Wednesday, 9 February 2011

What do you drive to?

It's Radio 4 or Radio 3 for me on long car journeys - which are quite rare when I'm driving alone. Usually if I'm driving for a few hours I've got the family with me and we're all fighting over the CD player. Thank goodness for i-pods. They keep the kids quiet.

On those rare occasions where I have the CD player all to myself I try to match the sounds to the mood. When I drove up to Manchester for a job interview recently I bobbed on a U2 CD, assuming it'd put me in an upbeat frame of mind. I didn't get the job but the CD did the trick.

Heading down through the Midlands today to see a client about some freelance work (how pretentious does that sound, 'client'?), I played Jacques Brel's Quand on n'a que l'amour. There's nothing like some Belgian/Gallic melodrama to brighten up the M6. Why doesn't someone do something about that? If this was France they'd have some sculptures along the crash-barriers, or at least painted screens so we don't actually have to see Birmingham ...

For some brain-food when I wasn't thinking about the meeting ahead, I played a CD I'd borrowed of George Szirtes reading his poems. Now I like listening to poetry in the car. I got through the whole of Paradise Lost on a series of trips to South Wales.

Coming back, it was chill-out time, so I unwound with The Unthanks - suicides, press-gangs and fatal fishing boat accidents have never sounded so harmonious.

I don't often drive down that spur of the M6. So I hadn't realised they'd turned Fort Dunlop into a Travelodge. What the ..?!

They've bolted a big blue hotel onto the back of it. At least the original building's still there, though. I always look out for it. That and the whopping big empty gasometers. I suppose those are the closest we'll get to sculpture along there.

But who cares when it's sing-a-long Jacques Brel? Well, if I knew the words I would ...

What're your driving tunes?

Or do you travel everywhere by train?

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Freud would have a field day

Ok, I'm not getting all confessional here, but I do have very wierd dreams. Freud would have a field day.

This morning, for instance, I awoke from a recurring one. Unlike Gregor Samsa I had not been transformed overnight into a gigantic insect, but the Pterodactyl had been round again.

He's a bit different this one. He's a kind of 'Poetry Pterodactyl.' You've heard of Ted Hughes's 'Thought Fox'? Well, this chap runs along similar lines.

'Hi, I'm Ptery the Poetry Pterodactyl,
you got a nice pantoum for me today?
What happens in the dream is this - I'm up at one of the regular Poems and Pints sessions at The Beartown Tap in Congleton, only for some reason we're all outside in the woods. It's all a bit Wicker Man. As we're reading and declaiming our verse, there's a sudden, ominous booming and beating in the sky. A gigantic Pterodactyl-like creature appears above the trees, swooping and squawking. He's a bit like one of those giant flying lizards that the blue guys ride in Avatar.

He's the Poetry Pterodactyl and he's come for his supper. According to the dream, he lives in a cave down near Hodnet in Shropshire, where the famous Follies are. As soon as we start to read he somehow senses what we're doing and flies north to find us. He homes in on our Muse and swoops down, splintering boughs and scattering brushwood, cawing for his fix. No-one seems particularly perturbed, although we are all in awe, he is rather large and very impressive. We've seen him before, he's a regular visitor and somehow we know he's not going to gobble us all up. One of us then takes some poems and feeds them to the monster, who gulps the A4 pages down greedily, swallows them and flies off with a final swooping and cawing. I don't know whether we all chant or invoke him in some way, the dream doesn't have that much detail, but we do give him some poems to eat and off he goes.

I don't know whether he represents anything, a terrible craving that must be fed, or whether he's a form of wish fulfilment for us poetic dabblers - a rapacious audience that does not exist. Perhaps I just eat too much cheese.

I have wierd dreams. I still have the occasional one where I wander into a room where there are bosses and former colleagues who disappear when I approach them or walk past me as though I'm not there. Those are redundancy dreams and only to be expected. They're getting less frequent as I get busier.

I don't know where all that leaves me with Ptery the Poetry Pterodactyl. Perhaps if I don't feed him, he'll go away?

But I've grown quite found of the chap ...