Category Archives: Dreams

Skelter Helter – A Sunday-Morning Dream

On a visit to a Belgium of the mind, where I am visiting GuyE2, the famous explorer recently returned from the far east and still dressed in a grubby white linen suit similar to that which was so improbably worn by Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarraldo. Unaccountably and uncharacteristically, GuyE2 is a constant mass of energy. He shows me his extensive document of the trip: a book with seven chapters, a travelogue and simultaneously a novel, an interactive entertainment, a work of art. Unaccountably something is missing: he wants me to typset it into a “proper” book.

During a perambulation of the fiefdom, I spot a new an imposing silhouette on the horizon: a tower, or an inverted helter-skelter, zig-zag crazy with the utmost protuberances.

“What is that?”

“New.”

(During the ensuing, long, pause my facial expressions indicate that I wish to know a little more about it than “new”).

“It’s (xxxx – the name is not important here), a school/ten-level computer adventure game/new tower. There’s a cinema, and a circus run by a strange, slightly malignant midget woman.”

“How does one pay for the circus?”

“That’s just the thing, the woman doesn’t ask you for money, but then she flies into a rage if you don’t pay. It’s almost as if she enjoys doing it.”

We must visit it, that much is unavoidable.

Suitable arrangements are made, and we enter the bottom floor with my (extended) family and several other friends who happen to be in the same imaginary Belgium at the same time. Guy cannot accompany us, but I take on the role of guide, my very limited knowledge of the place already granting me the status of leader among my ignorant posse. The ground floor is, indeed, a school. This is not interesting, we’ve all seen schools before. The next storey also seems to be a school, skip up the stairs, no need to explore, we’ll save this one for later when we’ve done all the worthwhile stuff, if we still feel like it then. The third floor is a college, let’s keep going up, we can always come back, but no: there is at least a cinema here, that’s enough of an “attraction” to warrant a visit. We squeeze through a college-style flat wooden door at the back of the auditorium; the light comes in with us and an entire audience turns to see what has disturbed them. The film has only just started. It is grown-up and boring. Lola and Beth wriggle and struggle; when the snack-vendor comes around we have no money, but a kind Indian man in the row in front buys us treats for the kids. We try to sit out the film, because it would be a waste not to, but after two minutes trying to prevent the kids from muttering their boredom the effort becomes too much. We continue our spiral up the building.

A large window provides a viewing platform: at last this place is becoming less like a school and more like an entertainment. I remember to do some videoing: whip out my camera and then search for a worthwhile subject. There isn’t one, but the hordes of schoolkids, seething chaos below glimpsed from the window, provide the only motion in the scene so I focus on them. I realise that this will form the credits for the movie of this moment: children moving in such a way that they cease to become people and fuse into coloured patterns on the screen. As I film, a theme tune is playing in my head; it’s in the can.

As soon as the last credit has rolled we move on: here is the circus we had been told about, and a performance is soon to begin. We troupe inside: it’s small, much smaller than I expected, like a large living room over-filled with tatty pastel Georgian-repro chairs and sofas. People are already smattered around these, there is just enough space left for our party but we’re going to have to spread ourselves around the room to take use of it. I spot the midget woman near the door: she’s looking at me slightly expectantly. I won’t give her the pleasure of acting unknowing. I stride around the room, carrying Lola, slowly and deliberately examining the decor (star-charts and wildlife posters), waiting for her to be certain that I’m not going to pay before surprising her by getting my wallet out. Crikey, it’s expensive: we’ll be bankrupt before the tenth floor at this rate.

The show starts, a window opens, outside it has unexpectedly turned to night and a magnified dark-blue sky is revealed to us. There is the famous constellation, made famous by the famous Belgian space-explorer; it glows like a tightly-defined pattern of green needles floating in the distance. The midget starts to lecture: of course, she is going to tell us about the constellation, but the cunning hag skirts around the subject, leaving it until last, in the meantime we get astronomy-101, all the bits that everyone with an ounce of education already knows: here is Ursula Minor, here is Ursula Major, also known as the Fat Lady and the Fatter Lady, etc etc etc etc.

