I have a dream

Have you ever wondered if what you’re living is real? Have you ever thought or felt that life could be something else than what it actually is? What if it’s all a projection of our minds and things exist only because we create them? What if the people we see are just holograms that our eyes display? What if it’s all like The Matrix?

What if it is just a dream?

Despite the “profound” questions on the meaning of life, there’s nothing wrong with having a dream and believing it’s real. To have a dream and to pursue it could positively impact our lives and perhaps lead to some big changes: as a fact, a well-known man named Martin Luther King relentlessly claimed it out loud.

Wise speeches aside, a common man clearly pictured in his mind what a real (and ideal) world could (or should) look like. Segregation, integration, discrimination, acceptance, are themes that thoroughly capture the last decades, and today digesting and incorporating the diversity is up to individuals, who are supposed to come together and fight for a compromise.

For a second, let’s separate MLK from the notorious person he was and have a glance at him as a man.

A common man. A man whose blood is as red as anybody else’s, for all that matters. During the steps of his political and social activism, he goes to bed one night and lightly shuts his eyes. He starts dreaming. He starts elaborating thoughts in his mind: all he’s been fighting for, all of the failures, the rejections, but at the same time he tirelessly elaborates the opportunities-to-be and that dream becomes simply clear. That powerful refrain breached the crowd, motivated the people to pull the plugs that had them living as holograms; projections vanished and they began to properly see each other. That was freedom. That was beautiful. That was real.

Eventually, that was no longer just a dream, it did exist: for right actions do exist.

A common man. A man whose blood is as red as anybody else’s, for all that matters. In all his hyper activism, he goes to bed one night and lightly shuts his eyes. He starts dreaming. He starts elaborating thoughts in his mind: all he’s been fighting for, all of the failures, the rejections, but at the same time he tirelessly elaborates the opportunities-to-be and that dream becomes simply clear.

She came. After all that arguing, she eventually accepted the invitation. She was there wearing that miniskirt and those bi-colour thighs you like a lot, Dr Marten’s style boots, and a bomber jacket that prevents her skinny body from freezing. She was standing there – glowing, gorgeous – along with a big trolley on her right side, which meant she would stay for a while; still physically weak from the heavy flu she took but beautiful like no others.

You’re stunned! 

That was a hell of a surprise, the sweetest ever. Smiling, she would ask: “You happy I’m here?

You choked in the attempt to say something, so you just approached her, to kiss her, possibly embrace her. And while your hands were stretching towards her, her words made that vision unreal: “Cool…but this is just a dream!

All of a sudden, that feeling of when you’re leaving the dream to go back to reality, the instant return from Morpheus’ arms, the waking up and realising it wasn’t real.

It was a long journey, although it took just one day. One day, a 3 hour flight and a one and a half hour drive. A few hours to try make the dream come true, to look into her eyes and show her your love is real, to prove that it could exist, that the two of you could exist, together. To prove that the two of you could fight for a compromise and overcome the diversities. A few hours to hold her hands and ask her to marry you…

“…I can’t…

I’ll ask again.

Have you ever wondered if what you’re living is real? Have you ever thought or felt that life could be something else than what it actually is? What if it’s all a projection of our minds and things exist only because we create them?

What if it remains just a dream?

On waking up, people won’t come together and fight for a compromise. Like The Matrix, holograms reload, projections revive, and again you can’t properly see each other.

For right actions don’t exist. Nobody exists. She is…

 

Jim
The Britalian Post

Imagine

Imagine. 1971. A masterpiece for music history. The soundtrack for everything. A melody that never stops resonating.

As a Beatles fan, I belong to that group of people that have been hating Yoko Ono for dragging Lennon away from the Fab Four. Yet, if it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t have had so many of the greatest hits that were composed right after the band split up. 

Is she a musician? A painter? An artist? I’ll never get that. I just know she had a deep influence on Lennon’s songwriting and music style. An influence that generated different outcomes: the banned naked pics, the acts of solidarity, the wish for a better world. Or maybe it was just love: pure, romantic, and untouchable love.

That’s an example of life becoming music, or vice versa.

Together they were oddly extravagant. Together they were unique: solid, strong, unbeatable. United.

But then someone decided that such love wasn’t to exist. Someone decided to dismantle that perfect gear, to remove all the pins to make it collapse; to add an eternal pause at the end of that wonderful pentagram. 

Someone decided to pull the trigger.

This is what was supposed to happen. A disgusting and depreciable worm, a species of the lowest and most insignificant insects in the world shall take her away from you by ending your tiny life.

A fucking traitor!

