Monday, January 13, 2014
As a writer, I understand that I have been born to bound from my bed every morning alive with vivid images and ideas plundered from the hypnagogic dreamworld twixt wakefulness and slumber. All that is required of me is to transform this bounty of miracles into fiction.
Maybe even fiction such as this.
The problem with the hypnagogic dreamworld is that it exists as a subset of the hypergroggic real world. In this land of tangible fog and shrapnel there are screaming babies, noisy neighbours, deadlines, deaths — and Nicki Minaj thrusting her gluteal globules in your face to the worst tunes ever. Obtaining reverie under these conditions is hitter and misser than Mike Tyson slapping the England squad after another failed World Cup penalty shootout.
But here’s the good news.
A word exists to describe this disturbance of dawn’s bright light. It’s an old word, a forgotten word — and it’s sillier than the plot of most Bond movies. How I love it when useful words are silly.
I’m indebted to Son of Whirl for buying me this book for Christmas:
It’s a treasure trove of peculiar words whose meanings have passed into limbo. Some are daft, but most are brilliant, and I’m ashamed I never got round to making any of them up myself.
Top of my list right now is uhtceare.
It looks like it describes a special fridge for storing long life milk, but the conjunction of ‘uht’ (pronounced oot) and ‘ceare’ (prounounced key-are-a) performs the following miracle of definitular mathematics:
Uht (the restless hour before dawn) + ceare (care and sorrow)
that moment just before dawn when you lie awake looking at the ceiling, fretting and fidgeting and feeling forlorn (and fucked as far as finking up fiction is concerned).
What makes this word so great is that it appears in print only once, leading me to conclude that the author of the poem The Wife’s Lament made it up.
Since I discovered uhtceare, the sorrows and preoccupations of my dawns have been nudged aside by the occasional giggle. If unpaid bills and festoons of anal warts come sledgehammering from my slumber, I whisper, “ah, ‘tis but an uhtceare” and I’m buoyed to dream on. It’s a trick that works in the same way as having a mystery medical condition diagnosed or a strange smelling soup revealed as “containing no peanuts”.
So next time you wake in an icy sweat at crack of dawn, tossing and turning with the fitfulness of a masturbating burger flipper in a burning drive-thru, remember ye that this noxious and nebulous state was described long, long ago. It’s not the fault of modern life, and it’s not particular to you — and it’s not so terrible that it demands a seriously threatening monicker like NAPALM, EXTERMINATION or ULCEROUS...