Did you ever notice that as you get older you remember your dreams less and less? How the vivid, sometimes phantasmagoric, visions that occupied our sleep now grace our somnambulent minds with ever decreasing frequency? And have you noticed that, as you trudge your way towards the grave your dreams become washed out, that they lose their gaudy technicolour brilliance. You may have thought that it happens because you’re getting on, because you’re getting boring. It isn’t because you’ve gotten boring. You *have* gotten boring but that’s absolutely besides the point.The fact that you now consider a couple of beers in front of the telly to be a good Saturday night has nothing to do with the death of your dreams. Well; maybe in the abstract that has something to do with the death of the hopes and aspirations that we refer to as our dreams, but it has nothing to do with the death of the *actual* dreams that course through the minds of the sleeping. The reason for that is much more ghastly and far reaching than you watching 100 Greatest Celebrity Suicides and eating a gallon of ice cream washed down with half a dozen bottles of cheap lager.
Much more ghastly indeed.
Have you ever been sat round in the pub after work. Bitching and moaning about whatever idiotic thing your boss has done that day and the extra work you’re going to have to do to compensate for management idiocy? Have you ever heard anyone say “They’d bloody work us whilst we slept if they could”? It was a joke at the time. Or you thought that it was.
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” the barman asked.
I fixed him with a Deadwood glare and he reached for a pint pot apologising.
Deadwood. That’s me. Edward “Deadwood” Wood. The Deadwood comes from my younger punk rock days when we all had ridiculous monikers like “Crow” or “Yeti” or “Brew”.
“Pal, I’ve had enough when I can’t get the glass to my mouth no more.”
I grinned.
I’m not sure what unsettled him the most. The glare or the grin. My dental health leaves a fair bit to be desired to tell you the truth but hey ho, that’s the price for a life of decadence on a shoe string budget.
“Sorry mate. It’s just it’s not often that we see people drinking as much as this on a week night.”
He put the pint on the bar in front of me
“Especially not since… well… you know. Since them.”
He was right. Ever since the creatures that run our world had made contact with the creatures that live in the places we go when we dream you didn’t see much in the way of excess on a weekday.
“Yeah well”, I took a swallow, “some bastard gets me working for them from nine to five and has to pay me for it. Be fucked if I’m working for some bastard when I’m asleep and some bastard else is getting all the benefit of my graft.”
“Aye, I get what you’re saying, but it’s not as if you notice doing the work while you’re asleep is it?”
“That’s not the point though pal.”
“It’s the principle.”
“Shit, that sounds like a load of crap. It’s the fact that we have a shite state of affairs where we get fuck all for doing the work that some other cunt gets the benefit off of. We get our free time where we’re too knackered to do fuck all aside from watch the telly and spend the fuck all we earn on shite giving our fuck all right back to them. Then the bastards go and figure out a way of making on us whilst we’re fucking asleep!”
I put my empty pint glass back on the bar slightly more forcibly than I had intended.
“Sorry mate. Don’t want to come off all of a ranter but this shit does really wind me up. Another pint please barkeep.”
I grinned again.
“No hard feelings eh? And whilst you’re at it I’ll take a vodka too. Why the hell not, eh?”
“I suppose it’s not like they can fine you or nick you or anything for not doing the sleep work. But how can you cope with working when you’re this pissed the night before?” He put the vodka in front of me and started pulling my pint.
“Well, you see, I’m in the rather enviable position of having paid, yet totally ungainful, employment in a role that a trained monkey would get bored of within a day.”
I knocked the clear liquid back in one.
“Not that I think a trained monkey could, or should, do my job. I would like to think that such a noble creature would have more self respect than to waste their, no doubt valuable, time on such an endeavour.”
He laughed at this.
“Your job sounds like mine.” Now was his turn to grin.
“Ah, but at least your job fulfils a social purpose. You keep the liquor that oils the cogs of society a-flowing.”
“You wouldn’t say that if you were in here on the weekends.”
“Yeah, well I get my time off from somnambulabour seven days a week, 365 days a year mate. Everyone else deserves a night or two off at least don’t you think?”
“Somnambu what?”
“Somnambulabour. That’s what I call it. Working whilst you’re asleep. I’m pretty sure we used to joke about that when I was younger. That the fuckers would have us work in our sleep if they could.”
“Never thought it would be anything but a joke.”
“You know, when it first came out that they had been drugging the drinking water to make sure we all slept just the right kind of sleep so as to make us better workers on the other side. I really thought that things would kick off. Proper kick off, you know what I mean?”
“But no. Fuckers on the other side tweak us in our sleep so we’re more docile. More compliant.”
“I’m just glad I was already a raging alcoholic when all this started.”
“Anyway. I have to be on my merry way. I shall stumble home to blissful, dreamless, sleep. Have a good night my friend.”
I wove my way to the door and the chill night.
“Sleep well, and don’t work too hard…”