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William's Study (Diary Of A Hyperdreamer)
November 2007

 

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Saturday 3rd November 2007. 4 : 00 pm

Although the following diary entry has only just been posted, I began writing it on the 29th of October, intending to post the following day. However, various post-Nelsonica distractions have taken up the time that I intended to devote to it. So, rather than re-write the whole thing to suit its later appearance on my website, I'll add the most recent section at the end.

Bill Nelson. Diary Entry: Monday 29th October 2007. 6 pm.

Still trying to take in the fact that this year's Nelsonica convention was, on Saturday, finally seen through to its proper conclusion. And with real style and panache too.
I'm now able to wake up without the sense of panic that has filled my life these last couple of months.
The event was a joy on all levels. The feedback from attendees, both on the day and afterwards on the Dreamsville forum, has been joyously positive. The most commonly expressed opinion is that this was the best Nelsonica to date and in the best venue so far. A happy result, especially after all the hard work that the convention team and myself had put into the creation of the event.

I've recently found myself wondering whether Nelsonica is a sensible thing to continue to stage, especially when so many other projects demand my attention throughout the year. And this year has seen one task bleed seamlessly into another, leaving no time to gather my wits or recover energy. I'm ashamed to admit that all kinds of things have suffered as a result.
I'm way behind with answering emails from friends, even close friends. My family haven't had the attention from me that they deserve, and I feel as if my emotional and physical batteries have been drained to the point where the world flows through me with hardly a blip on my internal radar.
These last few months I've been working in a kind of fog, a mysterious, hypnotic state, guided by things beyond my control. It's been instinct and improvisation, thinking on my feet, flying by the seat of my pants, playing it by ear.
Somehow, though, it gets there in the end. Things fall into place and the target is hit, albeit with the collusion of smoke and mirrors.

The life of an independent artist certainly imposes peculiar and surreal demands, demands that I never had to think about when I was, (many years ago now,) somewhat more 'gainfully employed.' People I worked with at that time said " don't give up your day job..."
The truth is, despite the inevitable struggles and frustrations, I think I'd put up with just about anything not to have to return to the life I lived before I threw myself 100% into the arms of the muse.

The work I do now makes the desk job I once held down feel like sonambulism.
Those days of shuffling paperwork from one side of the desk to another and back, the glassy-eyed answering of office telephones and the ritual morning and evening clocking in and out, the endless rattling of filing cabinets and the gossipy whisper of inter-departmental political intrigue. All the sly, prejudiced comments I endured, simply because I wore a pink satin tie to work or didn't happen to have taken in last night's football on tv, or watched a popular soap opera or game show, or 'gone down the pub' with the boys or bought the latest Eurovision hit single. Hard to believe, nowadays, the insults that my disinterest in these things aroused in ostensibly, superficially decent people. But I've learned, over all these years, that fear of the unfamiliar or 'the different,' drives vitriol through the fuse. And, by the standards of local government politics back then, I must have appeared very unfamiliar.

Sometimes, it was purgatory. So much so that I often dreaded going to work, simply because of the sly ridicule I'd have to endure.
Liberal attitudes, an open mind, any sense of cultural adventure or notions of racial and sexual tolerance, (in fact ALL the hard-won advances of the 'sixties counter-culture,) were regarded by these staunchly conservative fundamentalists as some kind of left-wing plot.

It wasn't that I didn't TRY to communicate with my fellow workers, but the look of incomprehension in their eyes if I tried to explain what kind of things turned me on and why. Well...looking back now, it seems astonishing that such self-imposed limits of taste and ambition were regarded as some kind of 'standard.' I did what I could to understand and accept these attitudes but still found them disturbing, even a little frightening. I certainly felt intimidated.
Things have changed these days though...haven't they? Well, we like to think so but I suspect we're not much further down the road to enlightenment. Thatcher's bastard offspring are everywhere, even in the damned government.

Bearing in mind my natural inclination to plough my own furrow, I suppose it was inevitable that I would be regarded by certain captains of the office ship as some sort of freak from the deep, caught up in the local government net by an accident of indiscriminate trawling. Certainly not one of their own but an unwelcome and uncertain entity. Maybe even, (check out that pink silk tie, boys,) a raving queer!

The first week I worked there, I accidentally overheard an office conversation. It went something like this: " Have you seen the new boy? He looks ill, like a skelton, too skinny, too pale. Something's wrong. I think he's on drugs. Dresses like a homo too. Wouldn't surprise me..."
The speaker didn't know I'd overheard him. But I was just the other side of an office partition when these words were spoken. I've never forgotten them. Why? Because they didn't know or understand the first thing about me yet were prepared to pronounce judgement in such a dissmissive way.

