More of my least uninteresting (but still mostly uninteresting) dreams, since the last time I did this. Once again, I indiscriminately typed up my somnambulist notepad scrawls (what I could decipher of them) until I hit an arbitrary 20. Then I actually read it, deleted half of it, slept more sleeps and repeated the process several times until I reached a slightly less inane (but no less insane) 20.
I don't imagine anyone is actually interested in these, I'm only publishing them online since my computers like to break every year and this is a safer place to keep things. Featuring cannibalism, xenophobia, existential angst, prophetic visions and an astonishing lack of sex (I told you I made edits).
It's a Small World, Ridiculously So
Smaller than that
From the tropical rainforests of South America to the Arctic Circle and Arabian deserts, I stomp around a ludicrously undersized version of our globe, somehow thinking I'm experiencing the real thing.
Influence?: Final Fantasy world maps probably played their part in counteracting my education at an impressionable age. I have a lot of dreams where I cross unrealistic distances and climate zones in a short span of time, but this was by far the most exaggerated. I guess I'm still interested in travelling.
Seriously, This Is It?
I die and find myself in a seriously depressing afterlife. It's like a crowded Asian shanty town, and I'm told I have to spend eternity in my own squalid little box room without going outside and disturbing all the other ghouls. Sod that for a laugh, I force open the window and escape into the street where I meet up with a couple of like-minded minor rebels who show me which alley to get fast food in and where the public toilets are. Great, that's me set up nicely for FOREVER then.
Influence?: Could have something to do with my debate over whether to spend my life in the Philippines or not. My unconscious is a bit sarcastic.
The adult me has gone back to school again, as have many of my contemporaries. The 28-year-olds clad in humiliating school blazers sit in Room 2 at Sandbach School waiting for the maths lesson to start and dwell on the harsh reality that it's been seven years since we were last in this place. Hang on... that can't be right. I have to wake up temporarily and calculate that it's actually been 16 years. I guess I could use more maths lessons after all. Before going home, I have a quick swim around the school's moat.
Influence?: I guess I'll never be truly free from those subtly traumatic years. You mature students are crazy to go back to all that.
The Past Is Dead
My sort-of-nephew-and-niece visit, and I realise they aren't themselves, but rather younger clone versions. I look through old photo albums with my mother that are deteriorating badly, losing colour and getting scratched to pieces, as if I was born in the bloody 1940s rather than the '80s. I lament the permanent loss of the past.
Influence?: I looked through photos of the kids before bedtime and left my unconscious to deal with the existential trauma.
Davey Day Care
One of the less harrowing exhibits at Vietnam's Revolutionary Museum
I'm babysitting my sort-of-nieces in their rural village, but they keep wandering down side streets to follow a colourful penguin. You can't blame them. I take some photos and am surprised that the camera actually works, since technology doesn't normally function in my dreams. It seems that I become self-aware quite a lot in these dreams, but still pathetically fail to take advantage of the boundless imaginative freedom this should offer. I had to keep an eye on the imaginary kids, after all.
Influence?: Babysitting responsibility anxiety.
Bimbo in Space
What starts out as quite an epic space story with wormholes and starship battles becomes more characteristically dull when I enter a space station airlock and find a kind of bohemian stoner hangout carved out of a big tree in the middle of a garden. I ascend the various floors of the tower, past people sleeping, drinking and doing whatever those type of people do, until I find a bathroom where I brush my teeth next to the comedian Richard Herring.
He shows me an article from the local paper, allegedly about me, containing scandalous inaccuracies and quotes falsely attributed to me, such as claiming I am a woman from Cardiff described as 'bimbo-blonde.' I plan to google the author when I wake up, so spend a few tedious minutes taking down notes on a pad that I presumably assumed I could take out of the dream with me. Alas, when I woke up it wasn't there.
Influence?: I think I need a professional for that one.
Maybe Next Time
We are camping in a tent in a field somewhere in Myanmar. A huge tyre rolls around the field independently, only occasionally rolling over our tent, but it doesn't weigh anything, so we're fine.
I explore the city and see some kind of cult ceremony going on. When they see me approach, they set fire to themselves, I'm the only one who survives the blaze. The cops arrive to take my statement and one reveals that, if he was in my situation, he would have taken the opportunity to fake his own death and start life somewhere new. I didn't consider that, I admit. Maybe next time.
