Only once have I hit my wife and that was by accident. I was driving in Naples and a motor scooter swerve in front of my car, causing me to stop. At that moment a young man, a pedestrian, opened the rear door and grabbed my wife’s bag sitting, vulnerable, on the back seat. I turned to give him a swipe, but in the process hit her.
Not only was it accidental, but it was in a dream. However, the dream was a slightly fictionalised representation of what really happened: a motor scooter really did pull in front of me while I was driving in Naples, and a young man really did open the back door and grab my wife’s bag. But he was gone before I had time to swipe anyone. (The police told us that if we didn’t want to be robbed, we shouldn’t come to Naples.)
Last night I had another such dream. I had just left the hospital in which I used to work when a young man came up behind me and insinuated his hand into the inside of my jacket in an attempt to relieve me of my wallet. I turned towards him and gave him as hard a punch with my left hand as I could (I have never punched anyone before).
In fact, I struck the brass bars of my metal bedstead. My left hand still hurts, its skin is grazed and is slightly swollen. I even thought for a moment of the possibility of a fractured knuckle.
No one has ever tried to steal my wallet in that way, so it is necessary to resort to interpretation (apart from the heavy Indian meal I had eaten earlier in the evening) to explain my dream.
The young man in question was actually quite well dressed: in a dark suit at any rate. Who could he have represented? He didn’t resemble anyone I knew personally.
Then it came to me: the assailant was George Osborne, not in person but as a generic and symbolic Chancellor of the Exchequer, the only person capable of picking my pocket so comprehensively as to leave me destitute, as the robber outside the hospital would have done had he not been laid low by my counterattack. (Actually, I don’t know that my counterattack succeeded; I woke up before the denouement of my dream.)
Yes, thieves and robbers may relieve me of some of my goods, no doubt much to my chagrin, but only the Chancellor of the Exchequer has the power to reduce me to destitution.