Richard Attenborough sent me this picture today, dear reader. Yes, Richard, not his conniving stepmother, David.
Any interest in jellyfish is news to me. The nearest he's ever got to the ocean is in In Which We Serve when a set-hand throws a bucket of water at him in the bizarre hope that the viewer believes Dicky's really at sea.
Oh, and there was that one time when he and I went out for lunch. I ordered steamed samphire. He ordered eighteen hamburgers. The waiter was a fool and, without asking, gave Dick my shore vegetable and I got the beef.
But I digress...
Back to the picture. I found myself wondering what goes on in Dicky's tiny mind. Most mornings, I find an email from him in my inbox, usually with a picture attached. The emails usually begin, "I had this really twisted dream last night. You and I were naked, running a long a Californian beach..." The picture is usually something he's found on the internet and has as close a resemblance as possible to the thing which chased us along said beach.
No text from Dick this morning. Just the photograph.
Can jellyfish run?
The dream. Dicky. In bed. Alone. The duvet billowing. His pyjamas, soaked with the sweat of an anxious lovey, almost as wet as the sea-shore itself.
He huffs and puffs. Sometimes a yelp! Sometimes a scream. Sometimes an, "Oh, fuck!"
Then the jellyfish lashes out with one of his testicles. No. Tenticles. Freudian slip. Sorry. Dicky's hand slips from mine as he falls into the soft sand. I stop, though like any runner in any race, not immediately. I turn to look back and see the jellyfish lunge then land squarely (can a jellyfish do squarely?) on top of dear Dick. Through the semi-opaque, almost transparent body of the jellyfish, Dick's last mortal sight is of Minge, hands over face, fingers parted to allow my eyes the sight of this doom; screaming.
Then Dicky sits, bolt-upright in bed. Wiping the saliva from his face, he looks at the clock.
"What is it?" asks his (strictly non-sexual) bed partner, John Savident.
"Fish. Wet. Slimy. Eaten. Help!"
"Don't fret, love. Those days, for the both of us, are over. Long gone."
Out of bed, Dicky, puts on his dressing gown, sits at his desk, switches on his computer and begins searching for images of jellyfish on the internet.
Nights are long and in dreams, time and space is stretched, squeezed, manipulated and generally stamped on and screwed up. Who knows when the reality of the dream, the semi-reality of the mind and the fantasy of the psyche become one? And who knows what dreamers dream when they dream they're dreaming... And of death, death by jellyfish... What does my dream dicitionary tell me about this and might a dreamer, seeing their own death, die, in the same way that a dreamer seeing themselves squirt urine into the toilet bowl might wake up having wet the bed?
There is no entry for jellyfish, but for the suffix:
A fish is a common symbol of fertility, which in psychologicalt erms means a (promise of) personal growth.
Fish symbolise the unconscious.
Jung thought fish, being somewhat primitive and cold-blooded, may symbolise a deep level of unconsciousness.
Fish and snakes are omens of psychic or terrifying happenings.
Fish represent the libido.
A fish is a symbol of Christ and may, therefore, function as a psychological symbol of the self.
I'm going for psychic/terrifying happenings and libido. After all, my love, poor Dick did wake up next to John Savident, who, without sounding rude, does also have a very striking jellyfish resemblance.
Ooh, I am such a bitch at times.
Has anyone ever dreamt of their own death and lived to tell the tale? Have you, dear reader?
I will admit to a horribly acute fear of jellyfish myself, hen. I saw one, dead, on a beach, about 1983/84. I became almost hysterical at its size and alien look. Sure, I'd seen them on television, but these beasts were sureal; beeping, glowing. They were otherworldly. And their sizes were never represented in any way understandable by a pre-teen child.
This thing was the size of a small car.
Many years later, in the mid 1990s, I went on holiday to Menorca with my Mother, my brother and his then wife, Marina, along with her young son. Swimming in the sea, Marina was the victim of a jellyfish lashing. She screamed in agony, displaying long red streaky marks on her arms, back and legs. Running from the sea, she stumbled on a picnic basket. My brother, ever the hero, pissed all over her, splashing the food within the picnic basket much to the horror of the Spaniards about to consume their lunch.
"It's what you have to do," said my brother on being challenged by a burly woman, wearing something far more appropriate for a funeral.
Indeed, urinating on jellyfish stings does seem to be the thing to do, though, please remember, watersports fetishists may have simply invented this as a bizarre excuse or rôle-play exercise. I'm told vinegar works even better and most first aid centres near beaches stock it in copious amounts. They do not hoard urine.
In Spain, of course, sherry vinegar is used. In Italy, balsamic. Here in dear old blighty, expect nothing better than Crosse & Blackwell malt.
I've been thinking about Dicky all morning; his dream, John Savident, his search for a picture of a jellyfish and the barren landscape of a textless email.
I should call him.
And I've been searching for images of jellyfish myself. There are many to be found on the internet. Sadly, though, I'm yet to come across any examples developed through the medium of paint. Painters have such gifts. I'd love to interview one about painting a jellyfish. I imagine a most invigorating conversation which might stem from the very simple, "How?" and end with a debate about Abba, fashion, disco music or cocks.
The thought of swimming in any warm sea or ocean fills me with dread. So much so, I think I might actually refuse to do so, especially if the water is not crystal clear. I recall, on telly, seeing a caged man lowered into the sea to watch sharks. My only thought was relief in seeing him protected, head to toe, with a wet suit. Not that a rubber outfit might protect anyone from rows and rows or razor sharp shark teeth, no, but because they might save a swimmer from the lashes of a jellyfish.
You think that this is illogical and/or insane, my little maid? It's not. Box jellyfish can kill.
Ah! Box. Perhaps therein lies the answer to Dicky's dream. I'll end my rambling and call the poor soul.