I have a dream

I don’t remember what I’d said, but it had made him laugh, briefly, before the seriousness we both recognised, settled.  His eyes focussed too long on mine, then scanned my mouth.  He took a deep breath, exhaling slowly and unsteadily as he moved closer, as he bowed his head down to reach me.  I felt the roughness of his thumbpad on my cheeks and our lips brushed; the lightest of touches…

Not likely – boomed my unconsciousness, and gave a good poke in the ribs to ensure I was woken fully.  For the hour that remained before my alarm set The Today Programme upon me, I pondered my unconscious and its increasingly unkind behaviour.

Until a few months ago, we’d got along fine.  Then one day, the good ladies of the office had a discussion about recurring dreams:

I dream that my hair falls out – said the bold one at the front.

I dream that I’m sitting on the bus and I realise that I’m naked – said the timid one at the back.

I dream – I added from the corner – or rather I used to dream, that something horrible happened, but when I tried to shout out, I had no voice.

That night, I dreamt that I had a hard swelling, right in the hollow where my neck and chest meet.  It was leather-brown and ribbed, like the pupa of a large grub, and my fingers worried it and worried it until it fell off into my hand, leaving a gaping hole at the base of my throat.

Bugger, I’ve self-tracheotomised – I thought.  I can’t breathe, I’m done for.

I held onto the air in my lungs; the few extra seconds it gave allowed me to acknowledge and accept the finality of death.  When my lungs could hold it no longer, I released my breath and instinctively I gasped for air.  The air did not seep from the stoma in my throat as I had expected, but instead refilled my lungs: and again, and again. I breathed and I lived on.  I cried out in joy.  Or at least, I tried to; my cry wheezed silently from the grub-shaped gap.

It was only when I recounted this dream to my ladies that I realised I’d been set up.  It can’t have been chance that a random dream just happened to end in a way I’d described hours before.  My subconscious must have planned it: planted it.  This is contrary to how I thought my brain in general – dreams in particular – work.  I had visions of a democratic process – id, ego and super-ego working together in harmony to organise my mindspace and its contents:

Ego: so guys, here’s what I’ve experienced today.  Make of it what you will…

(video plays)

Super-ego: OK, that right there.  See what you did there?  You learnt from a mistake.  That’s a great learning strategy, well done.

ID: blah blah strategy blah.

Ego: no, I think Super is right.  It might come in useful, we should keep that in the Long Term pile.  So, let’s see what’s up next, guys…


ID: oh my! Oh, that’s good, can we keep that?  Can we, can we, can we?  Oh, can we? Please say we can!

Super-ego: certainly not.  You shouldn’t have been looking at that angle – C for chickenshit.  File it.  Now.

Ego: I’m not sure, Super.  It wouldn’t hurt just to poke a bit of that into a dream?  Huh?

Super-ego: well…

ID: gwarn Super!

Ego: oh Super, you’re just the best.


Turns out it’s not a democracy but a dictatorship.

I had a dream.  I think he may have been Ifan from Information – sweet guy, not normally considered fantasy material (he’s Welsh for a starter) but dreamers can’t be pickers, especially when they’re being bullied by their super-ego.


I wanted to go with this:

But Super, she insisted on this:


I got blisters on my fingers

Imagine, if you will, me as zulu warrior dancer.  I hold up my rake as a spear while my feet stomp along in lines, around in circles.


Friday was a furious walk to work.  When I get home, decisions will be made.  A phone will be called… emails sent even. 

But they weren’t.  Instead, this being bank holiday weekend, I spend my frustrations and energies in what we laughingly call the garden but is more of a wasteland.  I want a seating area, so I choose a small sloping section in front of the bedroom windows to transform.  I dig it over, move a ton of soil, and what is left I level, ready for decorative aggregate.

Which explains my dance.  Rake, stomp, check, rake, stomp, check… I pass a happy Sunday morning.

The mud I tread into the house is soon mingling with Yorkshire mud that my daughter brings home from the Leeds festival.

Every other word is fuck, she says.

Needn’t bring that northern muck here, I say.

