This is our truth, tell us yours
I have a vivid dreamscape when I’m stressed. This week it has featured numerous cinematic vignettes, all of them in technicolour,all of them shot in styles appropriate to the narrative; the shootout between warring bodybuilders struggling for control of the steroid trade was akin to the recent update of the Sweeney; the tale of loving cuckoldry with me as the interloper was set in the railway station waiting room from Brief Encounter.
Last night’s dream was closer to home. I was in a tipi, again, with strangers, playing a game that I remember from my youth. We would sit in a circle, five or six of us, and take turns to tell a short episode from our lives, and outline four or five options we might choose. The rest of the group would then choose an option.
So far, so bad. From where I sit now it sounds like a recipe for bad advice, inconsiderately delivered. In real life I remember we always took the game lightheartedly, only half serious, looking for opportunities for comedy as much as for serious help.
In the dream a woman, a stranger, was sitting amongst the group. She told a story about herself, about being lost and alone, having left a relationship. She ran through the options; returning to her former partner or so on. At the end, she added, dismissively ‘Or I could just shag someone and get on with my life.’
In this dream, lucid, clear, the choice of options went round the circle, each choice petering out into a morass of imponderables. It got to me, and I coldly told the woman that her best choice was to fuck me.
The whole group erupted in shock, but were confined to the space around the fire burning in the centre of the tipi. How could I be so callous, so uncaring? When the hubbub died down I explained. I knew nothing about the woman; no context, no backstory, no information. Simpler then to choose what was best for me, to choose the option I would like. She didn’t have to take my choice of options, but at least it was an option I was sure one of us would be happy with.
The dream ended with her declining the offer. That was it. Jem, who knows me well, will recognise the parallels with my professional life. Something I know, on a daily basis, is that in the absence of good evidence, we will choose what is best for us as individuals. That’s why evidence and context is so important, without it, we are only individuals.
The real life anecdote relates to a government policy, announced months ago. A colleague told me on Thursday, that he’d been asked to provide case studies about its likely impact, by next Monday. Dear reader, you might be under the delusion that government studies all the possible implications of their decisions before making them. Not if the evidence of my friend who works in local government is anything to go by. They make ideological decisions, and study the evidence only if they have to.
Like the offer of a random shag from a stranger because he hasn’t enough evidence to offer anything better, government policy is based on nothing more than what is best for the tiny minority who run our nation for their benefit.
Some days the greatest relief in my life is knowing that much of the shit originates from behind the spheres I occupy.