'Where do we go from here, chaos or community?' - Paul Kantner Two poems for peace which I offer in tribute to the memory of a true idealist POSSESSION We'd seen the posters stuck on every wall (a travelling show encamped just out of town) But when we looked again, saw none at all - As fast as they'd gone up they'd been torn down. The balaclava boys were out in force And hooded mobs watched out for signs of fun. The circus came to town that night, of course, But not as advertised. A signal gun Was fired. The party crowd began to leave With blazing torches bobbing down the hill. We heard the distant screams, could not believe That folk we knew and liked were out to kill. The evil from outside they'd keep at bay Burned deep within their foolish hearts that day. IN YOUR EYES listen to the band play guitar people come from very far standing in a crowd you can't hide and your joy is multiplied open up your eyes this is no surprise don't look to the skies just see it in their eyes an old man stumbles in the street all he can hear is the passing feet go up to him and hold his hand feel his life running out like sand open up your eyes this is no surprise don't look to the skies just see it in his eyes live your life just for yourself line your nest and count your wealth build your walls as high as the skies you can't buy a mirror that will tell you lies open up your eyes this is no surprise don't look to the skies just see it in your eyes "Hide witch hide The good folks come to burn thee Their keen enjoyment hid behind A gothic mask of duty ... " opening lyric of the album Blows Against the Empire (1970) by Paul Kantner Rest in Peace
Readers have been raving about the vibrant and authentic gonzo journalism of our new cub reporter Colum Incheys. Here’s the concluding part of his in-depth as-it-happens on-the-spot up-to-minute down-and-dirty fly-on-the wall report from Bafflesby Fame Academy …
Offshaw & Gonn have received a number of complaints from readers about ‘Uptown Top Ranking, Part One’. All mentioned poor communication skills, although opinion was divided on whether spelling was worse than punctuation or vice-versa. Offshaw & Gonn would like to point out that any reduction in quality is always offset by reduced production costs, a benefit shared with readers through lower unit prices.
The Bafflesby Bugle (Motto: ‘You Get What You Pay For’)
so theres mister star maker his self sat smilin at me in this famus room what i never would of imagind in a million yeers, how cool is that to think how meny big names been there even if yer man were been a bit hush hush about who they was, fare enuff i spose you cant be to care full with all the weardos about nowdays, anyway this flunket dude is sposed to cum in but he never so mister star maker go look for him, i try to reed the brosher but to meny werds jus like mister star maker may be he writ it his self, so i look out the windo for a wile
theres this squeek so i turn round & seen this man cum in jus like a lickle mouse what run round the walls but i seen that he lookin at the famous fotos like chekin they still there, so turns out its his shoe whats squeekin yeah may be it got wet in the fluds, then i wander if its the dude what mister star maker go out to find so i boot me smart fone up
Smartphone Transcription Team – T. Crosser and I. Dotter
- Are you Mr Flunkett?
- Oh … hello, yes, and you are … ?
- That’s right. I’m hopeless with names. Memory like a sieve, you see. Any kind of pressure and it all goes. No idea where. Wild blue yonder, I shouldn’t wonder. Then one fine day, when I’ve forgotten all about it … bang!
- Bang! It’s back! Then I can’t get rid of it. Goes round and round and round. Stops me remembering new things. More pressure, do you see? It’s a never-ending cycle, like being stuck in a horror story. I tell you, without this place I’d be a basket-case.
- The Fame Academy?
- I get nervous, you see. Stage Fright. Now it’s spread to real life. I didn’t even want to come in here and talk to you, can you believe that? I only managed it because it’s today’s Confidence Challenge. I get one a day. Yesterday’s was, er …
- Take your time, dude.
- No good, gone already! And if you can’t remember it, you don’t feel the benefit.
- It might come back to you tomorrow.
