Category Archives: Dreams

When I was a teenager, I dreamt I would die this year…

(Image by Enrique Meseguer, via Pixabay)

I tested positive for Covid-19 on the morning of Christmas Day.

It is 1st January now, a new year and I’m still testing positive…ho hum.

I had a dream last night. I was in the front room of my house with an unknown woman, watching a feature film from the 1950s.

Through the window, I saw this man who looked like a 1940s/1950s ‘spiv’ coming to the front door.

I said to the woman I was with in the front room: “There’s a spiv coming to the door”.

She looked out the window but could not see him, so I went out of the living room into the hall, then into the front porch and he just pushed through the letter box some ordinary leaflets about something I was not interested in.

I went back to watching the feature film with the woman.

For some reason the TV set was now on the floor and the woman had become six inches high and had pink hair, as young children’s dolls do. She told me she wanted me to hold her hair as she coiffured it. That was the word she used. Coiffure.

“I want to coiffure it,” she said.

She moved a small, padded stool over to near the wall, but this entailed turning the television round. We could still see the screen, but the TV set itself had been turned round.

The woman sat so close to the wall, though, that I couldn’t both hold her hair while she coiffured it AND continue to watch the television. Also, she was six inches tall, which complicated things. So I got another small, padded stool and moved it to the middle of the room and told her: “I won’t be able to do your hair so close to the other wall.”

So I turned the TV set round again.

I had to lift it up then put it down in its new position.

It was sitting in a low, one-inch-high wooden frame.

At least, that was what I intended to do but, when I was about to start, some more people arrived at the front door.

They were trying to tell me my back garden was in a mess and that I should buy a top layer of grass from them.

“Turf. That’s the word,” one of them said to me.

“Life is turf,” I told him. That is what I told him.

There were about three of them. I knew they were con artists and told them: “I like my back garden to be in a mess.”

The first man started lifting up the turf with his foot. One of the other men was holding some 6ft high poles. There were about six of them. The poles. Six round poles, each one the girth of a small man’s waist.

I thought I would try to confuse the men at the door.

“I don’t need any more poles,” I said. “I already have some. I was thinking of painting them. One can be red, white and blue for Britain. One can be red, white and blue for France. And I can probably get the German flag in there somewhere. I think if I paint one black, it would be very effective.”

I said this because I thought it would confuse the hell out of the man holding the six tall poles. And the others.

Then the woman I had been in the front room with came out to see what was going on. She was her proper height again.

It was now dusk or just after dusk. It was quite dark, so the gardening people went away, duly confused. 

But now there was a man at the bottom of the front garden who was allowing people to come in and offer their services to all the people who owned local houses.

I thought: This is very strange.

He was supposed to supervise them, but he was just letting anyone in who wanted to take a photograph.

Well, nothing wrong with that, I thought.

And then I woke up.

That was last night.

That is true.

Well, OK, that is not true. 

That was a dream I had on the 30th August last year. But I thought I would share it now. I muttered it into my iPhone, half awake, just after it happened.

And the heading of this blog is not true. When I was a teenager I did not dream I would die this year.

I worked it out logically when I was awake.

Back then, in the mists of the time when I was younger, I looked at the average life expectancy for an ordinary person. And I worked out that this would be the year I would die. I figured, all things being equal, I would die sometime in the 2020s and, if I were dead-on average, then 2022 would be the year I died.

We shall see.

Well, obviously, maybe I won’t. See.

But – hey! – life is but a dream…

(Image by Reto Scheiwiller via Pixabay)

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Dream ballet children and a politician

(Photograph by Brad Pouncey, via UnSplash)

Yesterday, I posted a blog about a dream I had.

I had muttered onto my iPhone what was in the dream when I woke up, dehydrated.

I vaguely remembered this recording-a-dream thing happening before and have just looked through my iPhone recordings.

I had indeed recorded a muttered description about a previous dream on 5th October. 

This is it below.

I have no idea what any of it means.

Look – I was half asleep when I recorded it.

These are the exact words…


In my dream, I had just arrived in Edinburgh and I went to see a guy I knew who ran hotels and he told me where I was staying.

