Hot Nights, Mad Dreams

Getting to sleep during a heatwave can be a challenge. However, I manage to sleep by having a large fan at the end of the bed, which cools me off enough to allow me to go straight to sleep.

But the heat seems to affect my sleep in other ways, by making my mind search deep inside my brain to retrieve long-forgotten memories. Those memories appear as dreams, and I don’t realise they are things that actually happened until I have been awake for a few minutes. They are also jumbled-up, out of sequence, not following any definite pattern.

I am stroking a dog that is lying on the pavement, and the dog rolls over to show me its belly. When I turn around, I am on a beach in France, aged around sixteen. The sand is too hot to walk on, so I am struggling to put on the shoes that I had just taken off.

My first wife is swimming in heavy waves, and I am watching her from a rock that I am sitting on. Then someone comes to get me and tells me we have to go to an emergency call in the ambulance that is parked nearby. When I get in the vehicle, I am wearing my EMT uniform, and the sea and my swimming wife are nowhere to be seen.

Queuing at a van to buy ice creams. There is a pier in the distance, and lots of parked cars. It might be the resort town of Brighton. Then my dad (who I have not seen since I was 24 and is long dead) taps me on the shoulder. He tells me he wants chocolate sauce on his ice cream, and I nod. When I return with the ice creams, he is nowhere to be found.

Driving a left-hand drive car. From the road signs I know I am in Turkey, and I am alone in the car. I get a bit lost and end up in a village. Then I am shocked to see men ahead, forming a roadblock and pointing rifles at me. They are unmistakably Taliban fighters. They pull me from the car, frog-march me into a small room, and one takes a photo of me on a mobile phone.

The noise of pigeons wakes me up. I walk over to the bedroom window and open the curtains. Outside, there are thousands of Wood Pigeons, covering every surface. I close the curtains and go back to bed.

Then I wake up, relieved it is all a dream. I can understand the memories, the pigeons, the beach references, even my dad showing up.

But the Taliban in Turkey? That one is a mystery.

Trying For A Sibling

I woke up late this morning, after a warm and uncomfortable night. I was in the middle of a rather ‘feverish’ dream as my eyes opened, a dream in which I had remembered something long forgotten.

It is strange how the mind works.

Regular readers will know that I was an only child. I was the only one in my extended family that had no brothers or sisters, and all of my friends had at least one sibling, sometimes many.

During my youth, I fluctuated between being grateful that being an only child was a bonus, and wishing I had a brother or sister to play with and to keep me company. So when I was nine years old, I tried to do something about that.

By then, I already knew how babies were made, and where they came from. We all spent enough time with older boys and girls to have been told the basic facts of life. When I was eight, I asked my mum why she never had more children, so I could have had a brother or sister. She told me the truth, straight out.

“Well your dad didn’t really want children, so after you were born, he said ‘one is enough’. My mum was always honest with me.

Almost a year later, an older boy on the estate where we lived was showing off a packet of condoms. We called them ‘Rubber Johnnies’ back then. He was boasting about sex that he probably hadn’t had, and said something that stuck in my mind. “You have to check them for little tears or holes, otherwise the girl can get pregnant”,

One day after school, before my parents got in from work, I made a quick search of their bedroom. I found a large box of Durex brand condoms in a bedside table drawer. Inspecting inside, I took out the first three condoms still in their wrappers, and pierced each one a few times very carefully with a pin from my mum’s sewing basket.

Convinced I would soon be having a brother or sister, I replaced them exactly as I had found them, then waited.

I am still waiting. My plan failed, and I remained an only child.

Spicy Food = Mad Dreams?

As someone who dreams a great deal and can usually remember most of them, last night was a new chapter in my dream experience.

Late yesterday afternoon, we had a professional contractor come to the house to clean our carpets. He was here for two hours, and did a great job, at a very reasonable price. But the carpet had to dry thoroughly, preferably without us walking in and out of rooms onto it. The man suggested we leave it for one to two hours, so at 6:30 pm, we decided to drive into town and eat at a restaurant.

