Dystopia = an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.
This time of year is always difficult: getting used to new routines and regimes, new faces and expectations. Not just for Everton… but those of us working in education, too. Now, I don’t expect sympathy, of course: us teachers are lucky enough. All that time off!
But this year, it really has been more difficult than usual.
The last month has been a bit of a blur, for reasons I can’t really yet divulge. Health issues for some; impossible targets and expectations for others… Everton, I mean, of course.
As if in a dream, dreamt by another. Or nightmare, depending on your epistemological standpoint.
Talking of dreams, I absolutely loved the first episode of Electric Dreams, adapted from Philip K. Dick’s dystopian short stories. It’s so stylish; very evocative of Blade Runner and the notions that Black Mirror evokes, which will be back soon too, and this all suggests there will be lots to look forward to on our screens in the Autumn, even if Morrissey recommends that we don’t watch the news in his new release.
If only we actually could spend the day in bed.
And that’s no offence to my wonderful HoF, who got engaged recently: hearty congrats, love is all around.
Based on the first single release, and the ‘perfectly Morrisseyan’ tracklisting, I’m very excited about more Moz music, and consider yet another tattoo in his honour. Those titles of the album tracks offer promise and, I hope, will sing me to sleep, because for a plethora of reasons there’ve been sleepless nights, despite the tiredness since the start of term.
At the start of September, normalcy resumed, then, for us anyway, and everything changed at the same time. B started primary school and it’s gone well so far. She’s counted to a hundred, her handwriting is coming on well… even been placed on the blue table, thankfully and the transition has been smooth. I even got to walk her in on her first day, something I will never forget.
Talking of blue, it’s been a funny old month for us Evertonians, and the recent cup game was E’s first birthday. Thankfully we won 3-0… we’d lost to Norwich on the day he was born, so this felt like progress, although in reality the lack of improvement in the team since his hurried birth in our conservatory a year ago alarms somewhat. It’s been a rollercoaster year for both the team and the boy, as you all probably know, with a serious illness at a month old meaning a scary stay in Alder Hey, but things are getting better all the time in terms of his health, thankfully.
But concerns remain: even though the day before he turned one, he fell off the bed and got the biggest, quickest swelling on his forehead I’ve ever seen! Thankfully it didn’t last.
We reflected a lot on his birthday; easily summising that he’s such a brave, funny, magnificent young man and we’re so proud of him. A celebratory bottle of fizz, then, in recognition of our – and his – achievements and progress, and the temporary realisation that dystopia – this imagined place where everything is really bad, might not actually exist – but then, still I had to sort something the next morning.
So did others, and I feel bad that I can’t divulge more but it seems wrong to discuss delicate issues ongoing – so I’ll send my heart out to them instead.
I promise that soon, I will also let you know about how I tried to draw all the Gormley statues on Crosby beach; I managed 54 out of the hundred.
A research graduate from Cambridge University has got in touch about it, via an excellent family / friend photographer, and I’ve also been reading loads about Jean Michel Basquiat, the artist I’d studied intensely a few years ago but almost forgot about in the years since. What a story his was: look it up if you don’t believe me.
The Julian Schnabel film of his life, and Downtown ’81, were staple watches in my flat as a student and I’ve just reignited the flame I held for him when few others had even heard of him. Anyone in London, please go and see the retrospective, I implore you. There’s another show of Jasper Johns’ too, which I’d love to see, as he also influenced my early career hugely.
However, a mix of events and finances mean it’s not possible just now.
This re-introduction with art coincided with my folks kindly finding my collection of the fanzines I played a part in all those years ago, back when things were easier:
These brought back such memories… before Liverpool being named capital of culture, before marriage and mortgages and kids – other people’s, and my own. There’ll be an archive coming soon which I will no doubt link on here, so if you weren’t there at the time, look out for it.
Meanwhile, for the past month whilst I’ve been lying awake in the middle of the night it’s been Everton’s fortunes and the travails of these artists who I turned to, predicting team selections, listing alphabets of players, matches and influences and contemplating future successes, projects or otherwise.
Hypnopaedia in dystopia, then… At least I’m learning.
Everyday isn’t like Sunday: it’s a school day, and as you’d expect, Everton and art have been with me – as they have throughout my life – on this journey and I hope, will continue to be.
I turn 38 today. Two more years to make myself famous.
To celebrate joint birthdays, we visited Martin Mere… a good day was had by all. Baby crocodiles, meerkats, various raptors, hedgehogs and corn snakes then a plethora of wildfowl, feathered friends to be stroked and other creatures who all shared our special day with us and for a while at least, everything was ok in the world.
