steepholm: (tree_face)
So, in my dream I was reading a free newspaper, which reported that Ollie Murs had been killed in a freak accident, in which a deer had somehow got into a party he was attending and kicked him in the head at a spot where his skull was of unusual thinness. It was an accident waiting to happen, apparently.

How do these things find their way into print, even in dreams? I've barely heard of Ollie Murs - I don't think his name has ever passed my lips, and I certainly couldn't have told you his hair colour - yet there he was in my dream newspaper, his red hair caked with blood. I can only imagine that a hazy memory of Princess Beatrice stabbing Ed Sheeran in the face with a sword while pretending to knight James Blunt must have been at the back of it.

Not content with that, my subconscious (which clearly still had some copy to fill) added that by bizarre coincidence it was forty years to the day since rock drummer Ginger Baker was strangled in bed by an octopus that had escaped from a nearby aquarium. There was even a helpful inset picture of an octopus, so that I'd know what one looked like. Cheers for that - and for the five minutes of anxious Googling I spent on waking, checking up on the health of Mr Murs.
steepholm: (Default)
So, in my dream I was reading a free newspaper, which reported that Ollie Murs had been killed in a freak accident, in which a deer had somehow got into a party he was attending and kicked him in the head at a spot where his skull was of unusual thinness. It was an accident waiting to happen, apparently.

How do these things find their way into print, even in dreams? I've barely heard of Ollie Murs - I don't think his name has ever passed my lips, and I certainly couldn't have told you his hair colour - yet there he was in my dream newspaper, his red hair caked with blood. I can only imagine that a hazy memory of Princess Beatrice stabbing Ed Sheeran in the face with a sword while pretending to knight James Blunt must have been at the back of it.

Not content with that, my subconscious (which clearly still had some copy to fill) added that by bizarre coincidence it was forty years to the day since rock drummer Ginger Baker was strangled in bed by an octopus that had escaped from a nearby aquarium. There was even a helpful inset picture of an octopus, so that I'd know what one looked like. Cheers for that - and for the five minutes of anxious Googling I spent on waking, checking up on the health of Mr Murs.
steepholm: (Default)
I dreamed last night that I'd just finished a YA novel, my first for several years, and was rather pleased with the result. The denouement was that the POV character, a teenaged boy who had been through quite a lot of dangerous adventures and thought he had successfully completed them, discovered in the last few pages that everything that had happened up until now had been orchestrated by, and was for the benefit of, his younger sister, who was in the middle of a far larger adventure of which the book's events were only a fragment.

The book's final lines, which are all I remember:

"You mean, all this time I've been part of a sideshow?"
"Yes," she replied coolly, "but if I were you I wouldn't dwell on it."

Thus I awoke, and realized that I hadn't written that book at all, though perhaps I had lived it. Then I drifted back to sleep, and as I did so I remembered another unpublished novel that I really had written quite recently. Then I woke again and realized that that one wasn't real either. Sigh...
steepholm: (Default)
Well, that's strange. I dreamed last night that my mother (in reality an atheist) was advising my brother to convert to Roman Catholicism, "Because of the music." Then she frisbeed a slice of bread into the stream we were all sitting beside and turned to me, adding, "I see you more as a kind of free-floating pantheist."

What's strange? Only that that's the second night in a row that the subject of religious conversion has come up in a dream. The one the night before was so vivid that I went to the trouble of writing it up, and I've reproduced it below the cut. I flip-flopped (in the way of dreams) between being the protagonist and the person being told the story, and I've tried to convey that here....

A Night at the Museum )
steepholm: (Default)
I love hypnagogia - my subconcious comes up with all its best lines when I'm in that state. This morning I woke to the thought, "The time for snottiness may come, but sheathe the fruit of your disdain in Patience's nostril." Isn't that just the kind of sentiment you want to work into a sampler and sell on Etsy?

Prior to that, I'd dreamt I was writing an article on Milton, looking at his use of long dashes in early editions of Paradise Lost and exploring the hypothesis that he was influenced by the Real Character of Bishop Wilkins, where God is represented by a single horizontal line, that having (in Wilkins's opinion) a simplicity and unity befitting the divine. The sad thing is, I now really want to look into the idea.

