I was talking to Liam last night… or was it Noel? and I gave my long-dead-and-gone grandparents an up-to-the-minute calculator (I’m Only Dreaming – Lennon/McCartney)

I was spoilt for choice with the above title – the song-title bit, I mean. 

There must, after all, be hundreds of song-titles containing the word ‘dream’. A favourite of mine will always be Bobby Darin’s Dream Lover. Used to make me dream, that one, when I was a kid…

I’m in a fairground, Bobby’s coming through loud and clear. And there’s this girl. She’s standing at the opposite side of The Waltzer – you know, the ride. She’s beautiful, and I want her to look my way, because my hair’s never looked this good. But at the same time, I don’t want her to look my way, because I forgot to get dressed this morning;  I’m still in my pyjamas – why do I keep doing that, it’s always the same?

And I stopped wearing pyjamas in my early teens, to ‘go commando’, as some put it. Could be worse, then, I suppose. And besides, it’s not real life; it’s only a dream…

I say “only a dream”, and yet there are many songs dedicated to them, dreams. They do, in effect, play quite an important role in our lives.

As for Phillip, the first person hero of my novel, Wood, Talc and Mr. J, his life is practically dictated by them. In the book’s opening passage, he’s fighting to come round from a recurring one:

* * * * * *

   ‘… stop,’ echoed the honeyed tone. ‘It’s your stop.’ For another evening it belonged to the rare attraction one seat on, in the coat – real mink from where I was sitting. Pushing thirty-five and still as sexy as Venus. As long as she parked herself upfront, so would I.

   I sprang to jump the stairs before my 49 pulled away, when my rare attraction’s hand seized my hood’s furry bit, restraining me between top and bottom. She leant over the banister and thrust her glass-blue eyes into my own.

   ‘I smoked your cigarette,’ she said. ‘’Thought it’d be a waste hangin’ in your mouth. And one o’ these days, you must to take me to that place you dream about. Màlaga, is it?’

   Màlaga? Now who was dreaming? But a “place” I frequented too often.

* * * * *

By the third chapter, Phillip introduces us to this, his, arguably most important recurring dream. I myself, even having written the book, am unable to explain why this dream is recurring. Then again, I wouldn’t tell you if I believed I could. I should only, like a reader, offer an opinion.

He’s about to give his all upon the cherished wood, the Casino Club’s majestic dance-floor, for someone he claims to be his best friend; in fact, someone with whom he’s pledged an allegiance or two… But Phillip’s dream is forever thwarted by exterior forces; or ‘real-life’ happenings:

* * * * *

   Jed’s head bobbed at a hallucinatory rate, the edgy guffaw: ‘Let me have it!’

   My dance space was diminishing fast, the crowd looking to be seen around me, No 1 – ‘Jed…?’ Upward glance, priming myself for an acrobatic feat our dreamland had yet to behold, I caught him leaning over the balcony, directly above, for perfect view. I raised the clenched fist…

   … while he cupped his hands and yelled: ‘Stop’, in an outlandish voice: ‘… stop… stop…’

   The trouble was I never got any further, if ever I got that far…

* * * * *

I’m fascinated by dreams, as I’m fascinated by Phillip’s inability to achieve a certain satisfaction for which he evidently, inwardly yearns. Perhaps he’s trying to prove something to said best friend; maybe the dance-thing is little more than symbolic? He subconsciously hankers for some kind of validation? Recognition in the Cool Cat Club? Or maybe something further still?

I’ve often experienced similar, pretty intense dreams, which I consider as important in my life as I would, say, someone telling me that if I cross that particular road at that particular moment, then that particular red car is liable to run me over.

Dreams are disclosing something about our psychological state at given points in our lives; trying to put something ‘together’ for us; to fit that “something” into the right place, by shuffling the preceding bits around…

Mine, these days, tend to be that of a crowd gathered around me. I’m strumming on my guitar but it won’t emit sound – I’ve attracted the crowd just like Phillip, and am equally woken by my efforts. And let me say that some days, following the above dream, my guitar has the power to distract me from everything else around me, for a whole evening, by merely standing there in the corner of the lounge. I want to pick it up but don’t…

Or I’m pressing down hard on the accelerator, but the car’s still moving at a snail pace.

Or… well, I guess they must indicate that I’m wrestling to achieve something in life, which is either taking too long or not happening at all. And just maybe Phillip’s dreamy endeavours are due to some form of unconscious inferiority complex.

