A Mancunian Nightmare

I woke up in something of a panic this morning, glad to find myself in bed in Beetley, and to realise it was all a dream.

Or to be more accurate, a nightmare.

During that long dream, I was living in a tiny council flat on a large estate in the city of Manchester. My neighbours all looked like various members of the band Oasis, and were standing on the long balconies of the block dealing crack and heroin to a neverending queue of eager customers.

When I tried to go out to the shops, they blocked my path, and mocked my London accent.

I just wanted to get back to Beetley, and couldn’t understand what I was doing in Manchester, or why I didn’t have Ollie with me.

Despite my relief at waking up from this dream, I am completely flummoxed as to why I would be dreaming about something like this in the first place.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Fever Dream.

Whatever was ailing me yesterday seems to have gone away overnight. Though it was uncomfortably warm here last night for February. I woke up late, in the middle of a dream that had disturbed me so much, I thought it was still ‘happening’.

I had lost Ollie, and I was looking for him everywhere. But everything in the dream was wrong.

We were living on a busy main road, in an unfamiliar city. The cars outside were all 1970s American cars, and Yellow Cabs like I have seen in films. People were helping me try to find my dog, but none of them were familiar, and none were American either. The shops, banks, and other buildings all looked like they would in an English city, but the traffic, buses, and even police cars, were American types from fifty years ago.

After what seemed like hours passing in my dream, it was getting dark, and I still couldn’t find Ollie. I was becoming incredibly agitated, and worried about my dog.

Then the yapping of a neighbour’s tiny dog woke me up, leaving me thinking about yet another strange dream, and why I had experienced it.

At least Ollie was alive and well, sitting on his bed in the kitchen when I went to check on him.

A Very Strange Dream

I had a disturbing dream last night. It woke me up when it was still dark, and I went back to sleep thinking about it. I was unsure whether or not to post about it today, but after walking round with Ollie for a couple of hours this afternoon, I decided to go ahead.

On the 18th of this month, I read a blog post on a blog I follow. Here’s a link to that.
The Seven Sisters

It was about a trip to the Seven Sisters in Sussex, seven famous chalk cliffs that overlook the coast. It is very common for people to commit suicide there, by jumping from the cliffs. I know that area well, and have been to the same spot many times in the past. I enjoyed reading the text and admiring the photos, left a comment, and thought no more about it.

Until last night.

I was driving along in a motor caravan, with Ollie on the seat next to me at the front. I have never owned a motor caravan, so that in itself is unusual. After parking the vehicle somewhere, I walked across the wide expanse of grass with Ollie running around in front of me, until I got close to the edge of one of the cliffs.The sky was grey, the weather cold, and the sea was turbulent, with waves crashing into the rocks at the base of the cliff.

Something made me inch nearer and nearer to the edge, until I was aware that small pieces of chalky rock were being loosened by my shoes, and falling into the sea below. With the wind in my face, and an uninterrupted view, I was really basking in the full force of nature. Ollie was still standing close, and just behind me.

Then for some reason, it entered my head to jump. Well not really jump, just step off into the void. The appeal of that idea continued to grow, and I started to move one foot forward until it was no longer touching the ground. As I did that, Ollie moved closer to the edge too. I turned and told him to ‘stay’, but it was clear to me that if I stepped off the edge, there was every chance that he would follow me. So I didn’t. I stepped back a few paces, and bent down to stroke Ollie. Concern for my dog had stopped me from doing something irreversible.

And then I woke up.

In the past, I have never really had any suicidal thoughts. I am sure the dream can be explained by having read the blog post, and those dangerous cliffs being on my mind.

But whatever the reason, it seems I can thank Ollie for saving me.

A Very Personal Ghost Story

This is a completely true personal experience.

This is from 2014. I have re-posted it before, so this is only for the benefit of my new followers, seeing as it is Halloween.

I have never really believed in the supernatural. Ghosts, apparitions, reincarnation, life after death, and all things associated with these. Not that I wouldn’t have liked to, it just didn’t seem plausible. Psychics can often appear to be very accurate. They claim to know things about you, even to be communicating with a family member, long since dead. Unfortunately, their ‘gifts’ are very easily debunked, and like most of these things, it has to come down to simple belief. And I don’t believe it.

My paternal grandmother was a great character. She had a very dark complexion, black hair, and a gravelly voice. Mother to three sons and two daughters, she had to fend for herself for much of her adult life, as my grandfather deserted the family home when I was a small child. When she was still a young mother, before the second world war, she was run over and seriously injured. Trapped under the vehicle, her leg had to be amputated at the scene.

