Monday, December 31, 2007

When Is A Monologue A Dialogue?

I am in a hotel room with the artist twins Jane and Louise Wilson. They are showing me their work- a dialogue in photos, collage and video- but which relates to all kinds of subject matter beyond themselves. It is both intensely personal and universal. My own little drawings pale into insignificance.
"I just feel like I am creating a series of monologues. I wish I were a twin like you."
They laugh because it is obviously not easy being a twin like them- it is fraught with little jealousies. "Yes I know that's nonsense," I add, "we are all capable of dialogues within and beyond ourselves." One jumps on top of me - she is now a curvaceous black woman- she hugs me suggesting we go for a drink. I go to hug the other thinking I should but she shrugs me off, "You don't have to treat us both the same. We are two separate people."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Legitimate Emergency

I am travelling on the tube. A friend jumps on carrying bundles of shopping, "I'm getting out at the next stop for the music shop," he tells me. The shop looks exciting but my friend accidently leaves his shopping behind. As the train departs I mime to him that I will get out at the following stop. Not sure he has understood. There is a huge bag of apples, a sack of other fruit, loads of paperwork and some body building powders. I only manage to drag half of it off. Will I have to pull the emergency cord? Is this a legitimate emergency? It seems so to me but I am not sure the authorities would agree.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Too Perfect Town

For two months I will stay here in New Jersey visiting some friends in a beautiful house on stilts. Half of it is empty, the windows without glass. Out of one window I can see the rest of the town - unusual buildings with second floors that seem to hover in the air. They are in fact fixed by metal brackets to a huge white wall surrounding everything. I like the design - the rest of the town I am unsure of - everything seems too perfect.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Swimming Pool Of Mud

The weather is mild. I am walking in a muddy field I think in Balham except there is no housing. In front is an old swimming pool- outdoor- or at least it is now. A man walks down into it on steps concealed by the thick mud. I follow him. The pool seems too shallow to swim in. I am not sure I want to get in. I climb back out again.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Lose My Notes (Again)

I am expected to deliver a speech on An End To Nuclear Weapons to the audience in a club. The speakers before me were scarcely able to put two words together. The old chairman is doing his best but the night is a shambles. I tell him I will speak next, "Give me five minutes to sort out my notes." Of course I don't have my notes, so I panic. Although I have given this talk before I can't remember anything. I have pictures but what do they represent? I decide I can't give the talk so I hide under the floorboards. I tell one of my old schoolfriends I am going to sneak out.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Just Not Funny

A friend's new cabaret show is a list of awful gags that are not funny at all. He endlessly repeats (the late)
H.R.H.Regina Fong's impression of Cilla Black, milking it dry. The small audience however seem to enjoy it to the extent that one boy works with him to refilm "Tarzan and the Ape". In this version a rabbit is perched on Tarzan's shoulder twitching its nose.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Delicate Drawings

Is this the West Ham Unit? I ask Alice. We have been divided into three groups and I am reluctant to join any other. Yes I am in the right unit. I am thrilled. The room is full of students' exquisite work. Big glass cases display hundreds of identical objects in compartments like a sweet shop display or an old fashioned builders merchants. My favourites are delicate drawings like kaleidoscopic spiders' webs. I want my work to be as detailed and fine- I wonder if I can manage it in the time.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Film Of Reagan's Assassination

John Maybury is showing some of his old films. This one shows an early clip of him interviewing Ronald Reagan after a scene where Reagan is shot. John F. Kennedy and I quickly wipe away the blood from the pavement for decency's sake. Throughout the interview John is charming almost like he is a good friend. He addresses the camera directly using exaggerated gestures. As he watches the footage with me he tells me he feels a bit uncomfortable about it now.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Home Is Where The Heart Is

I find out that my home is built on a vast net of wellington boots, camouflaged to appear like a craggy cliff. My partner lives here with me in the middle of a landfill site by the sea - he is a hybrid conjured up from (long dead) Kev and a couple of other unrequited loves. He munches on a chocolate donut made from wellies. Parallel to us hangs another fake cliff. This is all we can afford. I know we should move - it's all far too precarious. Having said that, we have made this our home and it's the best we could improvise from what is an imperfect situation.

