Dream meanings

It was a grey, damp, rainy day yesterday, and the light levels barely rose above ‘early evening’ all day long. It’s slightly brighter today – but not by much.

It’s easy to feel glum on a day like this – especially when you’re faced with a bewildering array of job sites (every time I follow a link to apply for a job I end up signing up to yet another one I’ve never heard of), an inbox full of mails from recruiters with roles that aren’t even vaguely suitable for you, and a bank account that’s reliant on you doing very little that costs money to remain in the black.

However I really don’t feel glum today. I didn’t yesterday either. I feel quite good actually. One might even say liberated.

I woke up the other day having had a rather unsettling dream about staying at a hotel. The plumbing and bathroom in this hotel (one that I was sharing with several friends) was awful. The toilet didn’t work and there was no privacy. By the end of my time in this horrible 70’s decorated environment with green deep polyester carpets the facilities were overflowing and I was desperately trying to clean up an impossible mess of effluence.

It all eventually overflowed in a raging torrent and I was surrounded by a disgusting mess.

I woke up at this point – but realised it wasn’t the first time I’d had this dream and Googled it to see whether there was an explanation that might make sense of why this would recur.

I found this (edited) explanation:

As in waking life, when in the bathroom in a dream you are often dealing with the unpleasant, intimate aspects of life: relieving yourself, elimination of wastes, cleansing yourself, etc. In dreams, additional obstacles or unfortunate circumstances are usually a factor. These might include: being unable to find the bathroom, a lack of privacy, having no toilet paper available, a dirty bathroom or a clogged or overflowing toilet.

Basically, bathroom dreams may be addressing your need to relieve yourself emotionally and/or psychologically. You may be dealing with a dirty, messy, toxic or crappy situation in waking life or are under a lot of stress. A public bathroom or restroom may suggest the dream is dealing with your social or professional life or relationships while the bathroom in a home suggests the issue may be internal or related to your home life or relationships.

The toilet itself may be dealing with your ability or inability to eliminate problems, relationships, emotions, etc. If the toilet won’t flush or is clogged, you may be unwilling or unable to release your emotions or express yourself. An overflowing toilet may represent an emotional outburst or you may be feeling overwhelmed by your emotions and the stresses in life.

The night before I’d told someone something about my relationship with my mother that I’d never mentioned to anyone before. I hadn’t been purposefully hiding it, and had good reason to keep it to myself – as it was something that was profoundly intimate and embarrassing.

It just came out in conversation.

I realised as my friend and I were talking that for a number of reasons I’d been hiding and pushing the thought to the back of my mind every time it came up. I’d hidden it from myself for years – motivated mostly by a sense of personal shame. Each time I’d wanted to vocalise it I’d stopped and pushed it back down – moving on instead to other topics.

For some reason I chose not to this time and instead relayed the story to my friend and then how it made me feel. I was close to tears after letting it go – and realised (based on the look on my friend’s face) that what I was describing was a form of abuse by my mother that designed to maintain control and manipulate me.

Honestly – this kind of thing isn’t anything new to me with regards to her memory, but this particular thing is something I hadn’t openly admitted to anyone before. Unburdening came with a sense of relief and no small degree of fear, but it was extremely liberating – and as I drove home in the dark rainy night afterwards I felt somehow lighter.

My mind was clearly still turning over the consequences of my tale being told however, and the whole night was characterised by restless sleep – and finally this dream.

Sharing this memory (which happened randomly in a very normal conversation) reminded me of a couple of things however – and they’re the root of why I feel so good at the moment.

Firstly, when you hide your true self the only person that you ultimately hurt is yourself.

Sure, you may temporarily save yourself some embarrassment and shame – but you’re only constructing a prison for that part of you in your own mind. It’s as real as any physical cell in a real jail, and the longer that you leave it closed the less likely you are to be able to easily find the key.

Being open and honest is the best gift we can give to ourselves and others – and although if anyone asks me for my pin numbers they can get stuffed, when they ask me how I feel I’ll always do my very best to tell them.

Secondly, people are inherently good.

Some may see this as a naive attitude – but I’m not a stupid man and I like to think I’m a good judge of character. I’ll have alarm bells if someone looks shifty just as much as the next guy.

Often if someone looks insane and you cant quite figure out why that’s evolution whispering in your ear and reminding you of primal reasons why you avoid certain things and move towards others. It’s a good thing to trust your instincts.

What I mean is that when I meet someone (that seems ok) for the first time I prefer my default position to be trust and openness – and I can only think of a few instances in my life where this has been betrayed. In the vast majority of cases people are worth the time you invest in them and they ALL have something to give.

So – my inbox is overflowing with stuff thats misdirecting me left and right, my bank account looks worse than ever, but I’m continually reminded that the yardsticks that I used to judge my old life are no longer as relevant as they once were.

Eventually something good will happen and when it does I’ll be standing there with a smile on my face waiting to shake its hand and say hello.

Finally internet – my soppy side came out whilst writing this – and I was reminded of the song that most parents must have been battered to death with in recent years – ‘Let it go’ from the Disney film Frozen.

