Popular Posts

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Myself and Harold Pinter

Dream time

This is an account of a dream I had some short while ago. Doreen, my wife, is giving an address of some sort. She is standing on a dais in what appears to be a lecture hall. A rapt audience is sitting in what looks more like the nave of a church, though they are sitting in the sort of study chairs more usually found in lecture halls. Doreen is relating an anecdote about a woman who is "kicking off" in a supermarket. It is obviously going to illustrate something. She begins to gesticulate rather excitedly. "No one can do anything with this woman, so they send for the general manager..." She is really warming to her story now, and continues with it even more animatedly than before. "The general manger arrives, goes straight up to the troublesome woman and says..." She comes to a sudden stop. There is silence. Has she forgotten the punch line? Some of the audience begin to smile, but they are still looking earnestly towards her. She does not look discomposed or worried, she is standing in a relaxed manner, arms hanging limply by her sides, regarding the audience. I am reassured. She knows what she is doing. The pause is planned. It will be part of the point she is about to make. I look back at the audience. The first signs of embarrassment are beginning to show, a slight restlessness is apparent. Still there is no sound, either from them or from her. I look back at her. The same pose, the same demeanour. The fidgetting of the audience is growing, though still silently. They are most definitely embarrassed now, occasionally looking away from the dais towards their neighbours. Nothing, though, perturbs my wife. The silence continues, and I am thinking that whatever is coming next had better be good, when I realise the cause of the silence: I have woken up, I have obviously been awake for a few seconds, maybe a minute, difficult to know, dreamtime not being quite the same as real time, and me not being quite sure which one I'm in. The sound must have switched off when I awoke, but not the vision. I can still see my wife or the audience, whichever I choose to look at. I open my eyes, not having realised until then that they were still closed. It is quite dark and for a few seconds more I can see what is happening in that lecture hall, though now I can also hear what is happening outside, car doors are banging, an animal of some sort is screeching, someone shouts. Then the faint outlines of the bedroom replace the lecture hall, and the dream is over.

They say that when you die your hearing is the last faculty to go. I doubt it will be so in my case. Or does someone out there know better? On a scale from "dead common" to "unique" how usual or unusual is this? Does anyone know? It has never happened to me before.

Quotes from Harold Pinter.

"In a career attended by a great deal of dramatic criticism one of the most interesting - and indeed acute - critical questions I've ever heard was when I was introduced to a young woman and her six-year-old son. The woman looked down to her son and said: 'This man is a very good writer.' The little boy looked at me and then at his mother and said: 'Can he do a W?'"

I've had two full-length plays produced in London. The first ran a week and the second ran a year. Of course, there are differences between the two plays. In The Birthday Party I employed a certain amount of dashes in the text, between phrases. In The Caretaker I cut out the dashes and used dots instead. So that instead of, say: "Look, dash, who, dash, I, dash, dash, dash," the text would read: "Look. dot, dot, dot, who, dot, dot, dot, I, dot, dot, dot, so it's possible to deduce from this that dots are more popular than dashes and that is why The Caretaker had a longer run than The Birthday Party The fact that in neither case could you hear the dots and dashes in performance is beside the point. You can't fool the critics for long. They can tell a dot from a dash a mile off, even if they can hear neither.


The Weaver of Grass said...

I found your dream interesting as I too have those sort of dreams. Sometimes they are so real that they stay with me for most of the morning - and I have that "thing" between being asleep and being awake, when I don't really know which is reality (not sure what reality is anyway!) I think it ofte occurs when you are woken up suddenly.

Dave King said...

Yes, I have had some amazingly vivid dreams, some I can still recall from childhood with absolute clarity - classic Freud, some of tham! And the half-and-half state, too, but never before with such a clear-cut distinction between the two senses. I found it quite uncanny.

Marion McCready said...

I like that half-dream and half-awake state, on the odd occasion I've been able to will myself back into a dream I've been woken from. I love that little boy's answer.

Ken Armstrong said...

Again (you clever man) the first part of this post is not so entirely divorced from the second. It's all about those famous Pinteresque pauses.

I can't tell you anything useful about the dream, I'm afraid. All I can throw into the pot is that, When Harold himself played the lead in his own play 'One For The Road' in The Gate Theatre in Dublin, he famously removed several of his renowned 'dot dot dots' from his performance, to great acclaim. :)

JKA said...

