For the last two nights I have very odd dreams – also unusual in that I actually remembered them fairly clearly, probably because I woke up a couple of times in the middle of the night, slightly discombobulated for a few moments sitting up in the dark with the dream still foremost in my mind, before becoming awake enough to realise it was just a dream. Then back to sleep and the dream continues – similarly when I actually woke up the dream was still running through my head.
Last night for some peculiar reason I dreamed I was making a documentary – said documentary involved, for no obvious reason I can think of, old folk artists the Alexander Brothers who we were filming on a kayak expedition. This kayak expedition started along the Scottish coast but soon moved inland where, due to severe floods, the towns nearby had been utterly flooded and we all paddled our canoes through the streets and, at several points, right through several houses, paddling along halls and into someone’s deluged living room, filming the brothers discussing climate change and the pleasures of both sea and the new urban kayaking in Scotland.
No, I have no idea where this came from, I haven’t been in a canoe since I was in the Boy’s Brigade at an outdoor centre (and that wasn’t yesterday!) and quite why this documentary was about the Alexander Brothers and kayaks I have no idea…
The night before that I dreamed my work told me that they were expanding the store above into the basement, so my desk down under the depths of the Bridges had to be moved even deeper down. I was taken on a long walk down a dark tunnel even deeper into the undercity below, where after a good half hour’s walk from my old desk we came to a floodlit area in one of the deep stone tunnels. It’s a bit of a walk to your desk, I’m afraid, they told me, then also added that I would have to put up with some noise and coming and going as there was an archaeological excavation going on just a few feet from where they had set up my desk. When I woke up in the middle of the night the dream was so strong in my head I was sitting there for a few moments thinking I’m not letting them treat me like this, must call my union rep… Oh, hold on, dream… And like last night, when I fell asleep again the same dream ran again. Not unusual for me to have odd dreams, we all have those, and the amount I read it’s not surprising I get a lot of them, but very unusual to remember them so clearly well into waking. And really, what the smeg was the canoeing through houses with a pair of old folk musician documentary about??
Today marks my ‘Douglas Adams’ birthday – 42. This, of course, means I now am perfectly at one with The Answer to Life, The Universe and Everything. Mind you, as anyone who knows where their towel is can probably guess, I still don’t understand the bloody Great Question, rendering it all pretty pointless (an apt metaphor for life, really – puzzling, frustrating, disappointing and pointless). At least I know my Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster from my Old Janx Spirit. I’m not really sure how I come to find myself at this age. On the one hand it seems like just the other year I was a happy mid 20s student drinking my way through college and quite happy, other days it feels like a lifetime ago. I suppose it was. Can’t say I especially feel like celebrating; truth be told I don’t really give a damn about my birthday, its on such an awkward day its a bit of an afterthought so it hasn’t really meant much to me in my adult years, different when you are a kid. And these days it doesn’t feel like there’s much reason to celebrate.
‘Tis the season when every second bloody advert is from celebs from A to Z list hawking their wares: perfumes, endless comedy DVDs and books which are instantly sold at half price in the chain bookstores and supermarkets. I’m so utterly disgusted by the crass, obvious commercialism of all of this that I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and endorse my own scent, Eau de Joe. Why buy a perfume that allegedly makes you smell like some Hollywood slapper when you could have Eau de Joe, with its peaty, single malt mixed with hints of 80% coco chocolate, must books and cat fur aroma.
And for that other perfect gift for Christmas why not select my new special Joe Stands Up comedy DVD. Its an hour long of me standing up in different poses, from bolt upright to nonchalantly leaning against the fireplace in my smoking jacket as I tap out my pipe. Order now and get the bonus extra disc Joe Also Sits Down. Truly something for everyone.
Okay, I’ll admit, these are shoddy, inferior goods designed simply to be bought by folks desperate for gift ideas for relatives whose tastes they don’t really know that well, just like every other shameless celebrity endorsed bag of crap, but at least I’m honest about it. And my comedy DVD would still be funnier than bloody Peter Kaye or Gavin and bloody Stacey. Hmm, maybe I should think on a range of action figures for next year…
Quite a while back I was asked by Tom and Simon Sykes if I’d like to contribute to a book they were putting together on British attitudes to Europe; its taken some time to get to print but its now finally been released (I just received my complimentary copy). It was quite nice to be asked (they had come across the Woolamaloo after the infamous ‘Bastardstone’s’ incident and liked my writing style) and it was unusual for me to be asked to write on something other than my regular subjects of books, comics or films (much as I do enjoy writing and talking about those). I’m also rather chuffed to think I’m in there with company such as Bill Deedes, Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell and Tony Benn (my late uncle, a solid socialist to the day he died, would have been delighted to see his nephew in a book alongside Benn). The guys wanted to have a spread of people and so a variety of thoughts and opinion and not just the ‘usual suspects’, hence why I was also approached; I drew on my own experience of an earlier Union to describe my feeling towards European Union, looking at the notion of being Scottish and British against the idea of being British but also European. Fog in Channel (the title inspired by the old weather report on the radio) is published now by Shoehorn Publishing.
You want to see something truly scary? This is an image from the 1984 yearbook at my school showcasing the leading lights – should that be LEDs perhaps? – of the (then new) Computer Club. The bright-eyed young chap on the left rear has recently captained the Academy’s first ever team in an inter-school computer quiz and beat the opposing team captain in a sudden death playoff, so you see it wasn’t just playing Manic Miner and Elite, although I bet I could have kicked hs butt at those too. Yes, that gurning grin belongs to me. Bloody scary isn’t it? Go on, you all have a good laugh, I don’t mind; just remember you all have scary images like this from your past hidden away too!
My mate Gordon is right next to me (these days we still prop up bars together) and there are my mates Malcolm and Bobby – we all still hang out together to this day and have contributed to the wealth of many of Scotland’s finest curry house owners over the years.
The Evil Herr Thatchler was in Downing Street and a mentally challenged warmonger was in the Oval Office, while we worried about terrorist attacks and anyone with a certain ethnic accent was suspected by the police who were always looking for more powers to deal with them.
I think at that point in time I had my Sinclair Spectrum with its mighty 48K memory; before that was my Texas Instruments 99/4a – 16K in 1981, very impressive! My mobile phone has many times this memory today… 6 years after this pic I would have moved on through my old Atari ST (wow, a built in floppy drive!!!! Hi-tech!) to a PC (30MB of real hard drive – astonishing… Now my portable USB drive has 512MB and I gave up counting the gigabytes in my laptop’s system, it is just silly). It’s the mid 80s and I’m reading something new called cyberpunk by a guy called William Gibson – he talks of a digital, networked future…
And on PC 6 years after this picture I would be introduced to the very basic internet and email (no web yet, pretty much all text based) of 1991. And one day I write a pastiche of a news item for a laugh and to let off steam and I email it to some friends around the world under the banner The Woolamaloo Gazette, born of sarcasm… It is later in the 90s and I’m hosting an author event with Bill Gibson, listening to his wonderful slow drawl and I’m plugging into that digital web myself.
2005; my long hair is long gone but the Woolamaloo Gazette is still there, now written on a dinky little laptop smaller than they keyboard of my old TI from 1981; I’ve lost a job because of my sarcasm and web access and got a much better one; now I’m being interviewed on freedom of expression on the web for CNN. It is indeed a funny old world…
An increasingly right wing nutter is in 10 Downing Street and a mentally challenged monkey is in the Oval Office and we are worried about terrorist outrages and the police are demanding more powers to deal with them while anyone from a certain ethnic background was suspected… Guess some things don’t change much… I’m still reading Bill Gibson.