Yoko wasn’t aware of that horrible plan, she was just a victim. She held John in her arms. Tight. And she would never forgive that guy, she would never accept what she’d lost from the very beginning. Loving hurts. 

But theirs is just an idyllic story.

When it comes to reality and real people, she was no victim. She was the one who crafted that plan, she was his partner in crime, the one who strove to get that felony accomplished. The one who enjoyed herself while offering her mortal lips to wrap the killer’s body. The one who felt sexually and morally satisfied. She made him shoot! You fucking traitors! How good must it feel to be under the spotlight for drawing such a shamefully crafty plan. What an artist! 

Nobody actually pulled the trigger. It was much easier: people don’t need a gun to place a hole in your body.

And while dying after that gun shot, my mind was just blurred, confused, glazed. I would scream out loud “SHE’S MIIIIIIIIIIIINE!!! You stay away from her, it’s not damn right!

Hell, I would never let her go.

And today…

Let’s go back to the song and how amazing it is.

Imagine there’s no heaven …

… Imagine there’s no countries …

… Imagine no possessions …

Imagine all that past hadn’t existed and you didn’t need to pay for it.

Imagine you were smart enough not to have met her that night. 

Imagine your hands weren’t shaking and you couldn’t feel her, touch her, kiss her.

Imagine you hadn’t caught that flight and rushed back into her arms.

Imagine you didn’t have to run away.

Imagine she hadn’t looked at someone else the way she looked at you.

Imagine how long you’d have lived for her…

[She’s the only thing that’s worth it]

Jim
The Britalian Post

Modern colonization

Whatever the reasons led the man to colonize the world, the hunger for discovery has probably been the main motif, an innate trait of the human being.

Men enslaved Africa, imported from India, and placed their handprints over China and Japan. The West wasn’t left apart: brave cowboys rode through the immense unexplored lands of America in order to take over new territories.

How fascinating it is to only think that somewhere back in time people left their home countries, their home towns, their families and affections, to undertake long and insecure travels that would keep them far away for months, or even years, while taking up the chance to access new lands and make history.

– I get anxious for a 3 hour flight, and I’m definitely not travelling to go change the world. –

The pure and positive, even sincere, purpose of exploring thus discovering didn’t have anything to do with the cruelty brought by the colonisation process–whereas for colonisation I refer to the subjugation and exploiting of newly found populations. 

Plus, they were also willing to teach. If imposing their own culture, habits, religion, maybe language at the top, can be considered a wise teaching process.

I wish I could provide an actual example of pacific colonisation but at the moment I can think of nothing that doesn’t involve wars and genocides. Maybe, if we also take into account isolated and specific events out of the main context, we might try to see the whole scenario under a different light. 

I believe I got one then.

I live in a shared house. I’ve never understood how many tenants are in the house, as people come and go and new faces frequently show up. One thing I know for sure is that we’re all young people, say in our late 20’s on average. Which is very promising in terms of daily interactions and house parties.

After spending the past late summer and the whole fall and winter securely locked in my room, I thought it was a good time to give my boring stand-alone-while-listening-to-sad-songs attitude a swift and embrace a open and social behaviour. This happened when I was approached a few times in the kitchen by Vlad – the Romanian guy that lives in one of the rooms on the first floor – who politely endeavoured to penetrate my rude anti-people attitude to start a conversation in the wait for our meals to be ready. I must have very much resisted his friendly “courting” and eventually I’m so glad that the guy didn’t give up on me. 

Meal after meal, drink after drink, cigarette after cigarette, chat after chat, that one-to-one situation escalated to a point where more people have become frequent house-attenders. Apparently, most of the tenants are from Romania and don’t stand the chance to invite friends over and gather around the barbecue, which means boosted-volume mainstream music and buckets of heavy alcohol. I happened to join them one evening after a long and warm Sunday out consuming beers in different spots of the city, and that’s when my brain crashed! I would be poured cups of Cognac like it was water. The funniest was the guy who doesn’t speak any English in charge of refilling my cup each time it was empty. These people are totally insane!…but I enjoy them.

That Sunday was a starting day for barbecues and house parties to be thrown one after another till 3ish in the morning in the days that followed. The guys clearly like the house and the backyard, since they spend more time in there than I do. Besides, they seem to have a lot of free time too. As far as I know, all of them work in hospitality which allows them to have late morning/early afternoon shifts and consequently enough time for night parties. However, their livers must be iron solid.

Sometimes I lie in my bed and hear them joking, singing, yelling, doing all of the things that won’t make me sleep. Come on guys I need to wake up at 5:30am and it’s already 1:30!