He took me round to the place where I was staying, which was actually two buildings separated by a street and I said: “Oh, you’re doing very well. They’re both show-ers.” 

He said something about getting money from somewhere and, as we went down the street between the two buildings, there were lots of little girl ballet dancers going into a lesson in one of the big rooms, which was a dancing school.

Just outside, as we passed by, in the street between the two buildings, an Australian girl in her twenties was talking to a man. They were talking about some sort of act. She was saying the audience would not see the stilts they were on when they were on the surfboards. So that would come as a big surprise to the audience: that they were on stilts under the surfboards.

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer

Meanwhile, going in to the dancing school with the little girls was Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer,. He was wearing a small pink tutu dress.

I think this was in my dream because, earlier in the day, I had found out he is surprisingly small – around 5ft 6in.

The hotel owner guy was saying to me: “Where’s your stuff at the moment?”

I told him: “Oh, it’s at the BBC Hotel.”

I think that was in my dream because, earlier in the day, comedians Njambi McGrath and Sara Mason had been saying that, at the weekend, they had gone to White City House, part of the Soho House group of clubs. White City House, is a 2-storey club inside what used to be BBC Television Centre in Wood Lane…


The iPhone recording ends there.

Well, I did tell you I have no idea what any of it means.

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Horses racing around in my dreams…

What follows is all true.

So it goes: “To die, to sleep – To sleep – perchance to dream.”

Throughout my life, I never remembered my dreams unless I was suddenly woken up while having one – which, in the past,  maybe happened once every couple of years. I always thought this was a sad loss. I like surrealism and thought dreams must be wonderfully and literally fantastic.

This has changed.

Because I have some current calcium and kidney problems, I have not had a full night’s sleep since June 2020. 

I wake up every hour throughout the night, totally dehydrated inside my mouth. I have to drink water to rehydrate.

Quite often this waking-up happens while I am in mid-dream. So I temporarily remember my dream. 

By morning though, while I know that I woke up when dreaming, I have forgotten the actual details of the dream.

Very disappointing.

Most of my dreams are about organising events or performances.

Regent Street (Photograph by Luke Stackpoole, via UnSplash)

Last night, when I woke up in mid-dream, I muttered the details onto my iPhone – to remember.

According to that muttered memory:

The new owners of Penguin Books messed it up and were not making the right money, so they thought they would get more publicity by arranging daily horse races on Regent Street in London. Some of the races would be open to amateurs.

I watched some of the rehearsals for the races, with horses chasing each other round the curve of Regent Street.

And I dreamt about Penguin Books’ boardroom discussions on the practicality of staging the horse races…

Then I woke up in mid-discussion and so I don’t know the outcome.

Life is a bitch.

That actually IS what my dream was about, though I now feel obliged – oh yes I certainly do – to suggest that the winner of the main race could have been a night mare.

Let us all hope I don’t record another dream soon and won’t feel so obliged in future.

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Living the dream: my body is rusting

This morning I got a message from a friend.

It read:


This is how you feel isn’t it?!


I replied:

Nah. 

It’s just weird having an old body.

In my erstwhile teens I had a dream and wrote a short story about someone who had an artificial metal body and what he felt when his body eventually, inevitably started rusting.

Now I’m living the dream.

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Last night, I stole a large iron safe…

I had a dream last night and woke up at around half past two.

I had stolen a large iron safe, shaped like a cube.

It was heavy and large and made of thick iron and had rounded corners.

I stole it from China and I was dragging it behind me, attached by a heavy, thick rope.

I was dragging it along outside Euston Station in London.

It was night.

But the safe was taken from me by three men working for a woman whom I had worked with at Granada TV in Manchester.

At five o’clock, I woke again. 

I was in the air, flying round and round, doing loop-the-loops.

I could feel myself doing them because, obviously, I was inside my body. 

But I was also watching myself objectively from about twenty or thirty feet away.

I watched myself going round and round in large vertical loops in the sky.

Going down towards the ground… up to the sky… Down to the ground… up towards the sky…

Large vertical loops in the blue sky.

Subjectively, inside myself, as I was flying, I could feel that the large iron safe was still attached to me and I was dragging it round behind me as I flew in loops.

But, as I watched myself objectively, from twenty or thirty feet away, I could only see myself.