Was so funny tho, Ma.  K had so much E Saturday that he woke up Sunday with blisters all in his mouth and throat, so D was trying to spoonfeed him cold cream of chicken soup.

Sounds hilarious.

But that was all claggy so we cracked open the cream of tomato instead.

Wise choice, I say.

She tells me that raving in the rain was probably the best experience of her life, and that the most depressing thing in the world is the end of a great festival; walking alone through muddy fields of mostly-empty tents, the odd person you pass is either sobering up or hungover and you have seven hours before the coach home.


Summer in the city


This morning’s tour of duty; boy’s room first, open the blinds.  Nearly a teen and he’s still my baby boy, my puppy dog.  Two weeks today since I last saw him.  He’s off round Europe in a motorhome, playing Max to his dad’s Paddy. Not long till the weekend is my mantra.

But for now, I’m alone.  Girl in Africa, boy in Europe.  Sister on some island in the Med, friend in Scandinavia.  Utterly alone.  Even Les next door has escaped to Blackpool for a few nights.  In general, I think I do quite fine with alone, but these are testing times and I’m feeling kinda forlornely.

I consider taking Regina’s advice and finding a protest, to rub up against strangers; but this is a tiny city and its best offering is a rerun of Macbeth at the independent cinema. I settle, it’s ok.  Reminds me of when my boy nudges and says come watch the rugby with me, Mum; I get the gist but not the finer points and when I tire of concentrating, the scenery is easy on the eye.

Back at the car park pay-station, I find my plastic park-card and hold it out ready to slot it in, but there is no slot.  I wave it around in hope.

Just hold it up there, duck, where them three lights are.  A head peeks out from under the paymachine and a grimy finger points up to guide me.  Right up there – look, says the crosslegged imp, patiently.

Right, thanks I say.  I show the card to the buttons and like a jackpot in reverse, they flash rainbows and tell me how much to pay.  I feed a note into the machine and it spews out a few paltry coins, which I press into the grubby hands below.  Spend it wisely, I counsel, I hear wet wipe washes are the way forward.

Walking to the car, my phone rings.  My boy tells me he will be home in about an hour.

But you’re not coming home till the weekend.

Change of plan.

Well, that’s great, but couldn’t you have let me know?

I told you Monday didn’t I?

No, you said the weekend.

Hmmm… oh yeah, I wrote it on the postcard.

I see.  And when did you send the postcard?

Well, I couldn’t find anywhere to post it.

So, you’re bringing me the postcard that you wrote to tell me you’re coming home?

I could hear his grin, the sweetheart.



Missing my daughter

I close the curtains and breathe the air.

I sit on my daughter’s empty bed and close my eyes.  I see a tiny girl in a high chair.  She wears a tangerine playsuit, her dark hair is split into short, mischievous bunches, and she is play-frowning as she sits waiting for me to make her peanut butter sandwiches.  As a toddler, she had beautifully expressive feet: oh, how indignant they could be, and again so joyful.  She smiles at me as she theatrically furrows her brow, but the angle of those feet; the tension in them, let me know that a real tantrum is not far behind if I don’t hasten.  Just in time, the sandwiches are served and the feet relax; a first bite and her toes wiggle happily along with her jaw.

Always so independent, she developed her own individual smell from an early age.  Now older, stronger-willed and even more contrary, the perfume of her in this room seems to grow more powerful the longer she is away.  Or maybe I just breathe deeper.

It was two weeks ago that she sent her last, nervous, text before flying off to spend three weeks on the plains and deserts of southern Africa with a group of people she’d not met before; it is another nine days before I see her again.  In the meantime, we glean what we can from the weekly group-blog.  The first was heartening; we’re here safely, evenings are spent singing round the campfire and stargazing (generally speaking, the only stargazing my daughter does is watching TOWIE, but first for everything and all that).  The second was slightly more unsettling; we’re off trekking in search of elephants, it’s up to 40º most days and there are no showers – wet wipe washes are the way forward.  And while someone’s son is living on Tabasco sauce, someone’s daughter is a natural breadmaker and someone else’s snores, my daughter – after a week – spoke.

Next update is due tomorrow.