Waking up from a dream, the way I've learned from the movies

We’ve all learned from the movies. Films and TV shows are a faithful reproduction of real life, aren’t they?

After a year or more locked away for our own safety, even more of what we know of reality has come from one screen or another.

So I thought it might be a good time to share ten important facts I’ve learned from the movies and TV in far too many years as an avid viewer.

What I learned from the movies & TV

10. How to wake up

Ever had a dream? Ever woken up from it? Did you immediately leap up to sitting? No? You’ve got it all wrong.

The only way to wake from a dream is to jerk up to the vertical and look around in amazement. Then you look down at the person next to you (who has remained miraculously asleep) and slowly lie back, to stare at the ceiling.

Only then, can you wake your partner and tell them what’s going on. Must try it some time.

9. Criminals can always break in – anywhere

It’s true. No matter where you live, a criminal can break in. However many locks or bolts, they can do it.

A recent example (out of thousands) is the Danish TV series Blinded: Those Who Kill currently airing in the UK on BBC4. The killer only needs to want to be in someone’s bedroom and – voila (or whatever they say in Copenhagen) he’s standing by the bed looking at his victim.

…who doesn’t, of course, wake up, not even from a bad dream. Obviously, they sleep deeply in Scandinavia (or maybe they don’t lock their doors). Which leads me to…

8. What to do when you’re frightened…

Leave your curtains open. It’s a fact. If someone’s after you, the best thing to do is leave the windows uncovered, so that everyone can see in.

It helps if you have massive picture windows too. Remember that, if you’re planning on moving house.

By the way don’t rely on your car either, because…

7. Thieves can always hot-wire a car

Buying a car? Don’t bother about the anti-theft features. They never work.

It doesn’t matter what kind of car you have, if a thief wants to get in and start it up, he can. All he has to do is fiddle with the door handle while innocently looking in the other direction. A set of bits of metal to poke into the lock can help.

Then, once he’s in, the thief merely bends under the steering wheel for a few seconds and the engine starts. You’d think car companies would get wise to this and find ways to stop him.

(It’s almost always a he, by the way. Movie women rarely steal cars, don’t ask me why).

6. The nice guy without a last name always dies

This is so well known that it’s said by the nice guy without a last name in Galaxy Quest. You haven’t seen Galaxy Quest? Shame on you. It has one of the best premises ever created:

The cast of a Star Trek-style franchise are fed up with having to trot out their slogans in Trekkie conferences for the rest of their lives, only to find that an alien species has picked up their broadcasts, believes them to be real and comes to earth to ask them to save their planet.

Not only is it a great premise, but it delivers on it. A must-watch.

5. There’s one thing that everyone always does…

No, not that. It’s vomit. Yes, it’s true. It doesn’t matter what the reason – shock, alcohol, high stress, or an invitation to save an alien species – but the hero will throw up at some point in the story.

I’m not sure why. Maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life when it comes to my digestion.

Or maybe writers think that what I’ve come to call the “obligatory vomit scene” is a cheap way to prove that they are gritty and real.

Or am I being too cynical?

4. Don’t worry about that noise.

It doesn’t matter who’s after you – homicidal maniac, flesh-eating monster or CIA hit squad. Keep those curtains open for the time being and relax.

Because the first scary thing you hear won’t be them at all. It’ll be a cat. Rattling door? Cat. Falling dustbin lid? Cat. Nothing to worry about.

Of course, once you’ve heard that first noise, the second will be the thing that kills you. But at least you have a few more seconds to live.

3. How to go to the toilet

Wondered about why toilets have doors? No need to wonder any longer. Toilet doors are no longer things you close. They are things you leave open while talking to your friend/husband/wife/flesh-eating monster.

Yes, stand up and take a bow I May Destroy You – and a thousand other shows. (Just remember to pull up your knickers first).

Could this be just another cheap way for writers to show how cool they are and unafraid to show us life as it really is? Or could it be that people actually do close toilet doors in real life?

No. Perish the thought.

2. How do you know someone is serious

No question – they smoke a cigarette. I mean, we all know the stuff is bad for us, so if you light up you must be serious.

Either seriously upset. Or seriously political. Yes, that’s you, Ken Loach. I feel I could get emphysema from the passive celluloid smoke of all those deeply committed Spanish freedom fighters and right-on politicians.

No need to go into detail. If someone is smoking, serious shit is going down. (Sometimes wine will do the same job, but only if you throw up afterwards).

Which brings me to my favourite thing of all time that I’ve learned from the movies and TV.

1. Forget that phone call.

If the chips are really down and the fat is in the fire, don’t bother to phone. Because if I’ve learned nothing else from the movie and TV screen it’s this: the more urgent the call, the more certain that nobody will answer it.

In the old days, you could rely on a phone ringing in an empty office. No such easy pickings now.

Today, you get a call on your mobile. It’s your fellow detective/spouse/beloved child. She’s going alone into that darkened house/he’s having a heart attack/she’s being stalked by a serial killer.

Don’t, on any account, answer it. Press the red button. Get on with your life. Listen to the message afterwards, when it’s too late.

That’s what real people do.

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