Stress is a sneaky beggar. It creeps up on you, insidious and purposeful, and gets into your head, into your sleep, and into your dreams. I’m having broken nights, vivid dreams, light sleep and I’m pretty certain it’s stress-related.

However, it’s not the stress nor the light sleeping that I want to dwell on in this post, its dreams and postcards.

Do you know what’s going on in the past? You don’t know, do you? Wait here and see what’s going to happen.

Chapter 13 pg211 Rewalking the City  by Andrea Capstick  in Walking Inside Out ed. Tina Richardson

The dreams are all about the past, not in a strictly chronological sense, they’re not a linear thing at all (but then whose dreams are?) but it’s the content – it’s so particular. Locked as it is in childhood memories.

…it isn’t that the past casts its light on what is present, or that what is present casts its light on what is past; rather the Then and the Now come together in a constellation like a flash of lightning.

Walter Benjamin (cited in Rewalking the City)

Benjamin’s ‘flash of lightning’ is a powerful metaphor for these dreams, in which present-day anxiety is intermingled with ‘re-presenting’ the narrative(s) of childhood.

An event or a thing at a point in space cannot be understood by appeal to what exists only at that point. It depends on everything else going on around it.

David Harvey p124 in Spaces in Global Capitalism: Towards a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development (2006)

Fear of drowning and the boating lake in Hall Leys Park, the putter-putter of the motor boats as the circle-circle. The two couldn’t be more separate yet they’re co-mingled in my dreams; like mist and steam-smoke (often linked to the waving of the railwayman’s lamp – a ghost story that haunted my teens and haunts me now) or fire and rain.

Primroses, the ivy woods, the stone choo-choo train in Upperwood; the glint of fluorspar, calcite and galena; or (often) the rock pool we nicknamed the ‘Washing Machine’ in the spoil tip below Riber Mine.

Red water too, the red-maroon of Bentley Brook flowing over my feet – bloody feet – I know it’s only outfall from the colour works upstream but in my dreams it’s as shocking as stigmata.

It’s all coming back.

People think dreams aren’t real just because they aren’t made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.”

Neil Gaiman

Dreams that are as familiar as old shoes.

Powerfully so.

Maggots in a plastic pot, neon floats, rosebay willow herb, conkers. Tank tops, Oxford Bags, fag smoke, tangerine dreams. Chip pan; the clatter and fuss of the pigeon loft – the rolly tin rattle on a Saturday afternoon – a few grains of corn shaken to draw down the racing birds.

Water. Light. Dark. Birds. Trees. And claustrophobia.

Dreams, they are who I am when I’m too tired to be me.

Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not FOR SALE

And in the old postcards I collect, of Matlock or Matlock Bath or the cliff-face of High Tor, there are glimpses of Then.

Each postcard is a flash of lightning.

What we experience in dreams — assuming that we experience it often — belongs in the end just as much to the over-all economy of our soul as anything experienced “actually”: we are richer or poorer on account of it.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil



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