My Dad’cu (maternal grandfather) used to melt cheese in a glass dish at the side of an open fire then spread it on a thick slice of hand-cut white bread. Grampa Rees (paternal grandfather) used to like Crackerbarrel. Do you remember Crackerbarrel? A brick of cheddar in a red foil wrapper? I haven’t seen it, or perhaps I haven’t noticed it, for years in British supermarkets but it’s really popular here in the US and comes in a number of varieties – sharp, vintage, aged. I had high hopes. I remember it as being a sharp and slightly crumbly cheddar but the one I bought in Publix last week was the same as most other pre-packed American cheeses: rubbery and anonymous. What do they add to their cheese to achieve that texture? Silicone?
And it must have been the cheese that made me dream: three rough, unshaven men in paint-stained t-shirts who become aggressive when we refuse to sell them the wooden cupboard that opens out into a piano. Twenty quid, one of them says, pushes it up to £35 when we still hold out. £125 is the lowest we’ll go, Tony tells them and they leave the house, head back to their rusty, green pick-up parked further down the road. But something makes me follow them, take a note of the registration, which triggers a loud ‘Shit!’ from the driver and they all pile out of the cab and chase me back to the house and I don’t know if I’ll reach the front door in time or whether the back door is already locked and one of them is heading around the side of the building and I realise that they never had any interest in the wooden cupboard, they were only there to check out the house, its doors and windows and all the time I’m repeating the reg. number like a mantra. HGER 7AT. Like a brand in the forefront of my mind when I wake.
In a second dream all my teeth fell out. I am never eating American Crackerbarrel again.
Robert Rowland Smith, in Breakfast with Socrates, The Philosophy ofEveryday Life, talks through both Freud and Jung’s ideas about dreams as missives, messages from our unconscious, or from a collective unconscious. But how many of us spend any degree of time analysing our dreams in the hope of insight or revelation, even if we do agree with Mr Freud and Mr Jung? Being awake and dealing with what each day brings tends to take up all or most of our time.
Perhaps it’s not unusual that many of our dreams are about being out of control because the very act of falling asleep is a surrendering of control, of responsibility. Rowland Smith suggests that we are at our most human while we sleep:
… there’s nothing, while sleeping, you can do to stand out, no action you’ll be taking, by definition, to demarcate you from others or testify to your specialness.
Being ‘out of control’ tends to have negative associations but surely we all recognise that feeling of getting into bed and looking forward to falling asleep? Perhaps we need that interlude of being ‘out of control’, and feeling safe at the same time of course, to renew us for the next bout of decisions and boundary making, of limits and regulations.
This morning I am having afternoon tea for breakfast. Unable to resist this box any longer:
a gift from a new friend, Tess, before we went out for dinner last night, from a French bakery in Fort Lauderdale.
In true French style the mini éclairs are filled with custard not cream.
Hungry Writing Prompts
Write about cheese.
Write about being afraid.
Write about the ways you control your life.
Write about a dream breakfast.
Write about someone or something you have missed.