I Come From A Little Town You’ve Probably Never Heard Of – How My Only Meaningful Dream Is Actually Just One Big Joke
A few years ago, I went to get some talk therapy. The therapist asked me to keep a dream diary. I did warn her that this was probably a waste of time. My dreams very rarely have any structure. When my slumbering brain talks to me, it’s like an over excited five year old boy trying to tell his mum about a particularly great day he’s had at school. There lots of : “And then, and then, and then, and then…” but with very little actual information being imparted.
She insisted that everyone’s dreams mean something and persuaded me to keep the dream diary for a week anyway. So that is what I did.
I came back a week later with a notebook containing details of all the dreams I could remember from the previous seven days. The therapist asked me to read these notes out to her. After I’d read her the first one, she paused a little and asked me to read her the next one. And the next one. And the next one. And so on, until we had nearly run out of dreams.
We finally got to one that was something to do with a tiny rodent pulling a little sailboat along a river with his tail. She had a crack at this one. She admitted defeat halfway through though and said: “You’re right. Your dreams don’t mean anything. Don’t bother keeping a dream diary this week”. We discussed the issue a little further. She used the phrase “garbled nonsense” at one point. I think she’d realised that my dream about the rodent was actually just my brain replaying an old episode of “Tales From The Riverbank” and that the rodent in question was Hammy Hamster. Well, I did warn her.
I do have a recurring dream that has some sort of structure though. I didn’t tell my therapist about it, because I didn’t have it that week. I had that dream again recently. It goes like this:
(And yes, I realise that telling people about your dreams is one of the most boring things you can do, but this is my blog. If you don’t like it, don’t fucking read it.)
Anyway, the dream goes something like this:
I am in a really big house with lots of rooms. Every one of these rooms is a room from a house or flat I have actually lived in. And I’ve lived in quite a few. Sixteen at the last count. These rooms are filled with things I used to own. Childhood toys, old vinyl records, student union cards, that kind of thing. All the discarded touchstones of days gone by.
After happily wandering around those rooms, I come to another room. A less happy room. A haunted room. This room doesn’t have anything in it. No windows, no furniture, no carpets. Just bare walls and unvarnished floorboards. There is a presence in the room though, and it’s very angry. Unseen hands start throwing me around. I am lifted off my feet and smashed into the walls. Eventually I manage to escape from that room and find myself in a corridor.
It’s a very long, very grand corridor. More like one of those hallways you get in stately homes. It goes on as far as the eye can see. The oak panelled walls are lined with all sorts of cool stuff. Elegant bookcases filled with obscure old volumes, weird looking grandfather clocks, beautiful art. The Time Machine from the 1960s movie version of H G Wells’ classic of the same name even makes an appearance.
I walk along this corridor, marvelling at all of the amazing things that fill it. As I get further along the corridor, it gradually starts to become more organic. The oak panelled walls start to sprout little leaves and eventually turn into hedges. Then I am in a woodland glade.
There’s trees and birds chirping and the gentle sound of running water. I sit down, breathe in the fresh air and I feel very calm and peaceful. Then I wake up.
So, what does all that mean then? Well, the first bit is pretty obvious. That’s just plain old fashioned nostalgia. Wistful yearning for the past. No mystery there. And the angry presence in the empty room? That’s probably me. I do tend to beat myself up over nothing sometimes. An unfortunate relic of my Catholic upbringing. It wouldn’t take the cryptographers at Bletchley Park long to decode that particular metaphor. The corridor and the woodland glade have always puzzled me though. I figured it out the other day though, about half an hour after waking up from the dream. It’s a pun. It’s a fucking pun. Allow me to explain.
I live in a little town that you’ve probably never heard of. It’s called Stamford and it’s only famous for four things. John George Haigh, the infamous “Acid Bath Murderer” was born here. The 1980s BBC series “Middlemarch” was filmed here. “Pride and Prejudice” was filmed here. And “My Mad Fat Diary” by Rae Earl is set here. That’s it. Not a terribly impressive list, admittedly. Though everybody should read “My Mad Fat Diary”. Just saying.
I’ve lived in Stamford for twenty years now, but I’m not originally from here. I spent the first twenty five years of my life in Newcastle upon Tyne. And for the first nineteen of those years, I lived and another little place you’ve probably never heard of. Forest Hall. This is why the end of my dream is a pun.
The corridor is a hallway, or hall if you will. And the woodland glade is in…well….a forest. A hall that leads to a forest. Forest Hall, geddit? I see what you did there sleeping hindbrain. I’ve realised that I only have this dream when I haven’t been home for some time. It’s all very hippy trippy, but it really just means that I’m homesick.
Maybe I should get more therapy. Probably not though. The therapist who- quite understandably- couldn’t decode my dreams, came to the conclusion I need to write about my world to make sense of it. She reckoned that was all the therapy I needed. That psychoanalysis could dampen my creativity and actually make me very unhappy. I’m writing a lot at the moment. So maybe I just need to go home more often.
Copyright Michael Grimes 2017