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This posting about dreams starts with a quote from Shakespeare, 450 years old today.

“And then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again”.

It’s often been said that there’s nothing more boring than having to listen to someone describe a dream they’ve had. However weird or far-out or funny the dream was, it’s one of those occasions when you just have to be there. We all have dreams of our own: we don’t need to marvel at anyone else’s.

Besides, dreams fail to follow a neat narrative course, so they don’t transfer well to storytelling. It’s also curious that however amazing they seem at the time, or in the bleary few minutes after the alarm clock sounds, the memory of them soon become hazy. In fact, I’ve often forgotten what I’ve dreamt about by the time I’ve taken my first mouthful of cornflakes.

My own dreams are always self-contained one-offs. I’m sure that recurrent dreams, if I had them, would stick in my mind like overplayed radio hits. Dreaming, or rather nightmaring, the same thing over and over again seems to be the sorry preserve of those who have suffered some unpleasant trauma.

On the occasions when I have a properly bad dream, it’s far from being an Exorcist-scale nightmare leaving me gibbering and clutching the duvet and not wanting to go to sleep again. Instead, a fairly mundane but awkward scenario plays through my somnolent brain: such as turning up to deliver a speech which I haven’t prepared. Though there’s always the obligatory surreal note: why is Paul McCartney in the audience?

Some desk research took me to a dream interpretation website. Apparently, dreaming about giving a poor speech could indicate… a fear of public speaking.

Well, if that’s insightful dream analysis, then I’m Dr Freud. As it happens, public speaking doesn’t worry me.

What I’d like is the answer to a more general point. Why, unlike Shakespeare’s Caliban, do I dream of social embarrassment?

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