I read a couple of Kipling short stories last night, "The Mark of the Beast" and its sequel, "The Return of Imray". In fact Imray didn't appear in the first, so his "return" in the second wasn't a classic sequelish use of "the return of" as a title element, but in fact signalled something altogether more macabre. Still, it got me to wondering what the first example of that locution might be as a sequel alert. Hollywood gave it its great boost, of course, but is there any earlier example than The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905)? I wonder whether in future years scholars reading The Return of the Native might wonder about Hardy's lost text, called simply The Native - and ask themselves whether the later book would have sold better if titled Native II: This Time it's Pastoral.

Also, if "The Return of..." is a 20th-century invention, what ways of alerting readers to a work's status as a sequel were current prior to that? Labelling something Part I and Part II was one option, of course, used by both novelists and playwrights, but were there no others? Wasn't The Spanish Tragedy a sequel, in fact, to a play now lost? Hence "Hieronymo's mad again". I like to think that had Kyd not had his unfortunate run-in with Sir Thomas Walsingham that play might have been followed by The Swiss Tragedy, The French Tragedy, The Swedish Tragedy, and so on, in a gazetteer of Senecan stychomythia spanning the whole of Europe.

Tonight is Midsummer's Eve - at least, as I was taught it. Many people identify midsummer with the solstice, of course - and I wouldn't like to say they're wrong. I am interested, though, in when Shakespeare thought it was. Any clue?
steepholm: (Default)
I dreamed that I was exchanging costume jewellery with Penelope Lively - a most unlikely scenario. But I did like the ring she gave me, with that large blue stone. I didn't think it would suit me at all, but how wrong I was!

Later, I was sitting in a pub with my father (who was looking very well, for someone who's been dead almost 10 years). He was telling me about his friend Jack the gardener, who - or so my father thought - was entering a slow decline. "There are no obvious physical signs yet, but you can tell. He knows it too. You can see the fear in his eyes."

"Never glad confident morning again?"

"Exactly!"

Then Jessie the cat was sitting on my chest, and I awoke.
steepholm: (Default)
Last night I dreamed that my life was being blogged by the ghost of Sir Philip Sidney, in the style of the Arcadia.

When I realised this in my dream, I thought, "How exciting!" Now that I'm awake I'm not so sure. To be honest, I don't think Sidney would approve of me at all - for witness whereof allow me to quote the passage that always stuck with me most from the Arcadia, for what I think are understandable reasons. Here's Musidorus upbraiding his best friend, Pyrocles (currently disguised as an Amazon for reasons that seem good to him):

And is it possible, that this is Pyrocles, the onely yong Prince in the world, formed by nature, and framed by education, to the true exercise of vertue? or is it indeed some Amazon that hath counterfeited the face of my friend, in this sort to vexe me? for likelier sure I would haue thought it, that any outwarde face might haue bene disguised, then that the face of so excellent a mind coulde haue bene thus blemished. O sweete Pyrocles separate your selfe a little (if it be possible) from your selfe, and let your owne minde looke vpon your owne proceedings: so shall my wordes be needlesse, and you best instructed. See with your selfe, how fitt it will be for you in this your tender youth, borne so great a Prince, and of so rare, not onely expectation, but proofe, desired of your olde Father, and wanted of your natiue countrie, now so neere your home, to diuert your thoughts from the way of goodnesse; to loose, nay to abuse your time. Lastly to ouerthrow all the excellent things you haue done, which haue filled the world with your fame; as if you should drowne your ship in the long desired hauen, or like an ill player, should marre the last act of his Tragedie. Remember (for I know you know it) that if we wil be men, the reasonable parte of our soule, is to haue absolute commaundement; against which if any sensuall weaknes arise, we are to yeelde all our sounde forces to the ouerthrowing of so vnnaturall a rebellion, wherein how can we wante courage, since we are to deale against so weake an aduersary, that in it selfe is nothinge but weakenesse? Nay we are to resolue, that if reason direct it, we must doo it, and if we must doo it, we will doo it; for to say I cannot, is childish, and I will not, womanish. And see how extremely euery waye you endaunger your minde; for to take this womannish habit (without you frame your behauiour accordingly) is wholy vaine: your behauiour can neuer come kindely from you, but as the minde is proportioned vnto it. So that you must resolue, if you will playe your parte to any purpose, whatsoeuer peeuish affections are in that sexe, soften your hart to receiue them, the very first downe-steppe to all wickednes: for doo not deceiue your selfe, my deere cosin, there is no man sodainely excellentlie good, or extremely euill, but growes either as hee holdes himselfe vp in vertue, or lets himself slide to vitiousnes.


