©hayvend>>>> Ella Gibbs

April 17th I998
"Stuck in realtime"

Its odd when some days stick in your mind and others drift into the backlog of ' I can't remember'. I've just looked in my diary to see what I wrote for that day.. nothing much, a cup of tea first thing in the morning with a friend who wasn't there, then I remember suddenly being aware that I had loads to do, and I'd forgotten that I'd been invited to Johns for a realtime cup of coffee at 11am. I raced around constructing the day ahead of me in my mind, trying to get a coherent map of all the routes I would take. Around 10.30 I left from Limehouse to get to Liverpool street in loads of time, somehow I was late, not sure how. I arrived and rang the bell. It felt like a special occasion ... like I was visiting someone on their birthday the kitchen was really 'cosy' a couple of people sitting round the table, a microphone was dangling, papers were piled on the side. coffee was my target. I sat down, John introduced me I can't really remember what we talked about,....files, arts council rubber bands, being under anaesthetic at a dentists, jobs, marks and sparks, and something about extra terrestrial life.... I wondered why John had chosen this day, why this particular Friday? well just as every day is different, each moment changed as the conversations meandered, fell apart, tightened up and went off on a tangent. More people arrived, lodged themselves on a seat , and so the conversation changed along with the atmosphere and the dynamics between people. It was time for me to leave, a last slug of coffee, and with promises to return later said goodbye I never went back. From then on the day became double sided, too much coffee perhaps. I think that without realising at the time, going round to Johns had made me feel a bit restless, maybe because I hadn't wanted to leave because it had been quite an effort to get there ... just to drink a coffee and chat, something which is quite unusual. (A nice thing to do, but often enough, most people I know have so many of their own things to get on with that going 'visiting' is a luxury or booked in three weeks in advance.) .... but none the less, the fact that something so 'un special' became 'special' struck me ... so how does an occasion arise? it signifies or marks something else, the birth, death, wars of the world, it just appears in order to begin something or to mark the end of something,,... maybe everything is an occasion ... certainly, everything I was doing that day from cleaning my teeth, going to the loo & drinking a coffee, became significant, and because of that taking up more and more time then I could ever imagine. So the day continued, and then evening took over and then it was into night shift. That's when I started feeling really restless, looking at the time, thinking oh I'll go back to Johns in a bit .... over and over again ... I'll go to Johns in a bit ... I imagined the scenario that I had left, what had happened his flat became a stage set in my mind, I'd just slipped out of realtime for a while, maybe fallen asleep in the Gods (cheapest seats), 24 hours non stop is a long time to stay awake... I woke up in my bed, there was no stage, lights, people! I couldn't believe myself, I'd tricked myself into believing that I was there when I wasn't . All the scenes were spinning in my head .... I picked up the phone, dialled realtime someone answered, he said that there was food cooking and a kind of embarrassed atmosphere, from what I could tell it sounded like the lull before the storm. I put the phone down, it was around 11.30pm my time. I was experiencing the same kind of feeling I had when I was a teenager, all dressed up ready and eager for a party or perhaps I had an excuse not to go. Did I really have to face all those people, probably already tanked up with woodpecker cider, with seemingly so much to talk about, huddled around in impenetrable groups. I imagined standing uncomfortably round the edge, trying to think of something witty to say .... so before the party I attempted to conjure up loads of excuses for my friends of why 'not tonight' , but inevitably I would go to the party, join in the downing of plastic 112 pints. ....anyway I was at home, with both sides of the coin. knowing I could be participating in realtime, and actually I felt like I was even though I wasn't there. That made me think I might as well be there, or maybe its more interesting to be here, in my own place, imagining it moving through the night the fact was that realtime was going, on at the same time as I was travelling back and forth endlessly. Being in two places at the same time, has made this day an unforgettable day ... where not much happened, instead I decided not to flip a coin, and experienced caffeine overload!
Elia Gibbs. / artist & co -organiser of events

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