A day in the life of… Dean Moriarty
By Bill Knowles
Bill Knowles decides to kick off our frankly moronic new running feature, attempting to live out a single day as a literary character. He chose Dean Moriarty, from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.
I make sure to wake up late. Because that’s what Dean Moriarty would do. I don’t shave, and go find a roadside cafe to get a coffee and some apple pie. I roll a cigarette and contemplate the day ahead. 24 hours as the semi-fictional contemporary of Kerouac and Ginsburg. Soon I will step onto the pavement and, for a second, consider the open road ahead. Then head south. All the way to Withington.
I have no second wife to leave, so instead I just don’t tell my housemate where I’m going. I arrive, unexpected, on a friend’s doorstep, wondering whether he has whiskey and amphetamines, tales from the Great Midwest or beat poetry to recite. He doesn’t, but does have an Xbox 360 and cigarettes. Jazz cigarettes. So I stay and play FIFA. Because, I decide, Dean would want to.
Later that evening, I tell my friend that we need to find women and music. I suggest Mexico City and ask him if he has a Cadillac. He does not, so we are forced to compromise. We get the 142 into town.
We go looking for a smoky jazz bar, and arrive at Matt & Phreds in the Northern Quarter. The music is wild. I sit at a table and start drumming along to the beat until people eventually shush me. I go to the bar and ask how much a Manhattan is. The bartender tells me it is seven pounds. I quickly decide that, actually, Dean would probably prefer to go to The Deaf Institute tonight, so we leave and go there instead. I buy three drinks for myself. This, I decide, is somewhere I will truly get into character.
The next day I wake up early, because I’ve left my curtains open and way too much light is streaming in to the room. My head hurts. I stumble downstairs to get some orange juice and paracetemol. Then I begin to try and remember, as I turn the TV to E4, my day as Dean Moriarty.