By Volunteer Alan Crooks
Anecdotal reports suggest that people are experiencing more frequent and vivid dreams since ‘lockdown’ measures against Covid-19 have been implemented, and are remembering them. This is certainly the case with me.
Pre-Covid, the dreams I could recall often concerned being lost in some setting (I wonder what this says about me?). However, a dream I had last week was different and concerned me trying to drive into a narrow parking space where there was a Soviet era blue truck to the right and a low pavement to the left. To my surprise I heard an ominous scraping sound. I thought that I couldn’t have grazed the pavement as it was too low and, checking my mirrors assured me that I was squarely in the space. Then suddenly I was shunted violently several times from the rear, and checking my rear view mirror showed that the perpetrator was a similar blue vehicle to the one parked to my right. I guess he had hoped to park in the space I had just commandeered.
According to a survey conducted by King’s College, London, 62% of people in the UK are getting just as much sleep, if not more, than before stricter social distancing measures began on 23 March. Presumably, for those of us staying at home, the time saved from getting ready for work and commuting is being used to get more sleep thus facilitating increased dream time and dream recall. When you sleep for longer, you have more rapid eye movement (REM) sleep this being the sleep stage from which most dreams are recalled. Furthermore, anxiety can disrupt our sleep, leading to more awakenings. When one awakens from REM sleep, one is much more likely to recall the dream one was having.
An Editorial in the Daily Mail (June 4th 2020) picked up on this, pointing out that quite a few of us have been dreaming about the Queen. Many of these dreams follow a similar pattern. The Queen arrives without warning, but then does something reassuring, such as making a cup of tea or sharing a secret. Dreams abut the Royal Family often seem to involve the dreamer making a dreadful faux pas.
‘What has all this got to do with Simon Forman?’, I ’hear’ regular readers of my writings asking. Well, Forman’s dream-life was very active. In his Autobiography, written curiously in the third person, there is a section entitled ‘Of Visions That The Said Simon Had, Being Yet A Child’. He wrote that ‘as soon as he was laid down to sleep he should see visions many mighty mountains and hills come rolling against him. Although they would overrun him and fall on him and bruise him, yet he got up always to the top of them and with much ado went over them. Then he should see many great waters like to drown him, boiling up, yet he thought he did overpass them. These dreams and visions he had every night continually for three or four years space. These visions God did show him in his youth to signify unto him his troubles in his riper years’.
Barbara Traister,in The Notorious Astrological Physician of London writes, ‘ Like many others in his society, Forman believed that dreams had significance and could be interpreted with relation to events in waking life’ and goes on to mention the erotic walk he took with Queen Elizabeth. Basically, in his dream, he offered to impregnate the Queen in order to swell her belly so that her skirts wouldn’t drag in the dirt. Another dream Forman had concerning Royalty involves an occasion when King James came to visit him.
Forman’s dreams, especially in his early life, were so frequent and vivid that I have wondered whether there was some pathology involved. Hence I was interested to see a TV programme which suggested that Tutankhamun, in common with other pharaohs of the famous 18th dynasty, had recurring strong religious visions. This is consistent with a theory that these pharaohs may have suffered from a familial temporal lobe epilepsy syndrome that led, ultimately, to their early downfall.
Maybe this could be another vignette for my proposed historical novel.
If we had been asked, a week ago, what do the Queen, Covid 19, Simon Forman and Tutankhamun have in common, what would we have said?!!!!!
Thank you Alan!