- Don’t talk to me about tomorrow. The future makes me dizzy, like standing on the edge of a precipice. And with my memory on the blink, I can’t even remember how I got there. Famous people have to remember things. They have to remember lines and songs and what to say at press conferences. They have to remember names at celebrity parties so they can network with people and become even more famous.
- They don’t remember who they’ve been to bed with.
- Fame Academy prepares you for all that. Anyone can be famous but not everyone can stay famous. Staying power, you see. I’m working at staying in rooms with other people. The only way I could step over that threshold just now was by imagining you could be useful to know in my relentless climb to the top of the tree.
- Well, I am a reporter …
- Famous people have to be one step ahead. But it’s a step into the unknown. One false move and you’re yesterday’s news.
- Like them in the photos?
- Ah yes, I knew them all! Their glittering success is a constant inspiration!
- Well, their bitter failures offer us valuable instruction. They left the Academy too soon, you see, before the lessons of fame could be fully learned. Whereas I –
- Have left it too late?
- Ah, I can tell by your beard and piercings you are a young man in a hurry! The young never understand the importance of patience. Only when we are ready for fame should we seek it.
- When will you be ready?
- When I’ve completed every course, of course! They have so much on offer!
- Yeah, that brochure’s full of it!
- I only wish there were more hours in the … Bang! It’s come back to me! Yesterday’s challenge was to memorise all my Fame Academy qualifications so far! Aha, let’s see how much has leaked out of the old sieve, eh? Well … I can maintain a photogenic expression at all times and face flashbulbs without blinking. I can keep eye-contact with a fan while signing my autograph with a flourish. I can speak to a whole group while convincing each person I’m talking to them alone. I can say things like ‘None of this would have been possible without you‘ and ‘You make it all worthwhile’ to build my fan-base through brand-loyalty. I can present my crib to the crowd through the keyhole, controlling what my décor says about the real me behind the curtains … er, headlines. I can comment on world issues to show my warmth and humanity while saying nothing that might annoy fans with widely differing opinions. I have completed the outline of my autobiography, ready for important and inspiring events to be added the moment they happen. I have an advanced understanding of scandal-management, knowing when to get into it and how to get out of it. And seeing you sitting there fiddling with your phone, young man, reminds me that I’m more than ready to take on the trolls through rapid-reaction response with instant internet-intervention impact.
- All set to go viral, then?
- Er … well, I will be all set after a little more tweaking … the finishing touches, you might say. Tomorrow I start Stylistics …
- Now them I have heard of! (Sings) ‘You make me feel brand new, I think it’s cos of – ‘
- Stylistics is the study of charisma capture. After that I’ll get my Good Attender Discount on Botoxology, Tweetivation and Schmoozography. Which one do you think I should go for first?
- Are those baby statues real gold?
- All that glisters, my boy, do they not teach you proverbs these days?
- Yeah, all that stuff, pronouns too!
- They’re cherubs.
- We never done those …
- You haven’t been listening to a thing I’ve said, have you?
- Don’t worry, dude, I’ll put you on Playback when I get back to the Bugle. You done, or have you got anything else?
- Have I got anything else? Well, there was my work experience on ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Into Here’ … and then there was the time I, er … yes, my friend, I’m done.
to say mister flunket spend his days in a nice place like that with all stachoos & stuff all that gold & marbal & swish furnicher he didnt sound too happy, may be he lookd out the windo & saw them ace cars & gorjus gardins & remebmerd it were all been payd for out of his pocket jus so he coud friten his self about tomorow, be enuff to put any body normall off been famus with all the stuff they got to wory about tho i woodnt mind been the dude what make other people famus, wander if theys any thing on the inter net about it
BAFFLESBY FAME ACADEMY living the dream Namedropping with Nuance How to Photobomb the Famous Leading a Band Co-op by Stealth Do's and Don'ts for the Launch Party Stalker Surveillance on a Fixed Budget Spread the Word with Chinese Whispers Endorsing Cool Charities Help for Has-Beens dreaming the life BAFFLESBY FAME ACADEMY
To cheer us all up, our new trainee reporter Colum Incheys steps into Jason Wildgoose’s wet shoes and takes the dripping Smartphone and its dodgy spellchecker in search of the feelgood factor and that elusive teenage reader …
Offshaw & Gonn who own The Bafflesby Bugle and Bafflesby Fame Academy accept no responsibility whatsoever for the contents of this article.
