Dreams


I dreamed that, as the result of a protracted competition of handwritten poems, I had won the position of Poet Laureate, though the appointing company seemed reluctant to conclude this. But there was no doubt. Andrew Motion had, after ten years, become rather fed up with the business. It now fell to me to juggle enthusiasm, devotion, sacrifice and ― of course where poetry was concerned ― ultimate failure.

 

This released a great deal of talk and made further sleep impossible. I tossed in autobiographical surges.

 

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I and my large family seemed to be touring southern England, with maps, destinations and high points,  presumably in at least a minibus; but in order to host a cultural evening it was necessary to return home. Many guests arrived and an evening of music and poetry commenced. A printed programme told me I was to play on the piano a piece written in four flats. I asked the assembled company what four flats might mean but was disappointed that even C., a quietly brilliant boy I remember from prep school, could not give me a satisfactory answer. Happily I abandoned this, confessing that I had not sight-read a piece of music for a least 45 years. The programme rolled onwards; more guests arrived, dishevelled and awkward but nevertheless welcome, including a youngish child who managed to vomit all over a coffee table and carpet. For some reason this did not seem to bother me or anybody else.

 

4-Jun-08

In an echoing, creaking tall-ceilinged room of Mme D in E, a French hamlet in which all conversations travel like opera, I have dreams of disappointment and trial.

 

I dreamed that T had an unerring ear for the music of Elgar and would come running if she heard even a snatch while I was dubbing from tape to tape. Ah cruel disappointment.

 

I dreamed that I was attending a murder trial as some sort of witness, but that in the night a leading witness had somehow revealed to me a piece of evidence that unequivocally incriminated him as the murderer. To cap it all, he had stolen into my bedroom afterwards and placed a knotted pink tie around my neck while I slept.

 

Rising from my bed though it was still dark, alarmed and enraged, I summoned the police and court attendants and began to divulge to them my portion of revolutionary evidence. But they could listen only imperfectly, because of their own poor attentional control and the irruption of distracting events. For instance, a transport of dangerous female prisoners arrived, with the women encased – Silence of the Lambs style – in body cages, with bars around the face presumably to prevent biting. However they made no attempt to resist, as they were unloaded inside their cages, rather like boxed goods. A child standing next to me raised a finger close to the face of one woman and enquired, “Who is this person?”

 

Frustrated I awoke to realise that I had forgotten, or never knew, just what my vital piece of evidence was that I had been struggling to communicate. This made me feel that, if I had remained in the dream, I would have been exposed, sooner or later, as an alarmist and attention-seeking impostor.