We chose Spice Fusion, an Indian restaurant, and by the time we were ordering food, we were both unusually hungry. I had something of a craving for garlic, so as well as ordering a fairly spicy- but not too hot- chicken dish, I added a garlic naan bread, and a portion of garlic rice. It was all delicious and filling too, so by the time we got home, we were ready to relax for the evening, and the carpet was bone dry.

A friend once told me that eating spicy food makes you dream more, and those dreams are more vivid. I remember countering his argument with the fact that most Indians, Asians, and Mexicans eat spicy food every single day, and usually much spicier than we are used to in the west. I proposed that the inhabitants of those countries would dream permanently, and perhaps suffer from tiredness as a result.

I went to bed at a reasonable hour, and I was asleep in moments.

Then the dream came. Just the one dream, but a continuous one, with the rare aspect that I went back into the same dream after waking up at 3am. It was vivid, played out in real time, and colourful too. I had a pale blue car in the dream, and a lady involved in the dream had bright red hair.

It involved having to look after someone’s dog. The red haired lady had apparently just divorced and could not take the dog to her temporary accommodation, but would collect it when she moved into her flat the following week. The dog was a curly-haired black dog, of indeterminate breed. None of the dream happened in a familiar location, though in the dream it was well-known to me.

At some point, the dog ran away as I was walking it, and that made me wake up to discover it was still only 3am. I turned over, and had some trouble getting back to sleep. But when I did, I went straight back into the time-line of the dream, trying to find the dog. After telling the very upset lady I had lost her dog, I vowed to find it by placing posters all around the town. As I was doing this, a couple told me they had just seen two men putting a small curly black dog into the front of a pickup truck, and that the vehicle was stopped at the traffic lights in the distance.

I started to run in that direction, only to see the lights change to green, and the pickup pull away into the traffic stream. I carried on giving chase, hoping to catch up with it when the traffic slowed.

Then my wife woke me up, to tell me it was almost 9:30 am.

Perhaps my friend had a point about spicy food.

A Significant Time?

Last month, I wrote about a very bad dream I had.

I had checked the time when I woke up that night. It was 03:17, but that was of no significance to me then.

Last night, I went to bed quite early. I did not have a bad dream, but woke up feeling unusually hot. So hot in fact, that I threw off the duvet and sat up. The room is usually quite cold in the early hours, as there is no heating on until I get up in the morning. But last night it felt like midsummer.

I opened my Tablet to check the time. 03:17.

Now I am wondering if I should start to be concerned.

Bad Night/Bad Dream

I have written before about my vivid dreams. They are almost always easy to recall, usually interesting, at least to me, and on a few occasions, have managed to fascinate me.

Last night, I went to bed at a reasonable time, and settled down to sleep. It felt unusually warm for January, but I eventually got settled, and went to sleep. When the stormy wind began to increase in speed, I was disturbed by the noise of swirling leaves, and small twigs and branches falling outside. But after turning over a couple of times, I finally got back to sleep.

Some time later, I was aware of a presence in the room, close to my face. I opened my eyes to see a male figure leaning over the bed. Behind him were three others, two men, and a woman. They were illuminated in the pitch black darkness by a strange greenish-glow that seemed to be coming from below them on the floor.

I recognised them all.

The woman in the doorway was my mother. She died in 2012.

The man in front of her was my friend Steve Greenwood. He died in 1988.

Next to him was my dad’s older brother, Uncle Harry. I hadn’t seen him since the 1970s, and he has been dead for over thirty years.

By the bed was his son, my cousin Brian. I hadn’t seen him for over forty years. He was murdered by intruders in his home in Spain, over twenty years ago.

I felt unbearably hot, and threw the duvet off my body.

They all looked as I remembered them when I had last seen them, though their expressions were blank, and very scary. For some time, nobody spoke, including me. And then my mum said “We have come to fetch you”.

Then I woke up, feeling absolutely terrified, and shaking. I pressed the button on my tablet to check the time, and it was 03:17. That time has no significance that I know of.

It took me well over an hour to get back to sleep, as I was actually frightened to close my eyes.

That was one dream I never want to have again.

A Nicer Kind Of Dream: Spaniels

When my wife woke me up as she left for work this morning, I was in the middle of an intense and vivid dream.

