Tag Archives: elsewhere

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not worth the earth – these streets are your streets, this turf is your turf.

There are so very many things that I could write about Climate Camp 2009, and other experiences I’ve had in the last couple of weeks. None of it would be very coherent or cohesive, though, I would find it difficult to get points across, I would argue with myself, I would struggle as I always do.  This statement addresses some of my concerns about it, and this article voices some of my hopes and happinesses.

And what about me? I am well and happy. My head is full of ideas, hopes, fears, half-formed analyses. A lot of things are wrong in the world. Some things are right and good. Some things are ugly. Some things are beautiful. I had some time to think and a lot to think about. I value opportunities to meet and spend time with interesting and kind people. My brother is one of the most interesting and kind people I know. I value time spent with him, above much else. I met several new interesting and interested and kind people, too. I like being heard and respected for who I am. I enjoy pubs, pretty girls, Thai food, sunshine, laughter, foxes, freedom and fire. All of the above were features of my week away. I missed my lover, and my bike. My sister is sixteen years old. I got to Newcastle to see her a few hours before her birthday began.

This weekend just gone was Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year – it started at sunset on Friday. I guess that means I started it by tipsily cycling home from the pub where my newish boss had treated me and a colleague to drinkies following an unexpected, but pleasant, ‘it’s 5pm on a Friday and this bottle of wine has been in the fridge for ages!’ one in the office. I had a ‘credit crunch date’ at home, as the boy and I need all the spare dolla we can muster for paying the deposit on, and buying stuff to go in, our new flat next week. We had a nice meal and watched The Proposition – I’d seen it before, in the cinema with K, but he hadn’t, and it is still as bleak yet brilliant as I remembered. Then we sat and talked about stuff and I ended up crying about EDL and/or UAF until I felt very very sick, and not sleeping well at all, wakefully Thinking about Things until after 4am.

I got up on Saturday morning with puffy eyes, had some tea, and baked some really nice cinnamon biscuits. Then had some more tea, then went out on my bike to meet my good buddy P, who I hadn’t seen in four weeks, due to our busy lives. We met at the start of the canal, rode down the Union canal path (nice and flat, and mostly wide with just a couple of slightly scary bits where you’re supposed to get off and walk, but of course we don’t), over aqueducts and under viaducts, talking about stuff – what we’d both been doing over the month, his 30th birthday being in a few days, bikes – to where it meets the Water of Leith path somewhere around Wester Hailes and so we switched on to that (pretty good, scenic, but a lot more bumpy – rather him than me on that roady bike he has borrowed from his brother while the latter is in New Zealand. Leon can handle all the rocks, sticks and mud just fine) and took it all the way to Balerno, where it somewhat abruptly ends. It had been pretty grey and drizzly all day and a proper downpour commenced just as we stood there wondering what to do, so we went to the shop and bought some milk to have with our biscuits, then went a little way back along the path looking for shelter. I always find it sort of awesome how much cover the trees can offer from even this torrential rain – we quickly found a really nice dry spot with a big rock to sit on.

Then P decided that if we scrambled down a horribly steep bit to the river’s edge, it would be a perfect place for a little fire, but upon investigating my handbag it turned out we had no means of making the fire (a mirror, yes, but not enough sunlight for that) so, as the rain wore off, he went back to the shop and bought a lighter, the cheapest newspaper he could find (Daily Express – ugh ugh ugh!), and a fruit loaf, while I ate an apple and collected firewood. We locked our bikes together just off the path. He leapt fearlessly down the slope to his proposed fireplace and I crept gingerly behind him, which took about twenty times as long, but didn’t fall. He crumpled up paper, mysteriously found a huge, comfortable plank and by means of balancing it across rocks, assembled it into a handy bench upwind so we’d be out of the way of any smoke. I built the sticks into the little pyramid over the crumpled paper, gathered some more wood, and lit the fire. He got a rock and bashed the protruding ends of some ‘deadly’ nails back into his lumber bench, convinced me it was now safe to sit on, and flapped the remaining paper at the base of the fire as a makeshift bellows, to get the flames going. Then we just sat and toasted pieces of fruit loaf on a stick and had them and the cookies with milk and talked and stared at the beautiful fire for a couple of hours. When it was time to go home, we let the fire burn itself out and then doused the embers using water from the river in the empty milk bottle. The sun had come out while we were sitting there and it was finally a really beautiful, crisply sunny late afternoon, and clearly the last day of summer, and the start of something new. The ride back was easy because it was all very slightly downhill, and we had a laugh, and talked about autumn and time and light, places, politics, plants and plans.
I went home and hung out with D without crying about UAF, and made some totally delicious vegetarian chilli. That was Rosh Hashanah. When I was younger I used to go to shul.

