2nd August


When I was five or six, I dreamed repeatedly of being in a church with my mother. It was not a church either of us had entered before, either in the dream or in reality. The building stretched up into utter darkness: the roof was too far away to be seen. Sets of arched double doors, massively tall, far bigger than the height of any normal person, were set on each side of the pulpit. The pulpit too was of a stupendous size.

Nobody but us appeared to be in this church. We were waiting, presumably, for a service to begin. Beside the pew in which we sat was a great stone pillar with a board on it displaying the numbers of the hymns that would be sung if the service ever happened.

I wanted to leave. My mother whispered that we had to stay. I could tell that she wanted to leave too. Like me, she was afraid of something. I was afraid of the gloom, the shadowy emptiness and those great double doors through which some unimaginably large being might come. It seemed to me that she was afraid of something else.

I always woke up before anybody or anything came through the doors. Sometimes I woke crying, and she would be there. Sometimes I did not cry, and she did not come.

To learn that it was better not to cry was a hard lesson, but I learned it.

Another recurring nightmare, which I had when a few years older, involved me being on the deck of an old sailing ship – a pirate ship perhaps – which was travelling over a sickly, smooth, black sea towards black rocks. There was no wind in the sails yet the ship rushed towards its destruction at an evil speed. There was a wheel but it resisted all my efforts to turn it and alter the ship’s course. All I could do was prepare for the impact.

Afterwards, the rocks were covered with small black pieces of wreckage like burst balloons.

There was no sign of me. It was my dream, but I had vanished from it.

Nobody came, because by then I was a big boy.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Piano: Kit Downes
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