I remember being somewhat fascinated by her false leg when I was a child. It often stood in a corner of a room, as she was able to get around surprisingly well without it. Once she was going out, she would always wear this prosthesis, and other than a stiffness to her gait, you would be unaware that she had only one leg. She was a houseproud lady, and her home was usually neat and tidy. The step outside her front door was dark red, and she would clean this with a red polish, called ‘Cardinal’. This had a very distinctive smell, and on occasion, it would stain her fingers red, as she did not wear rubber gloves. We would often visit her on a Sunday, and she would accompany us on family holidays to the seaside, where we would go in a large group. On one of these holidays, she once showed me the stump of her thigh, and I remember feeling most uncomfortable having to look at it.

Much later on, after my Mum and Dad split up in the 1970s, I lost touch with my grandmother. Family differences made it very hard to keep in contact, and visiting her had to be arranged in advance, so as not to bump into my Dad, with his new ‘lady friend’. We made the trip a couple of times, and I was pleased to see that she hadn’t changed a bit, though she was no longer in good health. She was always happy to see us, and we tried as much as possible not to waste time discussing the problems we faced, as a result of the unexpected separation.

By the late 1980s, other than exchanging Christmas and birthday cards, I hadn’t seen her for a long time. I was living in a small house in Surrey Docks, with my then girlfriend. I got a telephone call from my uncle, my Dad’s youngest brother. He informed me that my grandmother was in hospital. She had serious liver problems, and was not expected to live. I told my Mum, and we arranged to make the trip almost into Kent to see her. We checked that it would not clash with a visit from my Dad, to avoid any nastiness. On the agreed date, we struggled through the rush-hour traffic to the suburbs on the border with Kent. Caught up in delays, we arrived after the official end of visiting time. When we explained the situation to the nurse in charge, she was more than happy to allow us to spend some time.

It was a sad visit. We tried to look upbeat and casual, as we gazed down on this frail lady, yellow with jaundice, trying for her part to be cheerful, and obviously delighted to see us. We talked over old times, and about other members of our extended family, never once mentioning the advanced state of her illness, or her gloomy prognosis. After a while, she finally raised the subject of my Dad leaving us, and told my Mum how much she had missed seeing us both. She asked after my wife too, and I decided not to mention that we had split up, and that I had since met someone else. I wanted her to die thinking that all was well in my world. We said our final farewells, avoiding comments such as ‘see you again soon.’ We all knew that this was the last time we would see her.

I dropped my Mum off on the way home, and went back to tell my girlfriend, who had never met her, about the last visit to my beloved Nan. There were no tears, just fond memories; and frustration about the years lost, due to petty squabbles. We went to bed quite late, and I went straight off to sleep.

In the early hours before dawn, I was awakened by an unusual noise. It seemed to be coming up the staircase from the room downstairs, as if someone was dragging something up, one step at a time. As my eyes opened, I was overwhelmed by an all-pervading smell. I recognised it immediately, it was Cardinal polish. Still sitting up in bed, I watched as my Nan’s head appeared at the top of the stairs, level with the bedroom door. She looked at me and smiled, continuing the difficult process of walking upstairs with a heavy false leg. She was dressed as I remembered her, and wearing an apron over her clothes. She walked into the bedroom, and sat down heavily on the bed, right next to me. Street lighting outside was enough to provide sufficient illumination, so I could see her clearly. She reached for my hand, and held it in both of hers, high up, near her shoulder. I could feel the roughness of her palms. She said one thing, ‘It will be alright’, and she was gone.

The next thing I was aware of was my girlfriend talking to me. She seemed confused. ‘Who were you talking to?’ She asked me. ‘Why are you holding your arm up, does it hurt?’ She continued. Then finally, ‘And what is that smell?’ (She was too young to recognise Cardinal polish) The following day, my uncle rang me, to tell me that my grandmother had died during the night.

‘I know’, I replied.

I still don’t believe in ghosts. I suspect that it was a vivid dream, having just had the emotional experience of going to see my Nan, and knowing that she was dying. I can rationalise most of it to my satisfaction, but one thing has always been a mystery, and remains unexplained to this day.

Why did my girlfriend smell the polish?

‘I have a dream’

Fifty years ago this week, I was eleven years old. I saw a news report on TV, about a huge march of protest, in Washington D.C., in America. Martin Luther King Jr. was addressing this huge crowd, the largest I could remember seeing, in my short life up to that time. I knew a little about the plight of black people in the USA, and had seen reports about segregation, and the KKK. I well remember being mesmerised by the speech, and by the style of the orator. Although I was not religious, even then, so discounted any of that aspect, this speech held me in rapture, and perhaps more importantly, made me believe in the honesty of Mr King, and to also wish for the realisation of his desires.

If you have never seen it, it will be worth the eighteen minutes of your life, to view the grainy original on this You Tube link.

If you would also like to read the words, here is a link to the original text.

Click to access dream-speech.pdf

Mr King never got to see his dream realised. He was assassinated, in dubious circumstances, less than five years later. I am not sure if he would have been pleased at the current state of things in the USA, but had he lived, he would have seen black politicians respected, in positions of power, and not least, a black president.

It is unlikely that any of this would have happened, had it not been for this memorable speech.