Friday, December 21, 2007

6 Ways To Tell A Story When You Are Away

I remember nothing of this dream but wrote the following in my notebook in the middle of the night:
6 Ways To Tell A Story When You Are Away
1 Straightforward Tale
3 As a meal
4 Accident

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Silent Talk

In a chaotic courtroom resembling something by Hogarth, I am to take part in a conference with three other artists. The main speaker and my old college tutor stand half way up the stairs trying to make themselves heard above the jazz blasting out of the sound system. I raise my hand, "This is an obvious point," I say, "but wouldn't it be better if the music were turned off?" The DJ kids are indignant- it is there to create an informal atmosphere. But they do as they are bid, and now the speaker can be heard clearly.
Except he stands and says nothing. He is not tonguetied. His "talk" is about listening to the silence.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Electric Orchard

In an orchard the apples are ricocheting off the trees at every angle, bouncing off any surface like charged atoms.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Garden Arch

An archway covered with brightly coloured flowers frames a distant garden.

Monday, December 17, 2007


My head teacher has gone out of his way to arrange an early interview for me. This will practically guarantee me a college place. I have agreed to go with an old schoolfriend and M, one of my learning disabled students. M doesn't turn up so I go round to his house aware that we are losing time. I phone him telling him that it's getting late. When he eventually answers, he moans, "Oh what's the point, we won't get in anyway - its' such a stupid system. We'll never get an interview." I am furious, "You have made me late and now you're not even coming!" I can hear his mum in the background- "Is that Robin? Wish him a happy birthday..."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Decline Of The Jackson 5

The Ricki Lake Show is being held in a vast arena. Next on are the Jackson 5. They storm into the space on motorbikes, slick and aggressive, initially making out they were too good to appear on the show. They enter again but this time from the ceiling as fluffy toy spiders. When we see them in closeup they are all white and middleaged- a bit like the Wurzels - gulping down beer (or is it tea?) from their pint glasses.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Special Access

I have to get one of my special needs clients up to the top floor of a castle to complete this exercise. The way up is through the stone fireplace but I know he will panic and besides he's far too big to fit through. I complain about the lack of access stating that it is akin to banning him from joining in. The castle keeper takes me upstairs and lifts up two trap doors cut into the wooden floor. "He can come up in the lift," he tells me.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Early Spring Flowers

Something about counting ducks... I am flying around a winter park about two foot above ground level. There are jonquils in the flower beds.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Nothing Remembered

Can't remember any of last night's dreams.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

When Is A Prophesy Not A Prophesy?

A group of boys about 13 years old. A field in summer. We focus on one boy (let's call him X) and his slightly older brother who are about to join the others. X is diffident, unwilling to play ball. One mysterious boy keeps beckoning to him but there is an inevitability about X's moves. His brother knows that at some time in the future he will kick a FOOTBALL and it will permanently damage X. X makes to move towards the ball, the brother kicks it and it bounces off X's head causing him to lose the sight in one eye. The brother decides this has nothing to do with the premonition because it is the wrong kind of ball.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The New Neighbour

A handsome man has moved into the downstairs flat- he's a film producer I think. D, a pushy acquaintance from my past, and another overbearing friend start to monopolise his time. There is major competition for this man's attention - I don't have a leg to stand on. After I have been sent off to collect something unimportant I find D in the newcomer's place. I lie to him and tell him that the newcomer and I had become very intimate.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Trusty Sheepdog

I have just been to an acquaintance's party where I was barely acknowledged by the hostess. As I walk away barefoot along a dusty shit strewn path a scruffy old sheepdog joins me. She's friendly and defends me from other dogs. A boy joins me. I tell him I think I'll keep this dog, I like her company, despite the fact she is a bit daft. I feel good about that decision.
"But you could always take her," I say to the boy who seems lonely.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Metal Jug

A large grey metal jug stands on the windowsill. It has no handle. Around the spout is a rough seam. There is the sense of another smaller vessel below out of sight.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Julie Goodyear's Hairy Bodice

Julie Goodyear-aka Bet Lynch from Coronation Street - is having a birthday party. A friend who shares the council house with her is putting together the extensive guest list. Julie is wearing a bodice made of blond hair to match her own coif. "So I will look naked on top," she explains. I keep stumm but think it looks a bit odd - like she's got a hairy chest. My friend is fed up with the whole thing. "You are coming aren't you?" he asks me anxiously, "you must come. We've just had a terrible row and she's going to be ghastly. You know what she's like..."

Friday, December 07, 2007

New House

Sarah and I have decided to sell our individual homes and buy a 2-up 2-down terraced house together. We will divide the property in half so we have a floor each.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Fourth Presenter

I am one of four presenters at the artists' Trade conference in Boyle. I am very nervous about it.
The first artist is a young confident man. His notes are organised and complex but he seems remote.
The second is a woman who is anxiously stacking piles of cards up on her desk.
I am the third. Totally unprepared. Doing something about a drawing massage exercise. I am asked by the facilitator what would your massage fantasy be? I'm a bit thrown and say something awkward back.
As I drew this dream I became conscious of the presence of an invisible fourth person next to me. There is real strength there and he is the core of this dream.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Trapped Wind

On my pushbike in between buses waiting for the traffic to shift. There is no movement.

