December 15, 2008
Matthew De Abaitua - My Best Imaginary Friends of 2008
Since the birth of my third child, I have become a full-time family man with no opportunity for male bonding. So the adventures of young movie star Vince and his gang of young bucks have become my equivalent of a night in the pub talking shit. The Entourage are my proxy mates. In previous series, their problems revolved around beautiful women, enormous pay cheques and artistic integrity, problems I no longer share but am keen to dither on the fringe of, in the hope I may overhear some of the carefree idealistic bonhomie of my salad days.
"Russell Brand's podcast
One of my four long weekly commutes was given over to a podcast of Russell Brand blathering away with his mates Matt Morgan and Noel Gallagher. Again, they became imaginary friends of mine – to the point that when I bumped into Brand, my heart leapt. But I resisted to urge to cross the boundary between fantasy and reality. Over the course of the year, Brand's narcissism got the better of him, and when Matt Morgan disappeared from the show to be replaced by a succession of celebrity mates, the show lost its check against Brand's worst instincts. As for the fateful broadcast with Jonathan Ross and Andrew Sachs, I listened to it on the platform of London Bridge station and thought, God, BBC compliance are slack these days. And then thought nothing more of it.
"Anathem by Neal Stephenson
A brick of science fiction that initially seems impenetrable, with its own argot and weird names. But I persisted and discovered an exciting parallel world of philosophy and a brilliant fictional execution of the multiverse theory. The novel features a cast of monks who are the custodians of learning cut off from a grimy secular world. Their conversations are paragons of reason and I found myself wanting to converse in similarly elaborate and devastating terms. But the world of Anathem was too far away from ordinary social discourse, so I remained mute.
"Music To Fall Asleep To, Klimek
2008 was the year I discovered Kompakt, the electronic music label operating out of Cologne. Their minimal techno is the sound of me chugging on Southern Trains from Sussex to London. Sometimes, when I have drunk heavily in a parody of my former social life, I have foolishly listened to Kompakt on the last train back to Sussex. Inevitably I fall asleep to Klimek's echoing Music To Fall Asleep To, and wake up thirty miles away from my bed. Then I am forced to "share" a cab ("hijack" would be a more accurate term) to get back home, cursing over every needless mile."
Matthew De Abaitua's first novel The Red Men was nominated for the 2008 Arthur C Clarke Award, and his friends tell him he is quoted in Iain Sinclair's forthcoming majestic work on Hackney.