There are two kinds of dreams. Daydreams when you think about and try to imagine what it would be like to win a large sum of money and then what you would do with it. Or maybe write a bestselling novel and earn a huge sum of money, and then imagine what you might spent it on. Then there’s the nightmares. Those are the dreams that come to you while you are sleeping. Here’s the one I dreamt of last night and yes, it is a mixture of fact and fiction too.
First let me explain something before I tell you my strange dream. I’ve never been rich. I come from a lower poor English background. My father was a miller, my mother an office cleaner. Both were uneducated, never owning their own home and my mother had learning difficulties. My siblings and I grew up at a flour mill surrounded by open countryside. I’ve always loved the British countryside so my dream had always been to live surrounded by open fields and to enjoy walking for miles without meeting another person and seeing only birds of prey, deer, foxes and other wildlife.
In my nightmare last night I dreamt my husband and I found ourselves in the situation where we were able to buy a house surrounded by land. I was so excited at the thought of what wildlife lived on my land. As I explored the land I discovered some abandon outbuildings and greenhouses. As I was looking around I saw four people and two of them were carrying two disabled children. The adults were chattering away in a language I didn’t understand. I tried to explain to them that they were on private property. One of the men explained to me in perfect English that they were homeless and was looking for somewhere to live. I explained they couldn’t move into the buildings because they were unsuitable. There wasn’t any running water or power. The man said he could fix them up. I said, maybe if they came to live there, they could work the land and we could share the food. As soon as I said it I knew it was the wrong thing to say.
In my dream-like state my mind recalled a law in this country about squatters rights. There was such things known as landgrabbing. It was born out of the enclosing of land in Britain known as Common Land. In Britain during the Middle Ages the land known as Common land was land owned by a person or collectively by a number of persons, over which other persons have certain common rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, to collect wood, or to cut turf for fuel. A person who had a right in, or over, common land jointly with another or others were usually called a commoner. A Commoner would be the person who, for the time being, was the occupier of a particular plot of land. These plots of land were known a strip-fielding or Open-field system which were the prevailing agricultural system in much of Europe during the Middle Ages. These strips of land were normally only big enough to grow a few crops on, much like allotments or houses with gardens of today, and is why common land for grazing livestock was so important to the poor commoners of Britain.
So back to my nightmare. My good heart said I should help these people but I called my solicitor to draw up a contract to protect myself and the wildlife. Before I knew where I was, I had put a series of mobile homes on the site to house, not just one homeless family but quite a few. The next moment the original group of people came back with a large mobile home on a back of a huge trailer and was having it craned into position. When I protested, they quoted Erection of cottages act 1588 at me. This was a real belief, if you could build a house on common land in a single day between sunrise and sunset. i.e. raise the roof over your head and light a fire in the hearth then you would have the right of undisturbed possession. It was sometimes known as ‘Keyhole Tenure’. It persisted as recent as the early 20th century. But in fact this was a fallacy because the Act of 1588 was to stop landless people from unlawfully squatting or building any homes on common land.
On waking and telling my husband my strange dream, I was left feeling angry and annoyed. Mainly because I wanted to give the natural world somewhere safe to enjoy and make their home. Housing lots of homeless people may have seem the right thing to do in others’ eyes, but the problem for me in my nightmare was the rest of my land would be invaded by the homeless people living on the site too, and seeing it as their right to do so thus disturbing the wildlife and my enjoyment of seeing the natural world around my home.
Thank goodness it was only a dream. Yes, my husband is used to my strange dreams.
Have a great weekend.