Last night I dreamed I was taking my eight-year-old daughter to perform in a half-term dance show. Along the way, I became increasingly weighed down with an unlikely assortment of baggage.
The show was to be staged in some nameless English high street, dotted with charity shops and tea rooms. While Laura was changing for the show, I popped into one of these shops and bumped into several fellow villagers with whom I’ve just been planning our Royal Diamond Jubilee celebrations. (I’ve been put in charge of the giant cake: good choice!)
These ladies showed me some items to be put on stalls there, including knitted children’s garments. (Fellow villagers need not panic: this is definitely NOT part of the plan in real life!) They gave me some knitting wool and patterns to take away. (Note to self: once awake, I must finish those bootees for Laura’s dance teacher’s baby, due very soon.) We talked about catering plans, tasted a few dishes, and I came away with some soup in a plastic carrier bag.
A leaking bag of soup is not an easy thing to carry when you already have under one arm two large rag dolls and a giant Gruffalo toy. Product placement in dreams? How does that happen? I realised later that the Gruffalo must represent my part-time job at the children’s charity Readathon.
On my way out of the charity shop, I bought an assortment of children’s party bag items. Even though Laura’s birthday is not until May, my subconscious is already planning her party. But then I took a wrong turning and stumbled into a hotel bar, where a christening party was in full swing. (A handy reminder that my cousin’s baby’s christening in coming up soon – what to buy her?)
As I tried various doors and stairways to escape, I bumped into my friend Louise and her husband in fancy dress. Louise is fundraising for the Emmaus homeless charity by spending a night in the village bus shelter. It was at the back of my mind that I haven’t sponsored her yet.
The soup was continuing to drip but the hotelier blocked my exit, hoping I’d buy a drink at the bar. To my credit, I didn’t – I was determined to get out of this muddle without resort to stimulants.
Finally, somehow, I made it back to the dance hall, just in time to watch my daughter’s show. There was applause as I gathered up my bags to take them home.
What would Freud make of it all?
My conclusion on waking? Well, perhaps it should have been to take note that I’m making more commitments than I can cope with and to reduce my responsibilities. But my overriding emotion was anxiety that I couldn’t remember which dance my daughter had done.
Oh – and a firm resolve to give up alcohol. I’m blaming my restless night on the Valentine’s Day champagne!
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English author of warm, witty novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Staffroom at St Bride's School series, both set in the Cotswolds. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors and for the children's reading charity, Read for Good. Public speaker for the Type 1 Diabetes charity JDRF.
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