I talked to my dad on the phone. My mum’s got swine flu but he said she’s not feeling too bad. He’d been to the first day of his teacher training course at uni, so he hadn’t been to shul either, which is more ground-breaking – and had spent the week working in the school where he’s been volunteering part-time for a while now. He told me that it had been the most enjoyable working week of his life and I wasn’t surprised, but was very happy for him. I told him about my three-month review and how happy I was at work too, and about my plans for my career, and about K’s success in Catalunya, and about my bike ride. He told me about reading a story to the children (And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street) and how he was impressed and amused by some of their own creative writing, and described the way that he cycles to the school and to uni now – it has been a very long time since he hasn’t had to drive to work, as he used to work a long way out of town in Consett and Blyth. And he told me that my sister had been at a surprise party for her (belatedly) and one or two of her friends’ birthdays.
Obviously I’m gutted for my mum being ill, and I don’t really know what my brother did, but for the rest of us I kind of love that we each celebrated the New Year in our own, very meaningful ways. I think God would like it, if there was one.

In summary, then, same as almost always I suppose: small things good, big things… not so good. Or thereabouts. I am not mentioning the footy. My hopes and plans for 5770 are pretty shiny and exciting. They include

  • not filling in one single job application form
  • Barcelona
  • A garden
  • Saving up for this, yeeeah booooi!

Happy new year to you too.

It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.

I don’t do this often, but this is important:

Please, please, please go to the cinema and watch this film this weekend.

The Age of Stupid

If you’re in Edinburgh, it’s showing at the Filmhouse for a week from this Friday, with a bunch of events around the screenings in association with the lovely people of Take One: Action, and on this page you can find local screenings throughout the UK. I watched the premiere on Sunday night, and apart from anything else, it’s bloody brilliant – it really is the most thought-provoking, outlook-changing, unmissable, oddly life-affirming £6 you’ll spend in a good while.

There are terrifying, horrifying moments – as stomach-lurching and spine-shivering as anything from War of the Worlds or 28 Days Later – but this isn’t science fiction. Instead, you find yourself shuddering at things like the realisation that about 40% of natural gas is still being burned off at source across Nigeria‘s 1000 onshore oil wells. Yes, that’s the same natural gas that we use to cook and heat our homes: according to the World Bank, over 100 billion cubic metres of it – that’s the combined annual gas consumption of Germany and France – are ‘flared’, uselessly spewing filthy, toxic smoke into the air, every year, apparently because it’s not easy enough for oil companies to make a profit storing and exporting the fuel. In Nigeria, the practice continues despite the new law prohibiting it from 1 January 2009. Much like the High Court ruling that prohibited it from 2005, then.

It’s difficult not to feel appalled at moments like this – but that’s not the whole story. The Age of Stupid, like our world itself, is beautifully put together, inspiring and frightening by turns; part-disaster movie, part-cautionary tale. There’s no knight in shining armour, no fairy godmother, and no straightforward way to a happy ending, but for me, some of the most thought-provoking moments are genuinely uplifting. Watch the excellently named Alvin DuVernay III – the Shell employee who lost his home and everything he owned, but saved the lives of more than 100 of his neighbours in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina – sitting in a jazz bar and reflecting on what he’s learned from the experience about materialism and the way Americans use energy, the way we all live, and tell me you’ve seen a more – good GOD I hate this word and can’t believe I’m about to use it – heartwarming scene in a film this year.

Incidentally, from filmmaker Franny Armstrong’s fascinating backstage diary: [Alvin] is haunted by all the people he didn’t save. He said he “lost his humanity” that day – because he was so focused on getting as many people as possible that sometimes he snapped when people asked if they could bring lots of luggage or go back for something they forgot. Now he says he wants to find all those people and apologise for being short with them.

If that dude has lost his humanity, there’s a lot of us could really do with finding some of it.

