I read in the paper recently that French scientists in Lyon have discovered that there are two types of dreamers. I don’t mean the kind that dream of living in France or dream of winning the lottery – I mean the kind that have dreams when they’re asleep!
The two types are quite simply those who remember their dreams and those who don’t.
I’m one of the kinds that remember. Apparently those who remember wake up a lot more throughout the night than those who don’t.
Sometimes I dream about really mundane things like I’m hanging clean clothes in the closet. I dream that I have tidied the house and it is spotlessly clean (which actually is one of my awake dreams too but I never seem to achieve it). When I wake up from house cleaning dreams, I am often absolutely convinced that I actually did those things. I have to go and check – sadly, Mary Poppins did not visit while I slept and the housework always still needs to be done.
Some of my dreams are less ordinary. I once dreamed that I gave birth to a pound of sausages. I arranged them carefully in a pram which was blue and silver. I took them out for a walk. The sun was shining, it was high in the sky. The sausages started to sizzle in the pram, I tried to shield the sausage babies from the sun and rushed home with them and then woke in a total panic.
Another time I dreamed I gave birth to a ginger bread man – he had beady little eyes. I honestly don’t want to know what those types of dreams mean – probably something awful!
As I’m from London my dreams are always in English and yet… just lately a few French words have been creeping in. A couple of nights ago I dreamed I was walking round a shop full of vegetables and I kept saying “what lovely legumes” and when I went to put things in bags, and was saying the names of the vegetables in French. There was also a giant rabbit eating a carrot, though actually that is something I actually saw in the market at Le Touquet on the Opal Coast!
It’s not just in my dreams that the French words are creeping in when I least expect it. I have noticed that when I speak with my expat friends I sometimes forget the English word for something. They might ask what I’ve been up to “work” I’ll say; “Been anywhere nice?” they’ll ask. And I’ll say something like “yes, I went to Champagne and had a glass of champagne, then I went into a cave, I mean you know, not a cave, an underground room …” A cellar they say. So, I am going from being fluent in English and semi fluent in French to being confused in both languages.
When I came to France I spoke reasonable French and thought that I would be completely fluent in no time at all. That hasn’t happened. One of the strange things is that I’ll go into a store or a restaurant, speak in French and the person (French person that is) who I am talking to will talk back in English! Then we will have an odd conversation speaking each other’s language. Also where I live in France, in the north, my neighbours speak a different kind of French – Ch’ti. Words are different in Ch’ti from French and the people here have a very strong accent which takes a bit of getting used to!
It seems to me though, that if I’ve started dreaming in French, something must be changing deep inside my brain where I’m not even aware of it… that or my crazy neighbours across the street who shout rather than talk are saying the names of vegetables out loud in the middle of the night and its penetrating through my sleep fog…