SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you are intending to read ‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters
Last night I had a dream of which I remember a small fragment. I had invited some homeless people into my house and they were all wearing the green uniform of some institution. I was worried that their uniforms would have the word ‘homeless’ written on them. We travelled back to the old town where I used to live many years ago and then I told them that my mother wouldn’t like them to come into our house if she knew they were homeless, since she did not trust homeless people. They pointed out that the lettering on their uniforms did not carry any connotations of homelessness. What followed next was that one of the girls in the group of homeless people somehow murdered an old man. He was somehow decapitated by her and ended up in a box of plastic packaging, like a toy. I decided to help her dispose of the body and to keep any evidence linking her to her crime away from the authorities. I therefore spat on the box, attempting to wipe it clean. I then realised that the spit had my DNA on it and decided to wipe it clean with a tissue and intended to wash it afterwards with water. The tissue I rolled up into a ball and then went searching for a far off dustbin to dispose of it – all the while the murderer girl followed me and I suspected that she wanted to prevent me from disposing of the DNA-laden tissue away from the authorities, so that I was framed for the crime. I thereupon awoke.
While the interpretation of this dream is interesting on several levels, what I wish to point out here is that the details of the dream, its creativity, is found in small details collected from the past few days. Firstly, the green t-shirts which were the uniform of the homeless, while not the same lime green colour, were the general colour of a t-shirt I had just bought myself yesterday from an online retailer. The fact that the group were homeless comes from two sources. There is a restaurant in Ilford called ‘China Grill’ which we passed yesterday, which feeds homeless people every Thursday. This is declared from a banner hanging from the restaurant which I noticed yesterday. The reason I noticed this, is because my little nephew is obsessed with China and always kept a lookout for the restaurant on the way to school. The subject of the homeless was also in my mind because I had also read a newspaper article yesterday about a student who had raised a substantial sum of money for a homeless man because he had once given her his last bit of money so that she could safely take a bus home.
The setting of the dream also comes from my yesterday. In the dream, we travel back to my old home town from many years ago and yesterday, I travelled back to my more recent old home because I was going to a party in a house close by. In the old home, I had found a letter or envelope that was marked with the name of the town I lived in many years ago (my previous old home). The fact that the old man’s body was packaged in a plastic box, like a toy, also came from yesterday. I had been at a party where a gift was given to a child and it came out broken, with the operating cord torn. It had been suggested in the party that the scissors used to cut open the packaging had resulted in the cord being snipped. The equation of destruction and packaging in the dream clearly came from that suggestion. The action of spitting which I was involved in, also came from a word I had come across recently in the homework of one of my nephews. He was supposed to come up with a word which began with the letters ‘sp’ and had come up with the word ‘spat’, which I obviously retained in my mind, since it seemed slightly unusual to me.
Perhaps the most interesting well-sprung of creativity in the dream is that it is based in my recent reading of a novel by Sarah Waters, ‘The Paying Guests’. In this novel, a woman kills a man and her woman lover helps her dispose of the body, implicating herself in the concealment of a crime. Similarly, I moved into the role of the woman lover and tried to dispose of the body of a man that a woman had murdered. I finished this novel just a few days ago.
Clearly, then, it can be seen that Freud was right in his interpretation of dreams. The small details of our yesterdays are taken up in the creation of the dream and charged with additional meaning as they are creatively connected to the reservoirs of associations we carry within us and in our society.