I haven’t written anything for a while, and I’m not sure if my voice is going to sound gravelly or squeaky when it does come out. If I’m croaky or grumpy or boring or some other dwarf, bear with.

Instead of getting straight out of bed this morning, when my brain started buzzing at 05.30, I turned and tossed, trying different pillow combinations. For the first time in weeks, knowing I had a bit of holiday time, I let myself enjoy the wake-up noises. The birds. The way sleeping dreams bring your undealt with waking preoccupations into focus, and also deposit wyrd unbidden shit in front of you with a Derren Brown smile. You go ‘uhh?’ as you wake up and reach for the water with one and a half-eyes open. I wonder why I’m referring to myself in the second person. Distant early morning sound of bottle avalanche into recycling bins outside. It’s echoed a few seconds later by a closer sound a few octaves down, a deeper intake of breath through the nose as J turns over in her sleep. The fridge fanning itself as I sink into the sofa is a little like the five tone synth refrain in the song Come Home by James.

Family and personal matters, musical pasts and future love scenarios surfacing, jumping out of the primordial soup, crouton dolphins… I cannot take any of this too seriously, one of two blue tits just flew into the roof of the balcony, really cracking its head. Flew off tweeting grumpily. Its colleague remained on the feeder looking baffled for a second, and I giggled. Sorry, blue tit! The local birds always set off some latent Basil Fotherington-Thomas whimsy, which is always great for cheering the mind.

Right, wakey. It’s 06.14 where I am. Heat wave weekend gives way to grey Monday skies, as it should be. It looks like it may rain this morning. I came to suddenly about 30 minutes ago, assisted by the precessional cycle of birdsong: an alarum of tits, crows, blackbirds, collared doves, pigeons, sparrows, larks ascending. I’m making the larks up, I don’t think we have any larks.

Larks! I actually woke up from an exciting Inception-esque nested surreality escapade, in which I spotted an old friend I had recently dreamed about and excitedly began telling them about how I’d dreamed about them the other day, and it must have been a sign… We went round the old school, discussing his academic progress, then ended up going to a music festival. DS, if you can decipher any of this collared dove-addled memory game bollocks, and why you might keep featuring in it, get in touch.

Some of it was me mind harking back to some recent massive music broadcast extravaganza or other. Watching Glastonbury Festival on TV, I couldn’t put my finger on what was so awful about it [beat]… Of course, it was the omnipresence, the forced amazingness of it all, the ‘Last Night of the Proms in wellies’ Spiked noted drily. Stuff like the embarrassingly desperate performance from U2, Coldplay’s blandness still ruling the world: a towering, entirely wet latte of decaffeinated syrupy goo… Beyonce and Janelle Monae sort of saving the day for pop (insert diacritics pun here)… but as I woke up it was the apocalyptic tinny radio sound of Jessie J, echoing around a deserted, dried-up campsite, ‘It’s not about the money, money, money’, this unconvincing Kenobi-Orwellian mantra stuck on an increasingly deranged loop, wafting around the discarded tents, spent barbecues, H&M trilbies crushed into the mud, flowers in the dustbin.

Ah, maybe we’ll come back to “the music”. Cultural and metacultural analyses excite me not recently, among the reasons I don’t post as much here. These come from a number of different angles in my polyhedral wonderbrain. Reading too much, for several. I just finished teacher training (woop!), so I’m relaxing by, er, reading more… all over boingboing, 3QD, the Daily Grail, indymedia, TED, like I just worked out what the internet was for. But for my own lack of commentary, as if I owe or anyone requires an apology, soz.

I’ve realised that it’s perhaps just that my filters have improved. As an enthusiastic yet undisciplined zine maker & writer, in the past I felt personally moved to opine at the slightest provocation, often taking as little as months to vent my spleen. Now, though… I can’t bring myself to pass remark on everything that happens in the level of detail I used to. I don’t get as annoyed about ephemeral stuff for as long… and on global issues, say, neo-imperial intercession in Libya, I think I’ve been pretty consistent about the non-value of warring, and I start to feel like a one note samba dancer on a planet full of military two-steppers. As if I owe or anyone requires my opinion in the scheme of things, if scheme there is, if things there be.

All that twopenn’orth commentary nonsense is what I’ve been using Twitter for: look at this shit/shiny, shorturl, grumble/enthuse, forget about it.

Then, ah, then you see, glib Western modernity malaise, then I get all angsty about my lack of engagement. See, music, for a good example, used to be the most important thing in the world for me. My fixes of Select, Melody Maker, NME, my own forays into zines… becoming Audiogalaxy and Soulseek and the other online paradises where musical weed grows by the side of the road. A time of consciousness expansion, a never-ending DMT rush through decades of different sounds, digital cities, skyscrapers of folders, mountains of bits… then proselytised by digital hip priests, academic ruination, the curse of over-reading, Pitchfork-wielding hipster mob at my castle gates… gnashing my teeth in my sleep then waking up to soaked sheets in relief, in realisation that it was all a side-effect of my consumption and computing, coming full circle to love the pop, hate the culture, something like that, allowing that feeling of being lost in music, perking up to get down for a good tune when it happens, but not being so fucking uptight about it.

