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The BBC tells me that women have more vivid dreams than men. I've been having some Dorothy-in-Oz-style technicolor dreams in the past couple of weeks, which is good, because I love interesting dreams and bad because sometimes, well, the dreams are not so pleasant to live in for however long they last.

Have you ever had sleep paralysis? I've had it a couple of times, only in the past couple of years. I dreamed I was awake, and pressed into the mattress by a force that left me unable to get up and unable to speak, as an intruder prowled around the bedroom and whispered in my ear. It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life.

I also dream quite often that I can't speak. I want to talk but nothing will emerge and meanwhile the world is heading for a disaster I could stop if only I could talk. Perhaps I should start writing down when these dreams occur, if only so I can relate them to my psychological state at the time. At least I no longer take maths A-level in the nude.

The reason I am writing about dreams is that (a) can't sleep; and (b) a strange thing happened the other day.

Three nights ago, I had the most intense dream about a friend of mine who I haven't seen or properly spoken to beyond a phone call and a Christmas card in maybe five years. I miss her. She's magnificent -- an army veteran who has been to Afghanistan and Bosnia as a driver for bomb disposal squads; and one of the truly brave, good-hearted people I know. But the army life (and the fact that she's been married twice and I can't remember which surname she's going by these days) means that she's hard to track down.

I dreamed she had died and I was attending a memorial service for her in my home village. Then, as we were eulogising her, she turned up and everyone was filled with joy that she had somehow cheated death and come back to us. Then it devolved into a whole bunch of incidents from my childhood -- the time we stole the boat and went out onto the castle lake or jumped from the top of the straw bales to the bottom of the barn and I nearly broke several vital somethings on a hidden beam -- particularly the day when we were all about eight and had a serious talk about the devil, only for there to be a thunderstorm that electrified the air, painted the clouds black and turned the light the colour of a wet scab. It scared the bejesus out of us.

Yesterday, in the village where I grew up, my mum was walking down the street when she heard someone yelling her name. It was my friend, who was back home for just a week to look after her mum who was having an operation. She asked after me and gave mum her surname, so at least I know who she is again.

I know it's a weird coincidence, but it feels like more than that.

3.30am. It's the nadir of the circadian cycle. I should be asleep. The foxes are chittering and screaming outside my open window. The air smells of autumn -- a bite in the air, rotting vegetation, the oncoming chill. Today is our roughest day at work -- we have 120% of the work we do on a normal day, and two and half hours fewer to do it in, yet I can't seem to close my eyes and disappear.

I've been feeling ill for five days now and I would like it to stop, please. The three day festival of vomiting is over but I still feel wrenched sideways. Woman does not subsist by bananas, water and yoghurt alone; not that it will do me any harm to do so.

Politics depresses me. I think the Republicans are going to win, probably through various forms of gerrymandering and wedge politics, and I think this is a bad thing for the world. And I'm sorry, but I think that if you vote Republican this time, you're nothing short of a dangerous fool.

McCain is thick, bellicose, corrupt, with a hair-trigger temper and an ego that can be seen from space. Sarah Palin is exactly the kind of chortling, smug, intolerant tool who believes she knows better than everyone else about how people should live their lives. Neither of them has espoused a single policy which would make the world a better place as far as I can tell. If they are voted in, they will transform a beautiful country still further into some kind of Hobbesian wilderness, subject to the diktats of a strain of religious fundamentalism which is approaching the same kind of aggressive, backward-looking, insular conservatism as the Wahhabis they so vilify.

What kind of lunacy is it where you're free to lose your home and fall into near-starvation but not free to take sovereignty of your own body? Where it is legitimate to ban books and vilify your opponents?

(I will stop expressing an opinion on US politics when the US army buggers off out of Menwith Hill, RAF Fairford et al, just as I think the rest of the world is entitled to have an opinion on British politics because we have troops abroad and the remnants of an empire -- which incidentally, we are trying *very quietly* to expand because of mineral rights. And we can't bloody leave well enough alone.)

Meanwhile, all the polls point to a Conservative victory at the next election, probably by a landslide. According to Channel 4 news last night, they could have a majority of 150 or more. The new group of conservative MPs and activists say they are pro-welfare state and pro-environment but research by the Guardian earlier this week suggested that they were deeply socially conservative, favouring, among other things, a lowering of the abortion time period and the teaching of creationism in schools.

Creationism. For the love of fucking Pete.

It pains me to say that this Labour government need to be kicked out, but they do. They are authoritarian in the worst ways, allowing the state to gather information on things that cannot possibly be its business, permitting gross encroachment on our liberty and attempting to dictate how we live. Worse still, their anxiety-driven short-termism means that they are constantly in search of 'magic bullet' policies which will somehow deliver them a polls boost, instead of delivering steady, sensible policies. Nothing is given any time to work.