I had too many conversations like that in real life to need this kind of misogynist gender-policing repeated on a spooky Livejournal account, thank you very much, Sir Philip.

This only leaves the question, what would ghost-Sidney's LJ name have been? I favour zutphen. (Actually, giving LJ names to famous dead bods could be a diverting pastime, but I must leave it to others, for work calls me and I must not say no.)
steepholm: (Default)
I woke from a long and rambling dream about books (a graphic novel of Eight Days of Luke featured prominently) with the momentary belief that The Red Badge of Courage was just the first in Stephen Crane's "Rainbow Virtues" series, and that following its success he was encouraged by his publisher to write The Brown Badge of Good Fellowship, The Green Badge of Generosity, etc. - all with an endorsement on the cover from Lord Baden-Powell.

If only publishers had employed marketing departments in those benighted days!
steepholm: (Default)
I fell asleep reading a book about Japanese grammar, and dreamed that I was at school and late for German class - a class that my own daughter was also attending (though a little embarrassed to be seen associating with me). Also present was someone known only as Trolley - who I realised even in my dream must actually be Sir Walter Ralegh, since Wat Ralegh (pron. Rawley) --> 'Trawley --> Trolley. Why pay psychoanalysts to unpick the kind of verbal legerdemain that you can decode in your sleep?

The thrills of conjugating Japanese adjectives aside - though they truly are awesome, that's no jest - I put this dream down to my being about to go to York for a couple of days to visit my old doctoral supervisor and his wife. He's the man who commissioned me to write an article on "Colin Clouts Come Home Againe" recently - Spenser's poem about travelling to England with Ralegh. Not only that, soon after I left his care he and his family went to Japan for a year, whence they returned much impressed with the culture. All roads lead to Whipmawhopmagate (by way of Kyoto).

Moral: I must buy an omiyage.
steepholm: (deadhead)
That was weird. I dreamed I was shopping at my local Co-op, when a voice came over the store speaker asking everyone to bow their heads in an act of public prayer. As the speaker went on to address the Almighty in ingratiating terms people complied in a reluctant, embarrassed, English way - not wanting to be the one to cause offence by price-checking cornflakes in what had become, pro tem, a house of God. Afterwards, I was told that the Co-op had introduced the policy of occasional store-wide prayer after "wide consultation".

I woke some time later, relieved not to be living in a world like that, and turned on the radio, where the announcer was mentioning some of the things that had happened on this day in previous years (Lindbergh's transatlantic flight and the Treaty of Troyes were two - though bizarrely she referred to Lindbergh as French). After a couple of minutes, she piped up: "And now, Prayer for the Day".

My hand sprang to the Off switch quicker than a King Cobra with a sugar rush.
steepholm: (deadhead)
Kath Langrish writes here of an interesting case of an "inherited" dream.

I suppose the key question, as far as the inherited aspect is concerned, is whether the dream really is confined to her family. Maybe many people have a variant on this dream, and it's just that Kath's family is sensitized to it by family tradition? I don't remember having it myself, at any rate.

Do you?
steepholm: (Default)
Tom Shippey did a nice review of DWJ's Reflections in today's Time Literary Supplement, I see. A good man, that Shippey.

Perhaps my psyche is getting back at me for not attending the conference at Loughborough, for I've now had two Tolkien-related dreams in three nights. The first, three nights ago, was only tangentially so, but in it I found myself standing next to indefatigable scholar and fan, Jessica Yates, on a balcony overlooking a ritual in which the current queen was ceremonially (yet unceremoniously) dumped on her head. Jessica shouted down the suggestion that next time she should put down cushions, and the queen thanked her for the advice.

In the second dream, I visited Tolkien himself, in the company of [personal profile] nineweaving. He lived in an attractive country cottage, and was all old-world courtesy. He gave me a copy of a book, underlining passages for my particular attention. A little later we heard he had died, and were melancholy.

