Tuesday, 26 August 2008

In My Dreams I Visit Sunderland

Every night recently, I’ve had extremely vivid dreams. Some have been nightmarish. I can sometimes wake in the middle of the night rigid with the fear that some shape in the folds of the curtains looks vaguely human. A few have been comic and I wake laughing manically at some joke I’ve already forgotten. Some have been neither, just crazy jumbles of meaning that hide something deeper.

Very little of last night’s adventure made it through to morning. I do remember that it involved a day out to Sunderland in the company of Judy, Jeremy Clarkson and, for reasons that will become apparent, New York poet and songwriter, Suzanne Vega. At some stage of the proceedings, Jeremy found himself wearing a bronzed bikini which precluded him from returning home by train. Instead, he used his vast wealth to charter a luxury yacht and we all sailed home with Jeremy clinging to the mast a la Simon Le Bon from some Duran Duran video of the early eighties.

As I say, much of the dream is lost to me but there was a very clear moment when I was sitting in a art gallery’s cafe talking to Suzanne Vega about the novels of Thomas Pynchon.

‘I have tried to read them but I grow quickly bored of their prolonged insanity,’ I was saying.

Suzanne looked at me, her eyes twitching in that way she has when excited. ‘But he’s a master of prose and his surreal take on the world should appeal to you Richard. Isn’t that what you’re trying to do with your books?’

‘I don’t know if it’s surreal or just lacking a strong through story,’ I replied. ‘And I don’t know if I want to be considered as hysterical realist. What’s wrong with a good old fashioned plot?’

I fear that this is the point at which I disappointed Suzanne. She was immediately whisked off by some long haired bohemian type who could talk the talk about Pynchon and play the bass guitar. I paid for the coffees, looked up, and found myself emerging from Manchester’s art gallery and turning left towards the office.

Waking up this morning, I could see how the dream arose from my waning literary hopes and concerns for my future. When Suzanne Vega first burst onto the music scene, she was the woman whose love I wanted to win through my wit and artistry. I fell in love with her distinctive looks, but even more so, her dry humour, her introversion, her sublime lyrics, and that voice like a cold wind whipping down the aisles of New York. She was everything I wanted to find in a woman, everything I wanted from life; intelligence, poetry, an ability to fingerpick the acoustic guitar, a left-of-centre brilliance, everything that was out of the ordinary yet so very right for me. That she should appear at this moment in a dream is no coincidence. It was my heart telling me something.

That Jeremy should be there too is no surprise. I think the dream was my subconscious reminding me that wit skirts around success, fame, intelligence, passion, oddity, and art. Your kind comments have helped me recently when I’ve been feeling low and tired. Elberry sent me an email that cheered me immensely and Selena wrote a piece to which I’m too humble to respond except to say that she’s right in every significant detail. As for me: I’m going to look again at my novel that left me feeling so underwhelmed yesterday. I’m going to rededicate myself to it and it to Suzanne Vega and Jeremy Clarkson. I can see now that few things make sense and it’s better to embrace the unusual. I should thrive on it and make it my own.

The only thing that still worries me is Sunderland. Why Sunderland? I’ve never been there in my life and I can’t say I’m keen on starting now. Call me old fashioned but I really don’t want to visit a city that sells bikinis in Jeremy Clarkson’s size. Or perhaps that’s it. Sunderland was really Manchester, where I’ll be tomorrow and Thursday, where they do sells bikinis in Jeremy Clarkson’s size.


Selena Dreamy said...

“The further into the book I read, the less it is going to be polished. However, it’s like running a marathon without a crowd to encourage you one.”

So you already know all about the loneliness of the long-distance writer, Richard, solitary, anonymous and unrecognised.

Fact is, as I said before on the pages of this blog, every writer has his own hell: it is his love of letters. He’s alone with his art. Every word is his turf, every paragraph has a story, every page has its history. And if it is all a delusion, it is a delusion that can only be redeemed by purpose and the force of the human intellect. For in writing alone above all the enterprises of art there is meaning in endeavour dissociated from success. Letters are our destiny. And if any man desires to be elevated at all, to possess and treasure veracity, no blind struggle, no lack of integrity in his own sense of purpose will ever achieve that end...

...I wish you strength - I wish you power!


Anonymous said...

Sunderland is hell.

Lola said...

I bet you a million pounds that Sunderland isn't as bad as Rotherham. Only 10 days to go...

Anonymous said...

Rotherham? Christ, my mother's family are from Rotherham, lifelong dolescum, filthy gouching wasters in need of a merciful extermination.

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