Transcript of a session with a hapless gentleman in a state of shock:
Doctor! I fear I am going mad!
I switched on the televisual device in my home to watch what I thought would be a ceremony celebrating the opening of a sporting event and instead I entered the British aboriginal dreamtime!
I heard the words of Caliban as the birth of England unfolded before my eyes… the stones rose on the hill and a revolution Industrial arrived… I saw the rise of dark satanic mills and the drudgery of workers who built them… the first women of suffrage…
Then James Bond threw the Queen out of a helicopter.
Much of the rest is something of a blur… I saw a fantasia of our beloved NHS beset by the nightmare of privateering demons, sleeping children at Great Ormond Street Hospital menaced in their dreams by a 100-foot-tall Voldemort and a hundred Mary Poppins descended from the sky to drive him away, the strength of maternal tradition defeating the pettiness of the bully… I saw a man with the demeanour of a Bean sat in an orchestra, dreaming as we might of running from adult responsibility and texting, ignoring the Rattle of etiquette and decorum.
Then we were led through a historical dance through the songlines of Britannia, of garish colours and fashions of decades past that we thought would never end, of clothes we wore and now laugh at, and look upon with nostalgia and embarrassment for our younger selves full of the naiveté of youth.
There followed a procession of the world come to out isle, happy, eager guests.
‘Twas oddly stirring, for as an Englishman, I cannot deny the odd twinge this phantasmagoria provoked in my soul, but I was also struck by a certain sadness, a dread that this celebration might also be an elegy for an England that is sadly to be erased by the tides of greed and selfishness, that we are to become fiction, a memory of an ideal soon to be condemned to the past. That we are to become Myth and Dream of a world more wished for than real, for it is the uneasiness of this dream co-existing alongside the harshness beyond the walls of this spectacle, where protests and democracy were kettled and trampled upon, young idealists rendered invisible, bundled into red double-decker jail cells while peace activists carried the flag within the walls to await the lighting of a torch.
As the flames rose skyward like a transforming robot, I had a vision of a giant wicker man consuming sacrifices both human and animal, but thankfully this was not to be. Instead they formed the ringed symbol of unity given power by businesses and corporations yearning for profit and credibility. Did the ringmaster of ceremonies, this Boyle, know what he was doing? Did he take the coin of Conservative rulers to covertly enact a ritual of summoning for a green and pleasant land beyond their ken and caring? Was this in fact the pinnacle of the conventions of the Royal Court and the Theatre National with all their secret, subversive intent? A ritual to recreate a memory to be stored forevermore in the museum of the mind and the digital bytes of drives and discs, preserved as the reality erodes?
Tell me, doctor, am I worrying myself over nothing? Am I but another part of that dream in danger of fading into the ether? I thought you were there too when I heard the wheeze and grind of your machine of dreams but saw you not. You are part of this too, and it was your blue box that I searched for in my anguish, through whose doors I ran in my desperate need for hope and assurance, as I did when a child. Are we to run and vanish in order to continue to be? Or do we stay and risk disappearing? This myth of modern Albion is a fiction, as are you, as am I as I become all ambivalence and doubt.
This is a dream. I know it is a dream, and when I wake, I shall speak normally, and perhaps forget this revelry, this flight of fancy both stirring and silly. I shall go back to being real and dull, hiding the fact that we harbour whimsy and silliness and tolerance and warped humour under our pronounced ordinariness?
You say it isn’t a dream, doctor? That this is a reality alongside all other realities? I can’t decide if I should be relieved or distressed. Am I Schoedinger’s Englishman, then, not only dead and alive, but serious and silly? Why, that would make us all utterly mad. Stark raving bonkers. I’m starting to understand why now. We are quite, quite mad.
Somehow, I think I can live with that. We suppose we always have.
Dreaming of that green and pleasant land at email@example.com
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