I had another mundane dream again last night. I was trying to push enormous plastic coins through a slot into some kind of plastic box but was unable to squeeze them in. This is a good example of the kind of nightmare I experience a-nights. It is a variation on another classic dream of mine when I am trying to compose a number on an old fashioned telephone dial but keep putting my finger into the wrong digit hole and am forever having to start again. They are dreams where the principal sentiments are mild frustration and trivial irritation. Blocked off from me are dreams of bliss and joy, horror and dread, pathological compulsion or ecstatic delight. No. My dreams are obsessively quotidian, bland and vapid, banal.. If they were a colour they would be a matt grey; if they were a sound they would be a middle-aged man clearing his throat. Does this reflect poorly on my inner life? After all, there are no dark quests through expressionist townscapes; few purple nights and crimson days; little in the way of daggers and poniards behind a velvet arras. Though the other night, in my sleep, I was apparently wincing in great existential angst. What was it that tormented me? A fall from the balcony of some great monochrome cathedral? Bitter tears shed in a poisonous night garden? No. Just another plastic coin that wouldn’t fit into its slot.
Newcastle United F.C. has just been taken over by some arm of the state of Saudi Arabia. Most of the supporters are overjoyed with the promise of incalculable wealth to buy world-class talent on and off the pitch. The fact that Saudi Arabia has a reputation for its unscrupulous dealing with others including well documented evidence of its state sponsored murder of the journalist Jamal Koshoggi seems to worry some but not many. How far is a supporter prepared to go in his undying support for his team? I must admit I am a poor supporter of my team. I refuse to watch Match of the Day if I know they have lost, as they did 2-4 this weekend. I will support them in the good times but not the bad. I support them through the thick but not the thin. Genuine supporters would lambast me, no doubt, but the way I see it is that I sign up to the support thing for fun not for suffering. Is this masochism? If I don’t want to spent 10.30 to 11.45 pm on Saturday night with my head in my hands, why should I? This infidelity to a project has become more general in me in recent times. Time was I would finish a book I had embarked upon whatever, even if I was hating it. Now I’ll give them some of my time, but if it doesn’t please me sufficiently I am unwilling to give the author twenty hours of my life. Why should I? There are plenty of other texts in the ocean swimming around and plenty other football clubs other than Newcastle United, or, in my case, Manchester United. If I am strong enough to disassociate myself from my background which is the reason why I got railroaded into this support phenomenon in the first place, on a strategic temporary basis, then my mental flexibility should be praised not criticised. I’ll come back to Man United when they start winning!
I was listening to Radio 5 Live and they were talking about an abusive relationship. A man was violent to a woman, hitting her, shouting at her, locking her up. The interviewer asked: did you love him? The abused woman said yes. And they continued talking. We should probably try and get away from talking about love in this way, as if it were a contamination in no way related to your respect or admiration for a person. I remember when Prince Charles was about to marry Lady Di and he was asked Do you love her? She was standing next to him at the time. He made an infamous response which was much derided at the time. Whatever love means, he said. I suppose it wasn’t very reassuring to his poor bride-to-be standing next to him, but it was a fair enough response to a daft question. One can appreciate that falling in love is a kind of virus that you catch, but to be complacent and satisfied with that state of affairs as an acceptable way of defining love is not useful and, as in the case of the radio programme, doesn’t help us when the infatuation snags on unpleasant behaviour.
We all know a celebrity or two, but the best of us refrain from bringing this random acquaintance, some hangover from school or university or from some job we once did, into the conversation for reasons of discretion and taste. And yet, it can be that one feels compelled to summon up this celebrity acquaintance from the lower depths of ones memory, often for competitive reasons. I know, of course, that it in no way reflects well on me that I have a passing acquaintance with someone who may punctually pop up on the telly or the radio. It would reflect better on me if I just kept my mouth shut and let some other fool trundle on about how Dominic Cumberbatch is a friend of a friend of his sister. But faced with this intense pressure I could well come up with one of my sorry tales: being on Gordon Ramsay’s ridiculous restaurant show about shocking restaurants he turned round or being once seen naked in a shower by Iris Murdoch, for example. I do not feel better when these anecdotes are forced out of me. I feel sullied. I should just tacitly accept my role in the shadows. It would reflect better on me. Let others seek out the celebrity acquaintance limelight.