One of my favourite books when I was a child was called “The Complete Book of Fortune". It was a huge compendium of fortune-telling methods, oracular games, popular superstitions and sayings, descriptions of amulets and their supposed powers, and so forth; all the myriad ways that we have tried to see the future, encourage good fortune and escape disaster, over the course of human history. Some of it (“Napoleon’s Book of Fate”, the Mystical Art of Phrenology and Physiognomy) is seriously daffy; on the other hand, I’ve found the chapter on how to analyse someone’s character from their handwriting very useful on occasion, and the results impressively accurate.
A whole section of the popular superstitions chapter concerns superstitions associated with weddings, including “How to divine the future with wedding cake”. When given a slice of wedding cake by the bride, you are meant to eat all bar one last crumb, wrap that crumb in soft fabric, and place it under your pillow when you go to bed that night. Then take a careful note of your dreams and interpret them in the usual way (ie with some confusion), as they will tell your fortune in love and marriage.
So of course, when I got given a slice of W’s incredibly rich wedding cake yesterday I had to save a crumb, didn’t I? I mean, come on – a dyed-in-the-wool old singleton like me - I’ve got to know my fortune in love and marriage!
Guess what - I dreamed I was having coffee with several Kew colleagues, funnily enough including Marinated Artichoke Man. Clearly my subconscious hasn’t completely got over that earlier dream yet. This was all very mundane, though; just a bunch of people chatting in one of the Kew restaurants. It was so normal and un-dreamlike I was quite surprised when I realised partway into the conversation that it was a dream.
Then the dream took me to a marvellous antiques shop specialising in Edwardian cookery equipment. I was looking round very thoroughly and taking notes, as I was preparing my Wedding List. Yes, it seems my subconscious wants to spend married life not just in the kitchen, but in a kitchen without electric mod-cons!
So there you are; a tribute to the power of suggestion. I tell myself I’m going to dream about my future in love and marriage, and I then dream about something that might actually happen in the future (=coffee in the Orangery) and then about something I might actually do if I were getting married (=buying kitchen equipment). At least Mr Marinated Artichokes featured, which is some consolation.
Subconscious mind, you’re hopeless.