Snooze ripples

You were aware of having to wake up soon and not wanting to.  Through your dreamy fuzz you half wondered what the weather was going to be like and whether you could take your bike to school. 

You’d been dreaming about holding hands with a nice girl again. You didn’t know who she was but that didn’t matter.  She showed you attention and affection.  Unfortunately she wasn’t with you in bed because she wasn’t actually real. 

You woke but you didn’t. 

In your bed but not.  Hearing wind and rain spatter against your window, you shivered, still without opening your eyes.  Then you were awake.  Except you weren’t. 
 
Everything seemed familiar and comfortable.  But it shouldn’t have been.  You’d never been there before in your life, although it all felt normal enough.  You were aware of the other people in rooms nearby, people your age but not related.  It was pissing down outside.  How were you going to get to school?  Biking in would be quicker than walking, but you’d get wet.  There was the bus, but you hated the bus, the people.  The stress of making the decision was too much.  Then you got confused. 

What time was it?  The red LCD display of your clock radio (but not really your clock radio) said one thing, said it was time to get up and begin the day.  But surely it was still way too dark outside?  It was still very dark, nightime and raining.  Was it really just the clouds making it that dark outside?  It was a day that wouldn’t inspire the most vivacious, annoyingly cheerful, life-loving person to get up. 

You walked across your room and pressed the button to start up your aged television.  It clunked, struggled for a second, then revealed the breakfast news.  Two people sitting on a sofa, smiling.  The time in the bottom corner of the screen was two hours earlier than your clock radio said it was.  Why was that?  You trusted the television over your clock radio – it was controlled by someone else so it must be right – so you flopped back into bed, surrendering, allowing it to envelop you in all its swallowing glory.

You sank back into an unconsciousness which you’d never actually left.  Soon after, too soon after, so soon after that it was surely plain wrong – your clock radio went off, you joined the radio newsreader reading news mid-sentence and involuntarily tried to compute what he was saying.  You stopped trying as quickly as you’d started.  Aha, reality, you were sure of it this time – although you had been sure last time too. 

Now you were amused at how real your dream had felt, surprised to feel disappointed that the horrible, grey wintry weather of the dream was complete fiction.  You’re bored by this interminable summer sunshine which everybody is commanded to unconditionally love.  It bullies you into being outside, feeling like you should be outside even if you don’t want to be outside. 

Still lying there, you wondered, only for a second, how and why you were so convinced this one was your reality.  If you’d have pressed the snooze button and turned off your clock radio right then, slunk back into unconsciousness, would you have emerged shortly afterwards, teleported into another alternative, more real feeling reality you were convinced was your own? 

Then if that one wasn’t ideal, if you never woke up in a bed flanked by beautiful girls, happy with yourself and your life, then you could just try again. 

And again.  Until?  You found it, you died, you compromised, you gave up?   So would you try that, just keep hitting Snooze until..? 

No, you decided.  Your mum would get pissed off and you’d be late for school.

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Half of them don’t believe you, of course.  Just think you’re mad so they smile politely, younger girls in groups on buses might titter, giggle like. Bored blokes in pubs raise their eyebrows like they couldn’t care less. 

Thing is, I think it’s interesting.  Didn’t much at the time, but now, looking back, it’s one of the things which stands out in my life, my time spent doing that.  It’s the kind of thing I reckon people are likely to have their attention caught by, turn to me, give me a second chance, reassess their judgement about my appearance or whatever.  When I tell them that, then they’ll change. 

Course it don’t happen like that.  Hardly ever, in fact.  They giggle or turn away, or are offended by the fact I’ve tried chatting to them.  Or they just look bored  Whatever.  Jog on, grandad.  Maybe I don’t sell it in a convincing enough way, or it just doesn’t sound believable.  Not when I slur it or mumble, or don’t speak it clearly enough.

What?  Well, loads of stuff, since you ask.  Drove the taxi away in The Apprentice, didn’t I?  Every booted out candidate for three series, right from the start.  You never saw me, but I was always there in that cab.  With the crew and whatever sorry git had been fired by Sir Alan that week.  Sometimes they’d be crying, couldn’t quite believe it, or like they suddenly recognised their own weaknesses like.  Others would be angry – they were the funnier ones: convinced Sugar had made a mistake which he’d pay for. Like he gives a stuff. 