The business of government is to leave people the hell alone in their private lives. If people with a BMI of more than 30 want to frot each other with cheese graters and shag themselves silly, then have a fag indoors afterwards, leave them be.

But I can't help thinking that the government to come, led by an overprivileged Tory who has no more substance than Blair did, will be even less concerned with our traditional freedoms and the parts of this country that make me genuinely feel proud: the BBC, the welfare state, the ability to speak my opinion and know that I will not be punished for it.

I feel as though the world is becoming a colder, less rational, less free place. I can't tell whether that's a symptom of age or a genuine phenomenon.

4am. Oh dear.


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 12th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
And I keep hearing of the pro-life and creationist stuff burgeoning in the UK and think, what the fuck,

*You* think what the fuck? I certainly do. Kee-rist. I want to shake people until their teeth rattle. Or hide. One of the two.
Sep. 12th, 2008 03:13 am (UTC)
For many reasons, I am glad to know you.

I'm also glad about your friend. I hope you get back in touch with her; we all need people like her in our lives. They keep us warm.
Sep. 12th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
Likewise. Hope you're feeling better.
Sep. 12th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
I feel as though the world is becoming a colder, less rational, less free place. I can't tell whether that's a symptom of age or a genuine phenomenon.

I have wondered the same thing myself many, many times.
Sep. 12th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
Well, that's a bit worrying. Because if it's just me that thinks it, I'm likely wrong. But if other people think it then it might be true
Sep. 12th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC)
I think the Republicans are going to win

Sadly, I do too. I don't know if that's cynicism speaking, or maybe a little bit of hopeful worst-case-scenario thinking, so when Obama wins, I'll be really surprised and all kinds of thrilled.

But I'm preparing myself for four years of McCain/Palin fun. And by fun I mean shit.

And then I think I'd like to spend election day and the day after in bed, with ten ice packs on my head. Wake me when it's over (but I'll definitely be up and about to vote).
Sep. 12th, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC)
The electoral college calculation on pollster.com gives it to Obama. Heaven knows what's going to happen.

But I'm preparing myself for four years of McCain/Palin fun. And by fun I mean shit.
Yes. Yes it is.
Sep. 12th, 2008 04:03 am (UTC)
I don't dream. I envy you.

And I hope like hell you are wrong. But I'm afraid you're not.
Sep. 12th, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC)
You don't dream at all?
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 12th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
I hope I'm wrong. I keep looking at the electoral college maths on pollster.com and making little eeeee sounds of encouragement at it. As far as Britain is concerned though, I am resigned to eight years of Tory arseholishness come 2010. It will be shit.
Sep. 12th, 2008 06:38 am (UTC)
In the past year I've had two sleep paralysis dreams, when I've never had them before, very similar to yours, and they are absolutely awful, some of the worst things I've ever experienced. I'm sorry to hear you've had to put up with them too. :(

I think the entire world gets to express an opinion on US politics, since US policies consistently affect the rest of the world. Honestly, I'm in favour of opening up the voting. ;) I really don't know what will happen in November. Obama should win, but people are so dumb and I don't trust the Republican party any further than I could throw Rush Limbaugh. They'll rig the election if they can.

But you're also right, I think, in that a lot of the rest of the world isn't looking much better. We'll all have to move to the moon or something.
Sep. 12th, 2008 11:52 pm (UTC)
people are so dumb and I don't trust the Republican party any further than I could throw Rush Limbaugh

oooh, could we throw Rush Limbaugh? Could there be a contest? With speshul pits of venomous beasties into which we toss him?

I once bought a second hand copy of one of Rush Limbaugh's 'books' for the sheer pleasure of burning it. It was only half a dollar. I felt the sense of desecration at burning any printed word was worth it.
Sep. 16th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
It would take all of us working together, but I'm up for throwing Rush Limbaugh into a pit of venomous beasties or a bottomless abyss or what-have-you.

Ha ha ha ha! We burned a book at the last party I went to. I was by the dude who wrote Obamination but the book was about some alleged plot to build a giant highway across the US so Mexico and Canada could Free Trade with each other or something, and this was supposed to doom the US. IDK, I didn't read it. It was surprisingly fun to burn, though, even though I did feel that OH NOES BOOK BURNING dirty feeling.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 12th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
Pollster.com certainly believes that Obama's camp is right and that it is winning the battle for electoral college votes; furthermore its on-the-ground organisation is far superior to McCain's in the battleground states, according to Tomasky in the Grauniad today.