In truth, I couldn't have cared less about their accusations of homosexuality. I'd never been remotely homophobic, though from their derisory tone, I could tell they were probably typical of their generation. Back then, the slightest sartorial flamboyance got you labelled 'a puff.' I was actually mildly amused by the fact that they couldn't really work that side of me out. I considered myself to be reasonably sophisticated regarding sexual matters, knew exactly which side of the fence I sat on and was confident enough about my own hetrosexual orientation not to need to rush to its defence in these situations. What really got to me was the implication that I was ill, or strung out on something or other, no, maybe not even that, just the sheer audacity that they could presume to sum me up in such banal, conservative and inaccurate terms.

The John Lennon/Yoko Ono 'Two Virgins' calendar that I pinned on the wall next to my desk in the office didn't help matters either. I soon found out that it was o.k. to pin up the usual cheescake busty nudes from the men's mags of the day but a naked John and Yoko was one nipple too far, even though they had their backs turned to the camera. Two obviously deviant perverts was how they were seen by the people sitting in the office with me. In their eyes John n' Yoko were nothing but anarchistic, dope-smoking hippies...filth, symbolising everything that was wrong with the country, eroders of 'true British values,' (and one of 'em was bloody Japanese for Christs sakes! Didn't we fight a war to rid ourselves of these types?) They gazed at the calendar, then gazed at me in horror. I was told to take it down or face serious consequences.

Truth be told, I wore their angry glances like glittering medals. Their hatred felt like a badge of honour. I was glad to be the office enigma. But then, I was young, idealistic, enthusiastic, culturally ambitious.
I shared none of their traditional aspirations although I quietly envied what seemed to me their lack of any philosophical complexity. The world to them was a simple thing, subject to a black and white moral and ethical absoluteness. There were no shades of grey and certainly no spectrum of colours. They regarded themselves as guardians of the British flame and anyone who dared disagree was labelled weird, crazy or worse.
Of course, in many ways, I was just as ignorant of them as they were of me.
Let's just say, I was ill equipped to be a local government officer. The beaurocratic ink was dry in my well.
Nevertheless, I did try. I stuck it out, switching off at five pm every day, like everyone else, and never giving it another thought 'till next morn. The evenings were all mine, for writing, for drawing, for playing guitars and dreaming.
I eventually was able to take those youthful dreams and blew air into them, float them over Wakefield's grey skies, and set their sails for tomorrow. And the only compass I had to guide me was that of my imagination. I had to escape and my need to do so may sometimes have appeared to others as ruthless, 'though that wasn't my intention. But that's what I did. One day, I walked away from it.

And here I am now, doing what I once could only dream of. And now I complain that I'm exhausted. And still misunderstood. But, in reality..? I'm blessed. It's been a long hard struggle in many ways but I lead the life of an artist, not a pop star or rock guitarist. I've fought for the right to be free of all that. I hope it goes a little deeper.

As always, I've drifted off-topic. I was trying to come to terms with the possibility of abdicating from the annual Nelsonica pressure. I don't think that I really could though. Abandon the convention, I mean. Whatever the mental uncertainties and physical stresses and strains, after Saturday's warm reception from the Nelsonica audience, and the wonderful support from the team, it's hard for me to think about drawing a line under the convention at all. It's become a surrogate family gathering with a group of people at its core who have been with me for some years. They're as committed and inventive as ever and it's impossible not to be swept along on their waves of energy and enthusiasm.
I hope that they realise just how much their support means to me. Sometimes, it's difficult to communicate this without appearing maudlin or overly sentimental, but they're absolute gems, every one of them.

I suppose I've never been particularly adept at expressing emotion, other than through my music. Other people, those really close to me, may disagree with this damning self-analysis, but that's my sorry take on it. Maybe it's because I'm frightened of pain and mortality and therefore scared of losing people who I deeply care for, (Who isn't?) Perhaps I build barriers against losing them, or, even more so, them losing me.
It's that old Buddhist thing of suffering though, isn't it? Existence is suffering. He was spot on, old Siddhartha. Absolutely on the money. Nevertheless, despite his realisation of suffering, (or because of it,) he became a healer of souls and minds, an optimist, a viewer of the bigger picture.

No one deserves trouble, no one deserves illness, no one deserves death and depression. The cruelty is that, whatever we DO deserve, we rarely achieve it. Things are generally unfair. Shit hits the fan with a regular dull thud. Suffering is as much our lot as breathing.
To witness the struggle of others to maintain some sort of decency in the teeth of life's hurricane is often so heartbreaking that we avert our gaze. I've turned mine away too many times to presume the slightest hint of strength or honour in these matters. I look to those who prevail and endure and maintain their dignity in difficult circumstances with nothing but envy and admiration. And a deep sense of my own inadequecy and shame. And that's enough self-immolation for now, thank you very much. I'm going to open a bottle of wine and taste the sunshine.

It's now Friday, 2nd of November. Time has moved on, as usual.