Considering that I never remember my dreams, I would actually welcome such an experience. I hear people recount such detailed descriptions of dreams and I feel a little left out. Interesting post. Perhaps the experience was akin to a night terror. http://www.nightterrors.org/

Dave King said...

I did experiment a while back with trying to "seed" my dreams by thinking, as I was "dropping off" the sort of thoughts I wanted to explore. Sort of worked once or twice - up to a point!

Dave King said...

I love the Pinteresque pause. I believe (some) actors got (get) hot under the collar, being told when to pause etc. That rather amuses me.

Dave King said...


I actually met a guy once who claimed he could recall dreams from the womb!

Jim Murdoch said...

I can't say it's ever happened to me in the way you describe – in fact until recently I never recalled my dreams (well hardly ever) and I felt cheated by all these people who could remember them in glorious Technicolor – and yet it happens quite regularly now, in fact my wife has learned to ask me as soon as I awake what I've been dreaming about because they do slip away so quickly and I relate them to her usually in a dry, whispery voice. On a few occasions I have felt … I suppose you'd call it an overlap, as if for a short time I have a foot in both world, I'm aware of being conscious and yet the dream hasn't quite ended. I've always known I was awake though and the dream is like one of the old TV sets where the image fades before it vanishes.

Loved the Pinter quote about the six year-old by the way. W's I can do. I always had a problem with the letter r as a kid. My teacher used to make me write pages and pages of 'em. It's still not my favourite letter.

Unknown said...

What a vivid overlap between your dream and reality. I sometimes have the rare dream like that before waking. I've then used them in poems. They happen so rarely, I'm lucky to catch them at all. Lovely segue into Pinter too :)

hope said...

Dave, you're not alone. I'm one of those vivid dreamers who thinks falling asleep is like going to the movies, only with better plots. ;) On more than one occasion I've been able to hear what is actually happening in the room, yet I'm not quite out of that dream yet.

WebMD.com has an interesting article on this, which is sometimes referred to as hypnopompic sleep paralysis.

In a nutshell, if REM sleep [that good, restorative sleep] is interrupted before it completes its cycle, you can feel caught between sleep and awake. It can make some folks feel paralyzed yet aware of their surroundings.

Dave King said...

I have gone the other way, seemingly: I have always had good recall of dreams - very vivid in my childhood - until recently. Now they often slip away before I can replay them, so to speak. I do sometimes know that I am dreaming and when things are getting serious - ie I am about to come to a sticky end - I have been known to push the dream off at a tangent instead of waking up. That, though, is another faculty I appear to be losing.

The connection between dream and day-dreams is another aspect that fascinates me.

Dave King said...

I have never actually managed to incorporate a dream into a poem. A dream has sometimes suggested something that I could use, but that's as near as I have menaged to get.

Dave King said...

Thanks for the tip. I will go have a peep at the site. I recall when occasion as a lad I fell out of bed. My dad rushed up to find me, still asleep (or half asleep?), climbing back in. He asked me if I was okay. I told him I was dreaming that I'd fallen out of bed.

hope said...

When I was a kid, I remember being told that if you had a dream about falling and you didn't wake up but hit the ground in your dream, you would die.

I can still see the confused look on my Dad's face when he came to see what the thump was one night. I was 8, had been in a falling dream and actually rolled over and fell out of bed. In the dream I also hit the ground..hard. When Dad came to check on me, I looked up and asked him, "Am I dead?" :)

Anonymous said...

I no longer remember my dreams. I have perfect recall of dreams from childhood, one of them certainly from around the age of two because recollection of it has accompanied me from the family move from London to Surrey, which happened when I was three. I am conscious now only of the general atmosphere generated by my dreams and I know that they are the product of long-term anxieties. Their potency can colour much of the day following their occurrence. The frustration is not being able to recapture the narrative so as to address its effects!

So I'm very impressed by the clarity, detail and narrative drive of your dream, Dave. Amongst bloggers only Sam - http://bitterbrush.blogspot.com/ - is your rival.

Loved the Pinter quote. I have his famous language/silence statement coming up soon topping a Pinter post.