(I have trapped wind - very painful.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fighting My Way Out Of A Dream

"Can you tell your builders not to leave such a mess in my garden, " I say to one of the workmen. The head builder, a huge man in his 50's , emerges blocking my way. He punches me and then empties a box of screws and nails on my neat tiered garden. "Just leave it!" I shout backing away. My only exit is through the flat upstairs where the men are working. I push my way past a dozen aggressive workmen. I know I have to wake up to get to work but more people pour in through the front door so it becomes harder to leave. Eventually I get out and wake up.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Precarious Exit

I have been trying to get downstairs at Camberwell Art College, taking my usual route through tiny windows. I decide it is too precarious this time and am advised to use the fire escape caked in pigeon shit. I am going up rather than down. I climb higher and higher into forbidden rooms - through the head's empty office. Here the chequered marble steps grow narrower leading into Russian style copulas until they are impossible to squeeze through. I race back down skating over the stairs to avoid contact with any official. Once outside I gaze up at the hundreds of complex towers and spires and crazy rocket launch pads.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Learning Disabilities Workshop

I recognise few of the learning disabled group in the large hall. Areas have been set aside on three long trestle tables for hair brushing, makeup and clothes making. I make a brief announcement asking everyone to make their way to the clothes stall. One man stands up and chants some kind of grace which annoys me a bit. The group collect their clothes which I notice are predominantly drawings rather than real garments. Some of the drawings are very beautiful.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Jonathan Aitken On My Bed

I have just spent some time with a group of women sorting through a collection of music. Singing to myself, I return home to my loft apartment in a big house. Jonathan Aitken is reading on my bed. He has been playing the piano and makes some comment about the song I was singing. I am impressed he knows it so well.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dead Dog

A dog has been knocked down and and is lying dead in the middle of Streatham High Road.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mirror Image

Just after flirting with one man, Claire from Six Feet Under is seducing a man who is her mirror image. The first man's sister is embarrassed.
Claire says, "We reflect our parents - the universe belongs to our generation."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Jack Of All Trades

I agree to help the seventies impressionist Mike Yarwood , now a Jack-of-all-trades . On June 4th I start work decorating a house in exchange for some legal documents he has handed me. The whole project has something to do with community policing.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Ending

A bullish man, the father of a man with learning disabilities, is given a psychology test. It is clear he is incapable of answering even simple questions like differentiating pictures of a panda and a zebra. His son seems confused and worried- is he being taken away from his dad?
The father has an epiphany when he finds a friendly dog that he had previously attempted to kill and his son returns looking radiant. We realise we have to make allowances for the father's bad behaviour because he is disabled too.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fading Light

I keep losing the same part of the same dream where the C family are trying to fix some kind of front light to their son's wheelchair. When I do find a light I discover the batteries have worn down.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ugly Girl

A large ugly girl stands in a queue waiting to go down some stairs in Tate Modern.

Friday, November 23, 2007

No Originality

Tracey Emin has been asked to paint a portrait of the Queen, but nobody has seen it because it has been banned everywhere. The initial sketches are like something by Rosemary Trockel: closeups of the pattern on the Queen's Aran sweater. Then I see the final image- it' s painted in a kind of impressionist style and shows a young girl wearing a three quarter length dress, dotted with scarlet flowers. She looks like Frida Kahlo but there is a crouching Paula Rego woman to the left eating a pile of cakes. I think she's Ruby Wax. The painting is criticised because it lacks any originality and is nothing more than a hybrid of styles.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Culprit Revealed

I've got a show in this big old warehouse. Water is streaming down walls of about three floors. We need to fix it. We need to turn it off. The water is pouring into the huge electricity generator. It's all going to blow.
"Everyone get out NOW!" I can't find the levers for either the water or the electricity. "Get out now!!!"
I wake up and then when I fall back to sleep the dream continues. I discover that a boy of seven, his name Robin, is responsible for the breakdown of this system.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Precarious Perch

I am perched high up on a window ledge in a timber yard sawing letters out of planks of wood. The ladder leaning up against the wall is a few feet away from me. It will be difficult to get down.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Penny And The Flying Ants

I have become quite attached to the flying ants crawling over the sheets on my bedroom floor. I notice how they all cling to the cotton when I lift it up. I scrape off their sticky gel, a precious life giving substance, and carefully store it in some lace. Penny is a bit shocked at what I am doing. "The place will be swarming with ants, you should get rid of them," she says, "They can get really nasty, a swarm of ants." I am a bit hurt that she should want me to destroy the fluid but concede that she is probably right. Everything will have to be bleached.

