Wednesday, 7 September 2011
A Bad Dream
Last night, or more probably, early this morning I had a horrible dream. I was in a London black cab which was being driven erratically. There were two other passengers, a child and a man in his 30's. I got out and saw the cab drive through some security tape and off the road into deep murky water. The shape of the child - a boy of about 7 or 8 - floated eventually to the surface, and I managed to pull him out. The scene then switched to a rambling well-furnished building, someone else's home, where I was trying to make a telephone call, surrounded by indifferent people apparently unaware of my plight. I was trying to make contact with the bank to explain that everything - my mobile phone, my diary, my wallet with my credit cards, my house keys etc - were at the bottom of the dock. I know other people's dreams are tedious but I wonder if this kind of anxiety surfaced because of the current flood of 9/11 memories. The event that changed everything. I had an appointment at my dentist in London that day. I walked in through the front door and found everyone: the two dentists and their staff, nurses and secretary, standing in the small room immediately to the right off the entrance hall. They were watching a small television in silence. One of them beckoned to me to look. I saw the second plane crash into the south tower. The scene continued. Small confetti-like shapes were falling from the towers. I said: Oh my God. Those are people. The commentary said that it was thought that one hi-jacked plane was heading for London. One of the partners said to me: go home, and if I were you, leave London. I went back out onto the street in a daze and got a cab home, where my elder daughter and husband were unaware of what was happening. We watched the TV pictures together, and eventually decided that to leave London was unnecessary. By then it may have been clear that all four hi-jacked planes were accounted for. By a terrible and strange coincidence, the very next time I was on my way to the dentist again, walking up the King's Rd on 7/7 I saw a small crowd clustered round the window of a Bang and Olufson TV shop watching the bombings on the London underground and a double decker bus unfold. My cousin Mary's elder daughter Jackie lives on the lower west side of Manhattan. She had just left her daughter Anastasia at nursery when the first plane hit. She ran back to collect her and they got home before the towers collapsed, but their apartment was filled with dust. I was in NYC last month for a family wedding, and it struck me that no-one had mentioned the anniversary. But it changed our lives. And I changed my dentist.