We've all got dream stories - and here are a couple of mine. These are from my early life, they have a recurring theme and an interlacing pattern... and they're kind of dark. One of these was a terrifying experience that my brain would revisit night after night after night when I was a child, totally against my will. I was so glad when it ended.
Don't get me wrong, I've had plenty of nice dreams too. Lots of great flying dreams, for instance. One in particular was so vivid that I can picture it in perfect recall even as I type this, some 25 years after it fizzed around my brain. Oh, and then there are the ludicrously symbolic ones, like the time I dreamed the word 'tessellate'. That one was a bit Monty Python-esque: "TESSELLATE" turned up on shop signs, street signs, in speech bubbles, scribbled on pieces of paper... at one point, I even dreamed a gaggle of nuns saying that word over and over again.
But the grim ones were properly grim. When I was very young, my active imagination would throw up the outline of fierce tigers in my room. I'd need my mum in there to shoo them away. Then Dr Who's cybermen would be waiting for me. It didn't help, at all, that the early seventies were prone to power cuts. Not only would the front room be plunged into darkness, and usually during a Dr Who scary bit, but the outage would leave me with no closure, no resolution. As my mum would set out the little nightlite candles I would still be left in the dark (literally) over whether the Doctor and his sexy assistants had been able to vanquish their plastic robot foes.
I'm not sure where my wireless dream came from. That was pretty sinister. In that particular horrorshow, my brother's transistor radio (we shared a bunkbed-ed room) would fizzle and crackle as it sat on the windowsill, and then sparks and explosions would emanate from the soft fabric mesh grill on its front. Smoke would billow from it and I knew it would spell trouble. It might sound lame, but for an eight year old it was pretty bleak. And it happened night after night.
There was a worse one. That involved me being stuck at the bottom of a sheer, metallic-grey cylinder made of toughened steel and measuring some 20 or 30 feet across. I would be pressed up against one of the cold walls trying desperately to avoid the tight-fitting plug that would be descending slowly towards me. I knew I'd be crushed and I would feel the heavy metal slab pressing down on my face like an SS officer's boot before I'd wake myself up in a panic.
Some eight or nine years after this dream which, again, would repeat itself night after night, I had cause to visit the peculiar domed building next to the Greenwich pedestrian tunnel under the Thames. The liftshaft inside looked just the same as my dream-state prison. Funny, that.