And there I must leave off. I’m waking up, but implanted in my head is the knowledge that the rest of my ascent will make a good novel. Well, at least a short story. A novella, perhaps.

Please note: any similarity to persons living or dead is entirely subconscious.

I Don’t Gamble in my Dreams

I was in an awkward situation at the Foundry. Posthumous-lookalike and his friends had struck up a game of poker. I knew I could beat them all, beginner’s ultra-luck, but they were playing for stakes and my conscience wouldn’t allow me to join in. Even when they lowered it to a penny a piece: some memory triggered, a similar situation, somebody I knew had stuck to their guns and refused to gamble for coppers.

Another dream drifted across, of Sarah – Hi Sarah 🙂 – the last time I saw her before she emigrated to the States. I watched her playing poker, she was pressurised to gamble, but was resolute.

Then I remembered, that wasn’t Sarah. It was the Clive Owen character in Croupier (excellent film!). We played Connect Four the night before Sarah left. What was I thinking?

Dreaming is Free

Whabburba… wasaat? Gordon selling all his possessions, a high-class house-sale with his friends from a different world, his fancy projector going for £8,999,000 more than it’s worth, Gordon in the DJ booth, I’m talking him out of foolish indiscretions while making my own. Gill isn’t happy, but for no good reason. It’s a long night for dreaming, and filled with long dreams. Proof of this one: I wake up into another dream, and am presented with a receipt for my dreams, 3 hours and 21 minutes exactly that last one. It’s a very long night, and it’s all devoted to dreams.

Accounting for Myself

Strange but ultimately rewarding dream: I was walking through an unfamiliar City of London; for some unknown reason I’d been summonsed to a city bank. Finally tracked down their towerblock, took the swift, silent lift up to some unimaginably high floor then ascended a perilous staircase, one side open to the bottomless void, even higher and higher.

There at the top was John Reddihough and Gill. John wanted me to account for a whole bunch of invoices paid by Olivetti some ten years ago, Gill was acting as his over-eager assistant, digging out incongruities. I wanted to tell her to ease off a little but I couldn’t, I felt watched and listened to at every step. Piecing together my memory was a slow and arduous task, but I managed it. I might have slipped in a few untruths, but they were damn convincing ones. I finally felt like I was cruising, so I slipped out onto a balcony via a toilet window for a celebratory cigarette.

There was a commotion inside the toilet, I came back inside to find crowds gathered there, old people, children and tarted-up women. Somebody had just been sick. I went back to check up on John and Gill. They were wrapping things up, everyone had to give a handprint and a signature in a block of wet clay from Guanatamala (a bit like Guatamala, only shittier) as legally-binding proof that they’d followed due process and told nothing but the whole truth. I was wary but–what the hell. As a part of the ceremony, my shoes were swapped for a pair of sparkly red party shoes not unline the ones which took Dorothy back to Kansas. The bank’s staff explained to me seven times what impressions I had to make in the clay and where, I still didn’t understand it. I had a bash, but put my name in the wrong place. It was their fault, they’d explained it wrong, they went off to get another slab.

As I waited nervously, the hallway I was standing in filled up. Cloned men and exotic women from Essex chattered past me on their way home. The crowd ebbed and I was on my own. I tired of waiting and went to find somebody: “sorry, they’ve all gone home”. The manager apologised and absolved me of any further duties. Along with his staff had gone all knowledge of where my original shoes had been put for safe-keeping.

I just beat a couple of stragglers onto the staircase, took my life into my own hands by sliding down the bottomless bannister just so I could put some space between us and bagsy an empty lift. When I reached the bank of lifts, somebody was just nipping into one and I suddenly chose to put haste before privacy. The lift doors tried to close before I reached them, but luckily the woman in front of me had placed a pile of books between them so they rebounded, allowing me to step through.