Anyway, got distracted there, my point is: it’s pretty easy to feel tiny in the face of climate change. It’s easy to feel terrified, to feel there’s nothing you can do to help avert the forthcoming catastrophe – in short, to freak out. Easy, but certainly not logical – this is our world, our generation, and this is real change that’s happening now, to us. This is why Age of Stupid media producer, brilliant animator and all-round mensch Leo Murray wants you to

Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip

Very seriously, if you don’t see The Age of Stupid (which would be, well, stupid), if you don’t even read this whole post, then please, please DO take 10 minutes to watch Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip. It’s short, it’s easy, it’s free, it’s got some ace artwork, and it might just change your life. On peut le voir en français ici, and it’s also available in Deutsch, Español, Nederlands, Türkçe and English with subtitles.

Another of the most resonant moments in The Age of Stupid, for me, was a quiet reflection from an Englishman. Piers Guy, a windfarm developer who’s struggling to achieve positive change against the disturbingly blinkered ‘not in my back yard’-ism of a snobbish, Home Counties tweed-wearing set, stands in Airfield Farm, near Bedfordshire, and is reminded of the war and how the land got its name: “You only have to look at the terrible things in our history, which everyone regrets now”, he muses, “massacres, the Holocaust, and a lot of that was just going along with what was the predominant thinking at the time.”

And this is it, this is what I needed: the reminder that yes, massive social, economic and political changes for the better can happen. More than that, they do happen, must happen, and will happen, and relatively fast.24.358

A hundred years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to vote, and it’d be massively unlikely for me to go to university – but as early as the 70s the UK had a female Prime Minister (granted, she was a shit one, but that’s beside the point here). Sixty years ago, black children in the USA were segregated into ‘Negro’ schools, and couldn’t ride buses or trains, use drinking fountains, or play sports with their white peers; today the President is black. These changes have happened within living memory, and there’s more – the film goes into the (rather exciting) possibilities for going forward into a cleaner, greener future and working to achieve a position of global energy equality, which will unsurprisingly involve the US and Europe seriously (though gradually) downsizing our fossil fuel consumption. (Al Gore: ‘They’re seeing the writing on every wall’).

My grandparents, probably some of your parents, remember life during wartime – living in fear through Blitzkrieg over London, and worse in Poland and the former USSR; losing brothers to the fighting, watching children die from treatable diseases. And they remember dealing with serious shortages – they remember the rationing of clothes, petrol, soap, sugar, meat, fat, then bread, then potatoes. Nobody’s asking our generation to give up our lives for our freedom and principles, and we’re not even talking about rationing bread, more like rationing the time we spend with big-screen TVs, XBoxes, cheap flights. Unquestionably we can face this fight. It’s started in the Maldives, it’s coming to Copenhagen this year.

We can do this, we can survive – and more than that, we can and we will live low impact.

Newsflash: Bikes are still amazing!

Who’s with me (pictured)?

Pete Postlethwaite is with me.

And finally, bonus fun, whimsical and actually rather beautiful link by way of a reward for having read this far: check out Leo and Bill’s creation of the universe with milk and a fishbowl.

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To wish impossible things

the prophet
We are walking back toward the towering Koutobia mosque that we’re using as a handy landmark, when we realise it’s 4pm and the resonant solemn call of the muezzin rings out from it, amplified but pure, clear and bright as a summer stream but rich and deep like molasses, dewy, soft thick emerald Scottish moss, old longstanding trees. Heartwood. We are awestruck and silenced and it feels odd to think that the call is not for me, so pervasive and essential does it seem, and I don’t know what to do and sit down there to think and listen, listen and think.

Another day, as I look out of the window, the later prayer time must fall and a man in a red shirt stops where he is, unrolls his mat and kneels there, bowing toward Mecca, as this wonderful hot bright city seems to pause for breath in the purple twilight, dusky and dusty, breathing in deeply and calmly and just noticing, just taking stock, at this moment when day meets night. Again something takes hold of me, my heart – I’m humbled and shy; I feel perhaps I start to understand, being here, why one might believe and say and sing that God was great. I feel a part of something bigger, and at the same time I feel refreshed and affirmed to be one and unique and me; one of many.

And it’s the stars I think of, not the ones I know obscured by London smog and Edinburgh haar, but dreams, simulations or imaginations of journeys through space with them whooshing up huge and burning on every side; the stars up there in the thin atmosphere and the neat bounded glassy stars of the intricate repetitive tile work down here, radiating their own way, in painstakingly-mapped, bright, straight lines and angles; and the people, who glow like little stars, one and all.