I was dragging nothing behind me; there was nothing attached.

It was just me turning circles in the sky.

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I can only dream of sleep… and reality often seems more surreal than dreams…

I have not had a single full night’s sleep since June last year.

That’s over a year ago.

The calcium and the kidneys are to blame.

Last night, I woke up from a three-hour sleep on the floor. It was 11.43pm. I went to bed to sleep ‘properly’ after that.

I slept for two hours. Woke up. Then went back to sleep and woke up every hour – extremely dehydrated – until 7.40am this morning. That’s my new normal.

I’m still slightly woozy-headed. Brain meandering.

Until last June, I never really remembered any dreams. Only rarely. Now, because I wake up every hour throughout the night, I sometimes do. 

Just before I woke up for the final time this morning, I was dreaming that I was skateboarding with Paul McCartney round the corridors of some university student accommodation building.

Paul McCartney had slowed down to talk to someone who had picked up his business card amid the detritus of a street market.

I only ever fleetingly encountered Paul McCartney twice – once when, for some forgotten reason, I was giving comedian Charlie Chuck a lift down to the Brighton Pavilion where he was booked to perform at a birthday birthday or Christmas show thrown by McCartney for staff of his London-based company MPL (McCartney Paul & Linda).

Neither Chuck nor I knew exactly where the Pavilion was in Brighton (this was before the time of GPS smartphones and Google Maps).

We decided to ask the first random person in the street walking past our car. It turned out to be Paul McCartney, ambling along, alone, on his way to the venue. This was well after the shooting of John Lennon in New York, but McCartney was clearly very relaxed walking alone in the street.

The other time was when he performed on the TV show The Last Resort With Jonathan Ross, on which I was a researcher. The shows were transmitted live from Wandsworth in studios owned by Keith Ewart, a former Swinging Sixties photographer who tended to wander round the place with a pet bird – I think it was usually a parrot – on his shoulder. 

Since I started remembering my dreams, reality often seems more surreal than dreams.

It turned out that Paul McCartney’s manager, who was there in Wandsworth that night, was Richard Ogden who, as a younger man, had interviewed me for a job when he was head of some division of United Artists in London. I remember he wore no shoes and had his feet up on his desk. It was a different era. I was just about to leave college.

I did not get the job. 

Later I heard that, a few months AFTER the interview, Richard Ogden heard from acquaintances what I was like and said he would have given me the job if he’d known.

I have always done bad job interviews because I make a bad first impression. Most jobs I got through word-of-mouth or, a couple of times, because I had failed an interview about six months previously and they couldn’t be bothered advertising/interviewing when that or a similar job became vacant again.

I never re-introduced myself to Richard Ogden that night in Wandsworth.

Years ago – it must have been 1995 – I was also interviewed by newspaper legend David Montgomery for a job on the not-yet launched Live TV channel, a tabloid-style British TV station owned by Mirror Group newspapers which ran from 1995-1998. They were looking not just for people but for programme ideas which would ‘hold’ viewers.

I don’t think he was particularly interested in me but he briefly perked-up when I suggested they could run live coverage of a sex-change operation over a whole week with reports before, during and after the op.

This never made it to the screen and I never got the job, but it was clear I was at least thinking in the right area as the programmes they did transmit included Topless Darts, the weather forecast read in Norwegian by a girl dressed in a bikini, Tiffany’s Big City Tips in which presenter Tiffany Banister discussed the financial news while stripping to her underwear… and Britain’s Bounciest Weather in which a dwarf bounced on a trampoline while giving the forecast. If he was forecasting about Northern Scotland, he bounced higher on the map. 

There was a lot of weather on the channel.

Live TV failed, but David Montgomery did not. In 2012, he formed a newspaper group called Local World which was sold in 2015 for £167 million.

Now (among other things) he owns the former Johnson Press Group of around 200 UK newspapers. This was valued in pre-internet days (the 1990s) at over £2 billion.

He bought it in 2018 for £10.2 million.

In 2005, The Scotsman alone had been bought by Johnston Press for £160 million.

Times change.

