U.S. sleep researcher William Dement once said: “Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of the week.” And how right he is. My sister recently dreamt about a gay Bobby Davro indulging in role play, dressed partly in a bull costume and swinging an axe, whilst covered in fake blood.
In boring old reality we’d only witness such a scene if Bobby Davro had a very public meltdown and charged out of the closet mid-panto, discarding his Buttons bellhop uniform, before returning to stage dressed like a camp Minotaur enacting the final scenes of Carrie. Of course, for legal reasons I should stress that that’s not going to happen. It’s just the kind of bizarre content that plays out in our subconscious mind, as we dribble, twitch, grunt, snore and fart our way through the night.
Here are some of my dreams from the last ten months:
- My boss compiled a list of people who don’t conform in the office. I made the list for “looking too much like a pirate”.
- I was part of a Special Forces team on a rescue mission, where taking out bad guys had something to do with font size selection. (I can only assume I was capable of neutralising terrorists with a 12-point Calibri move or 10-point Arial death swipe.)
- I had to tell Simon Pegg that, due to the expense of stopping a print-run, posters for his new Hollywood film still featured Toadie from Neighbours (the studio’s original choice for his role).
- Dreamt that a woman approached me in the street and asked me to take a photo of her boobs for Gok Wan. (This was quite wonderful!)
- Russell Grant flipped out on GMTV and fell through a glass coffee table, after shouting: “I’m the world’s greatest TV personality!”.
- In the middle of a heist dream, I fed ducks with tangerine segments. Then the ducks turned into old people who were sitting in a garden.
- I stole a motorised inflatable ring at a water resort. When I was eventually caught I owed thousands of pounds in rental fees.
- I dreamt I was pouring milk over my car bonnet.
The subconscious mind is a bit like a claw crane in a pier arcade (being operated by David Blunkett). You’ll keep your fingers crossed that he grabs you the big, cuddly teddy bear, but you’ll probably end up with a pack of nude playing cards and some flashing deely boppers. It’s entirely random. The claw cranes of our mind are crammed full of everything we’ve ever experienced and witnessed (however fleetingly), as well as our hopes, fears, desires, ambitions, anxieties and internal diary. But there’s simply no telling what images will flicker to life when the lights go out.
You see, the subconscious mind is a brilliant bastard. Twisted, but brilliant. One minute you can be dreaming that you’re being touched inappropriately on a crowded Tube train, with feelings of violation quickly giving way to loin-tingling sensations of arousal. The next minute, you turn to confront your mystery groper, only to find Matthew Wright’s smirking, wonky, sweaty face looming over you, looking like it’s pressed up against a sauna window, which leaves you wide-eyed, clammy and horrified. Or perhaps you’re having a womb-trembling dream about breastfeeding a baby, only to realise that your suckling bundle of joy suddenly has Eric Pickles’ face.
The subconscious mind giveth and taketh away.
My sister (who’s always had vivid dreams) once had an anxiety dream about an impending exam, in which she turned over her exam paper to find a picture of a tiger’s face, with no explanatory notes whatsoever. I love how utterly confusing that must have been! It makes me want to be the department head of someone’s subconscious in my next life.
For instance, if someone was anxious about their impending driving test, I’d organise a largely positive dream about it. There’d be an uncharacteristically cheerful examiner, an effective emergency stop, impressive parallel parking, and a smooth three-point turn. Then, once they’d been lulled into a dreamy comfort zone, I’d have the driving examiner transmogrify into a giant moth, which would then seize control of the vehicle (using the dual pedals) before driving recklessly, at speed, towards a bright light in the distance.
Terrifying and confusing for the dreamer, sure. But otherwise, hilarious fun!
Still, until I can manipulate people’s dreams for my own twisted amusement, I’ll just have to make do with enjoying my own random dreams. The only problem is that I forget most of them. Apparently, five minutes after the end of a dream we’ve forgotten 50 percent of the content. And after ten minutes we’ve forgotten 90 percent, which is why I’m challenging the scientists and inventors of the world to create a fully functioning dream recorder. (Soon, if possible.)
A couple of years ago it was reported that some Japanese scientists (or ‘boffins’ if you’re a Sun reader) had developed ‘mind reading’ technology that might be able to record our dreams in the future. Their experiment showed that brain scanning could extract information directly from the brain. So when one of their subjects read the word “neuron” during a brain scan, the software working with the scan images was able to reconstruct the word in a fairly crude, but readable, form. They were also able to recreate numbers and shapes. (If you’d prefer to furnish your brain with accurate details of this experiment instead of relying on my highly questionable abridged version, go and read New Scientist.)
But as impressive as that experiment was, the Japanese mind-reading technology only seemed capable of recording people’s dreams if they were dreaming about Countdown conundrums or junior sudoku. Not only that, but the quality of the dream images was akin to looking at the graphics of a Sinclair ZX81 with an eyeful of bleach. I want my dreams recorded in High Definition and saved to an external hard drive. Is that too much too ask?
So come on, scientists! Stop fucking around with the Large Hadron Collider and make me a dream recorder! I’ll expect a prototype in the post by Christmas. Sweet dreams.