Sleep When I'm Dead
I’m in bed wondering how I’m going to
fill this space. Yes, this space. Nothing comes to mind. Eight floors
below, a dog barks. The sound echoes up the street, bouncing like a
squash ball off the walls. Bark! Bark! Bark! Three sharp barks; then
it stops. Silence. It barks again.
Twice. Bark! Bark! Or should it be “Woof”? No, I don’t
think so. Bark! Bark! I wonder why the dog is acting up. Has it seen
a fox? A burglar? Or is it making something out of nothing? The dog
barks again. Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Five distinct barks this
time; then silence. I wonder how many sleep deprived people around the
planet are also pondering how they are going to fill a similar space.
Maybe others facing the same problem are awake in beds close by–and
can hear the same dog? Bark! Bark! Bark! Everywhere, every day, journalists
have to collectively fill a space as white and vast as the Arctic; constantly
turning nothing into something. Amazing. The dog starts to bark again;
like crazy this time. Barrrrk! Barrrrrrrk! Barrrrrrrk! Baaaaaaarrrrrkkk!
Dare I go on? Why not? Barkkkkkkk! I have the space. Barrrrrrk! Now
I’m getting the hang of it. Bark! Then there are the myriad glossy
magazines that have to be filled every week, every month, every quarter.
Bark! Bark! And there’s air time. On radio and television every
moment, every space has to be filled every day in every part of the
globe. And the space is eternally expanding like our universe. Daunting.
Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! The dog doesn’t stop
this time. I climb out of bed and pull back the curtain. I can see it
behind the railing of a well-fortified house opposite. It’s not
barking at anything. It’s just barking–at nothing. If you’re
still reading this nonsense you’ll realise that I’m not
just filling in space–but time as well! I am, in fact, using up
some of your precious worldly time. Breathing time. Stop now! The dog
stops barking and has a crap. Silence. It occurs to me that if I get
to make another film, not only will it use up units of my allotted time
in making it, to fill white spaces, screens this time, but also fill
up time for those who go to see it. The dog stops crapping–and
starts barking again. Bark! Bark! Bark! Have we so successfully filled
up time–and space–that boredom has finally been eradicated?
I seem to remember that, for me as a boy, boredom induced a state of
dreaming. And thinking. It was also a state that heightened the events
that happened around it. Bark! Bark! Bark! Nothing comes of nothing.
Shakespeare wouldn’t have King Lear say that now. Bark! Bark!
Bark! How am I doing? I was asked for 700 (seven hundred) to 1,000 (one
thousand) words. My “word count” shows 474 (four hundred
and seventy-four). Computers and cell phones are the great new dumper
trucks when it comes to filling up time. Bark! Bark! Bark! The dog is
pissing me off now. Bark! And probably you as well. So is the purpose
of space and time simply to fill it? With anything? Bark! Bark! And
should I be at all concerned how I contribute to filling up my/your
time and this space? Bark! Bark! Bark! Maybe that dog knows something
I don’t know? Cats certainly do. Maybe it’s a relative of
Ivan Petrovitch Pavlov’s dogs? Pavlov showed us how to make animals
jump–perform–manipulate them to do anything, for that matter.
And Alfred Hitchcock wasn’t far behind. Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark!
Bark! Bark! Bark! The dog knows what I’m getting at. Bark! Is
that why it’s keeping me awake? Sleep is meant to occupy a third
of everyone’s life. Not mine tonight. Word count: 625 (six hundred
and twenty-five). Nearly there. Something out of nothing? Or nothing
out of nothing? Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! The dog’s excited
again. The title of my new film* percolates into my mind and
lodges there. Sleep is now out of the question. I resolve to get up
and write this piece. That’s when the dog’s owner calls
it in. I bet the beast is wagging its tail. 700 words exactly.
*I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Clive Owen and director Mike Hodges team up for their first
film together since Croupier. Will Graham (Owen)
lives in the countryside where he reads, does honest work and practices
Zen. It's hard to believe this peaceful man was once an experienced and
formidable gangland enforcer. Following the sordid and tragic death of
his younger brother, Will is drawn back into the violent world of crime.
Co-starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Charlotte Rampling and Malcolm McDowell.