Fiendish said...

Strangely, since reading this post, I've had the most vivid dream of my life, which involved meeting someone I admire very much amongst dozens of other seemingly unrelated things.

Nice post - I've been re-quoting the Pinter quote for days now :)

Dave King said...

Yes, I remember being told I would die if I hit the ground. These days, I'm told it's all because the heart has missed a beat - or have cause and effect been confused there?

Dave King said...

alas, I do not remember many of my dreams now, not for more than seconds after waking, that is. More usually, I will recall just the last image and become really frustrated that I cannot recall what led up to it. It's a bit like being able to remember the storm in Shakespeare's Tempest, but not how it fits into the tale. I will have a look at bitter brush. Thanks for the steer.

Dave King said...

Phew! I thought you were going to say I'd given you a nightmare! Way back, I did get interested in the whole business of whether dreams have any sort of meaning: the rule of thumb, I was assured, is that a person who is current in your life is that person in the dream; an unknown person, or a person no longer current is a symbol for whatever that figure means to you at present. Yes, well...

Rachel Fox said...

I love the dream - particularly interesting with a Quaker slant (they are some of the only people who don't get freaked out by silence!). I loved the waiting...as you waited to see what would happen next. I think sometimes dreams wake us up if we can't deal with what is happening in them (terror etc.). Maybe that awkward fidgetting and anticipation was just too much.
I like the Pinter quote better than any Pinter I've seen/heard to date. Still I admire the man for doing his thing, in his own way.

Dave King said...

Yes, it was a particularly vivid dream for one in which there was not much action. Thinking back, it was rather quakeresque, if I can coin such a phrase.
Pinter's non-play writing is mostly very political, but the rest is absolutely fascinating - I find, anyway.

R. Brady Frost said...

Many years ago, perhaps before I married my wife, I had a very memorable dream that I was at a park. Of course, as in many dreams, the park was a bit different than it was in real life but I understood in my subconscious that it was one and the same. Much as the case in reality, the park had a long walking path and at the end there was a bridge over the river the path had followed, from there reality and dream diverged from one another. Instead of the baseball diamond being to the right of the bridge, it was located on the other side. To get to it I climbed through a gap in the chainlink fence that appeared to have been made by bolt cutters. That is where the dream started getting interesting, and it had nothing to do with baseball...
I had long forgotten the dream in the years that followed, perhaps ten or more but it's hard to place a date on it. It's like grasping at a dream that you want to hang on to as you begin to wake up and regain a foothold in the conscious realm.

Last night we went to that park for the first time in a very long time, probably since as late as 2001. We threw down a blanket and ate dinner, the children ran off to play on the jungle gym, and soon enough I was left to fend for myself, my wife had taken the kids to feed the ducks while I had a bit of quiet time. The memory of the dream remained buried.
Time trickled away and I looked up from my Mother Earth News magazine and glanced at my watch. I slowly gathered the trash and threw it away in the bin and then packed up. I dropped our stuff off at the van and set out on the path to find my wife and kids.
At nearly the halfway point of the expansive trail I caught sight of them and jumped the fence to hide in the bushes, hoping some rogue goose wouldn't decide to creep up on me instead. As my two oldest came into view between the gaps in the foliage, I jumped out! "Yaaaarrrrghhhhhhh!!!!" I roared.
My oldest, Becca, cowered in fright, Gryphon jumped in alarm.

Having had my fun, I turned them around and we headed back the way they had came, to the end of the trail.

We wound our way to the end of the line and I was surprised to find the fountain that had always splashed and gurgled in my youth was dry. Something in the back of my mind began to itch.

A bit further up the trail was the familiar bridge that had escaped my memory. I passed it without second thought and the itch became stronger. Following the sidewalk instead, we veered right.

"You can't go that way, Dad." Becca told me. I shook it off and rounded the bend. There in front of me, cutting across the sidewalk that had been forever unobstructed was a chain link fence.

At that moment I felt akin to reaching the pinnacle of a roller coaster ride, in that speck of time that feels slower than reality. And then with a whoosh it all came flooding back. Like a father jumping out at his children from the bushes, it was alarming, but there was nothing to be afraid of...