[I think this second one may recall a visit I made - not with [personal profile] nineweaving - to the poet Charles Sisson in Langport, about 18 years ago, when he generously gave me his copy of Poly-Olbion.]
steepholm: (Default)
I woke this morning from a strange dream in which I was watching film with a kind of reverse-Scheherazade scenario, in which a young husband was trying to reconcile his bride to her forced marriage by telling her stories. In the end, he told the tale of a sage who passed a gold coin from one hand to the other, declaring "This gift I give from myself to myself, and behold I am one coin the richer!"

At that, her eyes were opened, and she perceived that she was truly loved. "But," she declared, "I mourn my name in you buried."

People talk that way in my dreams sometimes.
steepholm: (Default)
I woke in the middle of last night with what seemed a terrific plot for a thriller in my head. I was about to turn on the light and get it down on paper, when I remembered blearily that I had to get up at 6.30, and moreover that on previous occasions when I'd had this kind of revelation my golden idea had invariably turned to stones and dry leaves at the touch of sunlight. So I let it be, and this morning can't remember what the idea was, or whether it was any good after all. I wish I had written it down, just so that I could be certain it was rubbish.

Meanwhile, my prediction for the must-have executive gadget of 2025? A Desktop Hadron Collider ("Now With Boson Dispenser").
steepholm: (Default)
I woke in the middle of last night with what seemed a terrific plot for a thriller in my head. I was about to turn on the light and get it down on paper, when I remembered blearily that I had to get up at 6.30, and moreover that on previous occasions when I'd had this kind of revelation my golden idea had invariably turned to stones and dry leaves at the touch of sunlight. So I let it be, and this morning can't remember what the idea was, or whether it was any good after all. I wish I had written it down, just so that I could be certain it was rubbish.

Meanwhile, my prediction for the must-have executive gadget of 2025? A Desktop Hadron Collider ("Now With Boson Dispenser").
steepholm: (aquae sulis)
I've been having very vivid dreams recently, and while nothing could be more boring to relate to others, last night's was unsettling enough and I woke from it suddenly enough for me to want to record the end of it. The earlier parts involved missing children, dark woods and severed limbs, so let's not go there, but it ended far more spookily, with a chorus of ghostly infants singing me this eldritch music. I don't recognize the tune, but could well have dredged it up from somewhere - any ideas? I've always disliked 3/4 time for some reason, and I think my id knows this and chose to twit me with it. As for the lyrics, all I remember is the penultimate line: "And you'll be sorry you knew that dreams come true."

And with that I started awake.
steepholm: (aquae sulis)
I've been having very vivid dreams recently, and while nothing could be more boring to relate to others, last night's was unsettling enough and I woke from it suddenly enough for me to want to record the end of it. The earlier parts involved missing children, dark woods and severed limbs, so let's not go there, but it ended far more spookily, with a chorus of ghostly infants singing me this eldritch music. I don't recognize the tune, but could well have dredged it up from somewhere - any ideas? I've always disliked 3/4 time for some reason, and I think my id knows this and chose to twit me with it. As for the lyrics, all I remember is the penultimate line: "And you'll be sorry you knew that dreams come true."

And with that I started awake.
steepholm: (Default)
Sometimes, LJ leads us to the ivory gate...

Last night I dreamt that I had somehow overcome my horror of being fingerprinted and retinally scanned, and was visiting New England. Specifically I was in a large house in the country, somewhere on the border of Delaware and Connecticut (Delaware in my dream was only the size of Romsey, and I wondered why they bothered making it a state). The house was the ancestral place of [livejournal.com profile] sovay and [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks, and we were all there for a gathering of their extended family.

I began by making rather awkward conversation with them. “You both teach?” I asked. “Yes, at Yale,” [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks replied. I felt a little ashamed of my own humble employment, and in fact after that everything I said sounded whiny, although my hosts were graciousness itself. In particular, I seemed unable to stop myself from making self-pitying comparisons: their huge house, obvious wealth and it’s-just-the-oxygen-we-breathe comfort with same, versus my teeny tiny home back in Bristol and general inadequacy.