Sep. 12th, 2008 11:22 am (UTC)
Politics in the US renders me into state not unlike sleep paralysis -- awareness of how awful it is, and totally unable to do anything about it.

And then I can't wake up....
Sep. 12th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC)
Oh dear. Yes, I can see how it would after 2004's disappointment
Sep. 12th, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that you found your friend again, and I've totally had the experience of that kind of odd premonition in dreams.

I'm utterly terrified of what it going to happen in November. It's a feeling I think you can understand, this weird tearing away of all of the things that I believed were commonly held, American values. The one thing I keep coming back to is this: I thought we were a big-hearted country, a country of doers and dreamers, a people who fought for and believed in the underdog, despite the occasional and horrid misstep. I guess I was naive. Because it seems the body politic believes that we are a bunch of selfish individuals who only vote in what we stupidly believe to be our self-interest, but is actually just a vote for making the rich capitalists richer.

Silly me.
Sep. 13th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC)
To be fair, the *world* is terrified of what is going to happen in November. I understand your feeling of estrangement from what you thought your country was. The thing is that I think your country is like that. That's my experience of it. Just as Britain wasn't Thatcherite selfishness or Blairite surface-shiny, corroded soul consumerism, so America isn't what the whirly-eyes wing of the Republican party says it is. It's just unfortunate that that wing of the party has the firmest grasp of how to use psephological theory in practice right now
Sep. 12th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
I feel as though the world is becoming a colder, less rational, less free place.

For what it's worth, I agree. I keep wondering if feeling this way is simply a sign I'm getting old/waking up from the mass hallucination that is blind youth.

The Tories will indeed win the next election because there's no other viable choice for most people. Labour are at least as right wing as the Tories now, possibly more so, and Gordon Brown has all the appeal to the undecided voter as a particularly puritan boys school headmaster. Most of the country couldn't tell you the name of the leader of the LibDems even if offered a tenner to jog their memories. I think turnout will be very low, but the Tories will win.

I had over a year of experiencing sleep paralysis with hypnagogic hallucinations on almost a daily basis back in my twenties. Basically, it was for almost the whole time I was on a specific anti-depressant. They stopped when I stopped taking the pills.

Most of them were the same: I'm lying face down on my actual bed in my actual room, and it's the time of day it really is. I can't move. Someone who is definitely male comes in, and after a while of moving about, making noises, he lies on top of me and, er, does something far too TMIy to detail here. Often he also tries to strangle me, and even when he doesn't, his weight on my chest makes me feel like I'm suffocating. All of it is not at all dreamlike. It feels utterly real.

Until I learnt about sleep paralysis etc, I spent a lot of time wondering if these were repressed memories of abuse coming to the surface. It was a great relief to discover what was really going on.

I love the sound of your apparently partially psychic dream. That's wonderful.
Sep. 13th, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
I think turnout will be very low, but the Tories will win.

God, it makes me want to drug myself into the next decade. Just the thought of it, those braying, shiny-suited, self-righteous nerks being in power again. Not that the shysters and incompetents of the Labour party apparatus are much better but at least I think the rank and file are good-hearted people.

I had over a year of experiencing sleep paralysis with hypnagogic hallucinations on almost a daily basis back in my twenties.

That sounds horrifying. I can't imagine it being a regular occurrence. I wouldn't want to go to sleep.

I was very glad of the internet when it happened to me, actually. I'd read about sleep paralysis some time before so I looked it up and things matched and I didn't have to wonder what it was.
Sep. 12th, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC)
I feel as though the world is becoming a colder, less rational, less free place.

Run through fear-mongering by Rupert Murdoch and the hold he and those like him have on information.

Where you work is one small bastion of freedom, so you are on the front lines doing the right thing. I'm grateful to you for that.
Sep. 13th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
It's hard to get to the truth these days, because it's getting more and more difficult to separate opinion from fact from untruth. Which is a deliberate move on behalf of parts of the media, I think.
Sep. 13th, 2008 01:38 am (UTC)

I think somebody did a marketing study that said opinion sells better than fact.

People just want to hear agreement with opinions they already hold, not the truth.

It's why elections play out like they do.
Sep. 12th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC)
All politicians scare me, regardless of their persuasion because they are so singleminded about lining their own pockets with scant regard to the poor saps who elect them. John Lewis' list, anyone??? Welcome to the bunker...
Sep. 13th, 2008 12:09 am (UTC)
I don't think they are all the same, and I don't think that they're all intent on lining their pockets, but I do think that having one's own opinion, which used to be tolerated as long as cabinet unity was maintained, is now punished with demotion, so we've got all these yeasaying no-marks in the cabinet. Where's the tradition of honourable dissent gone?
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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