The lift inside was so much bigger than I’d remembered, and so full: almost 100 people there. As we descended I was aware of every pair of eyes surreptitiously eyeing my glittery girl’s shoes. I still had in my hand the remnants of my earlier cigarette, and I puffed away until it was unsmokeable then ground the butt into the floor of the lift. Still they all stared. I made a big decision, better to speak out loud about the cause of my embarassment than to melt away with it still intact. I explained why I had the shoes on, and everyone felt pity for me. The ice had broken. Somebody over on the other side of the lift started performing circus tricks, pulling pairs of childrens’ shoes from a bag and making them dance on the floor. I shouted out, half-joking half-hopeful, “I don’t suppose you’ve got a pair of men’s size nine or ten in there?” They did, some funky plimsols not unlike the brown-and-orange ones Gill bought the other day. I slipped out of my heels and, thankfully, into my new brown shoes. Everything was right in the world again. I was back in Kansas.

We hit the ground and this crowd also started to melt. I’d finished tying my laces and was about to leave the lift when a teenage wide-lad approached me. I recognised him as the boy who’d given me my cigarette. “Oi mate, don’t suppose you could give me back that lucky cigarette butt?” “I’m sorry, it’s on the floor over there somewhere, but I’m not sure quite where. And anyway, the luck that you make is worth more than the luck that you find.”

Awake. Arise.

I wonder whether any of this had anything to do with the fact that I convincingly beat Gill at chess last night, first time I’ve ever done that (she claims she’s never beaten me before, but I know very much different). Felt good that, especially the knowledge that I achieved it via some sort of strategy, felt like I was playing chess at a different level than I had ever done before (ignoring for a moment that fact that I haven’t played chess in nearly ten years).

Purple Dragonfly

Some very vivid dreams this morning. Of course, I’ve forgotten a lot of it over the last couple of hours… open up the leisure centre, get everything ready in the café for when the customers arrive… have to kill my dad, very sad really but necessary… go swimming with the kids… etc etc.

What I do remember though is the dragonfly. It was purple, in the same way that dragonflies are usually green or blue, irridescent bright purple. And it was huge. Fucking huge. I mean, whenever I see a dragonfly, I am often amazed at how big those things are, but they all pale next to this one. I was just saying to someone sat next to me “Fuck! Did you see that dragonfly over there, it was the size of a cat”, when the dragonfly usefully came and landed just outside the window so that we could accurately check its size. Even more usefully, I turned to the right and noticed that there was a cat stuck on the next window, claws extended and somehow hanging on to the glass. The conclusion was that the cat did perhaps have a little more bulk, but they were certainly very closely matched and the dragonfly was perhaps a little longer, even though it was much stubbier than most dragonflies. Another interesting thing, from that close we could see that it was clearly made of purple silk, with some kind of feathery bits at the end of its tail. Very strange.

Dreams of Wealth and Bungalows

I dreamed that…

We’d spent vast quantities of money. To everyone else, it seemed profligate. They didn’t realise it was in invesment. It would pay off. We were on to a sure fire thing. Nobody realised.

Even Ewan, the epitome of reasonability, started appearing, menacing, on street corners; a shotgun carried with a casual air of violence that doesn’t give a fuck either way. Even his meek, mild brother, who we had promised a job, started to tire of waiting, and threatened to tell his brother where we were hidden, as he crouched in alleyways eating lard. And everywhere there were gangster vultures wheeling.

Meanwhile…

We retreated into our underground home. We were totally safe there. We’d rather not have to be safe. But our home, a rodent series of earthen chambers linked by gnawed tunnels, was perfect. We could extend it to our heart’s extent, but there was no need – what did we want more room for. A different kind of room would have been nice, an outside social meeting-people kind of space. But everything was very much hunky dory on the living side. Perfect.

Or at least, it had been. The lowermost room, our original excavation, was flooded with water that was unable to shake the remembrance of a past freezing point from its atomic memory. We could live perfectly OK without the room but… it was such a shame. It was where we used to keep everything that actually had a use.

Meanwhile.

…unflushed toilets festered down there, along with bloated green-pimpled corpses which, despite no reason for shame nor guilt, we had somehow never got around to telling the police about. We swam down to try and tidy things up a bit but, although Gill handled the waters like a stoic, within seconds I felt hypothermic. We retreated upwards.

To a meeting with the Rolling Stones and their angelic children, where my uncle Mick Jagger finally, reluctantly, agreed to lend me £1000 as long as I could guarantee to pay it back in twelve months time. As he handed over the cash he protested, in well-practiced tones, that “everyone thinks I’m made of bleedin’ money”. Well, they would, wouldn’t they?

