Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Saturday, 7 April 2012
Roman roadside memorial
I have been having some strange dreams during the last couple of nights.
The night before last, I had a very lucid one where I went down to the little kitchen in our compact but adorable city apartment, only to discover that someone had stolen all the furniture in it, including the gas cooker.
As I stared at the blank floor (I had already done this in real life, when I cleared it to have s new surface put down) I wondered how they could have done this without waking me up, then I realised that I was dreaming.
So I 'woke up' in my dream just as H.I. was coming downstairs, and I waited for her to enter the room so I could tell her about my dream. The door slowly opened, and a 5 foot-high, brightly coloured, sausage-shaped object knitted from wool drifted into the room, carrying a hot-water bottle. It was then that I realised that I was still asleep and dreaming.
Last night, my dream required me to move to rural Dorset for some reason, and I found myself sharing a temporary hotel with my eldest sister, who had come with me to help settle me in to whatever accommodation I was supposed to move into. In the dream, she was early middle-aged, but in reality she is 70 years old.
When I was very young, this sister used to adore me - until I transformed into a brattish teenager - and spent as much time playing with me like a doll as I would allow her to. Some of the things we got up to would make your hair stand on end to witness.
"Let's play 'Rag-Doll'!", she would suggest, and I would immediately fall to the floor, as limp and submissive as the real thing. She would test my compliance by lifting one of my arms and letting it go, and it would hit the floor with a hard knock. As she picked me up, my head would loll backwards and - to all intents and purposes - I became instantly pliant, as if all the life had left my body and my ligaments had turned to rag.
She would drag me to the staircase of the servant's quarters (we had the quarters, but not the servants), pick me up and - holding on to me by the ankles - dangle me over the handrail of the banisters, above the stairwell which had a drop high and hard enough to break my little neck, if she had accidentally let go for some reason.
I absolutely loved 'giving in' like this - I think it might have been the most extreme form of dissension from decision-making that it was possible for a child to opt for, and I have always been a lazy bastard. You'll have to ask her what her motives were, but all I can say is that she was never interested in horses.
So in my dream of last night, my sister watched me get up and dress from her single bed in the hotel room, and I left her there to go out into the rural Dorsetshire countryside, looking for a place to live. H.I. - unusually - did not feature at all in the dream, so I guess her persona had been replaced by Sis.
I found a small town, and - surprise, surprise - I found a lively bar, packed with young people having a good time.
I have found myself in this situation many times in past reality, when I have been working away from home, and I usually enjoy sitting anonymously in a corner whilst watching everyone else interact over a few evenings.
This time, I was filled with a deep and real melancholy, though. It made me think of all my young friends in the bar that I would never return to, and I began missing them immediately.
This caused me to examine the nature of my friendship with those young people, and I understood again that - in reality - my relationship with them revolved purely around the bar itself. If a weekend by the seaside is organised amongst them, they - quite rightly - do not automatically assume that I will also be there, and - of course - I would not go either, if invited. I have always hated tents in any case.
Don't get me wrong - I am NOT hankering after lost youth, nor am I greedily looking for second-helpings. I think I am very well adjusted to my social standing compared to a few others, and it makes me very happy to watch the next generation enjoying themselves like I did.
I think the dream - and the melancholy that it left behind - was all to do with that parting which we all must make sooner or later. The one from which we will never return to a bar-full of laughing friends, all heading in the same direction, but thirty years behind.
Today is my dear little girl's 18th birthday and, as of this afternoon, the celebrations begin. That's her, on the right, taken quite a few years ago now.
We will have lunch with her mum, brother and step-dad, then there will be a party tonight, after which she goes into town with her friends and peers to have the first legal drink of her short career in night-life, leaving two other generations at home to carry on into the small hours.
As of today, I will not have to worry when buying her a small cider in my local pub, and I know from past experience that I will not have to worry about how many ciders she buys herself there in the future, after I have left it forever.