Sleeping arrangements

Apparently, a lot of British people find that listening to jungle noises puts them to sleep. I suppose the chattering of monkeys reminds them of childhood visits to the zoo, rather than annoying creatures who might piss on their heads. When I want to fall asleep quickly, I listen to an audiotape of a woman nagging her husband. It takes me back to my carefree circus days, when I sniggered at humans queuing for tickets in the hot sun. 

Sadly, Britain no longer produces women like Mary Poppins, who could coax people to Noddyland by a singing a soothing lullaby. Cut-glass English accents are out of fashion in the UK, where the current crop of nannies are burly young women with hoarse voices from places like Woking and Slough. Listening to them warble is not conducive to a restful night of slumber. 

Now, the crucial point about sleep is that quality is more important than quantity. The best bit of the nightly snooze is the first part, when the brain is switched off and the spirit resides in a peaceful void on the dark side of the Moon. Things go downhill when the brain wakes up and finds that nothing is happening. In its boredom, it manufactures the mental poo we call “dreams”. 

There are people who claim to have wonderful dreams in which they fly above the Earth like an eagle, laying eggs on top of the Eiffel Tower and getting their feathers stroked by Carla Bruni. You only have dreams like that if your subconscious mind is trying to lift your spirits because your wakeful existence is incredibly shitty. In other circumstances, dreams are weird little pantomimes that signify nothing and foretell less. This doesn’t stop humans from assuming I’m a hairy soothsayer who can interpret their dreams. Last week, a fresh-faced girl on safari took me into her confidence: 

“I keep on having this horrible nightmare!” she mewed. “A giant python wraps his coils around my body and starts squeezing me ever more tightly. And while he’s squeezing me, he lifts his horrible head and looks right into my eyes: 

‘I’ll stop squeezing if you’ll kiss me on the mouth,’ he says. 

‘A French kiss?’ I ask. 

‘Is there any other kind?’ he replies, making his tongue dart in and out. 

‘I won’t do it, you beastly serpent!’ I cry. ‘I’d rather be squeezed like a lemon than kiss you!’ 

But in my heart, I know the real reason I won’t kiss him is because I want him to carry on squeezing me! Oh what does it mean, GB?!” 

The dream was total nonsense, of course. No self-respecting python would give up its supper for a bit of tongue action with a human female. Yet I sensed it would be unkind to denigrate something which she clearly believed was a highly significant piece of theatre. 

“It means you are a virtuous young lady who will not kiss a snake however good it makes her feel.” I declared. 

She thanked me profusely and skipped away contentedly. I just hope my interpretation doesn’t end up ruining someone’s life.

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