this state of flux, maybe its my natural state? Whatever...but making the correct decisions artistically, as well as commercially, is kind of critical. Any project's going to take time, effort, energy. My latest on the bus wheeze was to write an autobiographical novel/memoir, "Comprehensive", about my last year at a school that didn't really have much idea what to do with someone bright and creative. I could name the chapters after the timetable "General Studies" "Home Economics" "English Literature" rather than go through things chronologically. Then, I thought, lets call it "Incomprehensible" - which my last year at school pretty much was - but that would kind of ruin the earlier conceit. Perhaps I should get lofty - and ironic - and call it "A Comprehensive Education" - and then what does this say politically? I do agree with comprehensive schools, just not the crap, dumbed down, well meaning but useless one I went to. And would it have to be a memoir? I don't really like them. I'd prefer to write it as a novel. You can play around with things a bit more - but there wouldn't be much point in me making things up. And then again, I hate nostalgia, I see how bad it is. I don't think Manchester's had a successful breakout band since it was codified on screen in "24 Hour Party People" - falling foul of Liverpool's disease isn't really what the "original modern" city should be all about, is it? I'm only mentioning this, because I'm going to a couple of events next week where Peter Saville will be talking about his vision for the city. I get the feeling he wants them to look deeper, whereas they probably just wanted a "logo." Yet, the first thing to be badged "original modern" at the literature festival, stories written in and around odd locations, for broadcast on Radio 4, seems, on the surface, an entirely nostalgic idea, with some rather predictable choices of writer. But catch them on Radio 4 next week, or "listen again" here for 7 days after.I'll be interested to see whether Saville's "original modern" idea will survive the work that attaches to it. I have my own idea, but in a week of poor judgements its probably not a good idea to run with it, which is to commission a range of local bands to produce a piece of "experimental" music for an Original Modern Music CD. What I mean by "experimental" I'd leave up to them. It could be an interesting concept. Or it might just be another bad idea. I wasn't asked to contribute to The Burgess Project, but anyway, I'd already written my piece, a few years ago, a poem for a projected series of poems about "heroes" (I think I got as far as Anthony Burgess and Yoko Ono before abandoning it...) In the spirit of not knowing a good idea from a bad one here it is...

Anthony Burgess

The novelist is Mancunian
And he spits out the words
Takes tea with Lew Grade
And agrees to "do" Jesus.
He'd get a kick from the sanskrit
And papyrus, this linguologist,
Gasping for a beer on the road into Burma.
We look on at our life, make do with the naming -
But not the great writer,
Has still to wrestle posterity down
Finger reputation before the last breath.
I would burn all the books, burn them -
Let him stay on in memory
Kicking and screaming his way from the music
Ornating his pages with Joycean flourish
Out with his droogs drinking moloko
And never in need of rhyme for orange.

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