i wake up with this big like grin on me face cos todays the day I get to meat bafflebys mister star maker & get took on a free toor round his fame acadomy, well its a dream cum tru eva since i was a lickle kid singin & dancin on the kitchin table with all me uncles & stuff cheerin away like i was a big star, anyway i get there & seen this sign out side these big old like gates what says SMILE ZONE but the thing what cracks me up is this picture whats under neeth
well you got to laugh dont you, so anyways i go up this like drive way & seen this merc & 2 lamber geenys parkd out side this grate big dead old like house what you see in them movies
& i am like wow this is so cool & when i press the bell it plays this like old tune off of the TV what the words jus cum in yor head what you cant stop singin, im gonna live for ever im gonna learn how to fly, so im still singin when the door opens & theres this like butler in a black suit with that face what they have what cracks me up, so I cant stop giglin be hind his back all down this like marbal hall way, then we go in to this big room with all these like wood panals smart chairs & stuff
im not giglin no more now, ive got the hickups, so i try take me mind off of them by lookin at stuff like me mam says & one wall is coverd with fotos, i reckond they must be the famly what use to live there & im lookin at there faces smilin like they jus took the pegs off when this deep voice make me jump out me skin
COLUM it goes HOW GOOD OF YOU TO CUM WHATS YOR POISON
so i spin round & theres this big tall guy standin there whats the spit of James Bond in a dead smart suit & posh hair cut, all gold bracelets & stuff im not kiddin you so cool, i just stair at him & he points to this like gold drinks trollee yeah, i am soooo gob smackd but it jus cum to me this must be yer man so good job i remebmerd to press Record on the smart fone
- You got – hic! – any Fizzicola?
- It’s my favourite drink. It stops my hiccups. I never have – hic! – nothing else.
- Oh … well, I’ll get my man to drive down into Bafflesby and buy a case of them.
- They come in cans.
- I thought they might. So, er … ?
- So in the meantime, Colum, can I tempt you with something a little stronger?
- Alcohol, yeah?
- Er, yes …
- I’m only 16.
- You have a beard.
- They let you – hic! – grow them at school.
- Good for them! I was going to offer you a luxury cigar but I don’t suppose you … Oh well, never mind, you’ll have all the time in the world to develop expensive habits when you’re filthy rich and famous!
- That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?
- I’m here – hic! – to interview you for The Battersby Bugle.
- Ah, the day job, but don’t try to tell me you’ve never pranced in front of your mother’s bedroom mirror in her special make-up and scarlet high-heels!
- How did you – ?
- We know your dreams, Colum, and we know how to make them come true. Yours is a very special capability. Why follow the crowd when you can make them follow you? It’s not a matter of luck, it’s a matter of time. And it’s high time you shared your talents with a hungry world!
- You mean, perform at like charity concerts in aid of starving people?
- Hungry for you, Colum, you and your marketable gifts! Think of The Bafflesby Fame Academy as a place where your raw talent can be nurtured and nourished by a know-how nowhere else to be found. And when you bloom like a gorgeous hothouse flower, we shall hang your picture with pride up there in our gallery of honour.
- Those people are famous?
- Every last one of them an Academy Alumnus who has ascended to the halcyon heights of stellar apotheosis! We knew them all here … Patrick Porter … Charles Medway … Poppy Dilks …
- They don’t ring no bells on me!
- … Jimmy Sylvester … the Ibstocks … Oscar Poop …
- Sorry, dude, never heard of them!
- Ah, well, many of our graduates go on to adopt stage-names.
- Such as?