Whereas most newspaper groups have been trying to fight the online world by centralising newsrooms and resources, Montgomery claims he wants to make his papers more specifically local and less filled with generic material. He is also chairman of Local TV, the second largest local TV company with nine UK licences.

It will be interesting to see what happens because, basically, no-one knows what is happening in any business at the moment – not just as a result of the internet but as a result of the still as-yet not-really-finally finished Covid pandemic.

Who knows what the future holds? Life seems to get increasingly like an OTT movie script.

I’m still slightly woozy-headed. Brain meandering.

I have not had a single full night’s sleep since June last year.

I can only dream of sleep.

(Photo by Johannes Plenio via UnSplash)

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Queen Mab hath been with me…

The late Marion Morrison appeared to me in a dream…

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

No I didn’t.

That was someone else.

I have never been to Manderley and never dreamt I went there.

But, last night, I dreamt I was at school with John Wayne.

Both of us were adults, not children.

We were sitting at the back of the class, in different rows, on small wooden chairs. He was dressed as a cowboy.

Well, he would be, wouldn’t he?

He was John Wayne.

What was that all about?

Dreams are full of surprises.

Much like Life in that respect.

And equally unfathomable.

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John Fleming’s Weekly Diary No 35 – Life is but a dream. This week for sure.

… CONTINUED FROM DIARY No 34(b)

All the world’s an online stage in the coronavirus era (Photograph by Tianyi Ma via UnSplash)

THURSDAY 13th SEPTEMBER

I was talking to a stand-up comedian. She said she had done an online gig, but didn’t like them.

I can only imagine what it is like to play an online gig in silence from an invisible audience. It must be like a rehearsal where you have to deliver your performance at 100% all the time with no motivation and no reaction.

It is a strange twilight world, this coronavirus world, like a dream where brain fog is dense, motivation to do anything is very low and every day seems the same.

THURSDAY 14th SEPTEMBER

To add to the dreamlike quality of this week, I travelled on a Thameslink train today – never a good idea.

There was a lady with green hair and a red skirt sitting half a carriage away from me with a corgi dog on her lap – She looked like upside-down traffic lights.

When the brightly-coloured lady got up to leave at the next station, the dog was on a lead and followed her out of the carriage… And I saw it was not a corgi but a fox.

Is this even legal?

How did she get through the ticket barrier with a fox without being queried about it?

Thameslink may be unreliable and incompetent, but it has the bonus of having its fair share of eccentrics.

Don’t even get me onto the woman with the teddy bear who talks to anyone and everyone about the aforementioned bear; or the bloke with the bright clothes and over-enthusiastic moustache who, according to the Evening Standard, was once convicted of killing his brother.

THURSDAY 15th SEPTEMBER

In a chilling warning to all forced to use the Thameslink line, someone arrived at Elstree station to see me today and, before coming out, used the toilet facilities.

Thameslink: bottomless home of horror

She sat in there doing what she had to do.

The toilets have recently been refurbished.

This included the installation of a movement sensor controlling the lights in the ceiling.

Because there had been no movement for a short while, all the lights suddenly went off.

Pitch black.

My friend was sitting in a windowless cubicle inside a windowless Ladies’ toilet. She waved her arms around. No effect. She could not remember if the door had a bolt or a lever or where it was and she couldn’t find it. She couldn’t immediately see her handbag but eventually found it and, by touch and much guddling around, found her iPhone and switched its torch on.

The lesson to be learned from this is that, while sitting on a Thameslink toilet, be as quick as you can and move around as much as possible.

THURSDAY 16th SEPTEMBER

I think my constant waking up with a dry mouth during the night may be getting to me.

In my last Diary Blog, I mentioned an incident that happened in the street. No need to check back. It doesn’t matter; it’s just a McGuffin or possibly a MacGuffin.

A McMuffin – not to be confused with a McGuffin

But, for some reason, it has been reminding me today of a story I was told once. I may have mentioned it in a blog years ago. Dunno. I can’t be bothered to check. It doesn’t matter; it’s just a McGuffin. This is a story within a story within a story.

Back in the 1990s, I did not write someone’s autobiography. He is dead now. He was a ‘sleeper’ agent for the Soviets, part of a sleeper group run for them by East Germany’s Transport Minister. Strange but true.