And I think that Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, and Stephen Dedalus and Dr Rieux and Billy Pilgrim and old Wandering Aengus, and maybe Winston Smith, Alex Portnoy, Candide and le Petit Prince and Titus Groan and certainly old Walt Whitman and his body electric, would have got it as well and nodded and swung to this same beat, I’d always thought it was all about searching for something inexpressible and elusive, something subtle, indefinable, untouchable, something that would never be found, but now I think perhaps at the same time it’s about knowing and realising, feeling it, that it’s all over us and under us, that it’s inescapably there, here, now.

I can’t forget.

From my notebook:

Marrakech is hot and red and dusty and everything I thought it would be and more. I wasn’t ready for the sleepy, hungry tough cats and kittens who stalk these streets like quiet implacable kings; napping in ruins, artfully evicting the last little particles of meat and marrow from scrap bones, almost skittishly watchful yet lazily proud. Tiny birds hop and flit picturesquely in the dust and the orange trees and teeter shyly forward to drink tiny sips from the fountains.

perfect speedI wasn’t ready for the omnipresent dirt bikes – ‘scramblers’, says the boy – which zoom unpredictably down every street and many pavements and even, haltingly, noisily, through the narrow walkways of the souks, penetrating into every possible twig and stem and vein of the red city and issuing big belches of heady petrol smell into the still air.

These seem to be ridden by every imaginable class of citizen – old men in djellabas, chic ladies in shades, people going to work, laughing young couples and skinny boys in football shirts and striped shirts and trainers, two to a bike, cruising with the bright, assured and wonderful air of the vivacious young of every land, looking confident full of the intent of grabbing Life soundly in both hands and squeezing the vital hot sweet juice out and drinking their fill, and starting with this here overheated and shining red motorised pedal cycle and this wide clear road that turns violet at nightfall when the big fat moon comes up; when the merchants pack up their multi-coloured, glittering, paintbox stalls and kneel to pray; when we pass a man washing his face, hands and feet from a big metal drum re-filled with water in the street and it looks such a vitally simple and refreshing prospect as this incredible baking day draws to a close; when I feel like perhaps my eyes will never be the same again, permanently just a little widened with the sheer effort of trying to take in all the amazing sights I’ve seen: all the sweet-shop, chalky colours, all the dazzling, endless, repeating, calming inlaid tile work of palaces and tombs, all the life and light and the multifacted breathing singing shining unity of the market, a time and a place, a small world.

All I can say is that my life is pretty plain.

Here’s something I wrote in London:

I went to Tate Modern with Don and Martin. We looked at Shibboleth, the Doris Salcedo crack in the Turbine hall, and raised our eyebrows; made lots of jokes along the lines of ‘kids, don’t do crack’; noted trying-not-to-sound-surprisedly how many people there were, late on a wet Sunday afternoon, I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising. There are a lot of people. I took a couple of photos of people interacting with the fissure, because everyone else was.

We looked through a crowded room of Surrealists, particularly Magritte and Ernst. I was excited to see a couple of Ernst’s landscapes/cityscapes, including a beautiful one I’d never seen that was oddly 3d, made out of cork, Dadaville. There were lots of other things there too, I especially remember lots of curvy organic shapes, some tiny little bronzes by Henry Moore, mini-Moores, not sure if they were studies or plans for larger pieces, maybe he just made them and I’d never seen any of them before, bronze would seem an odd choice of material for preliminary studies. An interesting one was roughly ovoid with three sharp points, curling in on itself like claws, the tips almost touching but not quite – a real sense of frozen movement and of electric urgency. Then on to a room of Bacons, through a really interesting set of tiny, tiny, infinitely delicate etchings by a chap called WOLS (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze, as I scribbled in my notebook), who died young before he’d ever actually printed many of them. They were amazingly varied, angular shapes suggesting dark cities alongside curly, botanical-looking, loopy little figures that reminded me of lost hair, the individual lines as thin. Bacon, of course, very powerful and angry, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion very Silent Hill, which of course actually came later so what I mean is those things in Silent Hill are very Bacon, and so they are.