- We never refer to pseudonyms inside the Academy.
- Why not?
- It’s considered unlucky. Like any other branch of show-business, we have our quaint little superstitions. And when it comes to the A-list we must consider their need for privacy. If we let reporters nose around here for salacious tit-bits or early indiscretions, we’d soon be –
- I’m a reporter …
- Oh yes, so you said! Trouble is, I’m so used to interviewing people. These days everyone wants to be famous. Andy Warhol’s fault, of course, promising them their fifteen minutes! You have to interview them all to discover the special ones.
- The ones with special talent?
- No, the ones prepared to pay our tuition fees. The pursuit of fame can be a lifelong struggle and the support costs are considerable.
- You get many drop out?
- We give them every encouragement to continue. There are many, many avenues to take. They are all in this brochure. Who knows, you might find something that takes your fancy …
- Yeah, like I can afford these prices on the pocket money they pay me!
- We give drastic discounts to the truly talented. This is possible because the slightly skilled are far more numerous and can often be persuaded to part with their money. Our little concert-shows and talent-competitions keep them perfectly happy. We never give up on anybody. It would be cruel to deny them their hopes, you see, however hopeless. We provide a therapy lifeline. Our brochure is full of it.
- Nice pictures.
- They illustrate our philosophy.
- Plenty of smiling.
- You have entered the Smile Zone! (Sings) You gotta … accentuate the positive … eliminate the negative … latch on to the affirmative … but don’t mess with Mr In-Between!
- Ha, that dude must be you!
- Mr In-Between!
- Haha, how perceptive of you! Only the truly talented can understand such things. Yes indeed, a bridge between performer and public …
- I was thinking – hic! – more like a blockage.
- Ah … well, Colum, there’s no need to take my word for it when you can get it straight from the horse’s mouth … (Buzzer) … Er, send in Mr Flunkett, please … and get me a case of Fizzicola!
What will Mr Flunkett bring to the party?
Will Colum be as starry-eyed when he leaves?
Where will they find a case of Fizzicola in Bafflesby on early-closing day?
Read tomorrow’s gripping instalment, only in The Bafflesby Bugle !!!
BAFFLESBY FAME ACADEMY living the dream See your Name in Lights Fear Of Missing Out? No Fear! Hit that Niche and Become a Cult Forget Self Esteem - Get Public Acclaim Famous Guest Speakers from Bafflesby and Beyond Sign up Now because You're Worth It dreaming the life BAFFLESBY FAME ACADEMY
The idea that life unfolds to a pattern laid down by gods or fate or whatever has never appealed to me. Whenever people – worse still, peoples – believed they had a pre-ordained destiny, it was bad news for indigenous races and minority groups. Modern science has replaced the model of a clockwork machine universe with something much more fluid and dynamic and, yes, exciting. My poem explores this idea of a creative potential that is the polar opposite of passive acceptance. Only as free individuals can we become one people.
Thinking Out Loud The particle collider in our head Holds fragments of the past that whirl around In circles, frozen orbits of the dead Through inner space. They never make a sound. When silence grows too loud we open wide Perception's doors and welcome in the new, Observing past and present worlds collide In teasing spiral glimpses - all too few - Of what's to come. They crash and burn, Though not before the camera of our mind Snaps every possibility in turn As if the future's there to be divined. But how could everything be stuck that way? We generate the world afresh each day.
There are those who believe the recent floods in Bafflesby may have a significance outside the town boundary. One of these is our own trainee reporter, Jason Wildgoose, who has put in many unpaid hours to investigate what he calls ‘the wider picture’. So let us lay aside our beloved Bafflesby connection awhile and allow this eager young beaver his own moment of dam-building up in the hills.
The owners of this publication, Offshaw & Gonn Holdings Inc, wish it to be known that they do not necessarily endorse any of the views expressed in this article.