Influence: I don't particularly want to do that. Maybe this was the cop's dream and I was just a guest.
The sight of all these identical, uniformed sailors waving in my direction
was an unsettling introduction to Sydney
My girlfriend and I have signed up to work on a cruise boat for two weeks, even though I have a very bad feeling about this. We're provided all-access key cards that log our every move throughout the ship - to make sure we're not slacking off, I guess - and the only area we're explicitly told not to enter is floor 14 (shouldn't that be 'deck,' Dave? Also, 13 would be more conventional, just saying). So naturally, going there is all I can think about.
I head to the information desk on floor 10 and ask one of the several Russell Brand clones who works there if he knows why floor 14 is forbidden. He's never heard of it, and counters by asking me if I know why black fashion recently changed from hip hop to goth style. I don't have answers for him, and suggest we've just lost touch with the zeitgeist.
I go to floor 14 and am immediately struck by all the Southeast Asian people there. Brown-skinned people in uniforms dash around and brown-skinned people sit on street corners (are we still on a boat?) I realise this is the cruise company's dirty little exploitation secret, kept hidden from the privileged white passengers.
But then, to shatter my compassion and expose me as just another racist, a teenage girl tries to rip me off by selling chicken satay sticks for 150 ringgets each. I do the currency conversion and refuse, and she responds by grabbing my leg and not letting go. I get no help or sympathy from any of her fellow floor-fourteeners as I struggle to walk, dragging her along with me as my shorts and boxers come loose, and she runs away with them and my wallet in the pocket. Defeated, half-naked and depressed, I decide to wake up.
Influence?: Anxiety about my girlfriend working in foreign countries. The plight of third world foreign workers generally. Fear of foreigners generally.
Like the Library of Alexandria All Over Again
My girlfriend's family owns a bookshop. Local competitors keep coming in and stealthily making off with piles of books. Not so much to sell them as to enjoy watching the business fail. It's only a matter of time.
Influence?: Discussions about the self-destructive 'crab mentality' inherent in Filipino society - the attitude that goes, if I can't succeed in life, neither can anyone else. Watching enterprises fail first-hand. Thanks, subconscious, but I already know not to do business here.
I meet up with Oliver in Los Angeles. We both came here to visit some (fictional) friends who were appearing in a TV show that just wrapped for the year, but it turns out they've already buggered off. We are a bit annoyed, but decide to make the most of the trip by being tourists. Naturally, our first port of call is an old movie house to watch a screening of the early silent film adaptation of the The Addams Family (doesn't exist).
Oliver is a bit distressed that a witch seems intent on killing him with a spell or something. I suggest fighting fire with fire and take him to the local library I somehow know about and pull a dusty copy of The Sandman Volume 4 from the shelf that has magic powers or... whatever. The dream ended around this point, thank god.
Influence?: Hanging out with Oliver in Thailand and not really knowing where to go or what to do. Oh, you mean all the witch and curse stuff? Dream, innit.
I meet up with Oliver in Kazakhstan. Hi again! I'm not sure why I'm there, even in the dream, and Oliver seems to be regretting his impulsive decision to take a pointless long haul flight too. I haven't done any research whatsoever about my destination, having to ask some other tourists what the currency and exchange rate are like.
For his part, Oliver is making the best of the situation for make benefit of cultural learnings by meeting a selection of local women over the course of his stay. He shows photos of these perfectly fine looking women to a taxi driver who laughs at foreigners' bizarre taste. You're supposed to like the girls who desperately mutilate themselves to achieve Caucasian complexions, not the natural exotic beauties, ya daftie.
Influence?: I don't particularly have plans to visit Kazakhstan, and I'm sure Oliver would never be so badly behaved.
Something Strange in the Neighbourhood
I'm with one of my brothers in a street close to the house we lived in c.1996, which spontaneously explodes. We climb aboard Ecto 1 (the Ghostbusters' car - apparently also mine) and head to the hills as debris, smoke and lava erupt from the myriad entrances to the subterranean network that connects all the houses in the area.
We look out over the devastation when we reach a 'safe' altitude, only to see the forest in the distance collapse under the barrage of mighty tidal waves. As the water level rises and engulfs the smaller hills one by one, I realise there's no escape and only hope that we can paddle until the water subsides or help arrives.
Influence?: Underlying anxiety about living in the disaster-prone Philippines?