It may be corny but people love it for a reason – you should listen to the lyrics and just let it go.

The cold never bothered me anyway.


Bonfire on ice

I was quite lucky when I was younger. At the time I just accepted it, but now I realise that the freedom I had as a child was more than children today appear to have, and there’s a lot more fear in society around child safety.

Sure it’s a good thing to be safe – and parents need to be aware of dangers – but it also means that the endless exploring I did in parks with my friends, and with my dog (Will) is something other children don’t seem to do any more.

We used to take long, aimless walks along the local green belt and spent many happy hours just watching the world pass while sitting under a tree (1).

It’s changed a bit now – but looks mostly the same from what I could see as I drove to my mom’s nearby bungalow. There are a few new swings and slides, and houses have encroached a bit on what was once green but its essentially the same park I remember.


From where I grew up you could actually make your way almost completely into the centre of Birmingham totally through parkland along the path of the River Cole (which I did a couple of times). There was the occasional road in the way, but these usually had bridges, which were also great to sit under and watch the water go by.

There was one particular bridge in this park where for some reason myself and my friends always sat underneath in the shade (2). It had badly cracked concrete either side, which had failed in such a way that it made almost perfect seating for teen bottoms. The grass was worn under the bridge by the continued presence of children, and the hard dirt bowed into a basin where our feet dangled or stood.

We could also often be found playing pooh sticks here as we stopped for a break on our way to wherever we were aimlessly wandering to.

Just next to the bridge was a largely disused building, from which the park gained its name – and was known locally as Babbs Mill. I always imagined that a mad old man lived there – but I never once saw a single soul enter or leave. The place still holds an air of child like mystery in my mind.

Since a lot disappears with the passage of time I honestly don’t remember what as a child I talked about with my friends, but I do remember feeling relaxed and close to them when we watched the river go by, sheltered from rain or sunshine by the rusting steel above us.

The river was also special, and I regularly on hot days waded into it at my favourite stone skimming spot (3) and walked along the river bed in my shoes. This was much to the annoyance of my mom who often saw new leather trainers mysteriously turned to stiff cardboard almost overnight.

I actually waded about a mile down it one particularly sunny and hot day. My friend walked initially with me in the water and then as it deepened alongside on the bank, just to see how far I could get.

When the water level reached my teen testicles (4) I realised the folly of the operation and made my way to shore, realising only when I got out that there was a thick green tide mark  below my trouser waist that would be difficult to explain when I got home.

One winter the man made lake in the middle of the park completely froze over, and my friends and I were amazed to see people walking over to the island in the middle (5) – which previously I had never set foot on.

Plucking up all my courage I walked with my companions over the creaking and cracking surface to this forbidden territory, and stood there with them – exhilarated and almost too scared to go back.

As we plucked up our courage and gingerly made our return journey over the ice to dry land I noticed that some older boys (proving that age doesn’t always correspond with wisdom) had gathered in the middle of the lake (6) and had made a bonfire there. They were sitting around it eating, laughing and joking – all completely oblivious to the danger they were placing themselves in.

(This video on YouTube – not made by me – shows the island on the right from the bank, and you can see the birds sitting on the ice as they did.)

When I reached the shore Will slipped on the ice and fell in at the edge. I quickly pulled her out of the water by her lead and collar, shocked and bitterly cold. She sprayed us all with freezing water as she shook herself off trying to get rid of the moisture. I scooped her up and placed her under my jumper, as I tried to get her warm and dry – in the process making my own teeth chatter. She nudged her sodden head past my chin and out of the loose neck of my clothes, unwilling to miss what was going on despite her shivering. 

Will stayed there for a good portion of the journey home until she had warmed and dried. 

The lucky older boys never fell through the ice, much to my complete amazement. I could never walk past that spot again without marvelling at their stupidity.

Further down from the lake was a children’s play area with two metal slides. The larger of the two started at the top of a small hill, and although it was terrible for sliding offered other opportunities to an inventive young mind (7). 

With nothing to do one summer my friend and I spent several hours sitting on the swings and then taking it in turns to lie under the slide with our mouths open as the other attempted to roll a sweet from the top to the bottom in a precision bombing operation.

The 1980’s sweets in question were called ‘trillions’ and were silver, shaped like tiny 3mm aniseed flavoured ballbearings. They coated your fingers and the bag in which they came in this silver dust, and were probably highly toxic, but infinitely pleasurable to suck in large numbers.

Watching their chaotic bouncing descent on the slide was for some reason hilarious at the time. I couldn’t stop laughing at the noise they made on the metal and the complete impossibility of hitting the intended target by anything other than random chance.

After nearly choking to death several times during our game we realised the folly of it and headed off on our bikes to find another source of amusement.

It comes as no surprise to me that these sweets are no longer on sale…

Still – if they were I might go and find a slide somewhere just to roll them one by one, purely for the sake of nostalgia, and the skittering sound they made, which I can still hear today.

Childhood can be crap – and it frequently was for me, but sometimes it can also be absolutely bloody awesome, and give you memories you’ll never forget.

Parks and dogs, and childhood friends…