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Diary of a Hyperdreamer - volume 1
Bill Nelson

Friday 9th March 1999

Robert (Fripp) telephoned this morning to ask if I keep a diary. I don't, although I have made sporadic attempts over the years. The longest I sustained it was for a couple of weeks. Robert suggested that I start one straight away with the specific intention of making it public via the DGM [Discipline Global Mobile, Bill's former record company] web-site. Not sure about the wisdom of that although I respect Robert enough to give it a try. The problem is, I lead a fairly uneventful and repetitive life, (terrible admission) with perhaps only my inner life having any dynamic worthy of interest. Or so I like to think. Nevertheless, that same inner life constitutes the sub-strata of the work that I do. Maybe I don't want to reveal any of it other than through the music. Most days, everything is just spectacularly banal. It's the kind of banality that both attracts and repels. A mediocrity worthy of celebration?

Well, I've always had a weakness for the kitsch, the ephemeral, the jewel in the trashcan.

Of course, if things become too dull, I could invent some exotic scenario, some fabulous lie. Inventors and artists are usually exquisite liars, creating the kind of things we are all willing to be seduced by. Old Queen Cocteau said: 'I am the lie that tells the truth'. Well, truth is as subservient to the laws of relativity as everything else. Wasn't it Hassan I Sabbah who said, 'Nothing is true, everything is permitted?' Perhaps I should simply think of it as a conversation with myself. Story of my life, really.

Spent a couple of hours working on the selection of material for the Noise Candy six-album box-set which I intend to release as a very limited edition luxury item via mail-order early next year. I've been working on the assembly for several months now but constantly change my mind about the running order and even which songs should be included. I'm drawing the material from many years of archived, previously unreleased work. Bearing in mind my daily routine of home recording, there are literally hundreds of songs to choose from. My real diary is the music. I guess it's a much more reliable indicator of my state of mind than these words could ever be.

Hot and sunny today and I suddenly became impatient and irritated by the sight of my battered old mixing desk and decided to go into town and wander around. Still lots of tourists and kids on holiday. Thank God the place reverts back to the residents in the winter. Something to look forward to.
Went to the library and hired out a video of Pathé Newsreels from the Fifties. Found a Nelson Riddle Orchestra album, Relax with Nelson Riddle, in a shop full of second hand vinyl. Bought it for £2.50. No date on it but I think it's from the late Fifties or early Sixties.

Middle age has brought out a strong urge to rediscover my pop-cultural roots; subsequently our house becomes more like a museum every week. Emiko puts up with it wonderfully although I'm sure she'd prefer less clutter. I think I'm externalising my life, trying to make it tangible before it all slips away. In truth, none of it really matters, except to me.

Collected Emiko from her work and returned home. Monkfish and salad for dinner. We were going to eat alfresco but the sun had moved out of the garden and so we remained indoors. Later, we watched the Pathé Newsreel video. Emiko fell asleep on the sofa, missing the items about Stirling Moss, Hopalong Cassidy and the boat that looked like a flying saucer.

Watched Summer Dance, a BBC2 programme that featured work by choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh with whom I had collaborated, back in the Eighties, on a TV series called Map of Dreams. I had come up with the original concept for the series but, as often happens with these things, the concept was modified by the producers to make it easier for the viewer to grasp. The rule seems to be: when in doubt, always under-estimate the intelligence of your audience.

I'd like to make more music for dance (as opposed to making dance music). It strikes me as somehow poetic that a person with as little athletic ability as myself could be allowed the chance to create music that might inspire less chair-bound folk to hurl themselves about in space with great vigour. Maybe, one day.

I'll never be able to keep this diary thing up; it takes up too much time. Let's see what tomorrow brings. Time for bed.


Sunday 11th May 2003

We were supposed to be on our way back to England at this very moment but we are still in Tokyo. Emiko's father passed away yesterday morning, just one day before we were due to leave. We'd resigned ourselves to the possibility that his death would occur some days, or even weeks, after we'd returned to England. The doctors had told us that they no longer knew when the end would come as their earlier predictions were off the beam. Everyone expected him to have given up the struggle a couple of weeks ago but the tough old man had more fight in him than someone half his age.