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, the guys are always partying, the guys are always in the house: firing our barbecue, resting on our couch, in our backyard, and building relationships with the other tenants. I don’t mind them being around, they’re a pleasant company. I mind not being able to always join their gatherings and being forced to sleep because I’m supposed to work the day after.

So when I was leaving for Italy last week at 2ish in the morning, I met some of them in the kitchen concluding their party. Guys, for real???!!! The girls that live on the first floor were also there and yes my sixth sense had spotted some affair going on. 

Do you believe it’s just about people having fun? Hell, no! This is a modern and pacific colonisation. Here’s the reality: they invade our houses, trespass on our premises, seduce our women. Help…

Whatever the reasons led the man to colonize the world, the hunger for finding entertaining locations has possibly been the main motif of today. Or maybe it’s girls, or free time.

Whatever the reasons, they don’t even need much travelling because they live close by. Settling is easy: the Romanian colonisation of the house has just begun.

Oh no, I’m being subjugated too! I’ve already started learning their language…

Jim
The Britalian Post

Writing as it’s meant to be

Not all stories are meant to be stories. 

Some can just be a fact, a fun fact, a fact of the day. And as a matter of fact, not all stories are meant to have a moral or a clever catchy ending. My professor at the Master’s used to say that, when writing a story, the subject can be whatever – like your grandma cooking spaghetti – as long as you can make that subject a something that people can universally feel.

Also, to bear in mind: never start with the title! A story (or a fact) is like a sugar container: you need to turn it upside down to get sweetness out of it. Simply put, always start from the end! If you know where you’re aiming, you can better develop a story and be consistent with what you’re willing to share. It’ll be easier then to assign a nice and coherent title to that article.

“How do you write stories?”

Can’t say. I’m not good at writing.

“Whatever. Just say something and don’t screw this up.”

Very kind…

Ok, fine. How do I do…? Usually standing in the tube while struggling to find a good spot to type on my iPad. Oh sorry, maybe the question was different. You mean, is there a style that I follow? 

Ehm…do you understand what I write? Well, If you do, that is my style. 

“What’s the first step of writing?” 

For me, analysis. Complex scientific experiments are conducted on people and objects everyday. Then I measure results and extract accurate stats from…

Nah!… I look around. I look at the details that surround me: I separate the morning sleepy expressions from the actual feelings, isolate them and try to interpret. (I have nothing else to do while on the tube, thus this is good entertainment.)

Speaking of tips for writing – and assuming that I’m entitled to give any – get some more hereafter.

Please don’t get too emotional! Of course you need to feel something while writing – you don’t want a set of cold words mechanically assembled together, do you?! And if you don’t feel them in the first place, others won’t either. Just be smart when you do! Don’t get too sentimentally attached to your articles and don’t only be tragic or melodramatic. Go wider!

A universal feeling is not hard to find. Let’s be banal: love, sadness, pride, fear, or the Incubus playing Drive in my earphones in this moment. The description just follows straight, as long as it’s clear and, above all, sincere. Don’t be too articulate: don’t use words and hermetic sentences that only specific elites of people can decode and understand. It’s useless. Make it easy!

A feeling must be a part of a bigger thing, a bigger happening, a bigger situation. For everyone. As big as it might be, go capture that something, that detail that not everybody will notice: that will be your gimmick. Then stop the description and detour the story with a groundbreaking plot twist! Try to get at least one to give the story an unexpected direction, a direction that will impress the reader. That new direction will be your resolution: the moment when you let people empathize. A process that I like to call Personification.

So, along with what previously said, how would you describe your love for something or somebody? Start searching for the most adjacent words/adjectives to love. Found some? Swell! Now go dig in your personal love experiences and come up with a good match. Do they collide or align? Either way, you’ll have an interesting match for the story.

“Ok Jim, so give an example.”

What…? Like…now?! 

“Yeah, here you’re acting like some kind of writer with your tips and tricks. So what?”

Bu..but I told you I’m not good at writing.

“And what’s your point then? Do you feel satisfied playing the intellectual? Are you freaking out or what, man? Show some balls!”

Ok, ok, ok, chill out…

Let’s give this a try then. How would I do…?

For instance, I love writing. I really do. It’s the only way for me to express all the things that I couldn’t say face to face, all the inner thoughts, all the secrets that I have carefully been hiding. Not kidding, it’s real love.

Now how would I describe love.

Love. Adjacent words (for me): magnetic, spell, coincidence, addiction, mind, gravity, shocking, instinct, safeguarding, fearing, forgive, survive. 

How do I match them.

