I think I just woke from a satirical dream.
Many of the events I document in these pages are given a matte glaze of fiction to protect the innocent and to elevate the material ever-so-slightly from the fully quotidian (you’re welcome) but the dream that ran through my snoozing head like video tape this morning happened precisely as I’m about to tell it. Except for the part with the OXO cube. Watch out for that OXO cube for it is a lie.
I was trying to buy a bottle of wine to take to a party, an errand that ended empty-handed and took me through three different off-licenses.
The first off-licence looked just like the SAQ we used to frequent in Montreal though it was supposedly here in Glasgow, but that’s dreams for you. There was no wine to be found on the shelves, only cans of uninspiring beer, and there were few customers. The person behind the counter was a big sweaty man with a once-white vest with stains around the armpits and a sea captain’s hat on his greasy head.
The man looked at me with disgust and ridicule when I asked somewhat incredulously where all the wine had gone. It was as if he didn’t know what wine even was, though I was certain this was the place I’d normally come to buy it. “Just a bottle of red,” I said, “something for about ten pounds.”
I then noticed a door into the back of the shop, through which I saw multiple crates of wine being packed onto pallets and loaded onto a forklift truck as if to be sent back to the supplier. “This is because of Brexit isn’t it?” I said.
Yes, the stupid, not-yet-in-the-dictionary word “Brexit” actually issued forth from my dream mouth, the dominion of the shit-stirring media finally complete with the violation of my usually-lovely dreams. Vest man looked shifty as if he were part of some great conspiracy to banish all continental goodness from our island even though his own business depended on it.
When I pointed this out he shrugged disinterestedly and finally, with a sigh that could have sunk ships, took a single greasy bottle down from a shelf and told me it would cost £73. “Seventy-three pounds?” I asked, but he didn’t seem to understand what I was getting at. “Doesn’t it bother you that it’s over seven times the budget I came in with?” He looked at me pathetically like I was being a square or a pedant and that he’d never seen penny-pinching of this magnitude.
The second off-license was ever-so-slightly chichi with a bar and fittings made from highly-lacquered, nice dark wood. There was, once again, no wine on the shelves, only gift sets of largely inedible seasonal products like biscotti and panettone (which I realise are products of Europe and slightly complicate the message of this satire but, never mind). The servers at this off-license were two rather silly women who wouldn’t stop laughing when, proffering my useless tenner, I asked where the wine had all gone.
“Oh no!” they mockingly lamented, “where is the wine!?” as if I’d asked expressed outrage at not being able to buy lark tongues or snaffles mousse. I struggled to compute the disparity between the luscious shop fittings designed to attract middle-class custom and the way the young servers mocked me for being a hoity-toity, wine-demanding posho. They had no personal stake in their employer’s business, I suppose, and I left feeling embarrassed and pompous.
The third off-license had an all-chrome interior; I think my dreaming brain had attempted to create an American-style milk bar, but it looked more like an Airstream trailer schematically exploded and turned inside out. Needless to say, there was no wine to be found here either and when I asked what was going on, the helpful young man at the counter furrowed his brow as if trying to remember for £250,000 where chicory comes from, declared that I should “fear not” and that he’d “mix something up” for me. I watched, intrigued, as he mixed gin with rosewater, crunched an OXO cube into it, and presented it to me as “the next best thing to a French red wine.” It was £73 again.
This all, I swear, happened to me in a dream, right down to the number of pounds being asked for. But the three-act structure of the Brexiteer, the lackies, and the philistine combine to create a surprisingly cogent story for a dream don’t they? So weird.
Why was that guy wearing a sea captain’s hat and a dirty vest?
If there happens to be a psychoanalyst reading this or indeed anyone else who thinks they know about dreams, please let me know if this one indicates anything other than my being a perpetually-disappointed alcoholic remoaner with multiple class-based neuroses. Ta.