Opinion

Paul McNamee: Yes, it’s hard. But we can still dream

We’re all a little trapped. We’re all a little worried. Dreams can take us somewhere else for a while

Other people’s dreams are normally dull. They are private, and they are so internalised they rarely carry anything for anyone except the dreamer. There have been exceptions. A few years ago, Paul McCartney shared with The Big Issue a dream he’d had many years previously. He said as a boy he’d had a recurring dream of digging in his garden and finding an old tin can. It always came up empty. And then he met John Lennon.

A little time after, McCartney had the dream again, but this time turned up a gold coin. As he dug further, more and more coins appeared.

When he told Lennon, he said he’d had the same dream. It was something that they talked about afterwards. “So the message of that dream,” said Paul McCartney, “was: keep digging.”

I have no idea how true that is. I choose to believe it and every time I read that interview, that Letter To My Younger Self (it’s here, have a look), I feel the same jolt and the same rush of emotion. It’s a glorious and remarkable story.

Dream stories are beginning to show up with increasing regularity on social media the longer lockdown goes on. They’re vivid, fevered and no longer to be dismissed as self-indulgent nonsense.

They’re coming, say dream experts, because stressful times breed stressful dreams. And boy, is this some stressful time.

Maybe you’re worried about the police being over-eager and going through your shopping basket to adjudicate on what is essential and non-essential. Take a bow Nick Adderley, chief constable for the Northamptonshire Police, who last week made such a comment, essentially asking the Stasi to hold his pint.

Dream stories are beginning to show up with increasing regularity on social media the longer lockdown goes on

You may be worried about the future around your job. The ground keeps shifting. Fear is understandable.

Or maybe you’re worried about whatever the hell it is your neighbour four doors down is burning in his back garden; why it smells the way it does and why it’s enveloping the place in an Amazon rainforest fire of smoke.

It could also be that you caught, inadvertently, a still of Nigel Farage in over-exposed shorts from a Facebook chat. I wish there were an easy way to deal with that.

There isn’t.

However, there are ways to ease the fever dreams. I like the positivity of my local shop assistant, who said it was great to hear that some countries are beginning to plot their way out of their lockdowns. A beacon for us.

Or you could listen to Max Richter’s great contemporary music cycle Sleep, repeated last week on Radio 3, across many nations simultaneously, and available for some time on BBC Sounds. I’ve never been able to meditate, but Richter is transporting.

Alternatively, just read the dreamtales popping up online. We’re all a little trapped. We’re all a little worried. They can take us somewhere else for a while.

And before long, we hope – and hope remains – we’ll be, as the late great John Prine said, out there running just to be on the run.

Paul McNamee is editor of The Big Issue

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