I followed the turbulent waters of the River Baffle to its source in the Bareback Hills where the old hunting, shooting and fishing traditions are proving ever-more lucrative in the global leisure economy. Grouse-moor owner Lord Byrd-Schott was quick to contest claims that his practice of burning vegetation and digging drainage ditches had caused water to run off his land more quickly.
“If these climate-change crackpots had to run a business,” his lordship told me while cleaning a huge shotgun, “they’d go bust in no time. My clients are busy people with international perspectives. They don’t want to hang around in the pouring rain while the grouse play peekaboo in the bushes. And try bagging a brace of birds, young feller-me-lad, with your wellies stuck fast in a swamp. I don’t think so.”
His neighbour, landowner Sir Filbert de Fleece, can trace his family back to the Norman Conquest but there the trail goes cold. He was contemptuous about European proposals for planting forests on upland fells to retain rainwater.
“What these tree-huggers won’t understand,” he bleated into the mic on my new Smartphone, “is that my tenant farmers are wool-shearers, not wood-shepherds. The last thing we need in this country are boffins from Brussels coming over here and telling us what to do. Besides, we’ve not had trees up this way since the Middle Ages.”
I had a sudden thought. Surely such a staunch supporter of old country traditions would be interested in this short video-clip about a successful flood-prevention scheme in North Yorkshire?
Sir Filbert watched the film in silence but when I asked an apparently innocent question his stormy reaction, as this transcript of my recording shows, came as a complete surprise.
- So is it time to bring back the old skills, do you think?
- Listen, son, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks … or old tricks … er, old skills, I mean … well, new to him, that is … are you with me?
- You could teach him to fetch sticks … or plant them.
- What I want to know is who is going to pay for him … er, them to be re-trained? This isn’t just a walk in the woods, you know!
- It’s tree surgery, not brain surgery …
- Are you trying to be funny?
- Horticulture, not rocket science …
- Damn it all, you snotty little whelp, get off my land!
His meaning, so far as I could tell, was that no money could be made by mediaeval methods unless it came from the government. I obviously needed advice from the experts and when I got my breath back after running down the farm track, I dialled the next number on my list.
- Is that the environment agency?
- Er, yes …
- This is Jason Wildgoose from the Bafflesby Bugle. I was wondering if –
- We’re not making any press statements until the chairman comes back from the Seychelles.
- To whom am I speaking?
- This is Faschia Burble. How may I help?
- I’ve just watched a lovely little film about traditional approaches to flood prevention in North Yorkshire.
- Oh, the Pickering Pilot Scheme …
- Yes, I was wondering if you could comment.
- Well, we’re all for pilot schemes.
- Splendid … so is there any chance of this one being rolled out across the nation?
- Er … subject to rigorous independent scientific scrutiny … perhaps.
- Well, possibly.
- Only possibly?
- Have you any idea, Mr Mongoose, how much these science firms charge for their services?
- An arm and a leg?
- We’re still paying for them to finish finding out about bee collapse.
- And don’t get me started on genetically-modified crops!
- Between you and me, they’ve kicked that one into the long grass.
- Right … unnaturally long grass?
- I’m not competent to say anything about the science.
- It was a joke. I’m more interested in the floods.
- I wouldn’t call flooding a joke, sir. From what I’ve seen, the waters have risen to Biblical proportions. Are you a Bible reader, by any chance?
- Well, it’s not at the top of my reading list, but I –
- Which of us can know the why and wherefore of it, sir, much less the who and when?
- No need to apologise. We are all to blame at some point down the line. Though some more than others, in my humble opinion.
- Tell me more, tell me more!
- Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I will say no more than this world is awash with heathen ways. Still, mum’s the word. No names, no pack-drill. And don’t rock a leaky boat.
- A wet bird never flies at night.
- No, wet …
- Oh, wet … yes, we can only pray it stops raining.
- Is that the official policy?
- Pray it stops raining?
- Er, well, we are waiting for the chairman to get back from the Seychelles.