This is the story as told to me by the man whose autobiography I did not write.:


One of the most famous legends of Central Asia tells of a horseman, the standard-bearer of the great Khan. As the Khan’s army are entering a city after a glorious victory, the standard-bearer sees a dark lady looking at him. The dark lady has fearful eyes, as if she is looking right inside him.

Afterwards, he becomes scared that this woman is a witch and she has put the Evil Eye on him, so he goes to the great Khan and tells him his fears and says he wants to go to another city.

“Of course!” says the great Khan. “Give him the finest horse we have! Let him escape!”

So the standard-bearer takes the fastest horse in the Great Khan’s army, rides off across the desert and, in record time, travels to the other city. When he arrives, he sees the dark lady standing by the city gates, waiting for him. She looks at him, smiles and says:

“I was so worried. I knew I was due to meet you here today but, when I saw you in that other city so far away, I was worried that you would not make it here in time for your appointment.”

And the standard-bearer realises that she is Death.


THURSDAY 17th SEPTEMBER

Even the spam is kinda weird this week. This was a comment on one of my blogs this week. You can tell it’s a tad odd from the first sentence:


Spam (Photograph by Hannes Johnson via UpSplash)

Hello and welcome to my webpage. I’m Kyran.

I have always dreamed of being a book writer but never dreamed I’d make a career of it. In college, though, I assisted a fellow student who needed help. She could not stop complimenting me.

Word got around and someone asked me for to write their paper just a week later. This time they would compensate me for my work.

During the summer, I started doing academic writing for students at the local college. It helped me have fun that summer and even funded some of my college tuition. Today, I still offer my writing services to students.


I was impressed by Kyran’s turn of phrase, particularly: “someone asked me for to write their paper”.

There was a link to his website and to his Trustpilot reviews which were almost all of the 5-star variety. The latest review read:

I may sub-contract writing my blog to Kyran…

THURSDAY 18th SEPTEMBER

Below is what happens when you give your iPhone to a 9-year-old and she asks Siri to translate the word ‘John’ into Chinese…

She also told me that one of the boys in her year had stolen one of another schoolmate’s micro pigs.

“A micro pig?” I asked. “This is some sort of cuddly toy?”

“No, they are real pigs,” I was told and, to prove it, a Wikipedia entry and Google photos were produced.

“He stole one of her micro pigs?” I asked.

“Yes, he stole one of her micro pigs after school. She has six. She brought one of her pet micro pigs into school in a top hat and he stole one after school.”

“She was wearing the top hat?” I asked.

“Of course not. The pig was inside the top hat. She carried the top hat in her hands with the pig in it.”

“Did she notice the pig had been stolen?” I asked.

“Of course… There was a tug-of-war. He tried to steal the top hat and the pig but she held on to the hat, so he ran away with the pig.”

As a postscript, I was later told that, although the light-fingered boy had stolen the micro pig, it was later returned to its rightful owner by “the man who looks after the boy”. I know no more about the pig’s fate.

“The man speaks English but I think he is French,” I was told.

“Have you heard him speak?” I asked.

“No,” I was told.

THURSDAY 19th SEPTEMBER

Last night, I woke up 14 times with a bone dry mouth and had to drink water. As always, this resulted in me being mentally zonked all day. Not helped by Thameslink.

I arrived at Elstree station at 1026 to catch the 1038 train which was (obviously) due to arrive at 1040 unless you read the indicator board which said the next train was at 0514…

Thameslink. The rail franchise holder with the slogan:

Reassuringly dependable incompetence in an ever-changing world.

I need to conserve my energy, because tomorrow is a big day – Thursday.

Oh… And… by the way… I made up the story about the fox on the Thameslink train. Life is what you make it and reality and surreality overlap all the time. Everything else apart from the fox story – the live miniature pigs, darkened toilets, illiterate humanity paper writers, the top hat, the homicidal man with the over-enthusiastic moustache and every day of my life being a Thursday – was true.

Or was it?

Yes, it was and is.