The reason for this blog post – this is what it’s about – is that I deem dreams to be as real as what most of us consider being real. I’ve made no studies in this area, I should point out, but whatever science has come up with, I can only imagine such theories taking us round in circles, as frustratingly as do the above dreams; in this case, then, I prefer to rely on my own intuition and experiences. What I’m saying is that, well, surely we’ve all questioned reality – the tree falling in the forest; does the phone ring if no-one’s there to hear it? For whom am I writing? Are you all no more than a figment of my imagination?

How many times have you heard stories whereby someone on the verge of death – on an operating table, perhaps – later tells of a dream, of an old uncle, or granddad, rushing down the field to the opposite edge of the banking, to convince our escapee not to step into the water?

“Go back, you’ve not finished your breakfast!” Or something similar…

As with Phillip, dreams dictate our lives, too, each and every one of us. And without them, we couldn’t carry on. And during the mind’s arrangement process, it may even jump ahead of itself and leave us with a sense of déjà vu – think about it, we spend a third of our lives asleep and possibly half of our woken days daydreaming, for the very fact that the mind has a whole universe to process; there’s a lot going on.

I recall dreams from my childhood as clearly as I do happenings in ‘real life’, some maybe more clearly, due to their intense clarity.

Have I been here before, or have I merely dreamed it? Funny question. For me, they imply the same thing…

For Phillip, then, our regular little night owl, our all-night Soul strutter – whose mind endeavours to catch up on sleep whether he agrees with the time-and-place choice or not, like on trains, buses, or even sitting down to his tea – his mind has a more difficult job on its plate, no pun intended. Phillip passes in and out of a dream world to the point where differentiating between the two opposing worlds – ‘real’ and ‘dream’ – seemingly loses its sense of importance. Or what I hope for is that the reader is left with that impression; passages may be clear enough to distinguish at the time of reading but I would be delighted to hear that the reader, when thinking back, struggles to recall just when Phillip was dreaming and when he wasn’t.

There, we acknowledge the importance of dreams.

I might actually consider that we, as beings, inhabit two worlds: the ‘real’ and the ‘dream’, and that a crazy No-man’s land lies between the two – have you ever noticed how intense we find dreams when we’ve woken up in the morning and inadvertently fallen back to sleep for a minute or two, during which, it would seem, a whole lifetime may be lived? Or is it that those dreams feel more intense because we’re able to remember them better? They’ve only just happened; the mind hasn’t found a secure spot for them yet? And how about the inexplicable sensations we experience when falling asleep? Do you know the place I’m talking about? Where everything feels like it’s never made more sense… and yet nothing makes sense at all?

The mind has its work cut out there alright!

Take a look at Phillip’s momentary residing between the two worlds:

* * * * *

   ‘Would you marry me?’ – it was her fault: Lady Diana Spencer; even when you closed your eyes she was the first thing to pop up. We men were envious of that Charlie fellow…

   But surely my very own princess was being rhetorical?

   ‘Well just ask me. We could even get our Elvis to sing He Who Picks A Rose.’

   ‘This’ll do for me,’ I said, to a Bobby Thurston backing of Just Ask Me.


   And so I readjusted my posture: ‘Ouch! Asked: ‘Will you carry me?’

   ‘You mean ‘marry’ me?’

   ‘It’s my feet.’

   ‘But we’ll have the world at our feet.’

   ‘I already did… now they just…’

‘… Why didn’t you take some gear?’ enquired a voice with which I’d had the misfortune to be acquainted for too long – and besides, my choice of gear-abstention should be as respected as the next man’s partaking, I was capable of holding my own at six o’clock on a Lancashire morning, thank you very much!

* * * * *

Two blended worlds, of fantasy and ‘reality’: a world Phillip longs to enter fully and permanently; and the other that won’t allow it. And for the one that won’t allow it, the latter, well, they say one man’s hell is another man’s paradise, or words to that effect, thus suggesting worlds live only in the mind. If you don’t adhere to that theory, then which of the two worlds is the real one, and according to what criteria?

I’m sure Phillip wouldn’t quibble on technicalities… I could go on, but I won’t.

I’ve enjoyed this little ramble down (Sur)real Lane, as much as any other. And if it’s got you thinking, too, then better still. I never claimed to have any real answers, only my own somewhat fitful theory.

And so, until then.


Chris Rose

Your literary, soulful friend

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