Coales' Notes: Crisis of bricks and mortals

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The Independent Culture
MONDAY: Things are getting bad. Last night I dreamt that I was Rachel Whiteread's House again.

A working party from the Department of National Heritage came to survey me. Archie led them. 'Of course, ideally we would like to preserve him for posterity. But Judge Hoffmann has settled the matter. He must come down.' Another man: 'In theory, the Japs are interested. The problem is, wrong period.'

A woman in a cafe (perhaps Fiona?): 'The plan actually is to convert him into a riding stable with restaurant extension. Local pressure, you know.'

Then I was being buried, or as they called it, 'merger'. Rory came over and whispered confidentially: 'It mustn't appear to be a form of attention-seeking. Do nothing and say nothing. In a few months everyone will have forgotten. Then we can think about re-opening.'

I awoke, disturbed.

Last week I resolved:

1) Not in fact to ring Di about her plan, but to wait for her to ring me, if she wants to.

2) Not to think about writing any letter of resignation to Ars Longa just yet a while.

3) Not to go back to work either, and simply see if anyone notices.

I have been sitting here at home for two weeks now. Taking no action. Doing nothing. Just hanging on. I simply cannot imagine what part I could have in anything. Or want. What does anyone want?

TUESDAY: Nothing. Does Di in fact have my number here?

WEDNESDAY: I think I'm a lost cause. I honestly think I've had it.

THURSDAY: And now something very clear and very significant has occurred, about which I can state very little at the moment, except this. On I don't know what impulse, I got up extremely early this morning and drove out to the motorway while it was still dark. But before the turn-off, I found myself drawn in at a lay-by. I parked. I sat there. I ate a sweet. Sunrise.

How to put this into words. What happened? Outwardly, nothing. Not a voice, no. But what I would call a prompting, an expanding realisation, prompting me, and saying to me: This is your cue. This is your moment. You are not waiting. People are waiting.

It doesn't matter about the Arts Council. It doesn't matter about The Late Show. It doesn't matter about Kaleidoscope. It doesn't matter about critics and sponsors and prizes and everything else. None of these things matter. They are all merely instrumental phenomena which will prove to be either usable or disposable in the breakthrough.

But you are the element who can make the difference. You are the missing person in the equation. You are the factor who, at this juncture, has been put in a position to begin to make the arts a reality in people's lives. Everybody is confused now. They do not know what they like. You will be happy to answer questions. Artists also are confused. But they can look to you for guidance. You will talk to them, and they will say, you understand us better than we understand ourselves, and thank you. The thoughts you have while walking down the street will become generally helpful.

And I wondered, does this mean I am to start a small and controversial magazine? But my prompting said: no, it will be a bit more interesting than that. Things will become clear as breakthrough proceeds. Wait.

I came home, and thought about these things. Obviously I'm going to become a laughing stock.

FRIDAY: It is proceeding. In the afternoon, I had a phone call from Di. She said: 'You wouldn't believe what trouble I've had getting hold of you.' I told her this was inevitable, but it would all be changing soon. She went on: 'Now I've got a big meeting with the brand manager from Schlacht Beer next week. The point is, can you come?' I told her I was not in a position to disclose my movements at this stage, but they would become clear. She said: 'Are you telling me you've found something else?'

I told her that something had happened that, unfortunately, I could not reveal. But I said I would say some words to her that might be helpful. WE WILL ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE. WE WILL ELIMINATE THE NEGATIVE. WE WILL SAY A BIG YES.

She replied: 'So - you've had a good Christmas then.'

It is not the moment for her.

Last night I dreamt that I was Manchester, City of Drama, 1994.

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