Monday, 25 May 2015

The hijack

I dream I am driving home; but no, I am not driving, it is my daughter. At a corner on the way, I observe building in progress. There is a skip parked on one side of the way, and on the other a pile of concrete blocks. "Stop the car," I say to my daughter, "there is not enough space to get through," but a worker on the site signals my daughter to keep coming. There, indeed, was not enough space, and both sides of the car were scraped. Having passed through the gap, my daughter pulled up and we got out of the car to view the damage. I saw a shyster standing nearby and he was encouraging people to make a claim, and asking them to sign up and get a pile of money. My passengers all crowded round him, eager to sign up. (Passengers? where did they come from?) "Well, who would they be claiming against," I wondered. It was not their car. Who could they be claiming against but me, as owner of the car. This is an insurance fraud: none of them were injured, but I guess they will all be claiming to suffer from whiplash.  I must phone the police and insist that they come along and take details. I wake up.

This is a reflection of things happening in my life. My daughter, home from Australia, is about to buy a motor-car and will have to get insurance, of course. But more than that, it reflects a sort of a feeling that things are out of my control. Indeed, for the last week I and my wife have been duped by the family. All day Saturday is full of activities arranged for me and my wife by my daughter. When we arrived home on Saturday evening, the reason for this vague feeling of being out of control was revealed, when we faced a surprise birthday party for my wife! We had been manipulated out of the way, so that the party could get organised behind our backs. My dream was trying to express this out-of-my-hands feeling.

Monday, 11 May 2015

The story of Jamie McJamie

I dream I am in a hotel-lounge attending a literary event. To my surprise, I am invited to speak. I have nothing prepared and no topic in mind, I decide to make it up as I go along. The words in brackets in the following account are my thoughts, during the dream, as I pause to compose the next sentence.

"I will tell yo the story of (think of a memorable name, but one that will not lead them to make presumptions about the story) Jamie McJamie, (what about him?) who discovered a gold mine on his land, before he was twenty, (How could that happen? Yes, a sink-hole - caused by what? The mini sink hole in my own back garden when the extensive roots of a felled tree decayed leaving an.underground mini-cavern came to mind) where the great beech tree used to stand. (How could he have inherited land before he was twenty - family circumstances). Jamie's widowed father (give him a name), Brogan McJamie, was a hard-working farmer, like his forebears, ever struggling to make.a living out of the little holding and to pass it on intact to the next generation. Like his forefathers, he had primary education only, but had resolved to give his son, Jamie, secondary education. Unfortunately, young Jamie did not show much interest in the farm, whether that be due to some innate defect or to the secondary education he was receiving, and Brogan, dispirited since the death of his young wife was doubly-dispirited seeing his son's lack of skill and understanding of farm work. One night, Brogan lifted Jamie's exercise book from the table and flicked through the pages. An item caught his eye, titled 'My Father.' Brogan read the words: 'I look out the window and see my father digging in the potato plot. Skilled with the spade and hard-working like his father and his fore-fathers before him, struggling to make a living from his tiny farm and hoping to pass it on to the next generation of his breed. But I will never earn my living from farming: the pen will be my spade.'

On reading this, Brogan had an epiphany. He saw into the waste-land that had been his life. He had never had anything for himself, but had given everything to family and farm. He had despaired that his son would not have the competence to maintain what his fore-fathers had built up. He had despaired that Jamie would let his fine, pedigree, herd of cows decline, and the farm go to rack and ruin. Now, on reading Jamie's essay, Brogan had a flash of inspiration. He would stop living for his son's inheritance and live for himself instead. He would leave it to his son to do what he liked with his farm and his own life. Make a living with the pen if Jamie so wished, Brogan would forsake the farm now and live for himself as he had never done before. Soon he acquired a passport for the first time in his life: he had never been abroad, never been anywhere except on the farm. He sold his fine herd of cattle, worth more than the few acres of land on which they grazed, wrote a good-bye note to his son, and headed off to the Caribbean, where he could live in sunshine for the rest of his life on the proceeds of his cattle.

The son looked at the good-bye note in despair and looked out over his cattle-empty land. He saw the great Beech Tree: past its sell-bye date, old and mighty. The tie closest to the throat is the first to untie. He needed cash for his immediate needs. He would sell the Beech tree, and he knew where to get a good price. There was a wood-turning craft industry in town, always looking out for  good timber, such as beech. He went to the manager and got a good price for the beech tree. The employees of the craft industry came and cut it down, removing the lot except for the twigs."

This is as far as I got with the story.

