Saturday 17 June 2017

The Saturday List #134 - Ten questions from a very disturbing dream

Will we get the truth?
Is the City of London in a state of post traumatic stress, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy? Although I don't live in that part of London, don't know people involved and haven't visited the site, the whole thing has deeply affected me. Clearly what I feel is nothing compared to what those who have lost loved ones, there homes, there family and their friends. But anyone with a heart, anyone with a soul, living in our city, surely must have been affected? Last night I had an awful dream, related to the tragedy. Do you ever have dreams and wake up realising that your psyche (or whatever) has raised some deeply disturbing questions in your mind. So let me share the dream with you. Just to give a bit of background, yesterday was the first day of the Mill Hill Music Festival. It was a great success. I was at the Mill Hill street market till 5pm, watching some great music then off to teh Adam and Eve for Mick Jaguar and Emily Lee. I came home satisfied at a job well done, had a glass of wine and went to bed.
I woke up at 6am, in a state of turmoil. My head was spinning. I had had a terrible dream. It had started in a really lovely way. I was walking down the most beautiful path, in a gloroius park, towards a magical looking garden, with a huge gate. I was with my Mum and Dad (both of whom have passed away). We were just chatting and were so happy. I then realised that they had passed away. I wasn't alarmed, everything was fine, but the question but the thought occurred to me that maybe I'd passed away and joined them for the big party in the sky. It was so lovely that I wasn't unhappy at the prospect. So I asked my Dad "Have I joined you up here?" My Dad replied "No, there is something we wanted to show you, you're going back in a minute". At that I looked at the gate. There was a long queue of people, all looking charred and bedraggled. They were clearly in a state of high upset. Unlike me, they seemed less than happy to be in the queue. At the gate, were a couple of guys who were clearly the gatekeepers. I was raised with images of glorious angels, with wings and Adonis like bodies. These guys looked nothing like that. They had raincoats and reminded me of the musicians in Lee Thompsons Ska Orchestra. At the front of the queue was a bellicose Londoner. He looked a bit like Lenin, cap, beard and glasses. He wa shouting at the gatekeepers. "I'm an atheist and a socialist, I don't want to be here. You ask God why he has let this awful tragedy happen, why have all these kids died? Why couldn't they live their lives".  The gatekeeper replied in a world weary way "This is a different place, you are all safe now, don't be upset". The Lenin lookalike was having none of it "Why, give me an answer?". The gatekeeper replied "There are no answers. You are martyrs fallen at the feet of the forces of greed and division" at that, he Lenin lookalike started crying and the line moved through, the gate. As they passed through, people on the other side came to greet them and welcome them. Lenin looked up and a woman, who may have been his wife or mother gave him a great hug that seemed to absorb him fully. My Dad turned to me and said "That's it really, all that is left is love".  And with that, I was back in my bed, with my head spinning.

There were ten questions, which formed in my mind. I thought long and hard about whether to post this blog. I've no idea what if anything it means. I've no idea if there really is a message. It didn't comfort me, it simply disturbed me. Maybe you can answer a few questions? Maybe  you've been similarly affected. Maybe, you just think I'm and idiot and should keep my dreams to myself. I sort of felt compelled to write it and share it. It feels like the right thing to do. Strangely none of the questions are existencial ones.

1.  Are the victims "Martyrs fallen at the feet of the forces of greed and division". Martyrdom has got a bad name of late. But suicidal killers are not martyrs at all. A martyr is someone who has no choice in the matter, other than to give up their beliefs of way of life. The victims had no choice. It is pretty clear that greed played a roll in the tragedy.

2. My father said "That's it really, all that is left is love". We've seen a huge outpouring of love and compassion in London. Can that ever, in some small way, compensate for such a terrible tragedy. Can it give those suffering loss a degree of solace? I really don't know.

3. If I am having terrible dreams at the periphery of the tragedy, what on earth are those in the epicentre feeling. Theresa May has said £5 million will be set aside for victims. How much is being set aside for counselling of victims? It seems to me that this will be a very long term issue.

4. I am an adult, if my dreams about the subject are disturbing, what on earth are the children who have been touched by this issue dreaming about? Is there anyone for them to talk to? Is there anyone they can open up to.

5. One aspect of my dream, which I couldn't really get my head round was the Lenin like figure haranguing the gatekeepers. As I analysed it, the disturbing thought occurred to me that this really seems very like what is actually happening. The ordinary people are asking questions and they are getting no answers at all.

6. As I've listened to the coverage, it is clear that churches and places of worship have been key in the relief effort. They've thrown their doors open and acted as centres for people to get together. This is commendable. I think churches have a central role in communities. As religion is seemingly on the decline, what will happen if we lose these centres? We need community spaces. In disasters, we need places to gather and coordinate. Events such as this challenge any faith one may have (that is a central theme of my dream, I think), but the need for such space is beyond doubt.

7. Another thing which struck me was the sheer joy at the end of the dream of people being reunited with people they've lost. There may be people in hospitals, who have loved ones thinking they are dead. This is always a problem in a disaster, especially one like this where people may have no id. Disaster planning needs to address such things. I don't know how, but there must be a way.

8. "The forces of greed and division". The wanting of a bigger slice of the cake than we need or even deserve. Five years ago, I made a film called  "A Tale of Two Barnets" about such division, with Charles Honderick". It was a play on "A Tale of Two Cities", Dickens tale of inequality. It is a theme which has got worse, in the five years of Conservative austerity for the masses since. There has been no austerity for the top 1% in our society.

9. "You are all safe now". But what about all of the people left in Tower blocks in London and the rest of the UK. There are a hell of a lot of people who really don't feel safe. This isn't an issue that can be put off at all. There should be a state of emergency declared for everyone who may be at risk. We cannot have children living in tower blocks that can burn like roman candles.

10.  "There are no answers". Maybe for those that have gone, there are none, but there must be for the rest of us. More pertinant though, is what is the questions we should be answering. The first of these is "What are we doing today, to ensure that this does not happen again?".

Finally, my hope is that those that have passed are all in a better place. I've no idea whether the dream was simply a window on my own psyche or something more. I will form my own opinions on that. I often dream of my parents when I am in turmoil. I guess this is a natural response, as they were the people I turned to as a child when I was sad or upset. My heart goes out to those who lost parents, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters in the fire. It is the worst thing in the world. I hope they find some sort of solace. I hope their dreams bring them some sort of peace. Whenever I havea  dream about my Mum and Dad, I always feel upset at their passing when I wake, even though Dad died over 30 years ago. I will never forget them and never stop loving them - That's it really, all that is left is love.

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