After that, of course I wanted to see the Rothko room so we trooped on over, through some lovely abstract stuff – Ishi’s Light, a tall Anish Kapoor, stands welcomingly in the first room. It’s a curved sheet, like a topless, bottomless egg open on one side, it’s a cross between an egg and a revolving door: it’s matte white on the outside and shiny dark within so that the room and everyone in it are reflected, refracted, into this stretched column of light that shines right in the centre, moving to one side and another as you do. Kids run inside and push it in a way that makes me, as such a recent warder, draw a sharp breath, so it’s nice to remember that I don’t have to tell anybody off today. There are large red canvases on the wall facing it and they all become part of the inner, mirror-image, light show, it’s a beautiful and a calming thing. ‘Interactive’ in that quiet Kapoor way, not the trendy way that makes me think of ‘proactive’ and gag, but in the way that recognises that everything, all art, two or three-dimensional, is interactive if you choose to make it so, that there’s always a fourth dimension to everything, a fourth wall. I think again of the word ‘reflective’ and its meanings.

The Rothkos are as brilliant as I could’ve hoped, mesmerising, multiplied, suggestive and intricate, the colours vivid and visceral, the scale of them dizzying, you feel like you might fall forward into the dark parts, like you’re standing at the edge of a lake or a void. I am happy to have come and to have a little time to stand and stare, it’s a luxury in London to be able to feel this aware of the space around you. I feel a kind of clarity of the senses, something like focusing through fog, something like bonds or cataracts, distractions, falling away; it’s something I’ve felt at the most sublime moments of those Sunday concerts in St. Giles’ cathedral, where sound and space come together so beautifully, I suppose maybe that’s what people get when they pray.

As we leave, we pass under the spindly-legged, sharp-edged Louise Bourgeois spider and the sky’s darkening over the Thames, blue giving way to black that seems to soak, inky, upwards from the horizon. The city’s full of soft colours, warm uplighting casting gentle glinting shades on the Gherkin and London Bridge and some financial buildings, I don’t know what anything is but it’s just for looking at tonight, it’s for our eyes only. There are these streetlights, orange glowing globes, and then whitish, pinkish, green or blue tinges to all the other lights, it’s as if my aesthetic sense is rejoicing, the dark Rothkos having unlocked, reawakened something dormant, a sense of pleasure in the world, or perhaps in me. The glow of sodium vapour in the rain; more inwardly the glow of seeing beautiful things. The air’s not so cold now.

On the Tube, the beautiful everything continues – there’s this sweet grungy-gothy-punky kid biting his chipped-black-polished nails across from us where we stand, his golden brown hair falling from under his hood about his face in sinuous, relaxed locks that curl at the ends as unreal and graceful as smoke. On his chest there’re little undotted question marks of hair, on his chin too he’s displaying his burgeoning manhood, he wears a necklace on a silvery chain, I can see the clasp, which has slipped down on his right-hand side, but not the pendant.
A round-headed, solemn-faced blonde toddler sits in a buggy and kicks her squat, stubby little legs with an air of importance and of curiosity. She’s got these sparkly, cut-glass or plastic ‘jewels’ on her squarish little shoes, and infinitely smaller, more ephemeral and beautiful, rain drops glittering in her hair and on her fleecy pink hat.

There’s this absolutely gorgeous, tall guy sitting nearby, he’s got close-cropped hair so as not to distract from his lovely, smooth face with its slightly soft lines, kind of angular but kind of voluptuous at the same time; his nose and ear are pierced with simple studs shining, he’s mixed-race and has these stunning dark eyes with fabulous lashes, I wish there was more light in here so I could see them look more lively, see the little ever-changing reflected lights dancing in them and echoing the flashes of light you get from his jewellery, but he’s mostly looking at the ground. There’s a tiny hole in the seam of his blue jeans, noticing it makes me realise I wish I could see more of his body, I wish there were more holes generally. Peep-holes I suppose. He’s got a dark shirt on over a white t-shirt, if he would even just roll up the sleeves…

Then there’s a youngish, curly-haired couple – brown eyes for him, blue eyes for her – laughing together, she’s so pretty when she looks up at him and smiles. She’s not really much to write home about when you first look, but then she brings out this amazing great big grin that just lights up her face and the whole tube compartment and the whole day, like flicking a switch. He obviously says something funny and she just loves him for it, you can tell, it’s brilliant. She’s wearing a snug, cosy-looking, vintagey high-necked check coat and there’s a button hanging loose on its thread at the throat, it swings from side to side with the movement of the train and with her laughter.