Never actually watched it.  Can’t have realised how popular it was at the time or I’d have blown my trumpet about it more then.  The cameras and what-not ‘d pile in first, facing the opposite direction.  Then whoever it was would follow, looking a bit shellshocked by it all, trying to look proud and together, like they didn’t really mind all that much.  Just a game.  I knew them for what they were though. 

When the cameras piled out and it was just me and them.  I could look in my rear view mirror, see into their eyes – which avoided mine; the hurt.  Before I dropped them off somewhere central, one of the big stations, then watched for a moment as they pulled their suitcases off, alone. 

Like I tell them, if they’ll listen, it wasn’t the best one anyway.  Not much compared to those speedboats, hoiking the losers off them tropical islands.  There were several different series for that, never kept track.  One was Love something; gobby tossers.  Others were for kids, much younger, but still like, “young adults” or whatever they call em.  Hardly like they looked innocent, most of em.  Time in the sun, driving speedboats between tropical islands a few weeks of the year.  Yeah, that was the life.

Always think perhaps somebody might recognise me from those few summers spending Friday nights standing outside the front door where we’re going.  Of course, most attention’s on the baboon who’s being evicted – no offence like – when they launch themselves swaggering and slobbering into the press and fans, and Davina.  She’s lovely.  Just down to earth, like, y’ know?  I just stood there, made sure the doors opened and whoever it was had enough brain-cells to walk through the door and down the steps.  Some of them even said hello, good bye or whatever: the few with self awareness that they were still a person who could relate to the likes of me.  Still, I was on the telly a bit in that one.  Nobody recognises me now, from this seat.  They’re all looking at you.  I prefer it that way.

Cowell’s minder on the X-Factor Pop thingy for a few series too.  Yeah, that was fun: always guaranteed a handul of total headcases there.  And I played a bit in the Strictly Come Dancing band.  The odd bit of percussion when they had a drop-out.  Didn’t matter that we rarely got the recognition.  The dancing was the point of it, wasn’t it?  The whole spectacle.  Lovely.

So yeah, you might say I’ve been exposed a few times to the limelight.  Just in the background, but there or thereabouts.  Enough to get a sense of it.  I’ll tell you what, I think you’re best off out of it altogether, to be fair. 

But you know, good luck anyway.  -Oh, there you go.  Sorry love, it’s open now.  Knock em dead.

First thoughts

You realised slowly that you had in fact dreamt it, that it was just a dream, even though you were still within the dream when you realised. Oh good, it can’t be real, you figured, understanding somehow that it was a dream and that you were still asleep.

Those few horrific moments continued to plague your sleep, returning and replaying. And haunting. Even when you turned over and shook yourself into a momentary consciousness, attempting to finally shake it off – to begin a new, unconnected dream – even after that it returned.

Again and again.

The gunshot. A dangerous fizz, deafening crack, deadening splut.

You’ve never liked her much, your mother’s friend. Every time you meet her you try to like her, but always end up feeling annoyed with her. You think she believes herself magnificently entertaining to everyone who speaks to her, and anyone who disagrees is an idiot. You don’t agree. Still you appease her and wish her no bad feeling because she and her placid husband are good friends to your parents.

So when you saw the bullet enter the side of her head and the blood immediately seep out in ribbons as she slumped over, her head thudding on the desk for good measure, then you were shocked and scared. Possessed by an internal intense terror and punishing responsibility. What were you doing there? In that scene? You never found out, you had no role to play in it, a fly on the wall. And it was just a dream anyway.

So why were you still feeling guilty? Because, what if she was actually dead, somehow? Don’t be ridiculous, you told yourself, knowing you wouldn’t check.

When your day began, when you were eating your toast and brushing your teeth, back the memory poured. Insistently levering its way back into your mind. A harrowing blood-red washing across the freeze-frame.

And at inopportune times throughout the day. When you were in a meeting attempting to form a response (your reply took longer than normal and you knew your colleagues were wondering if you were all right). When you were bored, trying to terminate an unnecessarily detailed phone call.

Fizz-crack-splut.

Part of the shock was that it was unexpected. The scenario wasn’t highly likely. The woman you don’t like who would never be wrong about anything, she had been accused of a motoring offence. In a police interview room with here were two officers and her alleged victim, a quiet young asian man.  None were injured.

She believed he was at fault and reacted incredulously towards anyone who couldn’t understand this, shrieking melodramatically. Why they were even in a police station interview room in the first place was never clear. You had no physical place in the scene at all.