- Perhaps he’ll bring the sun with him …
- I can’t comment on his travel arrangements. Is there anything else you need help with today?
- Everything, really, though I doubt whether you’d be much use.
- Thank you for your call. This answering service has been provided by Ear Line, a subsidiary of Offshaw & Gonn Holdings Inc. Goodbye.
Feeling a little dissociated, I needed to plant my feet on solid ground. First, however, I had to paddle a small dinghy through the waterlogged roads of Bafflesby Business Park in search of a company that would welcome new – or perhaps old – ways of improving flood protection.
In fine drizzle I shouted into several locked industrial premises and was eventually rewarded when an old man waded across a factory yard and regarded me warily through a padlocked gate. I pressed Record and prayed my Wi-Fi waterproofing was working.
- Flooded out, are you?
- Cleared out, mate, twelve month ago last Friday.
- Did you take note of advance weather warnings?
- You could say that. The holding company what took us over saw which way the wind were blowing, so to speak, and wound down the business.
- You went into liquidation?
- Haha, sir, that’s very droll under the circumstances! You could’ve cheered us up no end last year, when we was all give the elbow.
- You’re still working, though …
- I got took on by the security firm. It’s an offshoot of the holding company, as it happens. Wheels within wheels, you might say. It’s who you know, nowadays. Your face fits, you’re laughing.
- Holding company?
- Offshaw & Gonn.
- Goodness, they’re my employers!
- Join the club, sunshine. Turns out they own most of Bafflesby. First in line for any government flood compensation, of course, though they don’t pay no UK taxes. Last thing I heard, they was buying up grouse moors.
- Not much point asking my next question, then …
- Would you be happy to pay a business tax to fund new flood prevention meth –
At this point I dropped my Smartphone into the water. Turns out they’re not waterproof. Still, I won’t be needing it now that I’ve lost my job in Offshaw & Gonn’s latest economy drive. And at least now I can spend my unpaid days at home, out of the wet. Swings and roundabouts, as they say.
Offshaw & Gonn have decided to overlook the downbeat tone of this article because it features some useful examples of product placement. They have no comment to make on redundancy, blood sports, asset stripping, global warming, tax avoidance or indeed any other issue arising from its publication.
On-The-Spot Flood Special From Our Helicopter Team
Much of Bafflesby is underwater today after weather conditions described by an official source as “exceptional and unprecedented” caused the River Baffle to overflow in what locals say is now an annual event. When asked why the department of forecasting science had been axed in the austerity cuts, an Environment spokesperson said: “Nobody could have predicted this.”
Mobile-phone footage sold to the media by distraught residents has brought the rising floodwater into millions of homes nationwide. One dramatic clip captured the moment a newspaper reporter asked for a house-owner’s reaction:
… (sound of rushing water) … “So how does it feel to watch the river swirling up your garden, pouring through your back door, streaming through your lovely home and ruining all your gorgeous furnishings and precious family keepsakes?” … (sound of lachrymose sobbing) …
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. One enterprising organisation has managed to turn tragedy into triumph. Shard & Froyd Travel Tours Inc. has taken the plunge where others shiver on the side, bringing a cascade of visitors to the most severely flooded areas where they can experience all the torment and misery at second-hand. “There’s always somebody worse off than you,” said Hugo Smirke of hilltop village Upper Crustleigh, “and this is a welcome break from campaigning against wind farms.” The tour company said the catastrophe had come in the nick of time. “To be honest,” said their spokesperson, “it’s a case of sink or swim. Luxury travel has been in the doldrums since the recession. After this deluge, we’re home and dry.”
The firm who built many of the swamped estates was Floodplain Fabrications Limited Liability Company. They declined to comment and told us to contact Bafflesby and District Council who had put the land out to building tender. No council spokespersons were available but an automated message referred us to the national government agency that originally approved planning permission. The only person actually authorised to comment was the head of the agency but he was still on holiday in the Seychelles and pending his return we were advised to check back with Floodplain Fabrications that they had adhered to official guidelines.