Travel Arrangements by M John Harrison

Started dipping into Travel Arrangements by M John Harrison again yesterday. SO glad I did.

The first time I read it, straight after Mike gave me a copy some 12 months ago, I enjoyed snatches of it but found it hard going, couldn’t quite find any hand-holds, kept drifting off… My mind just wasn’t in the right place. I think that home and job and travel and… life combined… had left me brain-dead. This time around is different, I am going through a phase of curiosity and exploration – every time I hear of something that’s unclear to me I scuttle off and research it and so expand my knowledge. I lapped up the short stories of the book and luxuriated in their sentences. My mind still kept drifting off – little writing ideas of my own, an event in the book sparking off similar memories in myself – but by the time it returned to the page everything was still in context.

And what little ideas I had! Jumble Wood, a wood in Northern England, smaller than it looks from the outside, took me back to a bluebell wood near Ilkley – the pungent crush and slime of bluebells underfoot. The one word “vetch” concentrated the essence of every flower casually mentioned by an author but which I can’t put a picture to… and also every flower I see in my travels but can’t name. And I started generating random invented flower names of my own – dog-sable, myrmille, common saxifrage (oops, that one’s real!), wood camponie, goldbell, downy haresbell, maid-of-the-vale, pusanor, camfragion, star pernemmion,….

And finally, menion of Gravesend reminded me of my few trips to the opposite extremities of Kent, heading towards Dungeness, Romney marshes, the Rother Levels. I’m can almost taste the kind of prose Harrison would write about that part of the country, escaping the M25, passing through a stretch of twee home-counties and then suddenly, like crossing a causeway, you’re no longer in the garden of England, not even in England, but another country where the sea is a cruel ruler playing at benevolence. The Kentish niceness of woodland, hills, knolls passes into a drab grey-greenery of salt-flecked hardy sea-grasses, grey waters, skinny fence-posts keeping nothing in and nothing out.

Direct Marketing, Kiwi Juice and Office Gossip

Another weird dream (real-world tie-ins in the footnotes). I?ve lost most of it in the intervening couple of hours, but it seemed to centre around a meeting with Steve B of LeoNCo (sorry, can?t give complete names here because search engines have a nasty habit of spidering my pages and giving them undue prominence in embarrassing situations [oops – that search used to bring my Christmas Party pictures up at #2] where a company forgets to build its own website). Steve wanted us to undergo a second merger, and he had a huge list of direct marketing companies from which I was to pick our new partner. I hadn’t heard of any of them1 (well, maybe one or two), and I insisted that he choose, as he knew the industry inside-out, whereas I only know the Internet side of things. But nevertheless he kept pushing me for a reply, sparking off some kind of quest for the ultimate below-the-line agency which took on epic proportions (would probably have made a good movie. Then again, maybe not).

At another point in the dream, I was making fruit juice, the hard way – with my hands. I had a huge tub (like a water butt: green, plastic and barrel-like) full of green fruit (mainly apples and kiwis). I kept pushing and squashing, trying to squeeze every last drop of moisture2 out of the fruity pulp. Bits of kiwi skin slithered between my fingers as I tried in vein to separate the flesh from the skin. I threw my weight on top of thick round sections of something seeming like pineapple, but which was actually apple, knowing that the stringy pulp must still be harbouring some liquid. However much I laboured, I could never be completely successful and I felt the frustration bitterly.

I can’t quite recall how the dream ended, but I do remember that it was during a formal gossiping session3 – a group of males from work each teamed with their female “work-wife” (a person especially selected for their complementary personality – the next best thing to a girlfriend during events where partners are not permitted) and the group sat exchanging “he never did”‘s, “she did what”‘s and “ooh he is, isn’t he”‘s

1:
At lunch yesterday, Joe had been talking about a Campaign report listing ad agencies – many of which he had never heard of. He was horrified (or faux-horrified or whatever) at the number of direct marketing agencies listed. 

