In my dream I was explaining to someone (it is always me doing the explaining in dreams, desperately making it up as I go along) about how this particulat mirror functions. It retains the images of you over time like a photo album and you can flip back and see how you were reflected in it over the years. I knew when I woke up that this dream was a reference to the preoccupation I had about rewearing a pair of brown socks I had worn the evening before. Normally I will change socks every day but these socks I had only put on in the evening, so I thought I’d give them another chance to shine on Sunday morning. What the connection was between a mirror with the faculty to accumulate images and the micro-anxiety about rewearing a pair of brown socks was something to do with the process of going back to something from the day before, being able to reconnect with it. This abstract, functional reworking is how I instinctively feel dreams work for me; they recreate the past through an abstract metaphorical translation with no respect to how demotic or trivial the preoccupation or dream version of the event is. It is a democratic forum where high and low register rub equal shoulders. Anyway, don’t worry, I’m just wearing the brown socks for the daylight hours.
When I go to get my hair cut in Westminster I go to the local cafe there and have 2 eggs, bacon, toast and coffee. It’s every six weeks or so, I suppose, but I know the cafe well as I used to live on the street and be a regular there. In this cafe when your order is ready the man behind the counter calls it out in a generous baritone voice and you trot up to the front to pick up your fare. Last Wednesday when I went in after my haircut there was a slight change to the procedure. This time he asked me my name and so when he called out the prepared order he prefaced it with my first name. This was perhaps to avoid confusion amongst the customers or perhaps a new marketing ploy to create a connection with the customer and so have you, feeling loved, coming back. In any case, as I left the cafe, my breakfast finished, I heard the call from behind ‘see you next time’ suffixed by my name. Now he has it, that name, and there is nothing I can do to retrieve it.
Giving my name up is not necessarily a thing I like to do. The publican in ‘The Blackbird’, the pub close to where I work four days a week, has also by some method recently got hold of my name. He does not know the name of any of my co-drinking colleagues. I don’t know his name. Why should he have my name? When he uses it, it feels to me like he has something on me, some key informaton, a tape with which to blackmail me or a set of my fingerprints on a murder weapon. My plan is to trick him into giving me his name so that I can get back at him. Why not ask him out right, you ask? Why not just say ‘And what’s your name then, seeing that you have mine?’ Of course, such a frank request would not do. I will have to learn it secretly through some cunning scheme and then, in a moment when he leasts suspects it, produce it and, as though a knife drawn out from where it had been wrapped in a pristine white magician’s handkerchief, wield it suddenly and shockingly against him.
When Pads’ wife died aged fifty he decided he would take the hotel in Manchester they had owned and run together and hand over a room to every member of the Under-12s team he had played for 38 years earlier. It was a small boutique twelve room hotel. That would be the first eleven plus a sub. He would rename the hotel ‘The First Eleven’. Pads had an old black and white photo of the team and remembered all the players’ names, from Mini who played at centre-half, Teefy at inside right, Alf at centre forward, Macca as goalie, Slav as sweeper and so on. Then began the process of tracking them down. He had lost touch with them all over thirty years ago, so it was a complex process. One had died and one was untraceable. That left ten of them, of who four still lived in the Greater Manchester area. Pads handed over financial and management control of the bedrooms to the remaining players. In practice, it was not so straightforward. There were wives who got involved. One of the members of the under-12 eleven was now gay with a partner who worked in interior design and control of the room was given to him. This was against the spirit of the idea but it was difficult for Pads to step in. A couple of the players had fallen on hard times, financially speaking, and wanted to sell their room on the open market as soon as they had gained legal control of it. Again Pads was unable to intervene. He realised he should have had a contract drawn up with proper terms and conditions. Another player now lived in Wyoming and didn’t turn up for the opening party. When the official photo was taken of the old members of the team together again 38 years later in front of the hotel, some players wanted their wives and kids, now mostly grown-up, in on the picture. The resulting photo was a chaotic mess. Pads was beginning to regret he’d ever bothered.
Imagine the fun you would have as a cat burglar. Not a common or garden burglar but a cat burglar. As a cat burglar you would need, probably, another parallel life, a life you led by day. At night you would be a cat burglar. By day you could be a scholar. The more your field of scholarship is arcane, the better. As a scholar, you would wear a lot of tweed. Cat burglars, of course, wear tight, black trousers (they are almost tights they are so close-fitting) and a black and red hooped tee-shirt, as well as the mask. As a scholar, you could specialise in certain tongues of the ancient world. I would favour Ancient Sumerian. As a scholar-cum-cat burglar your life would be highly regulated. Your fidelity to rigorous routine would be legendary. Your preferred wine would probably be bordeaux, from the left bank, a Chateau Latour or a Haut-Brion on special occasions, though you would be mostly abstemious. As a cat burglar you would need to keep trim. Leaping from balcony to drain pipe; from cariatide to atlantide; from gutter to roof-top, all illumintaed by nothing more than a crescent moon is stock-in-trade to a competent cat burglar. Mind you, you would probably be unconventional as far as cat burglars go. A maverick really. You would not conform to cat burgling orthodoxy. As a scholar of the Ancient Sumerian language, it may be come as a surprise that you are no traditionalist in the cat burgling firmament, but it is a shock that nobody will ever experience because behind that black shiny latex mask (you have a number of these masks that you keep in a secret part of your study lined with Ancient Sumerian tomes) your identity is and would forever remain a mystery.
I have a cleaning lady who comes to my small flat once every two weeks and cleans for three hours. I think she cleans for three hours. That ia what she is supposed to do. I have given her a key. The flat is clean when I come home, so whether she cleans for three hours or not is immaterial to me. I have paid for the flat to be cleaned and it is clean. Once I came home unexpectedly when she was in the flat and she was making herself soup. I said fine. A cleaning lady has to eat.
Two years ago in January I gave her a rise and then last January I gave her another small rise. Just one pound more each time. She deserves a rise like anybody. But some time in the middle of 2016 I got confused by the rise I had given her and didn’t quite remember what I was paying her. I was not sure if I was giving the money that I wanted to give. Once I left a £2 coin with the notes and when I came home the £2 coin was still there. This Christmas I left her a botttle of champagne but when I came back the champagne was still there on the table. Maybe she just forgot to take it home with her. Last week she was back came for the first time after the new year. I did not have time to get the right change for her, so I left more than was normal. I thought, next week I’ll leave less than normal. Of course, I am still not quite sure what normal is anymore. When I got home she had left me £4 in coins on the dish on my table. Which tells me what is normal. For her, at least. Except that, as it is January, I should be giving her a new £1 rise. Or maybe she had factored that into what she left in the dish. I have decided that next time I am going to write the new figure for her payment on a note on the table so that there is no confusion. It will be £1 more than she took away last time. There is a fair chance that this might be the money I would like to give her, but it’s not sure. However, the bottle of champagne that I had left on the table for her for Christmas I have taken away and put back amongst my small stock of wine. After all, Christmas is over.