She’s so high.


So I have just returned from The Camp for Climate Action, which was an incredible experience on very many levels. I’m so enthused, so excited and so horrified by various things I’ve seen and heard – I was absolutely cream crackered last night as we got no sleep the night before and travelled all day, but then I just woke up at 8.30 now with my head spinning and churning, with this feeling of momentum, wanting to get up and run and shout like when I was a kid. I guess this is what they mean about being ‘energised’ by taking part in action; it’s quite odd and honestly, even in my most optimistic moments I didn’t imagine it would be this good for me on a personal level. That just seems weird to say now, my life is so very… microcosmic?, it’s hard to get everything in the picture.
I’m trying to summarise, to say something that’ll make sense of it all: Six days in a wet, muddy field being a vegan changed my life? No. Listen to this and see if you feel the same way, if this lump rises up in your throat and your eyes water and – no… I don’t think it will be quite the same, but you should listen to it anyway. I’ve become part of a movement that’s involved the High Court, injuncted men, buckets and buckets of tea, Swampy, Richard and Judy, the Boy Scouts and so much more, sat in a little English village pub (called The Red Lion, for heaven’s sake) and listened to a ‘local’ defending Fergus’ right to look the way he does – he has a few feet of golden hair and a matching beard and is wearing a t-shirt proclaiming that Jesus was a Gay Black Hippy Jew? By the way, it was amazing to hang out with F so much (how often do you spend pretty much 7 x 24 hours straight with one of your mates?!) and I met so many other awesome people, which is part of why I’m so buzzing now, (I even got my London accent back a bit, it’s so funny!) and we did also have a wicked party (plus went to Camden and got pissed up on digestive-biscuit-vodka among other things so that was nice) just in case you’re worrying that I’m too earnest? Also while I was away I got offered a job and an interview for another which just goes to show? I don’t know.
And just noticed I’m (sort of) in the Waily Heil! Hahaha! I remember this woman, she did indeed do the washing up on the first day (she said “I really like washing up! I clearly don’t get enough sex”) and she did seem nice and Jewish I thought and a bit mumsy, I wondered what had happened to her. So that you don’t have to actually read that nonsense here is my 1 minute of fame:
A lot of dirty looks are thrown and the police retreat beyond the perimeter. Camp Climate [why does she keep calling it that, even if you are scrawling in the Faily Fail is it that difficult to get two words in the right order?!] has won the pushing competition.
“Hello,” says the woman next to me. “I’m Alice.”
“I’m Tanya,” I reply. “Pleased to meet you,” she says and we shake hands.
We are so English – even when we are evicting the police, we are polite.

Think of it, a ‘journalist’ from the Daily Hate Mail has done my washing up. That’s wicked, I don’t know whether to laugh or wash the hand that shook hers with caustic soda… Eat my lentils, bitch! My radical socialist queer Jewish intellectual lentils! You LOVE IT. Not sure if she actually did eat my lentils, of course, she’d probably wussed out by Thursday which is when we cooked lunch for ‘the whole of London’ (about 200 people).

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Waiting for a train.

It’s a grey and hazy morning in the sharp-edged, angular new town of Ørestad (unlike Edinburgh’s New Town, this one is actually new). vanishing point

The train, as announced, is delayed by three minutes, something that seems impossible in this city of inhuman efficiency. I am hungry. I awoke early to the sound of some child I don’t know, making sounds I don’t know, presumably words I don’t know, in a language I don’t know. My dreams had been upside-down and jumbled and occasionally irksome – strange wilful dreams of swimming, sunshine and Sam and a door, high in the air, that led nowhere. Of things painted and painful. Sometimes when I sleep I pick at scabs.

An impossibly huge, rusted cargo train speeds by, with a noise of hissing cats and a cold metallic scream. Everywhere there are words I half-recognise without knowing, like vague shapes in the dark that would be familiar. Today I will go back home and tonight I will sleep in my own bed and tomorrow, if I’m woken by a sound, it will be the sound of one I love making noises I recognise, words I know the meaning of – insofar as I know the meaning of anything. And this is a good thing to remember. I switch on my MP3 player and cocoon myself; I listen to Nick Cave to cheer me up. I should reiterate that gloriously unlikely statement: I listen to Nick Cave to cheer me up. Because, again, I know his noises: a comforting anchorage in this alien nation.

The sun comes out, and here’s my train.