2:
I seem to have spent a large proportion of the last two hazy alcohol-sozzled days squeezing juice out of lemons. In the morning, I wake up, boil the kettle, and drop a lightly-bruised slice of lemon into my cup of steaming water. At lunch time, I order mineral water and repeatedly squeeze the lemon wedge nestling among the ice, trying to stimulate the alkaline-forming effect to combat the effects on my stomach of the previous night’s drinking. In the evening, I order Bloody Mary in the assumption than anything tasting quite so evil must be doing a modicum of good. Peeping through the swirling red and brown is an incongruous speck of yellow or green that betrays the lemon or lime chunk hiding below the surface.

3:
Well, I’ve certainly been partaking in more than my fair share of gossip lately. And loving it.

I Need a Tekken-Style Combat Thing

This morning’s dream – I wanted a computer game, needed a computer game. I think it was some Tekken-style combat thing. I sent Hannah to buy it, but told her to get something as close as possible if they didn’t have the exact one – for some reason I just had to play something new. She came back with something very disappointing – must’ve been written around about the time when 286 PC’s were the latest thing and Windows 286 was the hottest operating system in town. Couldn’t bring myself to play it. Oh well.

The Mysterious Adventure Restaurant in the Woods

Had a wierd, wonderful and detailed dream – perhaps only remembered because I had to wake up at 4.30am to catch the train to London, and doing so caught me mid-dream. As is always the case, I remember very little of the details or the early stages of the dream, more of the feel of it. I was together with my family – extended version, the same people who accompany us to family camps (Gill, Rowan and Morgan, obviously, plus my Mum & Dad, Lib, John & Alice. I don’t remember whether Hannah and Jon were also there).

Our group had all been for a meal at some wonderful but bizarre restaurant – the restaurant was largely open air (or under that type of clear-plastic tent that you might find used to cover a patio). It seemed to fill a whole forest (of the old English beech variety – lots of big leafy spaces and a carpet of rust-orange leaves glowing from the floor) and other areas of countryside. We had finished our meal and paid, and were in the act of leaving when I discovered from the waiter that Guy & Annick were eating at the same establishment.

I had wanted to see Guy earlier, but he had told me that he had a prior engagement. Now I knew what it was. Of course, only being happy with the finest things in life, he had opted for the prime table in the restaurant – which was also the table deepest into the woods. Now, this restaurant you see played a little like an adventure game – to get through it you had to solve certain tasks and dodge certain adversaries. Some of these, of course, I was already familiar with, having dealt with them in the trek to reach our own table. But I was concerned at what challenges I might face later on in the game (and, of course, being an adventure game, the puzzles got tougher the futher one went). My family were disparaging, wanting simply to leave quickly, but they allowed me my whim. I gradually realised, with growing fear, that it would be more than this – it could take me hours, days, weeks to solve the remaining puzzles, and there was no guarantee that I would return alive – perhaps some cunning wood goblin would pick me off with an arrow, or another foe would vanquish me with similar ease.

But set off I did. The early puzzles, which I had solved once already, merely served to bore me. I remember cycling with Lib, John and Alice for what seemed like miles, up and down hills, waiting for the slower cyclists to catch up at the crest of every hill. Later parts confused me, and merged one into another. The restaurant’s mysterious gardener seemed to appear in many of them; a dark, mysterious figure in thick soiled gloves, he spent much of his time loitering in a greenhouse, and would not have looked out of place inhabiting a Thomas Hardy novel, the author giving him an unusual name such as Zadoc which sounded both noble and low.

Sadly, just as this dream starts to sound interesting, my memory begins to fade and merge. I did complete many tasks, got scared out of my wits on a number of occasions, puzzled over seemingly insoluble problems, but ultimately didn’t reach Guy & Annick (although I did find time to imagine their surprise on seeing me – “wow! We never expected to see you here, so glad you managed to track us down” – but tempered with a little uncertainty – they had obviously been dwelling on deeply personal matters and were somewhat uncomfortable at having their summit interrupted at a crucial stage).

beep beep Beep Beep BEEP BEEP BEEP! The alarm on my phone went, I leapt out of bed, and the mystery adventure restaunt in the woods disappeared into the back of my mind forever.