I know I keep saying ‘I’m gonna…’ There’s a running gag in Our House about our friend Anita (‘Anita Writemore…Anita Stopsmoking… Anita Haveabreak-Fromthebooze’) Well, yeah. I’m busy getting on top of lesson planning. It’s a bane of the trainee teacher’s life… This term has been v. tough for me, and I know from talking to m’fellow trainees that they’re all knackered as well. Very challenging work, teaching and thinking about teaching. It don’t come easy. Especially when, as ver Pistols also once observed, you’re a lazy sod.

Yet! Upping my work rate in all areas (Sun in Aries, digits extracted, etc) will see a marvellous cultural flowering here in relatively short order, of course it will. Anyway, short version, I’ve got a couple of blog bits and pieces in progress, should you be interested, so stay tuned.

While that’s germinating, here are my current five favourite RSS Live Links feeds, the material distracting me from adding my own two penn’orth and, indeed, from getting on with planning lessons for Year 9, but also providing inspirations.

In no particular order…

Back Towards the Locus, always interesting and neatly-phrased perspectives on items, from Ben Six. Recently discussing Libya and wrestling.

From Julia Smith in Tokyo, Ten Minutes Hate. Doubleplus good writing on politics, living and working abroad.

The does-what-it-says-on-the-tin celebration of female wordsmiths fuck yeah lady writers!

And a two-way tie between ‘one-stop intellectual surfing experience’ 3 Quarks Daily and Unicorn Chasers Boing Boing.

I’m sure there’s nothing there you didn’t already know about, and it is perhaps equally superfluous to note that there’re lots of other equally inspiring people writing about all sorts, but I’ve been digging these ones in particular. Happy distractions, and I’ll be back after these words from Vygotsky.

Salutations to Julia at ten minutes hate, keeping calm and carrying on in Japan. Scanning the telescreens this morning, I read with dismay that we (The UN), principally the US, UK and France, are once again lobbing cruise missiles into Libya. The precise reasoning for ‘our’ involvement here and not in Bahrain or Yemen, for example, remains unclear.

What might George Orwell have thunk, I wondered?

When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them.

(From Politics and the English Language, George Orwell, 1946)

M. le Président

Woke up early, before five and daylight, and the sound of first one then two birds twitting loudly right outside the window stopped me from dropping off again. Shortly I found a more familiar bite in the guts. This could have been due to different dietary effects wrought by seasonal feasting, or perhaps the scary movie we watched late last night (recent adaptation of M.R. James story Whistle and I’ll come back to you) and all the attendant restless dreaming I knew would be induced by considering the ghosts of living people and the alien landscapes of our minds, thoughts half-bidden foregrounding.

By this I mean I had some perhaps hilariously elaborate dreams, the last
of which I recall ended with me and twenty or so of the rebels (Ivorians, Palestinians, Yugoslavs and Free French) running through fences and scrub to flee the tanks and CGI wicker basilisks, escaping in a descent down endless stairs along which thick nets of cobwebs had been left as a simple natural first line of defence. I realised this halfway down and ducked while running, but the guys behind me kept forgetting and were showering me with insects and arachnids as they tore through the webs. I knew as I kept pounding down the stairs a particularly hairy spider would later emerge one leg at a time from the neck of my olive fatigues as we sat round the campfire. Maybe it just meant I needed a good crap, but anyway, there was that bite. I eventually acknowledged it actually meant I would have to get up and write.

[This is now being typed up from handwritten notes, from a green hardback with lined pages. My spidery scrawl continues:]
In an earlier notebook, maybe it’s this one, I likened the feeling I get when I’m writing, really *getting those words down*, to being underwater. What I probably meant was trying to convey the feeling of suspension of breath, and of time, a slowing of the pulse, noise filtered away, the weird refractive light, and the sudden sound and colour, the splashing, when returning to the surface. Funnily, when writing *this* down, bits of paper and card I’ve tucked into my notebook fell out on to the sofa where I’m sat, curled up, resting on the left arm with a cushion across my knees and my nose about four inches from the page.