The silent young victim nonchalantly pulled out a gun and shot her – FizzCrackSplut – before lying his weapon down on the table and allowing himself to be seized by preposterously calm, unshocked police officers.

A short scene with little, if any intelligible dialogue. Aside from her dramatic remonstrations, the others were sombre, dutifully playing out the scene you orchestrated from a far off place. Then the dramatic climax, and you’re not even sure if it would have sounded like that as you’ve never heard anything like it in reality: simply pieced it together from films.

Then an abrupt cut. You next find yourself chatting to two police officers on a bridge over a motorway. They’re not surprised when you retell the story of what just happened. In fact, they predict what happens before you’ve even reached that part of the story. That happens a lot in your dreams. You can never surprise anybody you speak to.
On the bus to work in the morning, the images were still fresh, replaying themselves with a vile vigour. You couldn’t remember doing anything that would have evoked such a dream. No thriller novels or war films. The back of the woman’s head four seats in front could have been her’s. Except it wasn’t, because she lives hundreds of miles away.

A postscript to the dream shortly afterwards doesn’t remain as vivid but is the last connection before your mind escapes the chain of this dream and sets you free. She is alive. You saw her in another scene where you had no physical presence, on a lush, long grassed hill where she frolicked with children and a dog. It felt like heaven. This is where she went, this is where you sent her after flippantly designing her assassination, you evil person. You left her there and floated away. It’s not that postscript that you remember though, is it?

FizzzzcrACK~splut.

Eventually it slides away from prominence in your mind.

That is, until you settle to sleep again tonight. The newly relaxed state of your body and mind chillingly reacquaints you with your first thoughts of the day. You shiver, turn over, shut your eyes tight, try to pack the images away.

And now you sleep.

Faltering stamina

My stamina with the whole self promotion thing might be flagging somewhat. It’s not helped by feeling generally uncomfortable with attention, yet having to shirk that feeling. 

It’s not my natural habitat, but I’ll do it if called upon – which isn’t a great approach for somebody starting out.  You need that labrador-like energy and zesty willingness to hurl yourself into stuff and bleat on about how brilliant you are to anyone who’ll listen. 

If you can deliver as well, that helps, but ostensibly it often seems to matter less.

Just not sure I can be arsed even trying to do that anymore, the shouty twittery thing.  I’m finding it a bit of a drag maintaining the will keep checking my work Twitter feed and all these relentlesly moving and shaking people of apparently indomitable positive spirit who I suppose should be termed my peers.

Am I falling out with the subject of my trade – that is, if I was ever “In” with it (for there are plenty of things in this short life which interest me much more), or am I simply tiring of the loudest people who work in it because I have too much time to listen to them?  Both perhaps, maybe one slightly more than the other.

Either way, I’d just like a job please  Preferably one with decent conditions, flexitime, 9-5 if possible, not too many outside demands.  One which ensures I don’t starve and I can still live in relative comfort, even if it won’t afford me lavish wheels, expensive champagne and posh Mayfair clubs. 

Don’t think I’m going to be VC of ReallyImportantStuff at GoogleSoft anymore, and I don’t care.  But now I’m getting financially twitchy and a bit mad, so I’d like a job of some kind please.

“Monkeys!”

“Monkeys!  Monkeys!”
Knock-knock-knock
“Monkeys!  -MONKEYS!”
           
I walk past this chap, a suit, who’s just parked a respectable car.  He’s screaming “Monkeys!” through the letterbox of an indistinctive terraced house, between fits of knocking.  It’s about eleven at night but he doesn’t look dangerous.  As I pass, I can’t resist.
           
“Some kind of password?”
           
My question takes him by surprise and he checks over his shoulder at me, smiles.
           
“Top secret, mate.” 
 I smile back, nod knowingly, don’t break my stride and walk by, chuckling. 
Next thing I hear footsteps, quick ones, coming in my direction.  I check over my shoulder.  It’s him again, he’s panting.
           