… CONTINUED HERE

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John Fleming’s Weekly Diary No 34 (b) has weirdness, confusion and a witch…

… CONTINUED FROM DIARY No 34 (a)

WEDNESDAY 9th SEPTEMBER

A bit of glamour, showbiz and crime… always popular in blogs

This blog is usually described as a “comedy blog” but perhaps oddly – perhaps not, given the eclectic bunches of readers and followers I have – the blogs which consistently get big hits are ones about crime and subjects other than comedy.

In fact, the two which have consistently, steadily got hits are:

Where the Kray Twins gangster film “Legend” got it all so very badly wrong (September 2015)

and

The practicalities of putting your head in a gas oven: my 2nd suicide attempt (January 2015)

Clearly, I must have been doing something right in 2015. Which is possibly confirmed by the fact that, in the last two or three months, the above two have been joined as consistently hit blogs by another May 2015 one:

The paedophile sculptor and the image on the front of BBC Broadcasting House

Someone suggested to me that renewed interest in this one might have been stoked by the spate of pulling down statues linked to the Black Lives Matter movement. But it seems to have lasted beyond that.

Weird.

THURSDAY 10th SEPTEMBER

My sleeping pattern seems to have returned to weirdness…

My sleeping pattern seems to have returned to my New Normal.

Waking up 10 or 12 times a night with my mouth and tongue parched totally dry.

Today, I managed to get on two wrong trains because my mind was not paying attention.

Intending to get on a train to Greenwich at Blackfriars, I managed to get on what I feared might be an express train to Brighton. Fortunately, it stopped at East Croydon and I was able to get back to Blackfriars.

All these names mean nothing if you don’t live in the UK so, suffice to say, later in the day, I got on another wrong train. Very confusing.

In the evening, I saw the movie TENET, which continued the confusion. I wrote about it HERE.

The UK law (or is it only the English law? Everything is confusing) now requires cinemagoers to wear COVID masks throughout all movie screenings even when social distancing is adhered to.

The reality was that, once inside the cinema and seeing that everyone was socially distanced, Most people lowered their masks.

This made no scheduling, audience or any sense (Photo by Levi Stute via UnSplash)

FRIDAY 11th SEPTEMBER

I had a dream in which I was attending the rehearsals for a live 2-hour peaktime TV variety show.

The rehearsals for the show were being screened live at 8.00pm on broadcast television and later, the actual show itself would be transmitted live.

This made no scheduling, audience or any sense of any kind. And the live broadcast rehearsals were going badly.

I have no idea what this was about but, then, for the last few weeks, every day feels like it is a Thursday.

And I don’t even know what specific feelings define a Thursday.

SATURDAY 12th SEPTEMBER

I was walking along a street in North West London with the 9-year-old daughter of a friend of mine when an old lady who looked a bit the worse for wear approached us.

“I don’t want anything from you,” she said. And then started telling us what she had been doing that day.

She got as far as a couple of sentences and “My daughter was supposed to transfer money into my bank account today, but…” when I felt it was better to move on. The whole incident took maybe 45 seconds.

The 9-year-old seemed slightly unsettled and I thought she was going to say I should have given the old lady some money (though she hadn’t actually got to the point of asking)…

But, in fact, the 9-year-old had been very unsettled by the incident.

“That is the third time I have seen that lady,” she explained. “The first time was near here (in North West London) about three weeks ago… Then I saw her a couple of days later in East London… and now I have seen her again here… She looks like a witch.”

I tried to reassure her but a new weirdness has become the New Norm.

Anything is possible.

“I tried to reassure her but a new weirdness has become the New Norm. Anything is possible.”

… CONTINUED HERE

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John Fleming’s Weekly Diary No 32 – My dreams, con-men and COVID footie

… CONTINUED FROM DIARY No 31

SUNDAY 23rd AUGUST

I was recently talking (well, emailing) with a well-known comedian. The interchange went:


The Glum family, with Jimmy Edwards second from the left

HIM: In an extraordinary – sorry ‘unprecedented’ – turn of events I have become busy! How you coping? I’ve been quite glum….

ME: Sorry to hear you have been Glum, presumably in the Jimmy Edwards pater familias role. I am a nihilist, so the world this year seems just ticketyboo and SNAFU, surely those last three words deserving of a lovable Noel Gay type London knees-up song.

