Do you daydream? I suspect you do, just now and again. Many of the people whom I know seem to meet with the temptation once in a long while, though they don’t all admit to it, let alone confess that they ever give way to it. But me – if truth be told, I must be some sort of a peculiar record holder. The plain fact is that for most of my eighty-odd years I have daydreamed, regularly, intensely, and with the greatest enjoyment. Not that I have anything against day-to-day reality – life has so far been very good to me – but just as some persons periodically light up their pipes in order to float away in clouds of tobacco smoke, apparently feeling all the better for it for a while afterwards, so I can lean back on a cushion or even up against a pillar on an overcrowded bus and slip away for a little while into a world of my very own. I can be back in a flash when I need to be, wide awake and refreshed, and no-one will realise that in my thoughts I have been so far away, in a world that I made just for myself.

I can still pinpoint the moment when it all began. I was in elementary school when it happened, building much of my view of the world on the late Arthur Mee’s Children’s Newspaper. There came a day when that venerable journal reported that a new island had just popped up out of the sea, somewhere (I believe) in the Arctic Ocean. That set me thinking. And when, later that week, a none-too-fascinating geography teacher had the class pondering on the endless emptiness of the South Pacific I readily put two and two together. If a new stretch of land were to pop up down there, might it not be vastly bigger than the one in the north? I pictured it clearly in my mind’s eye – a tremendous expanse of new untrodden land, with hills and valleys, all empty except for the occasional stranded whale or a long sunken galleon, a land just waiting to be sensibly and sympathetically developed. In a Latin lesson that came a little later I named my new land Respublica; and from then on there was no stopping me.

In my imagination time was not of the essence: less than anxious to see myself traipsing forever across sandy wastes, it took me only a matter of weeks to leap over Respublica’s initial decades so as to position myself in a land that had already found its feet; a land with prairies and jungles, snowy mountains and sandy beaches, newly populated by pleasant people of whom I was one.

My role? Now that is where the joy of my daydreaming really comes in. When I dream at night I am no more than a mere observer of the passing show; there may be demons there, driving me to despair, or dancing girls to delight me – I just have to accept whatever the night brings. But in my daydreams I am firmly in charge, in any situation that I choose to make my own. So what was I to do in Respublica? Politics are not in my line, nor do I see myself meddling with sports, wielding police powers, or engaging in Big Business, but if one seeks to mould society to one’s liking there are alternatives in plenty to be exploited. For a while, cherishing journalistic ambitions, I chose to be Editor-in- Chief of the respectable and highly influential Respublica Post; in thundering editorials I wielded the power of the pen, dictating the direction in which the country must move. Tiring finally of that, I spent a while managing the environment, building a population of spectacular but friendly wild animals and a flora to delight the eye of any beholder.

Just now and again, Respublica has faded for a time from my view. At one point I found myself cultivating an alternative daydream set in a medieval environment where a dictator, a bishop, a level-headed housewife and a remarkably intelligent horse struggled to co-exist. But these were mere passing fancies, and I was soon back, savouring the virtues of Respublica.

In more recent years I confess to succumbing to a longstanding fascination with trains, leading me in my daydream to assume the challenge of developing and directing Respublica’s National Railways which. I assure you, are quite the best in the world. And so, dear reader, should you ever find yourself wondering about the cost of a first class return ticket from Pacifica to Journeyman Road, all you need to do is to ask me. Come up close when you see me leaning against a pillar or a pillow with my eyes closed, then whisper your enquiry into my ear, I promise you a quick reply. Unless, that is, I have moved on to yet another Chapter in my daydream.

Illustration: New Harmony, Indiana as envisaged by Robert Owen, an engraving by F. Bate, London 1838.  Wikimedia Commons.


3 comments on “Daydreaming
  1. Graham Dukes says:

    Now that this muddled election in Albion has at last been held, shouldn’t you add to this comment? Every newspaper I have seen makes something different of the result, and I still have no reliable idea as to what the average Albionist (if he or she exists) really thinks of Albexit. Here’s a notion that might quite appeal to People. Having cast the Continentals aside to stew in their own juice, (or schnapps) why not create a North European Confederation (Albion, Cymru, Scotia, Eire, Norge, Danmark, Sverige and Island perhaps also Suomi). One might find much more common ground there….
    Graham Dukes – Oslo.
    European Union

    • Alan West says:

      Graham, as you suggest, I have to report that there has been a remarkable turn of events here on The Island. The coronation of the Leader didn’t quite go according to plan – in fact, it is doubtful that it will now go ahead at all. Assured of certain success in the plebiscite that she did not need to call (the Leader did not see the need to engage in debate with any other leader) and hoping to find popularity amongst the young of the Island, she declared a new Tax on the elderly and the demented. This Tax did not play at all well with some of the elderly and the demented, or even with the young, and she ended up with many fewer loyal courtiers than before. For the crime of costing many of them their livings, she has been found guilty in hindsight of Acts of Hubris and Arrogance. Her closest counsellors have been beheaded and she is now held prisoner in her own castle by her surviving senior courtiers and former friends.

      Since then, there have been further Signs and Portents. A catastrophic fire came down upon the Tower of Many Tongues, constructed many years earlier to contain the poorest people within the richest part of the Island. This tragedy is seen by many as a metaphor for All That Is Wrong in the Island and all That is Wrong With the Leader, as she once more failed to turn up and talk to The People when it would have been wise to do so. The story continues…

  2. Alan West says:

    What a coincidence! My version of the Island of Respublica (I called it Albion) was initially quite a dangerous place but, despite fire, plague, frequent wars with the mainland and an unfortunate predilection for witch-burning and bear baiting, nevertheless had by the early decades of the 21st century developed into a prosperous and peaceful place, banished blood sports, combined with its continental neighbours for unprecedented levels of economic wellbeing and was generally welcoming to strangers…

    The prevailing political creeds on the island were called Rationality and Liberalism and they alternated their terms in charge with a reasonable degree of consent, but then I awoke one day last summer to find that a revolution had taken place and the Island was now in the hands of an aggressive and obnoxious tribe of sadomasochists called Self-Harm, led with evangelical zeal by a new convert from Rationality (they are the worst sort) espousing all the things she had previously despised, except fox hunting which was to be reintroduced as a sop to those fox hounds who had not been given jobs on her front bench.

    The inhabitants are now being permitted a vote on the new regime but such is the level of hysteria and paranoia amongst the island folk and the poverty of alternative choices, I’m not convinced that there will be a return to either Liberalism or Rationality for many decades to come.

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