I am travelling to work as usual but I have changed my route slightly with a view to using the outdoor parking area. So, tootling gently along and preparing to turn right at the appointed moment, I am mildly irritated to find that there is an obstruction accompanied by a degree of ill-tempered inter-vehicular communication, blocking my preferred exit so I have to drive on to the next one. It’s 8.15 on a Monday morning, I already don’t need this.
Missing that turn means heading for the underground car park, a dismal affair at the best of times, but with the influx of new parties having permission to use it, it’s currently wearing an air of contained chaos along with the obligatory grunge. My car and I plunge down into the murky depths. At the bottom, there’s a narrow-ish track with, to the right, some shops and to the left, a railway line. In fact the track is a lot like a station platform with all the bustle you’d associate with that environment. Vans juggling around bikes, bikes juggling around people, and everybody rushing. The buses come down here too to discharge passengers bound for the day care services above, so wheelchairs and the occasional lurching individual unsteady on their pins but going like the clappers anyway, appear – like those targets used by the military to teach soldiers how not to shoot the good guys. I pick my way along, keeping an eye on the drop to the left onto the rail line.
Suddenly, a van pulls in from the right and starts to move into my space. Any closer and I’m taking the 8.45 to Victoria, assuming my unorthodox boarding strategy doesn’t impede its progress. I holler. The driver ignores me so I stop. This is one situation in which discretion is probably the best approach but there’s a jam up ahead and he is stationary in it. I leap out of the car, hurl myself up the road after him, and let him have the full glare with elbows akimbo in through his open window. He winds it up and lets off a stream of invective without waiting to hear what I have to say. It looks as though he may be used to this kind of encounter, in which case he’s going to win because he’s undoubtedly better at voluble ignorance from inside his cab than I am at articulate indignation from the middle of the road.
I retreat and head back to my car to resume my journey. Well, that’s the plan anyway but there’s a flaw in that the car has vanished. I trawl the locality, up and down, in and out of road-side establishments. Eventually I come across a man at a fruit and veg stall who knows what happened and it’s not good; it’s far from good. He’s been talking to a Detective Chief Inspector and now I get to talk to him too. I explain what happened and he tells me my car has been impounded so I’ll have to apply to get it back but it might be ‘a while’ because they’re investigating a murder that has major implications and my car is one of its casualties. ‘But I’m going on leave!’ I wail, with all the naïveté of a person whose winning lottery ticket just emerged from the heavy-wash-spin cycle as a bedraggled lump of papier mache.
At this point, the fire sprinklers start up and my new T shirt becomes transparent. To say this is not turning out well is an understatement. My car has been impounded in a murder case and won’t be released for decades, I am late for work and I am essentially naked in a public place. What to do?
Well, wake up of course. They say some dreams take only seconds of real time; but this one took a life-time’s worth of anxiety metaphors and, when I’ve got them all pinned down and translated I am SO going to have words with the local chapter of Psychotherapists Anonymous. They’d better have insurance is all I can say
 Yes, really sorry about that but it happened and it took me most of the morning, which did not involve close encounters with trains or involuntary indecent exposure, to recover. Vivid narrative dreams that I actually remember are a rarity and normally I’m just left with a vague feeling of having fought off the screeching hordes of Hades with nothing to show for it but a couple of detached spider legs on the pillow.
From From Not Being First Fish by P Spencer-Beck. Available from Amazon (non-illustrated edition). Second edition (illustrated) due 2018.