HIM: Your nihilism has cheered me up and my excessive laziness reduced such that I have sent 3 emails today.


We are, truly, living in the time of coronavirus.

MONDAY 24th AUGUST

I am back to waking up 10 or 12 times every night with a bone dry mouth and have to drink water. Sometimes, this means I wake up in mid-dream.

Political problems in Belarus… I woke up too soon to help

Last night, I woke up and, for some reason, I had been talking in my dream to an Egyptian general who was working for a female Russian President who was having a television programme made about her. Lurking in the background watching all this was a rather aged Melina Mercouri – the Greek actress of the 1950s and 1960s – with staring eyes. I was talking to the Egyptian general about the escalating political problems in Belarus…

…and then I woke up.

Belarus will, unfortunately, have to do without my input.

Jo Burke – now a wiser woman after interviewing me

TUESDAY 25th AUGUST

Last Thursday, I was interviewed in the back garden of a Blackheath pub by performer Jo Burke for her upcoming series of online podcasts. She kindly said there had been ‘a technical problem’ last Thursday, rather than a case of interviewee incoherence.

So we had a second attempt this evening, via Zoom. It should be more physically editable but was no less incoherent. I should perhaps have warned her I am a terrible interviewee and should definitely have researched my own life before we started… I could not really remember the order in which things happened in my life nor how they came to happen.

Comedian Malcolm Hardee had the same problem when he wrote his autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake. Perhaps his problem was even worse. He could not remember in which DECADE things had happened let alone in which year.

Immediately before his book went to press, he remembered he had once been arrested by the Special Branch when he was found on a high window ledge outside prominent Cabinet Minister Michael Heseltine’s hotel room. He (Malcolm) was naked apart from a raincoat with nothing in its pockets but a pack of pornographic playing cards. He had mistaken Heseltine’s room for a chum’s.

Until then, Malcolm had forgotten all about this incident. It was just another normal day in his life. We managed to squeeze it into his autobiography at the last moment.

Someone else who was in the hotel at the same time (Yes, it really DID happen) told me the eyes of the Special Branch men who interviewed Malcolm looked stunned and mystified.

WEDNESDAY 26th AUGUST

I must have woken up six or eight times last night. Bone dry

I must have woken up six or eight times last night, my mouth bone dry and needing to drink water.

Also, about halfway through the night, I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep with hiccups and heartburn, which sounds like the title of an Oasis song from the 1990s.

It was “painful and distracting” – a phrase which sounds like an extract from a review of an Oasis song from the 1990s.

I ended up sucking on a Gaviscon, which sounds like a mumbled lyric from some Bob Dylan song in the 1960s.

The above paragraphs are what I thought when I was having the hiccups, heartburn and Gaviscon. I wrote them down.

For some reason, the heartburn made me overdose on musical similes.

THURSDAY 27th AUGUST

We are living through the end of a historic period. Facebook Friend Matthew Wilkes spotted a newspaper item which said linguist Dr Lauren Fonteyn had Tweeted that teenagers and those in their 20s, who grew up using short messages to communicate, can see the full stop (that’s a ‘period’ to any American reading this) “as a symbol of curt passive-aggression”.

I re-posted this on Facebook and comments included one from Georgina Dick:


It’s not that we’re offended and need to grow up, it’s more of an understanding of the tone you’re trying to put across. There’s a big difference between saying “OK” “OK.” and “OK .”


Promoter Alex Petty of Laughing Horse Comedy suggested:


We need to put a full stop to this!


Period punctuation unsourced.

…and the quoted Dr Lauren Fonteyn aka Lauren Bliksem Tweeted:


Apparently this is based on a Tweet I never sent or something I said to the Telegraph which I haven’t spoken to.


We are now well and truly fully into the 21st Century.

FRIDAY 28th AUGUST

Argh! Got to sleep around 8.00pm last night. Woke multiple times during the night including once with hiccups and heartburn (again). Gaviscon was chewed. Just woke up again – 10.30am – and still want to go to sleep but have to get train at 12.31 for lunch with performer Lynn Ruth Miller so about to get up, sleepy. Argh! Why did Einstein not work a bit harder and invent time travel?

That was written after 14½ hours of sleep.