—–

She. The most beautiful and magnetic creature I’ve ever seen. Her perfume, her scent, her body, her skin. Me enchanted by an inflammable spell; my fingers designing her shapes. We were there and–no! the world didn’t stop but started spinning faster. The terrestrial axis would incline to make that wonderful coincidence happen. We had just run out of Ferrero Rochers when the dawn illuminated that room. The infinite in a so small range of space. The eternity in a so small range of time. Addiction: craving for those lips. Before, during, after. Her mind: that complicated and escape-less Alice-in-Wonderland’s maze. That unbeatable Rubik’s cube with no matching colours. 

A sense of heavy gravity, that lightly pushes upwards. 

Staring at her – walking, moving, talking – was a damn shocking experience. I would have never lost her tracks: I would follow that sugary big-eyed puppet in all her movements and gestures.

The fact is though, that nobody wants to suffer, nor would I. And it’s known that after the most serious illnesses, heartbreaks are the most painful diseases. 

Although I can’t love.

One day, long before I met her, my feelings were transformed into a rational instinct. My heart still pumped blood but my veins were obstructed by all the let-downs and cheating that my dearest and beloved people had reserved for me. And the more you stay away from relationships, the more inert you become. You whither. And then it’s only about safeguarding yourself. Nothing else exists but an unstable personality that only alcohol can balance.

At some point you are alone and…and – hell I never thought I’d say this – but when you ask questions to yourself, when you make it look like an interview, when you fake everything as you’d only want some love from the ones that turned on you…it means you’re fucking lonely!… And loneliness fucking kills!

All stands up though: until you start fearing, until you realise that you don’t want to grow up. And not for yourself no, but for the only 2 people you care about–you’re scared they would grow old. 

Fear? Step up, take a cold shower and be a man: you need to forgive yourself! You understand me?! FORGIVE YOURSELF YOU STUPID IDIOT!

Look at me, shit, LOOK AT ME: will you die or survive for her? ANSWER!…

—–

See, despite the descriptive sentences above, this is not to be called a story. This is just a fact, a detail, a something that happened one day.

And as a matter of fact, it didn’t last. A story would have its time, its places, its characters, its development. This one instead is just a random mix of everything. It doesn’t have a moral and there’s no clever catchy ending.

It’s a fact: as not all stories are meant to be stories.

I really love writing. And honestly…oh, fuck it!…I have loved that girl.

“And why the hell didn’t you tell her?”

I told you, I’m not good at saying things face to face.

“So, why didn’t you write it down?”

…I did screw up: I’m not good at writing.

Jim
The Britalian Post

One thousand and one Arabian nights

In December 2011, my family, my aunt’s and various members of my extended family, decided to spend the week till Xmas eve in Sharm-el-Sheik. A hot December was new to me and someway odd, though it was worth experiencing. 

I had never been in Egypt and that was an opportunity to visit a small part of it, at least–sincerely said, not that I went nuts for Sharm (nor would I even go today), it’s such a touristy area.

Let’s cut this short. 

The resort was fantastic. From the bar at the main entrance, you could see it stretching over for hundreds meters till it crumbled into a wide quiet beach. Pools, restaurants and bars all over – the latter were the ones we would attend the most. (Hey I’m not the only good drinker in the family, what did you think?)

We also took many trips to visit historical spots and characteristic towns, hidden beaches and the coral reef, the dreary and lifeless desert and posh casinos.

Mmm…For me, thumbs down!…

It just was not what I was expecting. Not that I believe in cliches but, what about the land of the 40 thieves? What about its magic and mysterious appeal? And the mythical characters of the bedtime stories? All ruins of a forgotten era buried under thick layers of golden western ashes. The leftovers of a population knelt to a new dominion: the green touch of a European Midas.

This acknowledged, instead of going to the sea, lying under the sun, enjoying the transparent water, I would sit in the hall and study for an exam – indeed, me! My parents definitely couldn’t believe it. At the time my focus was more into my studies and my band. We were launching an EP for Xmas and an album was due to go live asap on the new year. The Xmassy mini EP consisted of 3 songs: acoustic versions of 2 songs included in the album and a guitar-and-voice track. Cool stuff!

That aside, can’t find any other reasons to my lonesome behaviour. Either Xmas puts that mode on or I’m a kind of weirdo. I second that!

All in all, even if Sharm had no charm, the time in there was pleasant. The company was fun and the trips on the coach turned into pure comedy. 

Few days after, still before Xmas, I turned 24. On the night of my birthday – the midnight of the 22nd – we stopped at a bar straight out of the resort to open a bottle of champagne. Suddenly, all the people that worked in there, gathered around me and started singing some Arabic song. That was droll! Must say: people there still got a thing. 

