Saturday, 15 May 2010


The insomnia of my younger years has returned. Inverted. I tuck myself in at night and, before I can snuggle up with my bedfellow (a stuffed ‘Red’ from Fraggle Rock) and absorb the simple ecstasy of duvet cuddles, I am dreaming. I have had reports that sleep sees me with a stupid smile resting smugly on my face, which I absolutely believe. I am an avid dreamer of vivid dreams. I would never be so hippyish as to suggest that dreams hold any great meaning. I see them more as natures cleansing entertainment. Fantasy for when life is dull. However lately the show-times have changed and I wake with a jolt at four am, just when the morning light is bleaching the night, slowly that it seems as if it hopes the transition will go unnoticed. But I notice.

There is never a good time to be up at four am will the possible exception of a mad all night love-in but even then I imagine I would be a wheezing mess about ready for some post coital hugs. Four am feels seedy and as unwelcoming as it is unwelcome. As soon as my brain acknowledges alertness, it starts to fire up like a PC. The MS DOS start-up screen blinks into action and, like the theme tune of some forgotten soap opera, my brain plays an ironically chirpy jingle. If I concentrate I can hear the buzzing of my mind as it prepares to recklessly steer my train of thought in it’s favorite of my worst directions.

To ease me in the first stop we will usually visit is immediate existential panic. This begins with my brain reminding me that my boiler is broken or that I have a gas bill to pay and then the train takes that information in its already cluttered carriage and veers towards wondering what I am doing with my life. This leads on to a tour of every decision I have ever made and a list of potentially superior options that I didn’t take. By this time my inner monologue is so clear, I am practically speaking aloud as I squint my eyes hard shut wishing for sleep to return. I start to make wild plans to pack a bag and move to San Francisco or to get a job in the Levis store in Churchill Square shopping centre.

At around six thirty I succumb to the torturous persona living in my head and stumble upstairs to watch cartoons or read a book. As the sun lights up my flat, my various souvenirs from a life of travelling present themselves to me. The huge papier-mâché Day of the Dead skull that I somehow safely brought home from Mexico after taking a spontaneous adventure with a girl I had just met. Beads that were give to me in Benin by a voodoo priest. Pictures of me on the Jersey shore with my best friends. I then notice my Wurlitzer and my guitar and marvel at the fact that I have managed to reach twenty-eight making a living, sometimes well, from music. Transitional periods in life throw you totally off balance. The path you were so carefully treading reaches a broken bridge. And as I make the transition from performer to songwriter and leave more and more of the celebrity culture amongst which I felt so uncomfortable behind, I am scared. But mainly at four am.

The excitement of the unknown is exhilarating in the clarity of daylight. Moving my career towards songwriting is risky. I think I am a really strong songwriterbut it is an industry where talent in not necessarily rewarded with success and sucess often comes to those with more luck than talent. So during one of my four am FML sessions I made the decision to carry on down the path that I was on seven years ago, before all this silliness got in the way. In three years if I am not vomiting money as a songwriter, I will be a fully trained, legitimate music teacher with seven bizarre years worth of memories, which will eventually fade like dreams. And as I lay in bed, hopefully next to a beautiful wife, preferably my own, after a hard day of teaching kids about minims and canons I am sure something else will boot up the hard drive in my head just as the clock ticks four am.