Last night I had a troubled sleep. It’s the irregular hours of holiday times that throw me out. The only memorable image from a night of broken dreams was that of being attacked by a monkey which jumped on my back and tried to strangle me. How do I know it was a monkey? I don’t. It was not heavy. It was smooth and black. How do I know it was black? I don’t. Except the whole thing was black. It attacked me while I was dreaming I was asleep. I didn’t panic even though it had those smooth hands firmly round my neck.
I didn’t fight it off. I thought my way out of it. I chose to wake up. Of course now I don’t know if I was actually attacked and strangled in my sleep and am now in some kind of fantasy world of the newly dead, shades of Chuang tse and the butterfly. Why do I think it was a monkey? It was smaller than a person, agile, smooth. It gave the impression of being light, lithe and long-limbed. But smooth? Who knows? Perhaps it symbolises something troublesome in my psyche (it’s not short of subject matter there then) or perhaps it’s a portent of things to come. Perhaps it’s because I’m reading Murakame’s 1Q84. No monkeys there, at least not in the first 400 pages. However it is as they say “his sort of gig”. I wait for the circle to be closed.
Memo to self. Be extra careful the next time you visit Knowsley Safari Park. Meanwhile to compound the Murukami theme I had an email today from MC. He is a friend from the past. Our formative days at University. He has always kept in touch, the lightest touch via Christmas card, and I have tried to reciprocate. We haven’t met in 40 years. It hardly sounds possible. We came close last year but circumstances defeated us. Today he responded to my story “Landslide” about the Aberfan disaster. He gave me his own beautifully written recollection of the event. He was there too. Earlier than me. His experience was deeper and his reporting less gratuitous. The amazing thing is that we were fairly close friends for two years after the event and neither of us made any reference to it then or at any time since. Eat your heart out Mr Murakame. The truth can never be quite as strange as fiction but sometimes it comes damned close to it.