In the past, I have written about my dreams on here. They are mostly pleasant, but sometimes have mysterious elements, or flashbacks to my past life in some way.

One dream I wrote about took me to a city in America, walking around a lake. It was a city I had never seen, in a country I have never visited, but the details I recalled were all uncannily accurate, according to many who responded in the comments.

In 2019, I had a dream about Chinese noodles, of all things.

Then earlier this year, I wrote about a more disturbing dream, involving being on the edge of a cliff.

The dream I woke from this morning was still quite strange, but overwhelmingly happy. I was walking in a European city, definitely not England, as I could tell from the architecture, cobbled streets, and tram lines in the streets. It had been raining, and was probably early evening. There were no other people around, and I seemed to know where I was going.

And I was carrying two tiny black and white Spaniel pups. They were up close to my neck, and I could feel the warmth of their bodies, and the softness of their floppy ears. They couldn’t have been more than twelve weeks old, and seemed to be accustomed to me carrying them around.

I walked past a large fountain at the centre of the junction of four major roads. It had a statue in the centre from which four jets of water were gently flowing, as if the pump inside had broken. Then I spotted the lights of an old-fashioned Art-Deco style cinema ahead, and the name ‘KINO’ in large red neon. As I got closer, I could see it was showing the film ‘The Third Man’, a big favourite of mine. The poster had the name ‘Der Dritte Mann’, and I knew what that was, though I don’t speak German. I went inside, still carrying the Spaniels, and a lady looked at me from behind the cash desk.

Shaking her head, she pointed at the dogs and said, “Kein eintritt mit hunden”. I nodded, understanding what she said, and walked back out into the street.

That’s when I woke up, remembering every detail of the dream, even the feel of the cobbles under my shoes. So I know I was somewhere in a German-speaking country, and where the architecture is distinctly European. I could read and understand German, and I felt as if the Spaniels were still resting on my neck. I have no explanation for this vivid dream.

But when my eyes opened, I felt happy.

Talking To My Dad

I slept in late on Friday morning. Something had woken me up earlier, probably the gales, and I didn’t get back to sleep until almost 6 am. That meant I was still asleep at 10:45, when Julie decided to come in and wake me up.

As soon as I was old enough to have an opinion, I didn’t get on that well with my Dad. By the time I was twelve years old, he was working away a lot, as a sales and promotion executive for a record company. When he got home late on Friday nights, he seemed to resent the fact that my Mum and me had coped well enough without him all week, and his frequent absences made us grow closer together.

When I was fifteen, he moved us out of London to a house in Kent, as he felt our rented flat was too ‘down market’ for him in his new job. A year later, when I turned sixteen, he bought me a used car, even though I was too young to drive it legally. He liked to boast to people about that. He had become a rather boastful man, taking any opportunity to name-drop the various stars of the record business that he had dealings with.

By the time I left school, we were hardly speaking. Despite that, he got me a job through one of his contacts, selling records. That was so he could tell anyone who would listen that I got the job because of him, and not because I was any good at it. When I was nineteen, I moved out and shared with friends, mainly to avoid having to be around him.

Then not long before my twenty-fourth birthday, he left my Mum, saying that he believed he was in a mid-life crisis, and needed his own space to think. We knew there was another woman of course, and it didn’t take too long to discover who she was, and where they were living. I never spoke to him again after that, and he died when I was thirty-seven.

With that in mind, it was very strange to be dreaming that I was talking to him last night. He was in another room, and calling to me to bring various things in to him. When my wife came in to wake me up because I had overslept, as I opened my eyes to look at her, my Dad’s voice seem to be coming from her mouth. It was the end of a dream, no doubt. That moment when you wake up feeling as if you have been ripped from another place.

A place that seemed very real. As real as the reality of waking up in my bedroom this morning.

The Noodle Dream

I was reading a post about dreams on Maggie’s blog the other day.

That was a coincidence, as I had woken up from a vivid dream that morning. It is not unusual for me to have dreams, and for those dreams to often be unusual in themselves. But on this occasion, I could find no explanation whatsoever.

The Noodle Dream.