À la Gareth
I browse the menu at our resort's restaurant and notice a section dedicated to human meat. Checking the counter, there are indeed several options to choose from, with a couple of arms on display next to the bottom half of a face. The skin has been removed, leaving the red, sinewy surface that things like Hellraiser have informed me lies beneath.
Against my better judgement I try some. It's cold, raw and not very nice.
Influence?: I ate that guy that time...? I don't know, we haven't been trying any particularly horrifying local delicacies during our recent trips. I felt a bit disgusted with myself after waking up.
Finger Snappin' Good
I cook a chicken that turns out to be about 90% bone, and have to do a lot of unpleasant snapping and scraping to get to the pathetic slivers of meat. It's not worth it. I consider becoming vegetarian again purely out of laziness.
Influence?: Bloody bones. That was a worthwhile entry, wasn't it?
Wow, That's Safe
I'm with my girlfriend in Singapore, Hong Kong or somewhere like that. We ride an open plan lift to the top of a department store and have to make a small but not inconsequential leap over a deadly gap to get to the floor. Shopping isn't worth this moderate risk of death, I decide. I won't be coming here again.
Influence?: Sod malls. It's a good job I'm getting all this down.
A doctor offers me the option of temporarily having four penises and I accept, to see what it would feel like. It's a bit weird.
Influence?: Let's mutually agree that genitals in dreams have no psychological implications, alright?
The Man in the Rubber Mask
I'm hanging out with Robert Llewelyn, the actor who plays Kryten in Red Dwarf. He's wearing the full Kryten costume and make-up, even though it's an informal social situation and it's just the two of us. I wonder why he went to the effort, but I don't ask. That would just be awkward.
Influence?: Despite writing a whole book about how uncomfortable the mechanoid gear makes him, Bobby seems surprisingly content to Kryten-up whenever sponsors come calling. Maybe I just couldn't remember what he looked like IRL.
I hear the news that two members of Radiohead have died following a skydiving parachute malfunction. I imagine what that must have felt like, plummeting towards the ground certain in the knowledge of your imminent death.
In this daydream-within-a-dream, I see one of the falling band members (not the real people, I don't even really know who Radiohead are) being rather pissed off at the other one for having gotten them into this situation. The other one is apologetic, but says there's a chance they'll be alright - and hey, check it out, we already landed at some point and we seem to be fine. He looks at his companion, who spectrally sinks into the ground that reveals his freshly filled grave, and realises they didn't make it after all.
I stand by the two modest graves, which are inappropriately right outside a Sainsburys car park. As I walk back into town, a gang of young juveniles runs past me on their way towards the graves, clearly delighted at the prospect of some morbid, disrespectful vandalism. A child security guard watches them, but doesn't really know what to do about it. Who employed him?
Influence?: No clue about this one, except that it was the first day in a while that my mind had been relaxed and had the freedom to be imaginative, after spending weeks on a demanding work project and only dreaming about that.
Would You Like a Helly Baby?
I discover a rare and legendary early silent horror film (again), starring a young Tom Baker (rudely exaggerating his age by several decades there). I watch it alone, in my hotel room in the dark, and the atmosphere is delightfully creepy. It's not even spoiled by the very lousy excuse for a special effect as someone pokes their finger into frame close to the camera to represent Tom Baker's deformed arm.
Then the special effects improve considerably as Tom's face distorts into an evil visage. But is it a special effect? I hide under the covers, not wanting to watch but determined to see it through.
Influence?: I'm so glad I can still have nightmares. If only there were real films that could have this effect on me any more.
I realise I'm in the vicinity of one of those legendary recording studios, like Abbey Road if it was in the countryside and was a cave. I cautiously approach, being wary for guards and security cameras, and hear some producer editing new Pink Floyd and David Bowie tracks, which pleases me. I have a debate with someone about whether the second half of Low was really more of a Bowie or Eno project, despite not having done the research to back up my case, whichever side I took.
They're also recording the new series of Doctor Who there, and I feel let down by the running theme I identify that involves a different character being shrunk at the end of each episode.
Influence?: I dreamt this in June, a couple of months before learning that there was a new Pink Floyd album in the works and that two episodes from the upcoming Doctor Who series involved shrink rays. The only logical conclusion is that I am a prophet and everything you read on this page will come to pass. Don't let Radiohead get on any planes.
Art by Zdzisław Beksiński