The cold side of the pillow

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I’ve had a week of terrible sleep, probably not helped by several days of sustained sobriety. This has been mainly due to almighty nightmares. There was one the other night where I had a broken rib sticking out of my side and was trying to go through a particularly eventful day while concealing it under a leather jacket and pretending I could breathe properly. On the brighter side it usually means you’re quite happy to be awake in the morning, but I still think I am not suited to a non-toxic lifestyle.

I generally have quite ropey dreams. Always have had. I remember lots of times when I was little creeping into my parents’ room after having bad dreams and being told gently that the secret is to think of nice things instead of nasty ones when you’re going to sleep. Maybe it is, but I always thought of the nasty ones anyway.

I don’t know if anyone else has found this, but as I’ve got older the imagination that was so vivid has all but disappeared; an inevitable side effect I suppose of a little experience and conditioning. When you sleep though all of that side of you that you lock away when you’re awake gets out, and sometimes it’s nice to know it’s still there and you haven’t lost your spark.

Not always great though. In an unconscious world I have been dropped from great heights, hit by cars and been hunted through all kinds of hellish places, not to mention all of the evils and betrayals I’ve committed myself, safe from consequences. I was a serial killer once, which was deeply unpleasant, and I still remember a childhood nightmare based around the Ewoks movie.

A recurring dream I had for ages was about condors. I think it came from reading a story years ago about how condors were halfway between one world and another, and it was them who carried your soul away to the afterlife when you died, a bit like the Crow. Also in South America someone told me it was bad luck when a condor flew overhead because it meant someone would die. I used to dream quite a bit that I was in a pitch black room and that a giant condor was trying to carry me away. I was trying to fight it but couldn’t see where it was coming from and it kept nearly getting me. All of this would go on for what seemed like hours then I’d wake up and still have most of the night ahead.

Funny thing is that the bit about the condor flying overhead wasn’t complete shit. Obviously it’s pure coincidence, but on a couple of occasions I saw condors and people did die. Once it was my great uncle back in England, and the other time it was a man with mental health problems who turned up on our street in Peru one afternoon. No-one knew where he had come from or how he got there.

Some of the families tried to help him (I think one lady brought him in), but he was so out of control that they had to put him out again, and as Laurence and I passed him on the way to the bar after supper he’d taken off his jacket and shirt, and was dancing bare-chested in the icy Andean night. When we saw him later he was lying propped up against the wall, shivering and still shirtless, and the next morning they found him frozen.

I’ve wondered why I walked past and didn’t do anything to help, and the only answer that I can come up with is that everyone else had made the conscious decision not to, so I did the same. Strangely I’ve never given the matter a lot of thought, and it seemed a little like it was meant to happen, like he wasn’t quite a person because he had no past or future. Just that one evening of dancing in the cold.

That’s total bollocks of course. He must have come from somewhere and he died because people didn’t look after him when he needed it. Outside of facetious cartoons life isn’t monochrome. It’s all different colours and enormously complicated and in all that there are bound to be a few odd coincidences that look like they make sense but don’t. Still, turn the light out and the mice will play.

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