Not clear if it has any meaning, except random memories. Perhaps having to make up a speech as I go along is saying: "You must take each day as it comes, you can't plan the future." The choice of name "Jamie McJamie," might be purely haphazard, or perhaps my unconscious is using an old habit of communicating through puns. "Jamie" derives from the name "James," common in Ireland, but sounds something like "Shame Me," asking the question if there is anything I am, should be or was ashamed of.  Struggling with the land and tied to family obligations is the common human load, whether in respect of an actual farm or the maintenance of a stable environment for family: sometimes fulfilling, but sometimes limiting and restricting. I suppose we all dream occasionally of breaking away from our humdrum lives - and that is what holidays and hobbies are for. The name "Brogan" may be random, or have a flavour of heroism, since some champion players of Dublin's Gaelic Football team are the Brogan family.  What Brogan read in Jamie's copybook is, of course, Seamus (Jamie!) Heaney's (in Irish sounding something like "McJamie") poem, whether the words of the poem or a paraphrase. What Heaney records as a tribute to his father and stock could also be cynically regarded as an educated person looking down on his peasant forebears. Cutting down the beech-tree derives from my cutting down of a mature elm tree in my back  garden. Yes, I sold it to a wood-turner, but, unfortunately, all the timber was worthless, decaying from the Dutch Elm disease, which caused me to have it cut down in the first instance. Where, however, is my gold-mine?

So, here's the Message, perhaps:
Firstly, Shame on Me for not respecting the heroic work of my forebears;
Secondly: keep seeking the goldmine, even though I may never reach it.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Nude Jog

On the night before setting out on my Gozo and Malta walking holiday, I dreamt I was running in the nude on the circuit of roads that encircles Glasnevin Cemetery and the National Botanic Gardens. I see a woman being knocked down by a car, and can't go to her assistance because of my naked state. Two pedestrians, however, do go to help her. Then I approach two policemen and am anxious that they won't have the wit to distinguish between an innocent naked jogger and a flasher. I pass by them without incident. In time I arrive home. My car is sitting in the driveway. Just to check that it is locked, I tug at the boot-handle. The boot-door opens and I see my shopping bags inside, with a note pinned on saying "You have missed the boat." At the same time I feel a stretch-pain in the palms of my hand.

The main purpose of this dream, I would say, is to set the biological alarm. We all have an internal clock which keeps precise time and can be called into active service. My airplane was quite early in the morning, so I had set my iPhone alarm and placed it by my bed. When I woke in the morning, I looked at the phone and discovered that my biological alarm had woken me up with five minutes to spare over my phone alarm.

As to naked jogging, this is not the first time the theme occurred in my dreams. Jogging in the nude would, of course, be a very pleasant experience, if it were not for the social taboo, and the dreams are replete with the embarrassment of meeting a disapproving audience. I recall the childhood days when I could jog in the nude without embarrassment. In those wonderful years between the age of eight and twelve, our family never missed a summer holiday in Lusmagh, beside the Shannon. The callows, fields beside the river, were flooded in winter. To help them dry out in Spring and Summer, the farmers had dug drains. My brothers and I, with our country friend, Johnny Searson, would often, on a sunny day, strip off for a swim (or, more truthfully, a splash around) in the drains (safer than the river, with its uncertain depth and currents). Then, to dry off, we would run naked around the meadow, and what a glorious feeling that was, with the air caressing my naked flesh! Years afterwards, I heard that the young girls of the village would often (or sometimes) congregate on the road overlooking the callows and have a good laugh at us careering around. We never heard a noise from them, because the acoustics of the place would carry our noises up over the fields, but not carry the road noises down.

Naked joggers were not the only entertaining spirits to be seen in the callows from  the road above. Fairies were often seen at night, with their lanterns lighting! Science now tells us that these were not fairy lanterns at all, but methane, rising up from the drains, spontaneously combusting!

The stretch-pains in my hands was another reminder from the sub-conscious. Thirty years ago, I noticed a thickening or lump in the palm of my hand and showed it to my doctor. He said it was the beginning of Dupuytren's Contracture, that it would develop until, eventually, I would not be able to extend my little finger and ring finger, and perhaps other fingers, and might need surgery to relieve the symptoms. Since then, I have frequently engaged the Prayer Pose in order to counteract the tendency for the condition to develop. We all learned the prayer pose as little children when we started school, but it was as part of religious practice rather than as a very useful exercise for our physical health. I also took to massaging the tendons in the palms of my hand to counteract their tendency to cluster and contract. My preconscious was now reminding not to neglect this exercise, even if it is becoming a little painful, but also, to think a bit about it. Since part of the disease is a tendency for the fingers to become tied together, I have now decided to add an additional routine to the exercise: hold three fingers while the remaining finger is stretched, bent and extended on its own. I notice that each finger activates a different sinew all the way up the arm to the elbow and beyond. If you don't use it, you will lose it, and typing on the keyboard, or playing the tin whistle, is not sufficient to maintain each finger's elasticity. Prayer Pose and separate exercise of each finger are both important.

Dupuytren's Contracture is very common in Irish people, and I see many men, and some women, as young as forty, who are not able to fully extend some or all of their fingers.