Back in Bafflesby, confused residents awaited the arrival of a swat-team of junior government ministers on an urgent fact-finding mission. A rain-soaked crowd perched on duckboards in the town square, all eyes peeled for the ministerial convoy. The cry went up but cheers turned to jeers as fingers were pointed across the still-swollen River Baffle at the politicians and their frantically-phoning aides – 20 minutes later than promised – gazing down with apparent surprise at the impassable wreckage of the town bridge.
Their reset SatNav route took a further 20 minutes, by which time most residents had wearily resumed their property reclamation leaving a few stragglers to heckle the motorcade. The ministers leaped from their cars, donned brightly-coloured protective-wear and began to point in all directions with expressions of decisive intent and looks of pained empathy. Another mobile-phone recording captures the responses of one minister to inquiries from disgruntled bystanders:
” … and so at the end of the day, madam, when push came to shove it boiled down to hard choices and I have it on unimpeachable authority that allowing Bafflesby to flood in order to save Nobsford made perfect economic sense under the circum … (muffled interruption) … well, yes, Bafflesby does have more homes than Nobsford but when you consider market value it’s crystal clear that … (muffled interruption) … ah, yes, I see where you’re coming from but … (muffled interruption) … no, madam, what I meant was that I understand your point of view but we have to consider the British taxpayer in every … (muffled interruption) … oh well, sir, as a Nobsford taxpayer you will certainly appreciate your brand-new state-of-the-art high-water flow-containment spill-proof flood-barriers … (muffled interruption) … dear me, flooded too, you say … well, let’s not forget we’ve had exceptional and unprecedented weather conditions and I’m sure your flood defences performed brilliantly right up until the point where they failed … “
Here water penetration appears to bring the recording to an abrupt end.
We seek answers to the key questions – why, what, where, when and who?
The novelist Henry James once said, “Tell a dream and lose a reader.” Perhaps he’d have sold more books if he’d ignored his own advice, to judge from the success of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol and Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories. And think of the impact Martin Luther King made with I had a dream …
For what it’s worth, then, here’s one I dreamed last night. I was taking a class of Year 8 youngsters on a country ramble – something I used to do in reality when the school where I taught had an outward-bound centre in the Peak District. There’s nothing like a long walk for getting to know the kids in your tutor set and my dream was completely faithful to life in that respect.
We end up on a railway station platform. It’s dusk and the lights are coming on – ornate, old-fashioned Victorian lamps – while trains with brightly-lit carriages lumber slowly past us on either side in both directions. I ask the class to get into groups of 3,4 or 5. They disperse into waiting rooms and other nooks and crannies. I go in search and find they’re all in groups apart from 3 kids – 2 who want to work together and 1 nobody else wants. After some gentle diplomacy, I fit these into other groups and bring the class together to explain the task – not easy above the racket of trains and station announcements.
I’m just getting going when something bumps me sharply from the side and an eccentric figure runs past in Dickensian gear – top hat, cream-coloured coat and long leather boots. Just before disappearing round the corner of a station building, coat-tails flapping like the White Rabbit, he turns to me with a mischievous look and I see a face that resembles Robin Williams …
I’m awake. My wife has nudged me in the ribs. It’s 3.33 am. The cat is scratching at the bedroom door. I stumble downstairs to the kitchen and point the sleepy animal at the dried food still in his bowl. I go into the lounge and scribble down the main points of my dream.
Back in bed I lie awake, words of explanation to my dream class forming effortlessly in my mind. Turns out I want them to come up with creative responses to school life – they’re already experts on that subject, with more than 100 years of experience between them – working together to fashion poems, improvised drama, scripts, stories, letters, cartoons, research projects, you name it … and I fall asleep practising my speech in the hope that we are just about to meet up again.
There are many things I could say about dreams (and just as many about teaching) but I am curious to know what other people think. Do you have any observations to make? I would be very interested to read them.