Things that go Ungh? in the Night

Departing from my usual over-worked brevity, here are some rambling scribbles from the crack of dawn today:

5.50am. Woke from dream 15mins ago. Man – me? Eddie Izzard? – is in process of discovering his true parents. Bits missing as always.

Earlier there was a dream scenario involving me talking to a close relative about his relationship after observing him speak roughly to his partner, who responded adversely. He reassured me everything OK, that he was aware and modifying things. I told him people must be true to themselves but also conscious of their role in society. I’m sure this was part of the parent-hunt dream but the subsequent connections have disappeared.

Anyhow I (or Eddie Izzard) confronts those he believes to be his birth parents. His real mum is warm to him and this strikes a chord. He himself is physically warm where those he suspects are his adoptive parents were cold and puritanical. His real mum then confesses she gave him up for adoption. The man he believes is his real father – who has his eyes – has led a violent, thuggish life.

Was the baby given away for protection? No more dream elements unless they come back to me in the course of writing this. And anything else may be fictional, anyway, unconscious embellishments coming to me in that strange area between dream and creativity. I want to be truthful. But what is true in the unfathomable complexity of dreaming?

Dreams come like gifts. I found myself waking, oh, 25mins ago with my hands tightly bunched against my body. This has happened before. I’m convinced the action has the effect of compressing blood in the rest of the body, perhaps heating it, so that it is available to the brain. This results in vivid, technicolor dreams packed with intense storylines where one operates partly as a participant and partly as a director.

At some point the film connection occurs to me, the dreamer. In this particular dream someone – there was a shadowy impression of several people present – observed that the photos of my/his real father’s past life, laid out like a continuous comic strip, would make a good movie scenario. The power of story, perhaps, existing out of the dreamer’s reach – a mystery still to be solved. Past dreams like this one have even turned into films – one, breathlessly intense, was run again with every detail intact but tighter and quicker as if I had taken over and was dealing with rushes in the editing suite.

I have been reading Peter Ackroyd’s gripping biography of Charles Dickens – especially good on the generation of story ideas, as you might expect from a fellow-novelist. Yesterday I told my little granddaughter the story of ‘A Christmas Carol’, how the mean-spirited employer Scrooge is taken – or dreams he is taken – by ghosts back to the past roots of his own misanthropy, shown the present consequences of his meanness (locally, the impoverished Cratchits – nationally, the casualties of greed) and finally taken forward to a future where a possible lonely and unlamented death awaits him.

The key word there is possible because any outcome is conditional, hasn’t yet happened, is still open to remedy. Tomorrow Never Knows, sang the Beatles. Dickens’s redemptive ending had an enormous effect on public attitudes, an effect that continues after 174 years for every new generation. My granddaughter listened, still and silent, rapt in narrative magic.

Natural, of course, because the story raises huge questions. Who am I? What can I do? What must I do? How do I relate to the world? What is the truth? Where is identity, meaning, value?

6.21am. Trying not to force anything, to write ideas as they come – as in dreams, perhaps – rather than imposing a shape. The idea of the muse, the story that writes itself. Have faith in nature, in your inherited instinct, at least as powerful as the conscious – self-conscious? – mind. Let thoughts wander, unhindered, just as Dickens wandered London soaking up sights and sounds and random conversations. And as Scrooge wanders the land to witness countless individuals locked in a mesh of exploitation.

Resonances. No such thing as society. That man in our lengthy supermarket queue ranting about foreigners and brandishing a right-wing tabloid newspaper with the headline French Tell Us: Take More Migrants. Meanwhile a man at the other end of the queue arguing with the harassed cashier, loudly insisting she give him her name so that he can complain on his phone to her head office.

Why? When we got there, she told us she had no idea what had made him angry! Of course, she might say that even if she knew perfectly well. Who knows? Blink and you’ll miss it, as the movie extra complained.

So many truths, so many interpretations, so many half-grasped tales. No wonder our dreams are filled with flashes of insight, shifting points of view, whirling fragments of seemingly inextricable sense and nonsense. Was I dreaming about myself or a character I had created? And either way, who was pulling the strings and pointing the cameras?

Too much for my mirror, to quote the good Captain Beefheart! What I want to know is, how come Monty Python were able to predict life in 2018 forty-six years ago? 🙂


19 thoughts on “Things that go Ungh? in the Night

        1. Yeah, interesting word, the online Urban Dictionary says it’s either a reaction to something unbelievably cool or else a sound used by zombies but I just use it as a response to anything surprising.

    1. Izzard vs Python, I assume you mean? Both comedy greats, with a real flair for surrealism. Such things don’t really date, do they? Perhaps that’s because the world gets stranger and stranger … recently started watching Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Grimsby’ on Netflix – supposed to be a satire but we found it so contemptuous and mean-spirited that we switched it off and watched ‘The Meaning of Life’ again, instead. Hard-edged, of course, but clearly meant to have a positive effect rather than just a cheap laugh at the expense of vulnerable people

  1. Entertaining post Dave. Years ago I worked in a bus enquiry office, after my first dispute with a customer, my phone rang and a voice at the other end, actually a colleague on the other side of the office, said ‘is this the right room for an argument?’

    1. Haha, Monty Python clearly reached the parts other comedy programmes could only dream about! Glad you enjoyed the post, Steve … I mean the one I wrote, though that enquiry office job must have had its memorable moments! Maybe you mentioned some in your excellent novel ‘Floating in Space’ …

  2. Ungh… Your dreams are more philosophical than mine, Dave. Don’t like dark things that lurk, though. I immediately go about rewriting the dream. Are you a fan of lucid dreaming? I get there sometimes. Wish I could more. I’d fly all night, without the power lines that often limit my escape. –Curt

    1. Not sure they mean all that much, Curt, more like a computer reorganising or trashing its files perhaps? Doesn’t stop me trying to unpick them afterwards, though! Lucid in hindsight, maybe? With you completely on those dark lurkers – ungh or even ugh! Flying sounds fun …

      1. My dreams can get pretty wild, Dave. I guess that’s what part of dreaming is all about, wandering around deep in our psyches. I only fly occasionally, that I can remember, but it is always a joy. –Curt

          1. I did, early 1970s, and enjoyed the insights into perception. Since then there’s been quite a lot of debunking, claiming he made it all up, etc. Even if you read it as it novel, though, it still has much to offer …

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