One of the consequences of the various items in my apothecary’s materia medica cupboard has been an increased richness, frequency, intensity, activity of dreams. Not, I hasten to add, either bad nightmares (or very rarely) on the one hand, or anything really nice on the other, just frantic activity of a mundane and apparently real kind. Usually I can’t remember anything about the five or six each night longer than it takes to go back to sleep, or have breakfast at the end of the exhausting proceedings, but every so often one sticks.
I am reminded here of one of my favourite James Thurber stories (a tautological phrase). It concerns a married couple where, over time, the wife takes to correcting, in more and more detail, the anecdotes her husband tells at parties. Eventually it gets to the point where he can no longer tell a real life story because of the interruptions and corrections, so he takes to telling invented imaginary dreams. This works briefly, but then she starts correcting the dreams. He finishes up in an asylum, reduced to telling one invented dream over and over, getting it “wrong”, and being corrected by his wife who sits by his bed.
Not that that digression has anything to do with me, I hasten to add, it is just that, having a lot of dreams to deal with, the story came back to me.
So, where was I? Ah yes, remembered one from the other night, perhaps because it was so different from the usual sort of running through an airport late for a plane, or trying to get a car repaired, or almost playing cricket for Australia. Not even sure what triggered it, usually I can spot something that has been in the news etc. Anyway, I was visiting North Korea. Yep, I know, I knew it was odd too. But it was nothing to do with the new leadership or bombs or massed gymnasts or goose-stepping troops. Nothing at all. I was somehow visiting a small village. I was made really welcome, invited in to a house for a meal, given presents, given hugs on parting, told to come back soon. Told that I had been adopted into their village, was one of them now, part of the family, and neither they nor I could understand why their country and mine and America etc were bitter enemies. I was really touched, looking back, thinking what normal people they were, just like me, must come back and see them etc, then suddenly woke up, and poof it was gone.
Look when I say I don’t know what triggered it I probably do. It came during yet more weeks of sabre rattling everywhere – of Benyamin N. and the Republicans wanting to bomb Iran back to the stone age, Hillary Clinton lecturing North Korea, the Germans lecturing Greece, America lecturing Syria, China lecturing Tibet, England lecturing Scotland, and so on. All of it done by presidents and prime ministers and foreign ministers, standing at podiums in front of massed flags, talking to their counterparts in the country being lectured. Talking also to the elites, the military top brass, the bankers, the businessmen.
But not talking to the people in my dream – the peasants – nor to the poor villagers, the farmers, the factory workers, the labourers, the public servants, the students, nurses, teachers, mothers, children. Furthermore these grand lecturers have never met any of these ordinary citizens of the countries being lectured. UN should have a rule, you are not allowed to bomb, or turn the IMF loose on, a country until you have lived for a year with some of its ordinary citizens. You listening Hillary, Angela, Benjamin?
Then see if you can bomb my dream North Koreans.