Posted at 10:52 on 8 Sep 2010 by Pandora / Blake
Sorry I've been a bit quiet lately - I came down with an evil cold bug last Tuesday and it hasn't gone away yet. Partially this is because I'm in denial and keep trying to keep going. Partially it's because I live on a loud street and when I do finally give in to my friends' advice and say "fuck it, I'm going to bed", I can't actually sleep until things quieten down sometime around midnight. Not being able to sleep when you're sick is rubbish. Although I'm sure I don't feel as bad as the lovely AJR, who is having a rotten time of it and deserves your hugs and sympathy much more than I do.
Unfortunately, my sleeping problem at the moment is compounded by randomly waking up at 7am every morning, which would be great normally, but not when I'm trying to get better and only managed to drop off six hours ago. I'm usually very good at lie-ins but lately the coughing has kept me awake. This morning, though, I managed to actually doze off again (hooray!), at which point I had a few hours of very vivid school dreams.
It started with my entry to the school aged ten, a tender boy spending his first night in a scary private school. It wasn't much like my school - the dream was set longer ago than the 90s, for a start, and my school didn't have boarding - but bits of it looked similar. In my dream, the first night was terrifying. Lying awake on his narrow dormitory bed (for some reason, the first years in this dream all slept on camp beds - only second years and up got proper beds) staring up into the shadows of the high ceiling, too nervous to sleep. Hearing the stories about things the teachers did, what happened if you got into trouble...
Over the first term, my dream self tried hard to make his teachers proud. But he couldn't seem to work out how to fit in with the other students. Eventually, interpersonal conflicts and tensions became so intense that he took to hiding inside during break and lunchtime, nose in a book in the library or - better - in the privacy of an unused music practice room. Unfortunately, lower school pupils weren't allowed to stay inside at breaktimes without permission. When he was caught by a teacher or prefect he earned himself a whacking on the spot - and a reputation for stubborn disobedience when, despite persistent punishment, he continued to hide indoors rather than brave the society of his peers.
Skip ahead a few years. Now, my dream self is older and female - but still far from the most popular kid in her class. An art lesson quickly became unpleasant when a bully started mocking her over the rumour that she once orgasmed from a punishment spanking. More and more classmates joined in the joking: the teacher hadn't even started yet, she was just tapping her behind with a leather paddle, and my alter-ego was so overwhelmed she came on the spot. I don't even know whether the rumours had any truth - the teasing hit a nerve, and my dream self was unbearably humiliated.
Later still, a sixth-former now, daring to rebel. A friend and I concocted a plan to sneak into town during a free study period and join a neighbouring school's cinema outing. We had some uniforms that were close enough to pass, and we intended to sneak in with the crowd and enjoy the film. Unfortunately, the cinema staff recognised our faces. Once attention was shone on us, it became clear that we didn't belong. We were told to wait in the lobby while they called our school. My friend and I took one look at each other and ran for it. We sprinted across town, giddy with fear and exhiliration, and ended up losing each other in the dash through the streets. I sneaked back on my own through the school gates and took refuge in my old hiding place in the music school, in one of the newer practice rooms. I waited there for a full hour, heart pounding, for the bell to ring so I could rejoin my class.
The punchline? Sadly, not a well-earned punishment - instead, when I glanced at the clock I realised it was already 17:45, and school had already finished. I'd been hiding inside for no reason - I may as well have got the bus home straight from the cinema! The problem with dreams is that they're often disappointing :)
I woke up with a head swimming with school punishment images, even though the dream contained no actual, explicit punishment scenes. Most of the dream's vividness came from the emotional tension, and my full immersion in the remembered, evocative rooms and hallways and courtyard of my actual school. The most surreal thing is, my school changed premises a few years after I left. I don't know what's happened to the old building, but the school I went to isn't there any more. My dreams occupy those buildings more than I'd expect, and every time, when I wake, I'm startled to remember that it's a ghost school. No pupils sit in those classrooms any more - they probably aren't even classrooms, these days. The school I remember only exists in the dreams and memories of the people who attended it; no new pupils will share those experiences. Kind of weird, when you think about it.