Happily, along with the wordy tech/esoterica reading, I keep stumbling upon and tumbling into good stuff, through KEKW, Julian Cope, etc. I am slowly making my noise with the world of music again. That rumble in the chest.

Further manifestations of having time for writing will occur, but yeah, that’s how it was this morning.

It’s a bit after the fact to complain about the use of pop music in adverts, a bit post-some shit or other. Witness the bleating that took place when Iggy Pop popped up in ads for car insurance: people who were but a glint in their grandad’s TV eye when Pop was raking bottles across his chest and vochowlising the missile trails of the nuclear A-bomb, these people, getting personally affronted, as if a) Iggy fucking Pop didn’t invent punk, b) Pop cared what they thought, or b) something really mattered about it. He is the passenger, but also the driver, yeah?

I used to get all stressed out about “selling out”. Being young and idealistic and making music in bands… haunted by the fantasia of the untainted artistic vision… for the majority of ‘mainstream’ bands, was it ever ought but the preserve of the financially secure, something easy to rationalise once the nasty period of ‘having a few hits’ was safely out of the way? And surely this model is now obsolete in any case, as ‘the music industry’ struggles to cope with new economic and technological paradigms? And has ‘the real story’ not always been one of artistes toiling for years in obscurity on their personal statements to the multiverse? (That’s enough pseudo-Žižekian economipop rhetoric? – Ed.)

Basically, moaning about pop music being a popular commodity is like dancing about Phil Collins retiring. I’ll be happy for a minute then feel like I’ve just wasted an opportunity to do something useful. However, I must express my extreme dissatisfaction with Queen’s ‘One Vision’ being included in a puff for British Gas. Witness the shitness here (embedding disabled because it’s AWFUL).

Of course, I was prepared to overlook the desperate appeal to aging Britpoppers now raising families that was the use of ‘The Universal’ in a previous, similar work. That ad also portrayed a number of animated planets, atomised individuals and families, looking in joy to the stars as their gas bills arced by in Newtonic splendour. The song playing the while was the one in which Damien Adenoidalbalm intones that “it reallyreallyreallycouldappen,” the associative grounds being that this is what we have been waiting for, this is the coming together of which they had a dream in them there 60s… I suppose it sort of fits with the advert, and the fact that Blur are, well, astronomically bollocks.

But! To continue the cosmic theme (because I know Brian May will like this, and it’s always worth nicking a great joke from Douglas Adams), with the use of One Vision in the recent ad, Earth has surely developed a minor eccentricity in its orbit, from Freddie Mercury SPINNING IN HIS GRAVE. It’s not even an asteroidal announcement of a pledge that a full third of British Gas profits will be going to fund renewable technology or something. It’s Nectar points.

Contrary to some arguments about his motivations, I think it is clear from the records and the record that Fred was, above all else, an idealist. The pomp, the nonsense, the ambiguities in life and death, were all part of one big Queen’s attempts to come to terms with life on this plane. Watch the bit from 01.58 in the video below. I almost cannot bear the expression of a desolation of ideals, an UNDERSTANDING of a better way swept aside by politics and economics, the assertion of the (naive but crucial) belief that, despite this, coming together and ROCKING THE PARTY can and will make it better.

Fred’s dead, baby. Fred’s dead. British Gas, with CHI and Partners, cast their eye around the world now, at different peoples striving for political autonomy and such, and thought ‘You know what, people NEED to know that being a British Gas customer means you can collect Nectar points.’ Then they thought that the best possible way to emphasise this was to use a song with basically incredible (in both the ‘I really dig this’ and the ‘Yeah, come on though, BUT…’ senses) lyrics of redemption through music. ‘No hate, no fight, just excitation…all through the night, it’s a celebration’. This fits, because it emphasises how you can also REDEEM Nectar points against a range of goods and services, and accumulate these points simply by being a British Gas customer. Simples! (That’s the wrong advert, you twat – Ed)

It’s a crazy little thing to get wound up about, maybe, but I saw it happening, that global harmony thing was, is, MY dream too. Nelson Mandela was let out on my birthday, and the Berlin Wall came down! ONE LOVE! But we’re STILL fucking fighting each other round the world, still living in a North Sea Bubble. Never mind, I shall amass Nectar points and CEASE MY WORRY. I mean, what’s the worst that couldappen? I suppose ‘One Vision’ could be used in a film glorifying militarist quasi-individualism or something.

Let us instead imagine the BEST that could happen. Clearly, the post-Freddie years of taking care of business with Baron Sir Ben Elton of Selloutavia have nullified the surviving (and participating) Queens’ aesthetic sensibilities too muchly. It has numbed the tongue in cheeks that Mercury brought them. But Brian… Roger… there’s still time. Time to tell British Gas to hitch a ride on someone else’s rocket ship. Then time to do a video with 5ive and JLS, in which you roll over their oiled bodies in homoage to the ‘I want to Break Free’ Video. Then go Stone Cold Crazy in some daft cover band midlife crisis mince. DO IT DO IT DO IT.

Meanwhile, here’s the full fried chicken silliness:

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.