They began to show me around that house, the real size of which only now became apparent. (I think [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving’s recent inheritance may have had a hand in this.) Not only were there many rooms, but each was vast, built in the days when firewood was plentiful and air-conditioning not yet invented. Everything was very high. [livejournal.com profile] sovay was a head taller than me, but even she was dwarfed by those rooms, the ceilings of which were at least thirty feet above my head. The furniture was large, too: massy oak tables, cavernous fireplaces, odd pieces of former agricultural equipment (whether bought for show or simply left over from a previous generation I was uncertain), scattered about the flags. The walls were whitewashed stone, or bare flint – and on one I saw a mural (obviously contemporary with its subject) depicting, in a naïve, folk-art kind of way a group of redcoats, some kneeling, some standing to fire their muskets.

There were at least two other people in the house. One, whom I didn’t actually see, was a kindly but remote paterfamilias, the other a lively young cousin named Magnus, who came in and out a couple of times and was, maybe, thirteen years old. I was given to understand that we would be spending the afternoon keeping “Daddy” company: [livejournal.com profile] sovay apologised for the imposition, but I was quite looking forward to it.

Finally, we came to a room in which we found that an antique cup had been broken – evidently a favourite of [livejournal.com profile] sovay’s, because she became angry, and called out her cousin’s full name (it turns out that Magnus was only the short version), demanding he explain himself. “Magnitude!” she shouted. “You come here right now!”

And I awoke.
steepholm: (Default)
Sometimes, LJ leads us to the ivory gate...

Last night I dreamt that I had somehow overcome my horror of being fingerprinted and retinally scanned, and was visiting New England. Specifically I was in a large house in the country, somewhere on the border of Delaware and Connecticut (Delaware in my dream was only the size of Romsey, and I wondered why they bothered making it a state). The house was the ancestral place of [livejournal.com profile] sovay and [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks, and we were all there for a gathering of their extended family.

I began by making rather awkward conversation with them. “You both teach?” I asked. “Yes, at Yale,” [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks replied. I felt a little ashamed of my own humble employment, and in fact after that everything I said sounded whiny, although my hosts were graciousness itself. In particular, I seemed unable to stop myself from making self-pitying comparisons: their huge house, obvious wealth and it’s-just-the-oxygen-we-breathe comfort with same, versus my teeny tiny home back in Bristol and general inadequacy.

They began to show me around that house, the real size of which only now became apparent. (I think [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving’s recent inheritance may have had a hand in this.) Not only were there many rooms, but each was vast, built in the days when firewood was plentiful and air-conditioning not yet invented. Everything was very high. [livejournal.com profile] sovay was a head taller than me, but even she was dwarfed by those rooms, the ceilings of which were at least thirty feet above my head. The furniture was large, too: massy oak tables, cavernous fireplaces, odd pieces of former agricultural equipment (whether bought for show or simply left over from a previous generation I was uncertain), scattered about the flags. The walls were whitewashed stone, or bare flint – and on one I saw a mural (obviously contemporary with its subject) depicting, in a naïve, folk-art kind of way a group of redcoats, some kneeling, some standing to fire their muskets.

There were at least two other people in the house. One, whom I didn’t actually see, was a kindly but remote paterfamilias, the other a lively young cousin named Magnus, who came in and out a couple of times and was, maybe, thirteen years old. I was given to understand that we would be spending the afternoon keeping “Daddy” company: [livejournal.com profile] sovay apologised for the imposition, but I was quite looking forward to it.

Finally, we came to a room in which we found that an antique cup had been broken – evidently a favourite of [livejournal.com profile] sovay’s, because she became angry, and called out her cousin’s full name (it turns out that Magnus was only the short version), demanding he explain himself. “Magnitude!” she shouted. “You come here right now!”

And I awoke.
steepholm: (Default)
I dreamt last night that I was watching an edition of QI, in which Stephen Fry was explaining the origin of the phrase "To change ashes for eggshells", meaning to make an exchange of equal value. Apparently it comes from the eighteenth century trade whereby Bristol merchants would take cargoes of ash across the Irish Sea to Cork, where it would be unloaded and replaced with an equal amount (by volume, not weight, mind) of egg shells - which happened to be worth just the same amount.

Who knew?

Meanwhile, Radio 4 just mentioned that The News of the World is being closed down, and replaced by an extra edition of The Sun. Rearranging deck chairs to the strains of "Abide with Me"?

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