When I woke this morning, I was cooking flatbreads on a tropical beach with a friend who was telling me how to identify lab-grown salmon. The recollection is crystal clear, but it is ring-fenced: I cannot remember a single detail more, I cannot illuminate you further except… wait, yes, the salmon came in little oval cells, like Ibuprofen capsules. They looked like giant pink mouse droppings on the plate.
Why? I have no idea. I have strained to find an explanation. Who was the friend? I really don’t know. Why do I (presumably) associate them with food? Ditto. Why was I cooking flatbreads and why did both my unknown friend and I think that they would be a suitable accompaniment for what appeared to be fish-flavoured Tic-Tacs? And the beach? Well, it felt like it was tropical, but I really can’t be sure: it was a dream, who’s to say that the palm trees weren’t plastic?
The alarm clock went off at precisely its normal hour. I am usually prepared for it, already half awake, my hand heading towards the ‘Snooze’ button before the first inane chortle of the Breakfast DJ. This morning it took me by surprise, caught me fully asleep and sounded a clarion ‘Beep’ rather than its normal Radio 2 burp. I was bathed in sweat: clearly caught mid-dream. Maybe that’s why I presumed the beach was tropical.
Clearly I pressed the wrong button in setting the alarm the previous evening (Although why, I cannot begin to imagine. I have had the alarm for years and have always primed it in exactly the same way, uneventful night after uneventful night.) and the unaccustomed electrical siren startled me into wakefulness rather than allowing the soothing tones of the breakfast DJ to lull me, as usual, back into a micro-sleep, before waking me in time to press Snooze just one more time.
I seldom remember anything I dream, so this adamantine recollection, although fragmentary is – pardon me – alarming. Why was I dreaming it in the first place? It must surely have had some foothold in the day that preceded it, but I cannot think of a single instance that would lead me down that particular gustatory path. I cannot think, either, why I was so fully asleep when the alarm sounded. I always wake in advance of the alarm, even when the time is an unaccustomed one. Was my mind so distracted by this particular dream that it quite forgot its primary function of preparing me for wakefulness before the bloody clock shocked me into it?
It has bothered me all day. It has set synapse against synapse in my poor enfeebled noggin: wakeful elements attempting to tease information out of the uncooperative elements of the occipital lobe. If there are neurons up there that know the secret, they are not letting on, and such elements of my mental faculties that I am able to muster remain, like me, completely in the dark. It bothers me. I fear it might keep me awake at night…
I was standing at a public urinal today, mulling this situation over as my mind and my bladder emptied in unison, when the person to one side of me – how shall I put this – vented with some gusto. Instantly the man to the other side of me said ‘Blimey. I don’t know what it is mate, but whatever it is, you’ve dropped it.’ I laughed so much I had to dry my shoes…