There is a hole in the roof of the house I am living in and people are coming in, down a ladder. I don’t know where they’re coming from but there are loads of them. Some of them I know but most of them are strangers. They’re making themselves at home. I’m not sure if this is my house or not. Maybe it isn’t. Most of these people are quite friendly. I don’t really want to kick them out, and I think if I asked them to leave they would just be baffled.
The hole in the roof doesn’t really bother me. It’s not raining and it’s not cold. It’s nice to get some air in the place. If there wasn’t the hole it would probably be very stuffy. Blue sky is visible beyond the rafters.
I think this dream is related to the work I’m doing at the moment. I’m working on a website for the BBC, to go with a TV series about white British people. The work involves writing a script that scans through discussion forums looking for certain key emotional words: happy, sad, angry, confused etc.. As a result I’ve been looking at a lot of posts by people who don’t like immigrants, people who feel their country is being swamped by foreigners. I don’t think that, but maybe reading all that stuff has seeped into my subconscious.
I go into a room full of women. It’s a bedroom. Many people are sitting on the floor. They invite me to join them. It’s like a party. I’m just another person at the party. I don’t feel like the host. Someone asks me why I’m so grumpy. She’s someone I know, someone I knew when I was in another country.
In a bar in Vilnius a drunken Lithuanian thought I was Turkish. He told me to go home. He started to get aggressive. I told him to take his hands off the table we were sitting at. He’d come over and was standing in front of our table. In the end we left.
Vilnius is now a very expensive city by Lithuanian standards. Prices there have gone up a lot more than wages in recent years, largely because of wealthy westerners going there as tourists or buying up property there. Some locals told me that many people could no longer afford to live in the city and were being forced to live on the outskirts and commute long distances to get to work. Others were moving away altogether. About a fifth of the population has gone to western Europe in order to work. Someone told me his brother, a qualified engineer, was working as a cleaner in Denmark because he could earn more than he could if he were doing the work he was trained to do in Lithuania.
In a bar in Lviv, Ukraine, I got chatting to some locals. One of them wanted to know what I was doing there and why I didn’t speak Ukrainian. Why come to Ukraine if you don’t speak Ukrainian? Why not? was the only answer I could give. Most of the places I’d been were places where I didn’t speak the language, but where it was quite easy to get by if you spoke English. In Ukraine it wasn’t so easy to get by with just English. Russian would have been useful. In Odessa, where people speak Russian rather than Ukrainian, a couple of people shouted at me for not speaking Russian. One was a woman who thought I was taking a photograph of her. I wasn’t – she just happened to be in the background.
Part of my reason for being there, in countries where the cost of living was cheap compared to London, was so that I could live without having to work in jobs I don’t really want to do just to earn enough money to pay the mortgage, which is how it is at the moment, though this work for the BBC isn’t bad. Better than doing dull corporate websites, though I worry that this thing I’m working on, if it does go live, might just have the effect of promoting the views of bigots.
It seems wherever you go you meet British people, and in many cases they don’t have a positive effect on the places they go to. Krakow was full of British and Irish, mostly large groups of men over there to get drunk. So long as there are cheap flights and big differences in wealth between these countries there’s going to be movement in both directions. People from the poor countries will come to the rich countries to work, and people from the rich countries will go to the poor countries to get drunk, to get laid, to buy property or set up call centres.