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Dream a little dream

Matthew Reeves thinks that dreams are over-rated and Neil Armstrong probably never owned a lava lamp 

Dream a little dream

When you walk around London and look up at its 1960s concrete towers of poverty, it's hard to imagine that back in the day these were dream dwellings. For those watching Neil Armstrong make his slightly bizarre comment on his one small step for man, the idea of living on top of forty other households and having the opportunity to go skyward every day after the daily grind was seen as a luxury for dreamers who dared to live closer to the moon and not as imprisonment hundreds of thigh-achingly small steps into a urine-scented nightmare. It's hard to imagine that society had such a strong shared dream for the future that people bought lava lamps shaped like rockets and glued themselves to Tomorrow's World reports of foldup cars, robot cleaners and barcode readers.

We live in a world where society's dream is that the future will be bright and orange, but everyone is way too self-conscious of what others might think of them to actually procure anything that garish. The future for my friends and colleagues barely sticks a single foot into the doorway of destiny. The furthest forward we look into the future is the iPad 3. If the architects of the 1960s had come from today's generation, their dream would have been 1950s homes with higher resolution curtains. Even modern day dreams like Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic programme are brushed aside as unobtainable and impractical. “Only the super rich will be able to afford inner spaceâ€￾, which we actually think is great as at the moment only the super rich can afford central London - get a couple off them off the planet and there'll be some room for the rest of us.

Nothing encapsulates the driftwood of today's dreamers like the Craft section of the Guardian website. Putting this kind of stuff under the “Life and Styleâ€￾ banner is enough to have the Guardian's wrists reddened by the Press Complaints Commission - making your own birthday cards represents neither life nor style. The section is full of classic articles perfect for the lonely spinster in your life. Their “Valentine's Day is approachingâ€￾ piece said it all. “Why not show someone how much you love them by making your own collage?â€￾ Even if they did love you, which they don't, they would instantly stop when presented with such a gift. Put away the Pritt Stick - Mrs Sniffles and her fourth litter need feeding again.

Even the dreams of non-agoraphobic high achievers generally add up to no more than having a fast car and shiny teeth. Brits really need to up their dreams or, better still I think, give up on them. Dreams, dream jobs and career aspirations are just a way to make you feel great about not achieving anything. They've become a substitute for doing any work. Admitting you have a dream job to me is an instant admission that you're going to live a bland and unseasoned pâté of a life. You have too much time to stand and stare, and to bore people as a result.

The kind of people who have dream jobs are the kind who google what the healthiest vegetable is and track down the latest quinoa sala-d recipes. Real achievers don't care if the healthiest vegetable is a tobacco plant - they just get on with things. Moreover, they don't pebbledash their dwellings with iconography of their aspirations. Would-be investment bankers should not put up posters of stock tickers. I doubt Neil Armstrong ever owned a rocket-shaped lava lamp. Imagine if he did. The guy got ticker-tape parades and presumably a whole lot of groupies and firing up a lava lamp in the bedroom would be such a mood killer. The people who achieve in life don't surround themselves with pictures of what they want, or posters of people with jobs they want to do. They just do what they want to do and hope that one day, maybe, it'll all work out.  

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