“Here, mate, you gotta help me.  It’s…. it’s…..”
“What?”
“My fish…. my fish have died.”
“Not your monkeys?”  I say, half smiling, slightly nervous.
“No.”
“Your fish?”
“Yes.”
“How many?”
“All of them.”
“How many is that?”
“TWO!”
“Two of your pet fish have died?”
“Yes.”
“Am I missing something?”
“You really don’t get it do you?” 
Despite his words, he’s still not aggressive.
“Er… no.  What are your monkeys then?”
“S’what I call them.  My little monkeys.  They like to know when I’m getting in so they can wake up, come to the surface and greet me.”
“Ahh.”
“So I call through the letter box to let them know I’m coming.  See?”
“Right.  And you need my help because……?”
“They’re DEAD GODDAMIT!” he screams, then folds in two, hands on knees, weeping. 
“Ok,” I try to think on my feet, “calm down.  You wait here and I’ll go get someone who can help.”  
“Thank you,” he sobs at me.
Feeling strangely terrible, I sit him down on the wall of someone’s tiny font garden on the next terraced street to his.  I leave him with his head in his hands crying like a baby and set off running, rather fast, up the street.
 
          
And I just go home.
 
I have to work late again the next night and reach a certain point on my walk home before deciding to take a different route, eliminating the road of the previous evening’s event.  It only puts two minutes on the journey. 
          
I turn down another, different but similarly indistinctive terraced road to find a woman stooped down to the letterbox of a house, hollering in a very strange pitch:
          
“Chinchillas! Chinchillas! ChinBLEEDIN’CHILLAS!”
          
I cross the road, then cross back after I’ve passed her.  Before I turn the corner at the end of the street I check back and she’s still there.  She looks a little old, stooped but animated.  Big, crazy, frizzy hair slopping about everywhere, witchlike. 
          
Madness. 

It’s raining so I take the bus home from work the next day.  We’re stopped at lights.  I stare vacantly out of a window at a house.   Someone is at a door shouting into a letterbox.  I involuntarily snort at the coincidence, then he turns and meets my eye.  He looks cold, tall, and very hard.  A shivery fear waves through me before I remember I’m on a bus and he can’t touch me. 
 
I get home and find the three letterbox weirdos on my doorstep.          
“Um, hello”  – me.
“…”
– No reply, I try to get round them to my door, feeling that same unsteady fear hacking its way through me once again, but pretending it isn’t there.  They don’t let me pass.  I give up, feeling like a bullied child and turn to the man who was unhealthily attached to his goldfish.
          
“How are your fish then?”
“DEAD!” he yells back.  His eyes incensed, my stomach churns.  The mateyness has apparently been extinguished from our relationship.
“Ah, right.”  I look down and away, then at the second lady, “Chinchillas, eh?”
“You-diddnt-even-care-to-ask.”  She speaks so fast and in such an abnormally high pitch that it takes me a second to work out what she said.
“Ah, no,” I say, smiling appealingly, “I was tired, you see and -”
“Worrabowt me?” the third one asks.
“I…I don’t know.  I mean… what about you?  I was on a bus.  What was I supposed to do!?” I say, a mite too exasperated, instantly regretting my tone.  He’s a large chap.
“Just get off the bus,” he says matter-of-factly.  His companions nod their heads in agreement, like this was the obvious thing to do.
“But it wasn’t my stop and…  – Look, this is just plain silly.  Please excuse me.” I try to get to my door again.  They’re like a wall and I bounce off.
          
“Well,” I say, quite exhausted now, “what do you want?”“A question you should ask yourself.”  That was the fishman. 
“I’m sorry?”
“We’re your, your…,” he stumbled, not the brightest,  “-What are we exactly Mildred?”
“Look I’m sorry,” I say, impatient and suddenly feeling brave, “but I’m going to have to call the Police if you don -”
“-Lissen to er.”  It’s the really big bloke, and he says it quite nastily so I don’t argue.
 “Okay, sorry.” Mildred the witch steps forward a pace.  She smells of onion.“Fing-is-youre-crap-really-en-you?”
“…”
“I’m sorry?” I gather myself well enough to reply.
“And we’re here to help you.”  – Fishman.
“Ah, that’s nice of you.  Can I ask how?”
“Yip.”  – Stinky Mildred.
“…”
“Well, how?” 
The fishman steps forward and puts an arm round me.  I feel decidedly uncomfortable about this but the big chap frightens me, so I accept his clasp.
          “You’ll be changed from now on.” 
I’ve had enough, I’m starting to think wacko religious sect, but I’m still not sure why they’re preying on me so specifically.  So I get cynical.
“How?  Some radical life changing experience?  A new way of life?  Three ghosts?” 

