The mouth of a river in spring

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.

How sad.

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.

6 Responses to The mouth of a river in spring

  1. Black Flag says:


    It is easy to dream whilst awake when your needs and care and responsibilities are borne by others.

    When you become responsible for yourself, you must necessarily do other things then dream.

    But your choices of action can be guided your dreams – whether you go left or right or up or down are all probably equal choices but the one you choose should be the one that moves closer to your dreams.

  2. Ushiku says:

    This is why I love Halloween, it’s a license for anyone and everyone to dress up and imagine like when they were children.

    I’m lucky that my imagination never really died, which is helpful given I work in performing arts… but even still a lot of my poems are quite political/angsty/complaining.

    A child has no need for politics, gender, race, sexuality, money, religion or any of the nonsense that “adults” believe in. Children just have love and an abundance of imagination.

    When I was once troubled 3 years ago by a harsh break up with my then girlfriend she said “You’re not a man when you’re 18, you’re a man when you grow up”. She’s right, and too many of these grey “men” in grey suits in grey buildings are stuck in adolescence. They’re obsessed with money, sex, cars, holidays in Tenerife… but have no real care for themselves (to be existing rather than living) or the world around them.

    A child loves the world and it’s wonders, but is blissful in innocence, a real adult would know to preserve the world to be a genuinely nice place for their children.

    I hate the phrase “the way of the world”. It takes away all blame from politics, armies, economics, society (or the lack of it, because you can’t have a society if you’re not truly social… getting pissed isn’t being social, if you can’t enjoy your friends company sober then they’re not real friends), community (or the lack of it because you can’t have community without unity) or individuals who each collectively choose to do nothing.

    We made the world this fucked up way, as humanity. And to be truly human we need to change it before children don’t have a childhood to enjoy and are forced to endure the bullshit of life as we’ve made it… such as the NHS reforms. A poor kid could die of a treatable condition because the treatment “costs too much”. Fuck off, a child’s health, any decent human being’s health is priceless. Cameron’s lost his dad and his son, and wants every fucker else to feel that pain with his ideological cuts.

    You don’t have to be like to Duke, his dodgy mate or Berlusconi and put a dick in child to abuse them… just not showing love, care or consideration is abuse enough.

    I know this is going to sound silly and petty… but when I was “naughty” as a child, my mum would threaten to give my toys to “another little boy”… and in a child’s imagination that is terrible because a child’s mind is wide open. I grew to resent this non-existent model child and feel like I wasn’t good enough.

    I know now such feelings are silly and I was loved, but my point is nobody should ever be made to feel unloved, especially not a child. And to just go on about “the way of the world” and do nothing is a sure fire way to make life a misery for children worldwide.

    Let’s grow up as a race… as the collective human race, to quote Oxfam’s little slogan… let’s BE humankind.

  3. Geoff says:

    Hey bud, although the firm plug of relaity is inserted into your brain pretty early in, itispossible to remove that plug and let surrealism reign, and your imagination roam free. See my world class autobiography hand written by Franciscan monks for more info.

  4. Lovely story!
    The turner prize?…scary!
    I used to collect snails and make groups of family with them. That pointed to my future ?
    Anyway,I never felt attracted by the world betraying the essentials, I use my life to help other to remember them, to fight against dehumanised lies, and to enjoy the beauty left in the hearts and in the whole nature.
    The kind of person with enough time to picks up worms to go safe over the street.Recently, I brought a lady bug home, I had found freezing on a salad in the store and put him on a rose to meet his new friends there.I exchange songs and talks with a robin who comes to me each day.
    I feel compassion for each being,it feels natural.
    Lets get rid of the wrong goals.Only people with issues are greedy for the privileges a psychopathic society might provide like crumbles to some of them.During this the planet and humanity are in danger.To remember only at the last minute,what truly counts,is very late.

  5. Mary Lance says:

    Amazing, Jamie…….

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