Sunday, August 08, 2010

Of Bicycles and Dreaming

As is usual when I'm on holiday, as soon as I really begin to relax - which takes a few days - then I get the bad dreams.

They're always on the same theme: I am sure that I have written about them on this blog before. I have been given some small creature to look after and I have failed to do so and let it die.

Last night it was a tank of assorted fish and amphibians, especially newts. I had failed to feed them and they were all dead or dying. For good measure, I had also been given one of those fairground goldfish in a polythene bag. I had hung the bag on a hook and forgotten all about it and now the water was all dried up and the goldfish was dead.

So I woke with the usual feelings that I get from these dreams - feeling almost indescribably sad and terribly, terribly guilty.

I only ever have these dreams on holiday: it's as though they're a kind of self-punishment for enjoying myself too much during the day, and for not doing any work. I know that, at bottom, I think that all pleasure has to be paid for, and I don't know why I think that but I do!

So it took me a few minutes to adjust to being here in Amsterdam, in my brother Michael and sister-in-law Deborah's flat, on a bright sunny morning with nothing to do except enjoy ourselves.

And enjoy ourselves we did, with a kind of Day Rover public transport ticket for 24 hours for 7 euros, which meant we could hop on and off trams and buses and travel all over the place and see lots of different parts of Amsterdam.

They were all different and interesting, and they all had one thing in common and it is BICYCLES.

Okay, everyone knows that Amsterdam is very flat and hence is excellent for bicycles. When I was here about ten years ago there were lots of them, leaning against lamp-posts and railings and lining the roads by the canals. I remember cycling round Amsterdam one evening and very pleasant it was too.

But since then their numbers have increased, it seems, by a factor of about ten. The cyclists go at top speed and many people only consider one hand to be necessary for steering. The other one is often holding a sandwich, or a cigarette, or a mobile phone, or the hand of a child riding in front, or a girlfriend who's balanced on the back, or - in one case - another bike, which was riding along next to him, as a kind of spare.

The bikes have baskets on the front, often decorated with flowers and carrying all kinds of things, and varying in size from very small to the size of a wheelbarrow. Sometimes they have extra seats on the back, or trailers to pull.

What with looking out for trams, and buses, and cars, and scooters, and some strange little things that look like sawn-off cars but that live in cycle lanes, it can be very hard to look out for bikes as well, since they hurtle at you from all directions.

Oh, how charmingly picturesque, you may say, and indeed all this is extremely interesting to watch.

But if I lived here, I think it would only take a couple of weeks before I started leaning out of my high-up Amsterdam flat and firing at cyclists insanely with a water pistol. What's worse, I'd be secretly wanting to upgrade to a rifle.

Tomorrow we leave the Netherlands and head South into la belle France. I've had a lovely time so far. So good, in fact, that I'm confidently expecting more bad dreams.


Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

I think the dreams happen because you are free from usual workaday pressures. It's like the psyche catching up on itself for dreams are healing, like a computer processing al the old temporary files that have accumulated. I am sure that an expert in this field would be able to explain the repetition of the small animals neglected motif. And so to France... Dreams of snails and frogs?

11:18 pm  
Anonymous Shooting Parrots said...

I don't want to worry you, but I Googled dreams and goldfish and got this interpretation:

"To dream of goldfish, is a prognostic of many successful and pleasant adventures. For a young woman, this dream is indicative of a wealthy union with a pleasing man. If the fish are sick or dead, heavy disappointments will fall upon her."

So, were you looking forward to some mountain climbing in Holland?

3:57 pm  
Blogger Daphne2 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:06 am  
Blogger Daphne2 said...

I am worried that we are so alike! Last time I was in Amsterdam (6 years ago I think) all I did was walk round saying "Look at those bikes" at the same time as narrowly avoiding being knocked down by one every 10 seconds - nice to look at but not os good to share the road/pavement with.

7:13 am  
Blogger Grumpy Old Ken said...

How strange!
All I know is the mind is a wonderful thing. presumably it switches off at the end. Not yet I hope!

8:36 pm  

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