Thursday, December 04, 2008

Creepy Adventures in Rural Fife

Visiting my friends P and A; they're staying in London. I fret a great deal about missing my train back north, but catch it (just) at what looks like King's Cross. Somehow, I manage to leave the train via the long-defunct station at the village of Kingskettle, Fife. My mother is waiting there, but I feel the need to have a look around another Virgin Pendolino waiting at the rural station. Before I know it, the doors have closed and I risk being carried miles from where I need to be. Luckily, I discover that the first stop is not far, and I find myself disembarking without maps or information somewhere in a signless part of the Howe of Fife (I get the impression it's in the vicinity of a Falkland or Freuchie - all anonymous large farms, hedgerows and old estates.)

Having no idea which way to head, I choose a direction at random. I've realised that I could call my mother, who would surely drive over and pick me up, but this'd be pointless without any location to give her. It's beginning to get dark. Soon I come across a shabby-looking gatehouse cottage at the beginning of a wooded avenue, and walk up the drive to find a substantial country house. Its two tall-windowed floors look empty. Cautiously entering the dusty hallway through the open main door, I find a middle-aged woman asleep on the floor. She awakens and seems apologetic to have been found in this situation, but makes no particular move to stand up or provide any helpful information. She explains that she can't help me, and I imagine that she looks to the ceiling.

There is a steadily increasing sound from the floor upstairs. As it grows louder, I can make out various elements to the racket: a rhythmic tramping sound which makes the floorboards creak, the jingling of horse tackle, a quicker footstep that runs up and down the line of what I cannot avoid imagining as a column of marching men...

I leave the house and find my way back through the dusk to the main road. Somewhere on the fringes of the farm or estate land which I am leaving, I can make out a large animal lumbering around the rough grassland. It seems to be a polar bear, grubby and stained with mud. It begins to attempt to mate with a nearby cow, then, seeing me, bounds over and rears up at me. I am already trying to get my mobile phone ready to take a picture (thinking that photographic evidence of the unbelievable scene would be important), but I'm not sure if I get a shot of it, and it loses interest, thankfully.

Almost completely dark now, and I finally find myself on the outskirts of a village I know (passing a little war memorial on the way in), and call to arrange to be picked up.

Almost completely forgotten from this sequence: The centre for parachuting/the tea shop/my son T sleeping under the camp bed

I have a lot of family connections in this area of the world, but haven't really been there for a long time. I also have a lot of dreams about trying not to miss trains, or getting on the wrong ones - it must represent something to me.

Monday, December 01, 2008

In Falkirk

the shops were all closed. That's all I remember.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Horrible Bill Oddie

Spending some time exploring somewhere that looks a bit like Madrid. Whilst visiting some sort of cathedral I find Bill Oddie capering around (doing a little jig) in front of a set of incongruously modern lift doors. When the doors open, the lift's passengers are suprised and alarmed by the sudden appearance of the dancing, bearded television personality.

"Why did they get such a fright, then?", Oddie asks me, perplexed. "Isn't it obvious?" I reply. "When the doors open, the last thing they expect to see is Bill Oddie, dancing around."

Later I am very angry with Bill when I discover he has put some sort of costume on Nancy, one of our rabbits. She's zipped up in the thing, which covers her completely, like a bag, and she is in obvious distress until I release her.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Small Biscuit Currency

Am in the shop of a petrol station, trying to buy a copy of 'Private Eye'. I notice, however, that the magazine has become slightly more glossy and colourful and has been rebranded as 'Have I Got News for You', to tie in with the TV show.

Another recent change which I'd forgotten about was the replacement of one pence pieces by small rectangular biscuits, similar to the ones that are presented with coffee. The ones I have in my pocket are the wrong type - for some reason I need a few 1p's to make up the total.

Friday, April 25, 2008

le Mesurier Murder

Shortly before going off to look at some kind of ancient shrine or cairn (hidden in an incongruous urban setting between tower blocks) I brutally torture and kill John le Mesurier and his wife in their home. The sadism and viciousness of the act, which involves boiling water and the contents of their own cutlery drawer, doesn't appal me until afterwards.

'That's it', I think to myself later, 'There's no going back - I bear the Mark of Cain'.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Coliseum Shopping Centre

Having a had an unusually unrewarding meeting with two of my theatrical clients, I. and A., I find myself and these individuals being given a lift back (from the meeting's mystery location) to Glasgow by my mother and her sister. Shortage of space means that myself and A. (not a big guy, unlike I.) have to cram into the boot of the car. Somewhere - think it's called 'Irvine' or 'Saltcoats' but it feels a lot more like Paisley - A. has to get out for an unspecified reason. After waiting for some time, I decide to see where he's gone. It'd not long before I get bored looking and phone the car's occupants to explain that I'll make my own way back. I've just remembered a place I haven't visited for decades, and I want to see if it's changed much.

I feel something approaching ecstasy as I realise that it's still there, having been architecturally updated in a half-hearted way over the years, but essentially unchanged; faded and slightly altered but mainly recognisable: the Coliseum Shopping Centre. Drawn back by my increasingly heartfelt nostalgia for excitingly-designed spaces of my childhood, I am delighted to recognise key elements of the complex - the ribbed black rubber flooring, the steel lifts, designed community areas such as seating and a small dancefloor with PA system - mostly fenced off through underuse or poor maintenance... of course, the concrete.

The Centre is still fairly busy - pensioners sit in a café area; the tables are obviously modern replacements but the very seventies ceramic light-hangings above them are part of the original plan... neddy-looking youths jostle each other on stylish cement-and-iron ramps and stairwells, now chipped and dripping loose mosaic.

A fantastically enjoyable dream. Very easy to see this emerging from my sense of loss at the current obliteration of the megaproject architectural visions that brightened my childhood geography, and my frustration at the Pavlovian 'brutalist = bad' convention that has dominated Scottish planning and popular feeling for the last twenty years or so. Also easy to indentify some of the specific memory-sources for this dream, namely: the Anderston Centre (Glasgow), the original Habitat and Heron House(Bothwell Street, Glasgow), the original Piazza Centre (Paisley), possibly the Magnum Centre in Irvine (which would account for the appearance of the placename)... and the rubber flooring definitely comes from Greenock Public Library. All places of almost science-fictional excitement for me as a boy, and almost all eradicated or altered beyond recognition. There seems to be an actual Coliseum Shopping Centre in Manchester somewhere. It was definitely spelt this way in this dream (possibly influenced by the 'Coliseum' carved sign on what is now the Carling Academy Glasgow, and clearly visible from trains leaving Central Station.