I couldn't help but wonder if the fence ran around to the other side of the bridge as well... and if it did, had someone cut an opening with bolt cutters? A stray thought crept into the back of my mind. If there was a fence and there was no hole, was I supposed to cut it?

I left the thought unanswered, turned around, and sped down the hill, pushing the stroller and yelling, "Vroooooooom!" as we passed the bridge again.

The rest of my thoughts on the matter were drowned out by September's giggles as the stroller bounced on the tiny cracks in the sidewalk.

Dave King said...

Wow! - or should it be OOooo-err?
Quite a story, did you not want to find out if the fence ran round to the other side - and if someone had cut a hole in it? I don't think I could have resisted the urge to investigate.
Thanks for dropping by, and thanks for the story.

R. Brady Frost said...

You know, I'm not sure why I didn't go and take a look. Though I suspect that it was mostly because my youngest was getting grumpy because we were out later than usual. When the little one gets grumpy the wife tends to get grumpy... so I figured I could save it for another day.
At any rate, it's another excuse to get out of the house again, isn't it?


Sorry for taking up so much of your comment space... I started typing and that's what I ended up with. It was quite strange.

Dave King said...

Not at all, I find it a really remarkable story, well worth hearing, and the pressures against further investigation I well understand! Thanks for taking the time.

Conda Douglas said...

My, your dream was somewhat logical, or at least logical in the telling. I do have dreams that are inspiration for stories, but they are much changed by the time they're finished.

Also, I've experienced the "dreaming awake" when I've traveled and not slept and certainly not slept well--most notably on a 33 hour plane ride. Weird.

Dave King said...

Hi, yes it was remarkably logical, which is to say I cannot recall anything illogical about it, although the remembered bit was extremely short. I know it seems long in the telling, and the pause seemed to go on forever at the time, but as I look back to it I seem not to be able to recall much of the dream at all.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,
That's one fascinating dream experience. I have never experienced anything like that before. On the matter of whether hearing is the last faculty to go; if I die in my sleep my hearing will have been long gone beforehand. It takes me about 10 minutes to restore my hearing after I wake up. I don't know if that's a proper condition, but it's damn annoying. My ear lobes are numb from all the tugging...

Anonymous said...

A片,A片,A片,A片,A片,A片情趣商品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣用品,情趣商品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣用品,情趣商品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣用品,,情趣,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品.情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,視訊聊天室,情趣,情趣用品,情趣,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣麻將,台灣彩卷,六合彩開獎號碼,運動彩卷,六合彩,遊戲,線上遊戲,cs online,搓麻將,矽谷麻將,明星三缺一, 橘子町,麻將大悶鍋,台客麻將,公博,game,,中華職棒,麗的線上小遊戲,國士無雙麻將,麻將館,賭博遊戲,威力彩,威力彩開獎號碼,龍龍運動網,史萊姆,史萊姆好玩遊戲,史萊姆第一個家,史萊姆好玩遊戲區,樂透彩開獎號碼,遊戲天堂,天堂,好玩遊戲,遊戲基地,無料遊戲王,好玩遊戲區,麻將遊戲,好玩遊戲區,小遊戲,電玩快打情趣用品,情趣,A片,AIO,AV,AV女優,A漫,免費A片,情色,情色貼圖,色情小說,情色文學,色情,寄情竹園小遊戲,色情遊戲,AIO交友愛情館,色情影片,情趣內衣,情趣睡衣,性感睡衣,情趣商品,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,18成人,成人影城,成人圖片,成人貼圖,成人圖片區,UT聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室 ,哈啦聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,聊天室尋夢園,080苗栗人聊天室,080聊天室,視訊交友網,視訊借錢,黃金,黃金回收,黃金價格,黃金買賣,當舖,中古車,二手車A片,A片,成人網站,成人影片,色情,情色網,情色,AV,AV女優,成人影城,成人,色情A片,日本AV,免費成人影片,成人影片,SEX,免費A片,A片下載,免費A片下載,做愛,情色A片,色情影片,H漫,A漫,18成人a片,色情影片,情色電影,a片,色情,情色網,情色,av,av女優,成人影城,成人,色情a片,日本av,免費成人影片,成人影片,情色a片,sex,免費a片,a片下載,免費a片下載,成人網站,做愛,自拍