When I was six, before life became work, and taxes, and benefit cheats, and women, and racism, and war, and men in suits, and bin collections, and Churchill car insurance, and bank charges for unplanned overdrafts, and Company mission statements with their empty phrases, and burnt out cars, and call centres, and fights to prove you’re masculine, and cars, and alcohol and other games that adults play, I got so angry at my mother one day that I ran away. It was a big decision. I packed my rucksack with crayons and a yoghurt, and ran away.
I braced myself for the harsh conditions I expected I would face as I set out on my trek.
Before I continue, I thought I should explain the state of mind I was almost always in, as a child. And nothing explains that state of mind better than a picture of me apparently pretending to be a surfboard.
If that isn’t enough, here is a picture I drew a couple of years later. I think this should convince you of my state of mind. And also, convince Tate Britain that I have been overlooked far too often for the Turner Prize.
Anyway, I had ran away from home.
I lived for the next ten minutes in a bush at the bottom of the garden, before making my way back across the hostile environment of the 20 or so feet to the house, to get back home because it was a bit cold, and I liked Saved by the Bell. I was under the impression that my mother must be going mad with worry, and the police might now be in the house, and that it’d teach her for not buying me the football magazine that I wanted.
Whilst I was in the bush, I decided that the ladybird that was on the leaf next to me, was called Daisy and that she was playing hide and seek with another lady bird and that I had to tell the other lady bird that I hadn’t seen daisy, if the other lady bird were to ask. The other lady bird never appeared. I guessed this was because Daisy had chosen a fucking amazing hiding place. She was on one leaf out of the hundreds of thousands of leaves that were enjoying the great British springtime. The leaf she was perched on was facing downwards. I decided that the leaf must be helping Daisy out but I couldn’t decide whether this was cheating or not.
I vividly remember wishing Daisy luck with the rest of the game, and that if I were her, i wouldn’t hide in the shed, because I once put all my action men figures in there and they are now covered in spider webs from the World’s biggest spiders. I used to think the dad spider (which was obviously bigger than my house) would eat me if I tried to rescue my action men. One day a few months later, I hatched a profound plan to rescue the action men (and wrestling figures), by creeping into the shed, with a beanie hat on, and my face covered by my hands, and making what I had decided were “spider noises” to trick the dad spider. It worked. The dad spider must have fell for my tricks. I felt so fucking clever. The action men and wrestling figures are now gathering dust in my loft, because my room is too full of work on the “qualitative methodology in research journalism“. So, when I remember all my little imaginative games (which I believed were real at the time), in those ten minutes in that bush when I was six, I had an imagination that I now envy twenty years later.
“We are like roses that have never bothered to
bloom when we should have bloomed and
it is as if
the sun has become disgusted with
It is like a door that is slowly closing, to a room full of imagination. Every year that passes, the door creaks ever so more toward being fully closed, as your mind is taken up with things that do not make us happy, or achieve anything of any worth. I try to peek inside that door, when I am taking photos, or writing in my notebook, but it still requires much thought and consideration to enjoy. When I was six years old, it took no effort to believe that a ladybird on the leaf next to me, was enjoying the sun, with a game with her ladybird friends.
Imagination is limited to dreams now. When I was a child I had no need for dreams at night. My imagination in real life was adequate. Some days, I was a professional footballer who was only six years old, but had become the most successful goal scorer in history. The commentators would say “He’s incredible. The greatest that ever lived“. Other days I was a professional boxer. The World Heavyweight Championship was my pillow. I would put it on my stomach and use my mum’s dressing gown tie to tie it around my waist.The commentators, quite coincidentally would say “He’s incredible. The greatest that ever lived“. I was the greatest that ever lived at a lot of things by the time I was seven. I could sleep easily at night without having to dream, knowing my World Heavyweight Championship would still be there in the morning. Now, I dream every night. I remember every second of every dream. I interpret it as a desire to imagine. My mind simply telling me “Okay forget everything about your boring day, here is what matters……” followed by a dream about a theme park being built in my street over night and no one knowing who did it or where it came from (a genuine dream I had not too long ago).
When I see a ladybird now, I don’t even acknowledge it. I don’t count its spots. I don’t even give it a name and a back story. I am too busy thinking about the NHS reforms.
I want my imagination to explain why I prefer the mouth of a river in spring, to the grey lifeless buildings filled with the grey lifeless people with their grey lifeless language, that frequent them, even though those lifeless buildings are where the money and the apparent “dignity” lies and why those grey lifeless people in the grey lifeless buildings with their grey lifeless language, don’t congregate every evening, to forget their colourless lives, at the mouth of a river in spring.