I went to catch the aforementioned train. There was no barrier to go through as the main area at Elstree station was closed after rain brought down part of the roof. So it was not until I arrived at St Pancras station that I realised I had left my travel pass behind at home. I had to pay £13.50 for a one-day travel card.

Lynn Ruth  – an innocent in English plumbing

Lynn Ruth Miller – an American and therefore a novice in the English language – told me she had only just discovered that a ‘tap’ in Britain is a ‘faucet’ in the US.

Coming back from our lunch, it was not until I arrived at Seven Sisters station that I realised had left my thin case and iPad in the ticket hall at Stoke Newington station.

Fortunately, alert Overground staff at Stoke Newington had spotted the case and kept it for me. Including the iPad.

SATURDAY 29th AUGUST

I was standing in the front room of my house with a female friend. We were half-watching a feature film from the 1950s on my television, which was sitting on the floor atop a low wooden frame base.

A man dressed as a spiv (Photograph via Wikipedia, Chafford Hundred, England)

Through my front window, I saw a man who was dressed like a 1940s/1950s ‘spiv’ coming to my front door. I said to my friend: “There’s a spiv coming to the door”.

She looked surprised by my use of the word. She looked out the window but couldn’t see him because he was already at the door.

I went into my front porch and he had just shoved some leaflet through the letter box.

My friend and I went back to watching the movie. She was holding a doll about eight inches high with pink hair. Not an unusual hair colour in dolls. My friend decided she wanted me to hold the top of the doll’s hair down while she coiffured it.

She moved a blue pouffe over to near the wall. This entailed turning the television round so she could still see it, But she was sitting so close to the wall by the front window that I could not get in and hold the doll’s hair.

So I got a red pouffe and put it in the middle of the room, away from the window and wall where it was more accessible – and I had to turn the TV set round again, so we could both see it. I had to lift it up and put it down because it was on its low wooden frame base.

I was about to start holding the doll’s hair down when some more people arrived at the front door. There were three of them and they tried to tell me the turf in my front garden was in a mess and I needed to buy some turf care liquid. They were obviously some sort of con artists.

Turf love – Could be better but I’ve seen worse

I said: “Oh, no no no, I like the more natural, rough look, not a highly-manicured lawn.”

One of the guys started lifting up the turf with his right foot.

Another of them was standing in the middle of my front lawn with six large – maybe six feet high – green pole-shaped things – maybe rolled turf – the girth of a small tree.

I thought I will confuse them by being surreal (something I occasionally try with cold-callers on the telephone).

“I might use some of those,” I said, “but I’m thinking of painting them. Three could be red, white and blue for Britain. Three could be red, white and blue for France. And there might be some way of working the German flag in there somehow… If I paint one black, it would be very effective. It would look very good.”

This succeeded in confusing the man who was holding the earthen post-like things.

Just before this, my friend has come out from the front room and was looking at the three men with a hint of bemusement on her face. By now it was dusk, getting quite dark, so the garden con-men went away, quite confused.

My friend and I went back into the living room.

I looked out the window and there was a man at the bottom of the garden – a supervisor who was obviously allowing salesman to come in and profer their services to people living in our square.

“…I looked at my bedside alarm clock… It was 6.49am…”

I thought this was very strange.

Then I sort-of vaguely woke up and looked at my bedside alarm clock. It was 6.49am.

I turned over and went back to sleep.

I woke up a few more times after that. On the second occasion, half awake, I drawled the details of the dream into my iPhone before I forgot it altogether which, obviously, I would have.

Possibly even more surreal was the video my friend Lynn (not to be confused with Lynn Ruth Miller) and husband Frank sent me this evening.

This afternoon, they went to watch the Brighton & Hove Albion vs Chelsea football match. It was the first UK match since the COVID-19 outbreak started that had been played with supporters present rather than being played ‘behind closed doors’. Only home supporters in Brighton.

It is certainly a weird video, ending with what sounds to me like traditional gypsy or Turkish music and then the teams ‘take the knee’ to honour the increasing number of unarmed black men being shot by the police in Donald Trump’s USA. The last one was shot in the back seven times at close range, while bending over to get in a car door.

Strange times indeed.

… CONTINUED HERE

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