Monday, December 31, 2007
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
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
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
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 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
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
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.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
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
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
Thursday, December 20, 2007
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
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
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
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
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
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
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
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
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
Saturday, December 08, 2007
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
Thursday, December 06, 2007
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
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
"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
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
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
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.