Nicholas Cage is a cowboy.
I am going to visit an alternative workplace. It’s farther away than I’m used to. I follow people on bikes, who think runners should give way to their superior machines. I point out that most runners are superior to me and a machine combined.
We fast forward beyond familiar streets. We lose direction, as a colleague asks me what a tool he sees is for. It’s like four giant spades, as a grabber, attached to a crane or lifting arm on a JCB. My guess is hole digging of some kind, but we watch, and it is used to extract old tents clogging up a river.
Ahead the road stops. There’s a vertical drop and it continues, about 3m below. I climb down. An HGV is waiting, a yellow vomit like liquid splashing from its open top as it slowly reverses. I’m covered in it. I’m pissed off that this is the only way to work. My colleague takes a photo. He wants media to work with when we arrive at the new place. We climb aboard the sick truck. We get more sick on us.
Eventually we arrive and dismount. There’s a reception area, and different groups are putting on different radio shows. We’re on first. Al Murray discusses his love of Herodotus over Domitian, and there’s a comedy discussion about it. My contribution is to mispronounce things in a West Country accent. People find it hilarious. I’m aware how loud we are as a group.
We are ushered into a bigger room. In the corridor, I ask where the loo is. I’m directed through a side door. I’m in a film set. I can’t piss here, the toilets probably aren’t plumbed in. I walk around the set. Actors in white suits practice dying scenes from the Tomorrow People. Others, in triple unison, act out physical movements on the grass. I see a lead actor practicing. I tell him how much I admire his work. I appreciate how hard it is to rise and fall again and again, how exhausting is the effort.
We have to use the same set next, so we position props and think about shot angles. We have to keep out of the way of the current group, as they are about to start filming.
There’s a tour of the facility. I see the bus we should’ve arrived on. It is yellow, and sponsored by a company that makes the yellow sick. The logo is a dragon, and underneath a tag line states that it probably contains dead cats and dogs for use in Thai curries.
The tour continues. Books on tractors, tiny buses. I’m told we get these tomorrow, I pick them up now. We pass a book stall. I recognise a comedian on the covers, I recommend him to my colleagues.
I’m helping at a gig. I walk across a beautiful wooden stage, where instruments are being unpacked. The comedian offers me beers. I joke about “what will everyone else drink”. I stay sober. I remember that I have a gig with Dakar Audio Club in about three weeks, I need to learn the bass lines.
I’m at a gig. Everyone musical that I know is playing. There’s indoor psychedelia, outside markets, acoustic jams, DJs on the quay. Walking around, I realise it’s three different events, with different organisers. I suggest that they organise it together next year, despite some of them having reservations about how they will split the money. I explain how the punters will get to see more of what they like, spread over more days, without clashes. We write down suggestions for next years bookings, grouping complimentary acts by genre, and mind mapping a structure to avoid clashes based on feedback from this years punters. As we work, I think how I can apply this in waking life, to create a live music booking group, who work together for the benefit of each other and the performers.
I head to a friends house. It is large, and has a layout curving through space and time. I remember a previous visit, going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, trying to move quietly, and finding myself in a kitchen, far away, as the house re-shaped around my steps.
Many friends are there, everyone I’ve ever met in Exeter. They greet each other, and me. The hostess lies in a golden bed, head inside a quilted capsule, equipped with devices to aid her sleep. I walk along, in search of old friends. The corridor curves, becomes an outdoor market, vegan cake on a narrow stall, rain dripping from a corrugated iron roof. I talk with a lonely man, who needs to get outside more, about how to play Ingress on his phone. I suggest he joins the side I’m on, slowly turning the planet green.
Around the bend. A work friend paints. She worries that I have her computer. She slaps paint on my face, and I slap her in return, noticing the faint abstract watercolour tattoo of the city that covers her face and body.
Another turn. An old girlfriend in a padded room. She struggles with a stuck zip. We discuss frustration, and the best way to lubricate zips. I promise to return.
Another room. This time an entrance to the house. There are turnstiles. An older woman questions my right to be there.
“Are you a Trooper?” She asks.
Troopers appear to be a bit like Boy Scouts. One is missing inside the ever changing building. I join the search, squeezing into tiny spaces behind toilets, pointing out rooms we have missed. I ask for a description of the missing trooper. It is very vague. Have they called him? No. They have used their phones as torches, and to make noises. I call. From a corridor curving from above, he strolls down, sad looking. I retell my own story of being lost in a kitchen in my underpants, and he laughs.
A yard. Dogs licking my face.
Racing Gregg Wallace down carpeted stairs and along a wooden floored corridor sat upon giant, custard filled pastries, ejaculating their contents as we shift our weight on the bends and damage them. The dogs run to lick at our custard contrails.
Drifting back to the hypnogogic boundary, my room is filled with a 3D grid of lights. I try to find a pattern, like playing Tetris, or Dots in 3D, some disappear, new ones shift into place, I realise I can make the small connections, but the plan of the overarching algorithm is, at this moment, beyond me.
I’m in a school. Jockeys race through, running down children. They are shouting something, they are distressed. Behind them, soldiers on foot begin shooting. The jockeys were trying to warn the children. The soldiers look terrified, possessed. They fall to the ground cowering, as fight becomes flight, their bodies unable to deal with the adrenalin over production.