The cancer finally took its toll yesterday morning. We received a phone call from the hospital at 5.45 am saying that the family should come straight away. Emi, with superhuman reserve, dressed and left for the hospital with her family. I was asked to stay at the house as there was to be a delivery of Mother's Day flowers for Emi's mother (Mother's Day is on a different day from the UK here) and someone must be present to receive them. Somehow, among the grief, a practical consideration. So Japanese. Emi phoned me 30 minutes later to say that her father had passed away before they had arrived at the hospital and that his body would be brought from the hospital to the house in an hour or two. This was my introduction to the 'hands on' attitude to death here in Japan.

Emi's father's body has been lying on a mattress on the living room floor of her parents' house in full view since yesterday. There is no coffin. It will remain there until the funeral/cremation on Wednesday. I have to admit that, while I understand that there is a totally different attitude to the rituals of death in Japan from those of England, I'm somewhat unnerved by the casual way that people deal with a dead person in their midst. People eat their lunch sitting next to the body and grandchildren wander in and out of the room where the body lays, quite cheerfully acting as teenagers always do in less unusual circumstances. It is both astonishing and terrifying.
I've had to gently explain that, for me, this is somewhat unusual and that I'd prefer to avoid the living room and confine myself to the parts of the house not being used as a mortuary. Even the room's doors are kept wide open and though I try to avert my eyes as I pass, it¹s impossible not to glimpse the body of my father-in-law laid on the floor. The room is not darkened but fully lit. This is probably a 'healthy' attitude towards death though I can't think that it's hygienic keeping a corpse in the living room, without a coffin, for four or five days, particularly in the humid heat we've had in Tokyo these last couple of weeks. I'm told by Emi that this is a normal part of Japanese culture and that I should accept it, which I do, of course. Which I am trying to do, is more accurate. It's far from easy, even though I love all things Japanese and love my wife more than my own life. It is not easy, this sudden confrontation with the physical reality of death, so different from the western attitude.

Harder to take will be the part of the funeral ceremony when the family passes the cremated and charred bones of the deceased person from one family member to another with chopsticks before placing them in an urn with the rest of the ashes. I'm supposed to take part in this but, despite my past involvement in magical rituals and my years of study of the world's occult practices, this is one thing I feel I'd like to miss out on. As I type these words, sitting in the family's dining room in Tokyo, Emi and her mother and brothers, her nephews and nieces, plus a family friend, are sitting in the living room with her father's dead body, laughing and chatting merrily as if nothing were out of place. Maybe I have some sort of psychological hang up about death, (no maybe about it) but for me, when it's over, it's over. I don't particularly want to have to prolong the experience, nor have the image of a loved one in rigor mortis carved into my mind for eternity. I like to remember the person as a living presence, not as a morbid, fetishised object, emptied of life and soul. Despite the dark clouds that fill my skies from time to time, I'm a sunshine and skylark soul. I can't see the point of extending pain and grimness any longer than is absolutely necessary. But that's just me. I'm sure there are many western people who would feel differently.

We have cancelled our return flight to the UK so that we can attend the funeral, which I'm told will be long and complex. Of course, it would have been unthinkable for Emi to leave today as originally planned. Despite the sad circumstances, the airline (Japan Airlines) were totally unsympathetic to our plight. They would not allow us to change the date of our return one more time (we'd already changed it once) and so we lost the tickets, no refund, not even a part repayment. We had to buy completely new tickets to return home next Friday. Obviously, this is an expense we hadn't budgeted for. We haven't booked with Japan Airlines this time though, we've booked onto a British Airways flight. Damned if I'm going to spend any more money with JAL after such unsympathetic treatment.
So, five more days to go before we can finally set off on the long flight home. Two flights, actually, then a train journey and a taxi before we finally open the front door of Nelson Acres.

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