I was living here in Norfolk, and I was the same age. I wanted to buy some noodles to add to a Chinese meal I was planning to cook that night. I wanted fresh ones for preference, but dried would do. I set off in the car, and headed for Tesco, the largest supermarket in the nearby town of Dereham. I know it well, so went straight to the area where they sell Chinese, Indian, and other foreign food products. Not only were there no noodles displayed, there was no empty space where they should have been.

I managed to find a member of staff wandering past, and asked her if they had any noodles in the store-room. She looked at me quizzically, and repeated “Noodles?” I nodded. “Sorry, never heard of anything like that”. Was her reply. I left that shop and walked across to another supermarket situated on the same shopping complex. The same thing happened in there, with a young man shouting across to his supervisor, “This customer wants noodles, do you know what they are?” She shook her head.

There are three other supermarkets in Dereham, so I drove to them all, with the same events played out in each one. Becoming exasperated, I drove out of the town to two villages where I knew I would find smaller grocery stores. One of them is run by an Indian lady. She shook her head at my request for noodles. “What are they like?” She asked me. “Spaghetti”, was my suggestion. “Oh we have that, it is with the rice and cooking sauces”. In the second, much smaller shop, I not only confounded the person serving at the counter, but she got a group of other customers involved too. “This man wants to buy noodles. Does anyone know what he’s talking about?” They shook their heads in turn.

By now, it was getting dark, and my only other shopping options were over twelve miles away, in Swaffham.

So I returned home, with no noodles.

If anyone thinks they know what that was about, I would love to hear it.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Seasonal musings.

As it is the Sunday before Christmas, that was obviously going to feature to some degree today.

But first, another strange dream that I woke up thinking about on Saturday, not today. I thought the sheer madness of my recent dreams was down to having such a high temperature. But that had gone by Friday afternoon, so why I had this dream is beyond me.

I was in a nightclub. It was an old-fashioned club, like the ones you see in films from the 1930s. I was sitting at a table with a very attractive woman, who looked a lot like the actress Louise Brooks. We had cocktails to drink, in triangular glasses, and she was smoking a cigarette using a long holder, like they often did in those films. We were watching the show, which was a male singer crooning, surrounded by dancing girls in 1920s clothes. Later on, we left, and took a taxi back to a smart apartment somewhere in London. The taxi was a modern one, the sort you would see after the year 2000. In the bedroom, the woman started to get undressed, as I watched from a chair by the dressing table. When she undid her bra, instead of revealing plump breasts, it was full of pieces of multi-coloured Lego bricks that spilled out onto the floor. She laughed hysterically, pointing at the amazed expression on my face. Then I woke up.

Work that one out, if you can!

Christmas is in full swing. The arguments have started, the freezer is full of food, and everyone is already talking about ‘after Christmas’, as usual. Cards are still arriving, local houses illuminated, (not ours) and anyone you encounter is asking, “What are you doing for Christmas?” They don’t really care of course, but it is a conversational requirement at this time of the year. The weather has decided to not play along. No snow forecast for Beetley, (thankfully) just some cloudy periods, followed by heavy rain.

Let’s not forget those people alone at Christmas, or the recently bereaved who have no heart left for celebration. As we stuff ourselves, and open gifts, let’s try to remember why we have this holiday in the first place, before you open the bottles of drink, and rip at the wrapping paper. I’m not religious, but I still like to think about the excess, in the face of genuine poverty, and loneliness.

To those of you not around the blogs for the next few days, I send my seasonal best wishes from Beetley.

Thinking Aloud On the Wrong Day


We were woken unusually early this morning, by someone repeatedly ringing my mobile phone. It is a standing joke that nobody ever rings it, unless they are trying to sell me something, or have the wrong number. It was an unknown caller, and they had left a voicemail message. My first thought was that it must be bad news, to call so early, so I played the message with some trepidation. It was a courier company, trying to collect a box from a Filipino lady called Marina. They needed directions to her house. So, a wrong number.

That had awakened me from a deep sleep, in the middle of an intense dream. I was back working in an ambulance in London, having a conversation with a patient I met a few times over the years. The dream was replaying a conversation I had with that man, and was like watching a video recording of us both, around 1986, as we were travelling to hospital.