They all look at each other and smile unnervingly. 

Then stinky crazy Mildred witch creature comes up to me, puts her two bony hands on each of my upper arms and shoves her ugly boggle eyed face in mine:

“Nope.  None-a-them.  Yer-gonna-be-a-fish!”

I only have a moment to smile, then I get that sick, helpless falling feeling in my gut.  My legs shrivel up, wiggling unnaturally and absorb into my torso, which seems to be reducing too, turning orange and feeling wet.  And there’s laughter.  Incessant, freakish laughter bellowing into my eardrums until I feel my ears close up and fuse with my head.  Which is now slippery.  Then nothing, no sounds at all.  I feel elevated, and see a blurred view out onto the pavement like when you look through strong glasses.  

And there’s a blurred view out onto the pavement like when you look through strong glasses.

And there’s a blurred view out onto the pavement like…

Ooh look, a blurred view out to pavement.

– Like when look… glasses.
 

View… out.  Glassz.
Vew(?)

 
Glob.

weekend films: Doubt & Moon

Saturday evening I watched Doubt, a film starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour-Hoffman, which disappointed.  An adaptation from the stage which arguably should not have happened, despite terrific performances in isolated, quite confined scenes which would have worked just as well in their own right, it was staid and static and unfilmy.  Especially on a television.  It also suffered one of those hugely abrupt endings when I swore we must be leading into the big, climactic third act – given the Hollywood heavyweights.

It was in stark contrast to the film, Moon, which I saw the next day, starring – pretty exclusively, Sam Rockwell.  How much of a weight must have been on that single actor’s shoulders?  Again confined in setting – he’s either in his spaceship, moon buggy, or on the moon’s surface – but not once does it seem limited or bore.  Possibly due to its direction and always compelling performance, as well as the general difference of such a setting, the film didn’t seem to dip once.  It may have even been because of its tight, claustrophobic confinement – which was at the heart of the film.

On my way into the screening of Moon at Wandsworth, I was handed a flyer and asked a few questions by a lady in the lobby.  Would I like to go to an advance screening of a film there on Thursday and give feedback afterwards?  New thriller starring Helen Mirren. Ooh, let me check my diary…  Should be interesting.

Stabbed youth “had it coming”

Members of an Cheshire neighbourhood have unanimously agreed that a youth who was allegedly stabbed by a gang of pensioners had “had it coming”.

When questioned directly about the victim’s reputation in the estate, nobody was surprised that it had happened.  Bob Cratchett said “You always hear about it happening somewhere else on the news, but living here you expect it to happen on your own doorstep once in a while too.  Hope for it even, especially if they had it coming like this one, give us some entertainment and what have you.  Always quite exciting when you see all the coppers round, all the tape comes out and that.” 

When asked if he was shocked about the incident, Mr Cratchett said, “Not really, only wish I’d got there first myself.  Right little bastard, he was.  Fair play to whoever it was that done it.”

Molly Malone, who lives just two doors away from the stabbed youth’s family, was equally calm.  “Serves him right for wearing that hood, listening to music and walking around chewing gum.  Always used to say Good Morning when he saw you, pretending like he was nice and polite.  Little shit.  I only wish they’d used a knife.”

The vigilante group of pensioners implicated in the attack have yet to claim responsibility.  However, their website clearly vindicates the stabbing of “Right little bastards who hang around street corners” and the shooting of dogs and cats which “create a racket at all times of night.”

job hope punctured

It’s difficult not to get mentally carried away when you secure a job interview.  To envision the potential future, actually getting the job and all the differences it may make to your day-to-day life.  The exciting things you could do if given the scope and responsibility, and authority.  How it, and the new people you’d work with might change things: attitudes, outlooks, personality, character.

Yet it can all hinge on a single person.  The one person who you engage with in a preliminary vetting interview.  The person the successful applicant will report to.  Your relationship with them is critical.  If first impressions are bad – and initial, instinctive ones are often the strongest which we can’t help but lead with – then everything changes. 

This person who appears distracted, cold, straight, uptight and doesn’t even attempt small talk – you think you can work with her day-to-day?  Reckon she’ll be open to new ideas or just want to fit you as a cog into her wheel? 

Oh dear.  All premature hopes of change and predictions of brilliant new difference are suddenly slashed and punctured.  Hope hisses out and you wither back to square one.