Hypnopaedia in dystopia

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.

English singer Morrissey 

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.