I love the surreal. I think this is why I love the fact that I have vivid and memorable dreams - and I invariably can remember them. I have some that I remember from when I was a teenager, that are now more like memories than dreams. I guess they are memories of dreams but they seem just as real as real memories.
However real real memories really are...
This morning, very early, we were woken by what sounded like 'big gun' fire. Not quite a cannon but more than a rifle. Several shots... then silence... then more shots.
I was too tired to take too much notice and fell asleep again, into that strange, deep, dream-filled morning sleep.
Years ago, nay, years and years ago, I used to set my radio/alarm clock for a whole hour before I actually needed to get up - I'm not good at getting up. (I don't like it. I am not a morning person.)
In that hour when the radio came on (Today on Radio 4, of course - in the days of John Timpson and Brian Redhead) I dozed and had amazing, realistic dreams. For a (short) period of time, I actually thought I was psychic, for as I came round and woke up properly and listened to the news 'for real', I seemed to know what had happened in the world already! I had foreseen disasters, predicted football results and I always knew what the weather was going to be like.
Very probably on this day in 1986, I also knew of the dire happenings in Chernobyl even before I woke up.
I had, of course, been unconsciously hearing the news as I slept and what I heard was being translated into graphic and dreamlike images. It was spooky in the extreme until I realised how it was happening.
And I am not digressing - not really. This morning, as the gunshots were sounding, I was dreaming that this was the call to the good folk of Alcala la Real to leave their beds and go pick olives. It is, after all, what people do around here at certain times of the year. (Not this time of year, though.)
Everyone had the obligation to join in. Everyone would be paid 50euros a day until all the olives were picked (which is about the going rate) - and we all left on a bus from the main square. And there was a band to play for us whilst we picked. It was a quite a nice dream on the whole - and the only problem was that when I presented my basket, it turned out that I had picked strawberries instead of olives. And they weren't very good strawberries. So I didn't get paid. But never mind. It was time to get up and take the children to school.
Something very exciting is happening right in front of the children's school - a fairground is being erected. The SuperRaton ride is looking good and we've identified where the bumper cars will be. What fun - a fair more or less in the playground! Watch out for some happy snaps in the next week or so!
On my walk back, I followed two young men who were pushing bikes. As we crossed a road, we were channelled closer together and I overhead a snippet of conversation. It wasn't what was said that created an impulse in me to speak to them but how it was said - if that wasn't an accent close to my own, I don't know what was! So, I spoke, asking where those dulcet tones came from.
"Huddersfield", he replied, "well, more Brighouse, really." And that was more or less the end of the conversation as they had to cross another road and I had to go buy my bread. That felt as surreal as my dream - Huddersfield being the place I have lived and worked in for the past 20 years.
But no less surreal than the experience I had recently at a house I went to view. It was out in the countryside, above Castillo de Locubin, about 10kms away from here. Whilst not surprised that the owner was English - there are a lot around here and the photos of the kitchen had the telltale kettle on the worktop, an absolute giveaway of a Brit being somewhere nearby - I was surprised to hear an accent (I love accents!) that was very familiar - not Huddersfield, but even closer to home, Bradford! Where I was born. And the lady used to work for the council there ... and so did my mum. Not that the lady knew my mum, no, that would be silly. But her sister might. And her sister had just arrived that morning from England for a visit. She used to be a home care manager, just like my mum. But no, she didn't know my mum, she was a few years younger and my mum took early retirement. BUT, the coincidence was too good to stop there and we bandied a few names around - and lo and behold, very quickly we established a common contact. She knew one of my mum's colleagues and friends - someone whose son I had gone to school with all my life and who was a very dear friend. There aren't many Sandy Brunskills around, so I knew we were talking about the same person!! Again, very surreal.
(It would be nice to say we had decided to buy that house but, sadly, no.)
And to top off this surrealist post, the source of the gunfire?? I asked at the bread shop.
It marks the start and progress of a pilgrimage for the Virgen de la Cabeza - a direct translation would be Virgin of the Head - or Head Virgin, perhaps? No, not exactly, La Virgin de la Cabeza is the patron saint of Jaen. Following an appearance of the Virgin to a shepherd in the early 14th century, a sanctuary was built in a place called 'Cerro del Cabezo' - and the Virgin takes her title from this place. During May and June, processions of the statue of the Virgin are paraded around many of the towns in Jaen. Seems like this week it is the turn of Alcala la Real - the bread lady informed me that the Virgin will be taken out on Sunday and that a number of her devoted followers will be making the pilgrimage around Alcala - and setting off their loud explosions - in preparation for the big day.
That is real. Alcala la Surreal!