Monday, November 19, 2007

High Diver

A film director plays back the last scenes of some footage she has put together showing what appears to be a busy Californian road. In fact the film is an illusion, a carefully constructed model. An earlier scene shows two sets of high divers, male and female, and although the setting is pasted in, the diving is for real. I am one of the male divers- I'm not the best but I'm ok at it. I climb a steep bank removing my clothes, and in front of an uninterested crowd I look for the male diving stump. Although I have made this dive a few times in the dream I cannot recall the actual diving sensation.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

World War 3

Yet another bomb attack somewhere in the Middle East. Each day more blood is shed. It's like a wave rolling over that unhappy part of the world growing in size swallowing its victims leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. This is World War 3, Mum says, and it will keep growing until it engulfs the whole world. I see an image of the word SURGE as the wave moves back over Europe in years to come. I know that now is the time for us to intervene and stop it from happening.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ed Shot In World War 1

I am in the midst of a battle in World War 1. All around me my colleagues are being shot at. The enemy seems to be far fewer in numbers now. This has to be the last battle before the end of the war but how would we know that? We don't have the luxury of hindsight. Suddenly Ed is shotand collapses to the ground. Surely it's just his leg, but no, he's been taken out. I weep for him singing that blue grass song "Will you miss me (miss me miss me) when I'm gone...?"

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Naked Theatre Group

I have just joined an experimental theatre company famous for its naked productions. I am quite excited about it. In the initial encounter session some performers are role playing and whisper to me so that I can scarcely hear them. When I answer back their voices become even softer. I understand this is an exercise and I sit back passively observing. As the workshop develops I realise that although certain rules apply to the company nobody has instructed me so I can (and perhaps should) react exactly as I choose. I speak loudly and mock their actions. I don't need a script. The session flies by - it is very enjoyable. I tell them I would like to be challenged further.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Russian Epic

This is told like a great nineteenth century Russian novel, so it's a bit longer than usual.
The protagonist (occasionally me) is a professor in his early 50's. As the last of his students leaves his dark study, one young beautiful man, Dmitri, remains. The professor gazes at him and somehow they end up making love. This of course is totally illegal.
Outside in the snow, a massive bearded man with an impossibly wide back, his head tiny in proportion, returns to his apartment - for this study is his room. Strange, he thinks, he can hear no music from within: Dmitri must be sleeping. Quietly he unlocks the front door with its folding inner panel, and then enters his flat. We next hear such shouting and then cut to an interior view where Dmitri, an older and darker man, hurls the professor from the bedroom into the cold. The poor man stands in -20 degrees with no shoes and socks on. "How can I travel to my conference tomorrow?" he sobs.
There is some confusion in the narrative here because he is now standing on the booted feet of young Dmitri, his arms around him. "I love you, Dmitri. You can never love me, but I just want you to be my fancy man."
After the commotion the author, a sensitive woman, appears in a walk-on role as a waitress. She leaves a small bill in neat handwriting for the flan that was consumed, adding as an aside, "Here I used one of my favourite french flans."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Death Of A Twin

Everyone else has left this modern low rise building but I remain. I look back at the death that I have caused but I am unable to really face it. This one man keeps on and on at me for help. I refuse - I don't know what I can do - he's beyond help. His twin screams at me and still I ignore him. Maybe I am even winding him up. Eventually he obviously dies and I wake up horrified, my heart pounding.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mum Goes Wandering

The family are in a French or Italian city. Mum has wandered off down a side street to a market and as the time passes and she still hasn't returned we begin to worry. I try texting her to tell her where we are but when I look around I realise we are inside a huge bank so there are no street signs anywhere. I run outside and find her just round the corner. Later we are in a big dining hall where the plates have run out. A friend gets us all to line up and spoonfeeds each of us a mouthful of blackberry crumble. "There must be a better way," I suggest, "find some saucers." But they are all covered in candle wax.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thora Hird's Autobiography

Thora Hird is recounting all the episodes of her life for a video. She talks us through the loves and disappointments behind the plays she performed in . It is an Everyman story in a way. She relates it calmly, and occasionally the tears well up in her eyes. "I won't cry ," she says, "I just want to tell the story as it is." But a few tears escape as she narrates the last chapter.