So I was out last night and managed to pick up this extremely hot girl in the bar, whose only intention seemed to be to take home the first person who chatted her up. We went back to her place, picking up my cat Whacky on the way there (I’m not sure whose idea that was). She lived in a house with 3 or 4 other people – nothing worse than going home with someone who has flatmates, it’s just awkward, but her room was a loft conversion so we had relative privacy once we got up there. I chatted with whatever-her-name-was about whatever-she-did and whatever-she-liked waiting for the cat to fall asleep or bugger off or something so we could get down to business.

Time went by and I was beginning to wonder if maybe I wasn’t going to lose my virginity again at all like I hoped (I am of the belief that it has grown back since I first lost it). Suddenly I saw Whacky leaning over the hatch by the ladder we’d used to get up to the room. It was quite high up and I called on her to get away, but she jumped and we just heard this awful never ending cat scream. I ran over and realised that we weren’t in a normal house like I’d thought, but in a loft conversion at the top of a 50-storey building with one big ladder going from top to bottom.

I scrambled down the ladder, worried for Whacky’s safety – I know they always land on their feet but 50 storeys… some hours later I got to the bottom and ended up in the foyer, bustling with business people, where a jazz band were setting up. I ran around panicking asking if Whacky was OK or if anyone had seen my cat, and occasionally thinking my chances of getting laid were now zero…

…and then I woke up.

What really pissed me off about this dream was that the most far-fetched thing about it was the fact I pulled in a bar.

It also annoyed me that I actually felt like I’d climbed down a 50-storey ladder. But at least Whacky was OK. I got out of bed and went to the living room to see her, she instantly went nuts and started running around the place. When she stopped I went over and tried to pet her. She dodged my hand, clawed my arm with one paw and then slashed my finger with the other. It still hurts as I type this.

Great, not only had the whole thing been a dream and I didn’t get any action with the hot girl I met in the bar, but now the cat was attacking me for neglecting her and letting her fall to her doom WHICH DIDN’T EVEN HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE!

It’s been a while since I’ve had a bizarre dream; they used to be very regular back when I was drinking a lot. In fact they were regularly the most exciting part of my day. Whilst I had my fair share of booze-induced nightmares, they were outnumbered by the kind of awesome action-packed dreams which I didn’t really want to wake up from. There really is nothing better than a proper action or sci-fi/fantasy dream, because unlike any movie or theme park experience, you are actually in it and you think it’s real.

I really miss this about my boozing days, mainly for two reasons; I eventually figured out how to fly in my dreams, and I learned to control them. These factors coupled with the kind of fantastical adventure dreams I was having was just incredible.

Flying in a really immersive, realistic dream is just amazing. I still remember vividly almost every flying dream I ever had, like I was actually there. I’d had enough of these that I began to remember the feeling I had when I lifted into the air, the actual physical sensation, and one night I was in a regular boring dream, a BBQ in my garden at home (actually given how dull my life got when I was drinking too much this was probably pretty action-packed compared to a normal evening), and I realised I was in a dream. We’ve all probably had this sometimes. But I also remembered how to fly. So I wound up the BBQ and flew to Cambodia.

For me the tell tale sign of dreaming is, I never have my own bedroom. Well, I never have my current bedroom. Whenever I am in a dream my bedroom and my bed is always from a previous flat or my childhood room back home. Even if everything is completely contemporary. Looking out for this sign meant I started being able to pick up on when I was dreaming.

Probably the weirdest dream I ever had was when I dreamt I couldn’t sleep. That is literally all it was. I dreamt I was tossing and turning and trying to sleep and just couldn’t and I was constantly checking the time and thinking “shit I’ve only got a few hours before work, need to try to fall asleep” and then my alarm went off and I hadn’t slept at all. Someone at work asked me “well how did you know it was a dream?” Because it was my old bed that I was tossing and turning in. It was the only sign. I was fucking shattered the next day though…

The pinnacle of my dreaming was towards the end of last year, shortly before I quit the drinkies for good. I was having a thriller movie style dream, full of intrigue and exotic locations (and in my dreams some of the locations have just been insane). It had been a slow burner but it was starting to get really interesting and the plot began to thicken. There was a huge cliffhanger which changed the course of everything, suddenly nothing that had happened before was as it seems. Then I woke up needing the toilet. Oh for fuck’s sake, I was really getting into that.

I had in the past sometimes been able to go back into a dream after sort-of waking up just by getting back to sleep asap, but every time I closed my eyes I just saw waterfalls and hosepipes and gushing springs – my brain was not going to let me forget I had some business to take care of. I knew I’d break the chain if I got out of bed but I had to, so I got up, put my glasses on, put the light on and kissed goodbye to finding out what was going to happen in my Bond movie-style dream. When I got back into bed I tried to think about where the dream had left off in the hope I could rekindle it. All that happened was I started to daydream the rest, and that’s a more conscious thing, so I was very aware that I was making up what happened next. In the real dream, stuff was happening to me and I didn’t know what was going on. I had to trick myself into getting back into the dream properly so I could fully experience the story again as a participant.

Just before the cliffhanger, me and the other characters were in this vast open restaurant on the roof of a giant cathedral built into the side of a mountain on a floating island in the sky (it really was quite a down-to-earth story just set in a weird place – nice view though). People had been starting to leave and walk up this long winding stairway. I figured if I focussed on the stairs I might be able to get back in. It was a bland repetitive action, just going up the stairs, going up the stairs, if I could fall asleep to that maybe my subconscious would take over from there.

I tried for about ten minutes, it was hard because I was conscious of doing it – like when you really try hard to fall asleep you can’t because you’re constantly thinking “why am I not falling asleep” so you can’t relax. Up the stairs, up the stairs [must remember to book the doctor’s appointment tomorrow] up the winding stairs, round and round [need to do that thing for work] round and round [ow, itchy somewhere] winding and winding up the stairs [is tomorrow Thursday?] and on and on. But eventually I made it. I fell asleep stuck in this repetitive loop of stair climbing, and when I did, the dream kicked back in, I got to the top of the stairs, and the story continued. It was fucking awesome, and in the end, the Greeks got their secrets back, the apocalypse was averted, and I even managed to find some time to fly off the island…

I don’t get this kind of escapist shit anymore as you’ll have seen from the start of the story, and maybe nostalgia for those days is what inspired me to write this post.

“Dreamtime” by Ralph McTell is one of my favourite songs. His son, Billy May, used to work at the same company as me. When I discovered the relationship I went all groupie on him and said “Oh I love your dad’s stuff blah blah blah, awesome, gush gush gush…” And then I said one of the most stupid things I have ever said.

I said to him, “So Billy, why did you change your name?”

Ralph McTell, aka Ralph May.

Ralph McTell, aka Ralph May.



  • I read this whole post while eating a cheese sandwich and now I’m going to bed. How appropriate…

  • Thanks, I have a new tagline for the site. “McCannecdotes: the perfect accompaniment to a cheese sandwich.” Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well.

  • In this picture, Ralph McTell reminds me of Terence Stamp in The Limey.
    He will forever be synonymous with Tickle on the Tum for me…

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