And from that moment onwards, I started learning that many individuals had thrilling stories to tell, unique tales of a culture so different from mine. Our guide, in fact, would tell us of mysteries, legends, ancient uses and habits that Europeans can only admire: stories of Bedouins, of the desert’s bandits, of magic arts and connections with the afterlife, of glory and fallen kingdoms. Fascinating!

How can you not think of Aladdin? How can you not think of a flying carpet, of a magic lamp and a feisty Genie that grants all your wishes? 

I can’t say whether such things really happened in a time back then. Yet, something magnificent can simply be true.

Assuming that not all feelings can be explained in words, let me try to describe one specific night. 

A different world, a different sky, a different moon.

That moonlight. That absurd shimmering effusion radiated some enchantment and magnetism that would make one night last a thousand. It was in the air: medieval folklore and legendary myths could have arisen from the sand to interrupt the silence. No surprise.

I was by myself sitting on a short wall under a palm out of my bungalow, and although I was wearing earphones, the placid music couldn’t distract me from that huge and blazing moon – closer than ever – that along with a lucid dark blue sky were wallpapering the weird veil of secrecy that had wrapped the resort. The atmosphere was surreal.

I swear to my life that the finest European night will never be as beautiful.

Fast forward to the present day.

We often go have dinner at one of the Turkish/Arabian restaurants that give onto Harringay Green Lanes, which is only 5 mins walking from my place. 

Who is “we”? Bruna and I! Do you remember my cousin? Yep, now she also has a name. 

Anyway, the food in there has very high standards and I undoubtedly rate it 5 stars, as well as the impeccable service. One of the waiters always puts on an extra large smile to greet us and we are always treated with utmost kindness. 

Time after time, this guy started inviting us in for a mint tea and some sweets on the house–in fact, he seemed to enjoy our company. We would talk a lot. We learned about his glorious story, his difficult roaming to London, his tumultuous past, his 70-hour-a-week shifts. Nonetheless, he looked always extremely energetic and unstoppable with his can-do attitude and hard-working ethic. His appearance was more of a fit stylish European fellow: a boy of manners, smart-dressed, and in a great shape. His robust look, captivating tone of voice and fierce personality, were solid traits of his esoteric background, features of centuries of enthralling roots. He was special: he was a vivid and intriguing untold mystery.

Once, he asked us to spend a night out together and got in touch a few times to make arrangements. Unfortunately, due to various commitments, advance-planned stuff, or just being awfully tired, weekdays (the only days he was available) are not always a good moment for us to hang out. Thus, although he had asked us out several times, the night never happened. 

We stopped going to the restaurant for a while.

Going a bit off-topic. You got to know that seldom London devours people from the inside. It’s not just the long commuting, or the intensive days of work, or the unstable housing conditions. It’s the sempiternal need for rushing, the feeling of being always in the wrong spot, the lack of long lasting relationships and people you can trust; it’s the chaos, the insecurity of what will happen the next day. And all consumes you till you grow bags under the eyes, expressive wrinkles, and some hair come grey. London makes you stronger on the outside but weaker on the inside, by acting like a slow spreading cancer.

(In this moment, while I’m writing, I’m standing at the bus stop with hundreds of people in the hope that the 341 won’t be too late. History repeats itself. And I seriously need a beer!)

Back to the story. 

Few months later, we went back to the restaurant for my dad’s birthday (my parents had come to town for a week). Ali was there: all done up and smiling as usual. Only one thing had changed: his look. His eyelids were heavy, his cheeks limp, his mouth shivering. His movements were slow and his speaking almost nonsense. He told us he had started a second job – that ended him having half a day off – because he was in need of some extra money. 

His words had no more confidence whatsoever but got liquefied into an unconscious flow of tired thoughts that he would randomly throw up. 

The mysterious Arabian guy – the guy with the enchanting background and the majestic past – gave the way to a common cold European London fellow, a somebody that has been corrupted by a forced material lifestyle to survive in a different world. He was now equal, he was no exception. The unforgettable Arabian nights, the legends, the eastern wind, by now only belonged to a faraway land. 

Ali wanted only one night, just one single night. But we were way too blind… As blind as London made us.

Ali was alone. 

Ali is alone. 

But Ali is strong and won’t quit. 

Sometimes I walk by the restaurant and look inside through the big windows, and can’t stop thinking of that night.

It was too late.

In the real world, the Midas’ touch is no legend, and his body began to rust. His infinite roaming had finally stopped and he was granted a special night that would last a thousand. 

Where is he now?

Ali is now in the stories of one thousand and one Arabian nights.

(Goodbye Ali).

Jim
The Britalian Post