In Dreams

Last night I dreamed I went to Yorkshire.*

In my mind I travelled past Fox House, down alongside the stream to Toad Rock, left around the corner and up towards Surprise View. Mist hung low over the hills, flattening their tops, hiding Cark Wark, the ancient fort, and suffusing all with a muted light. The view is crystal clear, each blade of grass, sprig of heather, dark grey rock, edged as though with an artist’s fine pen. But I’m not there, and it’s only a dream.

I dream a lot, both the somnambulant nighttime variety and the day, when-I-should-be-doing-something-else, variety. In recent years I rarely remember the night dreams, waking in confusion, taking a few moments to work out where I am, what is happening. A feeling of disconnection prevails once I know that I am in bed, when I am sure a second ago I was somewhere else, doing something other than lying inert.

Dreams are a popular theme for those who create. There are great songs about dreams; they feature in films, in books, especially in one memorable first line which, in homage to Daphne Du Maurier, I borrowed and amended here. Psychologists use them to help counsel people. I’m not sure what they would make of mine, except to call for men in white coats to escort me to a padded room and throw away the key.

My dreams do not generally follow a chronological timeline or story, jumping all over the place, moving me from one situation to another with no apparent transition, changing the people I am with or the clothes I am wearing. They are rarely coherent and can cause much amusement to anyone I share them with. I once dreamed I was trying to escape a nunnery (no explanation as to why I was there in the first place) and Neil had arrived to spirit me off in the dark. But he brought a car full of friends and I struggled to squeeze my bag into the boot beside theirs. He then proceeded to remove everything and repack it (in real life he’s quite anal about how this is done) as I freaked out that we would get caught. Next minute I’m knocking on the door of the nunnery to say goodbye to ‘the Monseigneur’ (goodness knows why if I’m trying to make a moonlight escape). He was busy basting a chicken whilst wearing a leopard skin bikini. When I relayed this to Neil he burst out laughing, much as he did when I told him of my more recent dream of Clint Eastwood (in full, The Man with no Name garb) arriving at a friend’s birthday party and reading a poem about death.

In some ways it’s probably a good job I can’t remember my dreams, but knowing I’ve been dreaming but am not able to recollect about what is a problem. I’m left with a sense of discombobulation, a feeling that remains for minutes, sometimes hours, as though I’m in the wrong skin, or the wrong time and place. I struggle to get to the real world, even though the dream world evaporates faster than mist in the morning sun, and start the day with a feeling that I am somehow not where I am meant to be. It’s frustrating and, honestly, a little frightening.

I was lying awake in bed gazing at pictures on the wall, the slopes of Mt Ruapehu, when my thoughts turned to my old haunts. This often happens, a late-night daydream if you will. Why don’t I have pictures of those now far off places on my walls, instead of views that I can see often? Primarily because seeing those views as I wake would make me happy, but the slow realisation that they are no longer easily accessible to me would counter that happiness. Whether I had dreamed or not, whether I remembered a dream or not, waking to some of my favourite places and then realising I am not close to them would disrupt my day far more than any half-remembered dream.

*For the pedantic out there, the place I describe is more accurately just over the border from Yorkshire into Derbyshire. My defence is that I thought it part of Yorkshire for many years before I found out otherwise, and still think of it as so.

A further point – as I always do, I asked Neil to select some suitable pictures to accompany what I’d written. It would seem that he has a lot of pictures of my arse ruining a good view. Apologies for that.

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