We had been called to a man who lived not far from the base. We were given a diagnosis of unstable Diabetes, and told that the caller was a man in his sixties, who felt unwell with low blood sugar. The door was opened with a click by a remote button, and I walked in with my bag of equipment. I found the man dressed and standing, ready to go with us. He knew about his condition, and had already eaten a sugary sweet, hoping to hold off the problem until we got to the casualty department. As he turned, I was startled to see that he had no eyes, just short eyelids half-covering empty sockets. I had heard of this condition of being born without an eye, or eyes, but had never encountered someone it had affected. (it is called Anopthalmia, and is present in just 1 in 100,000 births.)

He put on some sunglasses, and I helped him to the ambulance. I had long been fascinated by the problems of blindness, but especially interested in people who had never seen anything. I wondered how he perceived the world, and whether it was true if other senses developed beyond the normal to compensate in any way. Having been sighted, then going blind later, is one thing. At least memory will supply some details for you to hang on to. But never having seen anything has to be a lot to deal with. As it is usual in an ambulance to discuss things not normally brought up in polite conversation, I asked him about it, and he was happy to talk about it, mainly because most people avoided the subject out of respect.

He was born in the 1920s, to a young single-parent mother. He used the old term ‘Out of wedlock’. Not only was her situation difficult, the appearance of a baby son without eyes was too much for her to cope with. She gave the baby away, and he was brought up in a home for unwanted children, later transferring to a residential facility for the blind, on the outskirts of London. He received a basic education, and was later trained in the use of Braille to read books, and use a specially adapted typewriter. During WW2, at the age of seventeen, he got a job with the Civil Service, as a clerk/typist, and stayed there until he retired, aged sixty. He told me he had never married, and never so much as kissed a girl. His pleasure in life came from reading books in Braille, and listening to the radio. He had never been to the cinema, or owned a television. I was keen to ask him about his perceptions, and also about the daily difficulties he had encountered, and still did.

Transport was an obvious issue. He had been shown how to get around his small flat, which had been provided at low rent, by the City Corporation. Also how to get to the nearest bus stop, so he could get to work. But he had no idea what number bus had arrived, and had to ask others at the stop. If there was nobody around, he would have to shout at the conductor, and ask the bus number. Back then, coins were distinctive, and banknotes issued in different sizes, so he coped alright with money. But he was annoyed that he frequently stepped in dog mess on the pavement, as he couldn’t see it. I had never thought of that. He had obviously adapted well, and as he told me “I didn’t know any different. That is how I live, because I had no option to do otherwise”.

I went on to ask about other senses. He said that his hearing was in the normal range, but his sense of smell was acute. He could recognise people by their individual smell, if he had already met them, and even tell different races, without hearing them talk. He remarked that my colleague was probably West Indian, though he obviously hadn’t seen him, and had heard few words from him. This was accurate, as my crew mate was from Barbados originally, though spoke with a London accent. He could judge someone’s height easily, from the direction of their voice, and whether or not he felt their breath on his face. I asked about if he could picture something in his mind, if it was described to him in detail. He said that the picture in his mind would be very different to what was being described, and it would be almost impossible for him to tell me what he saw in his head. He gave me an example, which I have never forgotten.

“Describe snow to me”.
I thought for a moment.
“It falls from the sky..”
He stopped me.
“I have never seen the sky”.
“Its white”.
“What’s white?”
“It has small flakes, like tiny crystals”.
“What are flakes? What are crystals?”
“It is cold”.
“I know that, because I have touched it”.
“It accumulates on the ground, looks like cotton wool”.
“What’s cotton wool?”
He held up a hand to stop the questions. He had made his point, and I understood.
“I can feel the cold, and hear the crunching underfoot. I also feel it’s slippery when I am walking. But I can never picture it in the same way as you. That’s impossible”.
I wanted to ask many more questions, but we had arrived at the hospital. I had an increased respect for blind people, and had enjoyed a fascinating conversation.

I got to meet him a few more times over the years, and the second time I walked into his flat, before I had spoken a word, he smiled and said, “You’re the man who asks the questions”.

I was dreaming about that this morning, and wanted to tell you.