I was walking through a particularly posh bit of London after dark, looking at all the incredible town houses and idly peering into people's windows as I passed by so I could check out their expensive tastes in interior decoration. It was the sort of neighbourhood that has a lot of embassies, and I noticed that each embassy had decorated its front door with some of its country's local produce. The Norwegian embassy had two large filets of salmon nailed to the decorative carving below its brass knocker; the Indian embassy had a pile of jelly-like sweets in a stone urn, and so on.
I took a short-cut through a big book shop that was still open. In a room at the back of the shop, I had to squeeze through a crowd that had gathered to hear a talk by Paul Simonon, of the Clash, on how the group recorded "The Guns of Brixton". I stepped on someone's foot, and turned to apologise to them. It turned out to be an old friend of mine from school. "High Chair!" I exclaimed, because that was his nickname. He hadn't aged well at all, and looked like one of those faded, gone-to-seed punks who, despite spiking their hair and wearing tartan trousers, otherwise look like they're a little too tired of life to bother making much of an effort. We were very pleased to have bumped into each other, but, although I would have liked to hang out for a bit and perhaps even listen to Paul Simonon's talk, I had to go.
Notes for Freudian Interpretation
Here's a picture of some gravadlax, for that is what was nailed to the Norwegian embassy's door. However, I hadn't seen any gravadlax or even thought about salmon, as far as I know, the day I had the dream. This would disappoint Freud, who was firm in his view that dreams dress their deeper concerns in "day residue". He wrote: "I believe ... that for every dream, a dream-stimulus may be found among those experiences on which one has not yet slept".
So what's the deal with the salmon? A mystery.
I'd thought about London a little, though, as it'll be the starting-off point for our summer holiday. It had crossed my mind that I'd better try to find out what astonishing London activities are available for the day or two that we might be there, because I'd hate to discover only after we got there that, for example, Woody Allen and Robert Crumb were playing a one-off benefit gig or something and I was too late to get tickets. That's the kind of thing that's always happening in London. In my imagination, if not in real life.
Why the Clash? Well, I suppose I think of them as a particularly Londony band. The other week, I bought a Nouvelle Vague album that has a cover version of "The Guns of Brixton" on it, so that's where that element came from. To what end, though, I have no idea.
The guy I called High Chair wasn't called that at school, or ever, I'm sure. His name is Bob, and he was in the year above me. We were friends for a couple of years before he went off to university, and I never really saw him again after that. When I was 16 or 17, I was pretty sure that he was a genius of some sort, and that he'd become a tremendously successful writer or journalist or something. With hindsight, the fact that he doesn't appear to have done so shouldn't be surprising; it was simply that I hadn't met many people at that time, and I innocently assumed that the first person I'd ever met who not only voluntarily read poetry when not in a classroom, but also had all the Pogues albums as well as a couple of Motown records was clearly an individual greatly removed from the herd of uncultured low-brows, myself included, with whom he shared his schooldays. By giving him an infantilising name, I am no doubt criticising him for not being as advanced as I once thought he was, which is pathetic of me, and something that I am terribly ashamed of. However, as I've said before, I will not be held responsible for views expressed while I am asleep!