Among the addenda bombing the shallow end are two pieces of paper torn out of a notebook, folded roughly. It is pages from a dream diary I was keeping. I remember I removed them because I had higher designs for that particular notebook. The date on the front sheet is 02.01.10. The note describes a hilariously elaborate dream, one of those detailed-yet-pretty-hazy-on-waking ones you may be familiar with. It starts with a comment that ‘my dreams were telescopic’, which as I’m writing this now seems a nice image, my inner eye at the other end of whatever tube it is I’m looking down [and as I’m typing a short while later I am thinking of moon maps and naval eye-patches]. The dream had me watching Bruce Springsteen somewhere, from afar, and as I made my way nearer, through lines of crowd and police, into the seven or eight-sided chapel that was the venue – not the Union Chapel, though that would be an awesome gig… this one was a bit more of a dilapidated castle, with battlements crumbling to create steps to allow people through… I’ll let me-in-January 2010 take up the recount:

‘…the direct route in seemed too obvious, the exit crammed with hipsters + early adopters – inside Bruce played to a collegiate crowd, The Gaslight Anthem (steampunk) playing but kind of modified to this bearded combo of Fleet Foxes, Women, Olivia Tremor Control. The singer making announcements that sounded like stage chat but then could have been recorded songs, weird psychedelic exhortations to learn about everything, using the internet to access [playing as backdrops] videos of massive underwater polyps, Qabalah diagrams, compleat histories of esoteric tradition, films about witches, documentaries on puritan rebellion, popular revolt… then talking with the singer and enthusiastically explaining how I could really relate to all this – see, when I went to University first in 1992 this was all a pipe dream, but this is what was in the dream, information, the chance and the knowledge that we will all just have this stuff in our heads and that’s how the great leap forward next will happen… I did tell him that I had been doing a bit of acid, [thinking about stuff with friends like] total thought communism, this idea we played with one night spangled, and here it all is. The creeping thought stole upon me that he wasn’t listening – concerned with grooming his beard – his American bandmates crowded round, talking of the ramifications of immigration, the custom people coming to disapprove. He was like what would Jesus do? And I said he’d probably say let your freak flag hang, man. All those pacifist reveries and the platonic reasoning and other dreams of expansion through technology masked, by apps, public relations, property recycling, money, money, money. Waking up I was thinking, where did our sense of wonder, fun + excitement go? Email – why don’t we call it spacemail or something? We’re wheeling round in circles and there’s a universe to explore – keep the wheels turning, onwards, avanti avanti avanti!’

That’s how I tend to get round the new year, all enthused about getting into a fresh groove, mixed with the usual post-god/alcohol goldfish bowl cocktail pescimism. This new year, looking back round the spiral, I have to acknowledge that my dreams of global enlightenment through music and talking cock about the daft shit we think up remain tantalisingly 5,000 miles adrift. But look, this internet tool, it’s amazing! ‘The information age’, constantly effervescing and elephantine, 2010 bringing up actual sci-fi-like cyber warfare, as the Grauniad panted excitedly… clearly the experiment will continue to have a lot of explosions and sooty faces as we mix substances to see what goes green and what goes bang, but like an actual brain, mainly, the more exciting and energising stuff goes in, the more excitement and energy comes out. My output on this blog has been scanty, as a direct consequence of action in the offline part of the world. This old year I left my job in London to come home to Yorkshire, where I’m studying to be a teacher. Good friends of mine have gone abroad, to teach as well. People I haven’t seen for years tag turn out to be inspiring writers. Information has again realised the capacity to slip its handlers and make its way to receptive people. 2011, for me, will be aimed at nurturing all that.

There’s my dream interpretation/farewell to some of that message, if that’s not just a pointlessly 20th century, Viennese finger up the nose bit of a sucrose sentimental self-examination concept to tolerate, O reader. Hauntings and hall of mirror comedy dream reflections refracting and conspiring to bring me about full circle, thrice widdershins to see my own boss-eyed self gurning out from the porch, going flibbalubbalub across my lips with the other forefinger, knuckle deep in one nostril in the Alfred E. Neuman style as new year fireworks pop and fizz about.

Dreams, hauntings, visions, ghost stories, I love them and acknowledge them for what they are, most likely minds trying to make sense of masses of data, dancing silly spooky dances round ourselves. For 2011 I resolve to get more of my waking life into enjoying writing, and reading, then getting those enthusiastic spider scratchings on these spacepages.