From waking up in bed next to Paul McCartney to being reprimanded (again) for being impertinent by an old schoolteacher, Matt Roper’s dream life is never dull. But what, if anything, does it all mean?
I wonder sometimes if anybody else has the same sort of dreams I have? I dreamed the other night that I was having sex with an ex who – when the deed was done – rolled over and turned out to be Paul McCartney, promoting a single. He'd dyed his hair and everything. There but for the grace of God.
Anxiety dreams are the worst sort to have and I’ve had more than my fair share of the little fuckers over the past week or so. I’m yet to dream about imminent death – perhaps because thoughts of the Grim Reaper are never too far away during waking hours – but the terrors have ranged from suddenly waking up homeless, being asked to watch somebody’s baby (which turned out to be a dying piglet in a pram) and – worst of all – being introduced onstage in a comedy club and having nothing to say to the audience.
I’d exchange all of that for the generic anxiety dream anytime – the ones we all tend to have – the ones where we’re naked in the supermarket or all of our teeth are falling out.
But I never get to the end of any of these dreams. I wake up with a jolt at four in the morning and I just can’t get myself back to the land of nod. I stare at the ceiling watching the light shift about.
The late Sigmund Freud, that doyen of psychoanalysis, would have it that a dream is like a joke or a slip of the tongue – it bears the traces of a repressed desire.
I dream of a teacher from my school days, a formidable woman named Miss Garfitt. She recurs every few months or so, starched from head to toe, still calling me "impertinent". Every time I wake from it I vow to find her at once, to apologize. I’d call it a Guilt Dream, and I have plenty of those, too.
Happier dreams are seldom remembered, perhaps simply because they’re less vivid. I just don’t know. My sister likes to tell me all about her dreams and where they take her. She dreams in glorious technicolour. She has this recurring one where she’s sharing a yoghurt with the Queen. Same spoon? Who knows? I must remember to ask her.
I’d rather be sharing a yoghurt with the Queen than waking up with Paul McCartney in the morning and I wonder just what Freud would make of that.
But then if Freud’s analysis of dreams are anything like his theories about comedy then I really would take it all with a very small pinch of salt.
Freud was a man who said that the essence of comedy was the conservation of psychic energy but who is Freud to say so? The ultimate response to that theory came from the great comedian Ken Dodd – as much a scholar of the science of comedy as performer of it. "The trouble with Freud”, Dodd retorted, “is that he never played the Glasgow Empire on a Saturday night after Rangers and Celtic had both lost."
Amen to that.
Then again, Freud also said that sometimes, “a cigar is just a cigar”.
Bad dreams are sometimes just bad dreams.
It is the waking hours that are sometimes the most dangerous and although it’s doubtful I’ll see a piglet in a pram or wake up to Miss Garfitt standing in my kitchen tomorrow morning, there is always a small risk of Paul McCartney releasing a new single.
There but for the grace of God.
Matt Roper is a British comedian based in New York City. His relationship with Lush goes back to 2011 when he appeared before the muddy festival-goers of Lushfest, returning the following year to curate the line-up of the comedy stage. As he travels around the world, he shares his musings with us here in a series of writings - a sifting of thought from a restless but always seeking imagination.
Follow Matt on social media @MrMattRoper
Image © MarOne