“I talk of dreams” says Romeo’s friend Mercutio “which are the children of an idle brain …” Idle in the sense of dormant I suppose, if we mean dreams that come to you in sleep. And interesting in the way that they bring thoughts and sensations to the front of your mind. I can’t believe they are all significant. I dream of people and things from what you might call the outer edges of my memory. And sometimes just the opposite. I had a Social Distancing dream last year in which a doctor’s consulting room was vast and open to the air and you consulted across a considerable space.
Dreams often make connections between quite different things in our lives, as ingeniously as any artistic composition. At their clearest, they can enlighten you about your own attitude or reaction to something.
Sometimes I can’t remember anything about the dream I’ve just woken from, anything in waking terms anyway. Perhaps it’s a limitation of our brains that we can sometimes feel, and “understand” things that we can’t explain in words.
Some dreams are of such ordinary things, it’s hardly worth them being a dream. Our dog dreams of chasing a lot, you can tell by his little legs working jerkily and the sleeping version of his bark, a kind of peep.
I dreamed about my mother one night this week, which I can’t remember doing before. I think I’ve dreamed more about my father. He was alive more comparatively recently — but what do dreams care about that?
We all have our own anxiety dreams, and having neglected to put your clothes on when you’re at a meeting or interview or something is said to be a common theme. One that I have had a lot is being required to do a play I was last in years ago, and realising in performance that I have no idea what is required of me. “Why didn’t I go to the rehearsals? I could have gone to the rehearsals.”
Last year, in our enforced idleness, I several times dreamt — I blush to report this, but I promised myself that this blog would at least be a truthful one — that I was playing leading parts in Shakespeare.
The nearest thing to a vision I have had was when I was on a strong medication following brain surgery. I was never sure afterwards whether I kept waking up and moving around the house, then going back into the dream — or whether it was all in my sleep. In my “vision”, an angel told me that they would reveal to me the secrets of the human heart. Hmm, heaven forbid. No secrets got revealed. (Have I ever had a dream which has come true? Well, in a way, yes.)
And the other morning I was lying in bed, occasionally dozing. I dreamed I was at a cashpoint in Heaven. I think I’ve heard that you can’t take it with you.
“I dreamed I stood at an ATM in Heaven
And I entered my ‘pin’ in the hope of gettin’ dough -
I’d-a bought a sharp tuxedo that would cut it with St Peter.
But the read-out said: Y’ve left y’stack below!
And the people all said SIT DOWN, Sit Down — you’re rocking the boat …!”
Okay, my ear for Runyonesque idiom may not be spot-on. But it’s not bad for a verse I added to that song in a dream. No, I didn’t. I said I’d be strictly accurate and not ‘improve’ on anything I blogged about. I didn’t dream the verse, I just dreamed the cashpoint. I composed the verse on our next dog-walk.