I’m getting old. To bed, now.
I learn while we sleep, and still believe this bad place is only imagined.
It was good while it lasted… But the second half of the summer holidays is always a bit like a film, or theatre production.
At first, it seems ages away… you enjoy the opening, completely absorbed and engrossed. There’s anticipation, often followed by anti climax as time runs away with you. Finally, you reflect on the time you have spent in this ‘other’ world. Hopefully… Resolutions, with questions answered and no regrets or being upset there’s no time left.
Talking of which, I actually made it to the cinema last month, just before Morrissey announced his new album, and England is Mine didn’t disappoint. I felt empathy and sympathy towards the protagonist in equal measure, as it showed shyness isn’t actually that nice after all, and strangely made me think a lot about our own son.
Thankfully, his hip is developing nicely and the doctors were really pleased with the progress he is making (even if he’s been keeping us on our toes)
I actually started writing this on the way back from Blackpool.
The Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News is on the radio, somewhat serendipitously, as several key moments of recent days felt once again like going back to the future; none more so than today, not just to the summer when I visited all those fortune tellers, and secretly recorded my predictions with the excitement of a child and the wide eyed belief of many a poor tourist… but further back to childhood, when a day out seeing the tower and piers brought triumph, and Jungle Jim’s was heaven.
We had a great day. Harry Ramsden’s, two of the three piers, ice cream and donkeys and the northern life right there… Watching my daughter run up and down the promenade, beaming face lit up like the illuminations, and the little guy’s bemused face wondering what on earth was going on, was like looking in mirrors.
Watching myself back then.
I don’t remember starting school, though this year, feel like it’s happening all over again. There will of course be the obligatory photos, tears, proud smiles and nervous nights, but also a period of reflection that turning four, leaving nursery and growing up offers no alternative to.
Reading signs, forming letters correctly and doing sums. Mark making like her life depends on it… inquisitiveness. Intelligence, we hope… even wants to become a doctor! Time will tell, of course.
Some hope and positivity, then, and she turned four amidst the pain caused by a group of troubled young men in Barcelona.
A place very close to my heart, and although it’s easy to say ‘I’ve been there’ or ‘I know people there now’ these terrible events are getting closer and the fear they strike gets stronger.
I seem to be writing about tragedy every month, which isn’t what any of us want, and the anniversaries of Ten years ago and Rhys Jones; Twenty, Princess Diana mean we are constantly reminded of sadness and misfortune.
That’s why I opted to make my annual attempt to get on TV – and make my name before 40, as the fortune tellers predicted – a light hearted story for a competition to write an episode of Moving On, based on real events that I’ve bored you with over the years. I was spurred on by Jimmy McGovern’s impressive and nicely ended ‘Broken’, and I can confidently say it would have made a great 45 minutes’ TV, but having heard nothing in reply I can only assume I’ve been unsuccessful this time.
Still, celebrating that fourth birthday as much as possible was important, after everything she went through being three. Thankfully, Poppy made the party extra special…
At the start of the holidays, we drew a list of what we wanted to do.
Pretty much everything was ticked off – not everything positive, like – so there was a sense of achievement at the series watched, books started, jobs around the house done, farms visited, parties attended, especially with Princess Poppy.
One of which was Twin Peaks.
I’ve written before of my bemusement and it didn’t stop, but there was a point in episode 15(I think) where it all suddenly started to make sense: my patience became worthwhile and David Lynch’s modern masterpiece unravelled in inimitable style. I’m so glad I stuck with it, despite those times when WW came in and asked “WTF?” whilst I, agape, couldn’t answer, quite incredulously.
Still, it ended perfectly, and as the holiday drew to a close, I got to start the long awaited project of drawing the statues, spending a few days on the beach with the iron men. Antony Gormley has been complaining about their adornments and additions, but they added interest and variety to my task, and the kids loved them too.
Deciding how to document the project brought back other memories. Countdowns, listening to the charts and Carrie’s speech from Four Weddings all influenced the list. As the new terms start, creative wells dry up for the autumn, but with something much better as a replacement.
Before that, huge changes take place, and the monitor lizards arrive to devour their prey whilst the new blood embed themselves quite happily.
It matters not; what is important is the routine, the quality time spent smiling and enjoying each other’s company and the hope that the future brings opportunity (no knock, no doorbell) to support what we were foretold.
School has started very well, for one of us at least, and the optimism for the future outweighs any worries, for now anyway…