Some of the above was written at intervals during the last week. I won't bother to date each tiny section, just the largest chunks.
Nelsonica 07 was one week ago tomorrow. The pace hasn't slowed and I still owe some good people emails.
Went to see Honeytone Cody at 'Fibbers' on Wednesday. The sound mix lost too much of Elliot's guitar for my liking but they played with their usual dark energy and mysterious atmospheres...and in Halloween costumes too.
Even the staff in our village Co-op looked like extras from a Hammer horror movie. The young man who served me my 'Independent' newspaper was wrapped from head to toe in white bandages, like an Egyptian mummy. The parts of his face that were visible were covered in white makeup with dark rings shaded around his eyes. Fake blood oozed from gaps in the bandages at certain points of his body. He took my money and handed me the change as if there was nothing unusual about his appearance whatsoever . "You're looking well," I said.

Elliot called 'round today to show me his new car. He's very proud of it and rightly so.
My old banger is rotting on it's wheels. rust oozing from the inside out. Just had to spend almost four hundred pounds to get it through its MOT certificate. Two new tyres, a new silencer, couple of other things. I've had the car some years now and need to change it before it becomes totally worthless. But there are household/domestic priorities that need money spending on too. They're getting to the point where they can't go on in their present condition much longer. It's the same old story: As soon as any earnings come in, they're immediately spoken for. But, that's life.

Dug out some black n' white photos that I took when I was working with The Skids in Rockfield Studios in Wales, a LONG time ago now. I'd created a cartoon/graffiti drawing, on the studio control room doors, of an alien family. I'd built it up a little at a time, over the duration that we were working there. (I've attached the pictures to this diary.)

Also found some photos of myself with Elle and Elliot taken in the South Of France whilst on holiday. (Holiday? What's that?) Must have been a long time ago because they are so young. And I was so slim! Also found another picture of the first house I owned, 27, Anderson St. Wakefield. And a black n' white photo' taken of Haddlesey House from part way down the garden. It brought home the distance I'd travelled from Anderson Street to West Haddlesey. Quite a contrast! And all on the strings of a guitar.
Things change constantly, of course, and that wonderful 3-acre garden is now a bland executive housing estate. And, in the intervening years since I lived there, I've been without a home of my own, then living with friends in Japan, then in rented accomodation, (for which I had to sell my guitars to pay the rent,) and now in a home bought by my sweet Emiko from the sale of her Tokyo apartment. And I've got guitars again. Things are always in flux but two things I've learned to trust are love and music.
It's10 : 20 pm and I've had enough of sitting in front of this screen for today.
I'll try to complete this entry tomorrow, 'though there are several things already scheduled to take my attention away from it. My friend Dave Standeven is calling round in the morning to collect Steve (Cook's) keyboards and amps which he left here last week, after Nelsonica. Dave's van should be able to accomodate them and then I can shift my own gear upstairs. It's all still in the hall and dining room as I need to clear Steve's stuff before I can find space in the spare bedroom to store everything. It's a real jigsaw puzzle, getting it all to fit into the house.

Saturday 3rd November. 2007. Afternoon.

Dave called and we put Steve's gear in the van. Steve's ancient Fender Rhodes piano, which has been stored here since the 2004 tour, was a real backbreaker to get down stairs. How people used to lug those things around on a regular basis back in the '70's is beyond me. My lower back muscles have gone into spasm just dragging it from the spare bedroom downstairs and out to Dave's van.

We're going to our friend's bonfire/fireworks party tonight. Lots of booms and whizz bangs. If my back holds out.
Must make sure the cats are safely inside though. Just the two of them now...the two we've domesticated, 'Tink' and 'Django.' The others fell victim to our neighbours' desire to rid the area of them. Some went to the Cat's Protection League, some to a farm elsewhere, some mysteriously disappeared, and one, gentle and elegant Gizmo, was hit and killed by a speeding driver travelling at hellish speed down the lane outside our house. The two we've domesticated, (they were originally semi-feral,) are funny, affectionate and dependent upon us. We'll have to sort out a cattery for the four days we're away in Paris. Something else to organise as soon as possible.

Looking forward to our Paris break. I've finally got everything booked, Eurostar and a hotel. Have to decide on clothes to take yet though. Must make an effort to be stylish...it is Paris, after all. I'll make a start on the packing next week.

I'm about to telephone my mother for a chat now, so will close here. Hard to take in that Nelsonica was exactly one week ago today. Time, as one strange scientific theory has it, is definitely speeding up.
------------------------------------------------------
The images accompanying this diary entry are as follows:
1: Dreamsville Art Advert.
2: Bill Nelson on stage in the USA, 1980's.
3: Bill Elle and Elliot in St. Paul, France. '80's.
4: Bill's Rockfield Studio art .
5: 27, Anderson St.
6: Haddlesey House, early '80's.


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