My super-hero name

Last night, I dreamt I went to inspect my handiwork in a palatial, L-shaped room that I'd stripped of wallpaper the previous day. To my dismay, I discovered that, while I had been away, someone had re-papered the walls and ceiling with a hideous, embossed Anaglypta. The re-papering, I realised, bore all the hallmarks of the Incredible Hulk.

Passing down a long passageway, I came to a door behind which I could hear voices talking. I knocked and entered, only to discover that I had interrupted an earnest conversation between Tony Stark/Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr), Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). All three were wearing civilian clothing, rather than being ‘suited up’ in their super-hero garb, but it was obvious even to me that some dire emergency was afoot.

Clearly wishing to get rid of me, Tony Stark informed me that he needed my help on an important mission. He handed me a small metal container, about the size of a tin of shoe polish, but without any of those stupid twisty things on the side to help you open them. As you might expect from the creator of the Iron Man suits, the container looked indescribably cool in gleaming, gun-metal grey—although I was secretly a bit disappointed that he hadn't thought to throw a little hotrod red in there before he got Jarvis to render it. Tony explained that he was supposed to be cooking an extra-special paella for all the other Avengers, Nick Fury, and the senior agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that evening, but that he was now in a bit of a rush, so he needed me to get started on the rice. He had, he said, already made some of his extra-special chicken stock, which I would find simmering in the kitchen. All I had to do was introduce the stock a few spoonfuls at a time into the rice, the requisite amount of which I would find in the cool, metal container. At this point, Natasha Romanoff gave one of her secret little smirks and made her excuses to leave before the only ‘girl’ present was also roped into cooking duties.

I looked down at the cool, metal container in my hand, thinking that it couldn't possibly contain enough rice to go round—especially if Dr Banner transformed into the Hulk—but Tony Stark assured me that the rice was a very special form of genetically modified rice invented by Stark Industries, and that there would be plenty enough for all. So, I headed off to the kitchen to make a start on the paella. And then I woke up.

Our superheroes eating

I don't think helping Tony Stark to cook paella for his super-hero friends and S.H.I.E.L.D. colleagues quite qualifies me for enrolment in the Avengers Initiative, but I do now at least know what my own super-hero name is:

The truth is, I am Rice Man.

1.5×-scale mechanical Roger Moore

On Tuesday night, I dreamt that Jen and I were in a seaside penny arcade. I don't know why, but I believe the penny arcade was in Whitley Bay on the north-east coast of England. One of the arcade's main attractions was a 1.5×-scale mechanical Roger Moore.

I should, perhaps, explain that the larger-than-life, although otherwise extremely life-like simulacrum of the former James Bond was dressed in a double-breasted khaki safari suit, complete with buttoned pockets, and was poised in mid-backhand-throw. Initially, I assumed that the famous actor's facsimile was about to throw a shaken—a Japanese throwing-star martial weapon. On closer inspection, however, I realised that it was about to launch a toupée.

Roger Moore

The real Roger Moore.

Before I could stop her, Jen inserted a coin in the slot alongside the likeness of the erstwhile Simon Templar and, with a whirring of wheels and a clicking of cogs, the mechanism began to advance towards her, karate-chopping and kicking in an extremely robotic, though disconcertingly life-like manner. Fortunately, Jen acquitted herself extremely well, fending off the likeness of the one-time Persuader's blows with ease.

And then I woke up.

Most dreams are pure nonsense, but it is often claimed that great ideas can also come to people in their sleep. Which was this, I wonder? Is the world ready for a coin-operated 1.5×-scale mechanical rendition of Sir Roger Moore, or is it an idea ahead of its time?

Outraged of Hebden Bridge


Sexy, not sexist.

Last night, I dreamt that I caught the end of a piece on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, in which some feminist was spouting bollocks about Charles Darwin. As opposed to spouting bollocks about men in general, I mean. I decided to write a letter to put them straight. But then I woke up.

Letters to Radio 4… Even in my dreams, I am hopelessly middle-class.

Somebody else's dream

With the exception of my grandmother's fur stole coming alive and attacking me, I've never been one for nightmares.

Most of my dreams, you won't be surprised to learn, tend to be of the distinctly odd variety. They usually involve people I know (either personally, or because they are famous) doing strange things in familiar-yet-not-quite-right places. They're the sort of dreams you wake up from and think, "What the hell made me dream that?" and immediately want to tell someone about them (the someone in question usually being the person who featured in the dream).

The other night, however, I had a very different sort of dream. Someone was hammering on my hotel room door (the bolt of which, I noticed was broken). I opened the door to find two women in the corridor: one blonde, one brunette. The blonde was particularly agitated, demanding that I prevent the baby from crying again all night, as she hadn't had a moment's sleep the previous night. I explained that my roommate (so maybe I was in a college, not a hotel) had been looking after the baby for his sister, and that he had just left to return the child to its mother. The women looked pleased, and the brunette said they would probably see me in the bar later. And then I woke up.

In what way was this dream different? Well, apart from the fact that the 'plot' was a totally believable scenario which could happen any day in the real world, the strange thing about this dream was that none of the people or places that featured in it were in any way familiar to me: the women (and the absent roommate) were complete strangers, and the room and corridor were totally nondescript and could have been anywhere. So, how come I dreamt it?

I've been giving the dream a lot of thought, and I've come to the only logical conclusion: I dreamt somebody else's dream!

How bizarre is that? Somewhere in the world, there is probably some chap who was supposed to have a dream about a blonde and a brunette and a roommate who he actually knows, but I somehow had it instead! And, most likely, somewhere in the world, someone—maybe the same chap—had a dream that I was supposed to have. A dream about Les Dennis taking balloon-folding lessons in the new wing of my house that I had somehow failed to notice before, say.

When you think about it, people having other people's dreams would make a pretty awesome plot device for a movie or TV mini-series.

But I suspect it's been done before.

Alpha male

Last night, I dreamt I owned a very large silverback gorilla.

Believe me, it's not as good as it sounds. Those chaps can get pretty boisterous. To get some peace and quiet, I had to hide out in the attic amongst a large collection of empty wine bottles.

No doubt Freud would have had a field day. Fortunately, Freud was full of shit.

Imogen all the people

I had a really weird dream last night: Carolyn and I were walking through a campsite in what I assume was Anglesey, when we spotted her oldest daughter trying to drive a white camper van. We called to her to stop, saying the owner would be really cross, but she said she knew it was my camper van really (which it wasn't) and carried on practicing her driving (including, I have to say, some pretty impressive reversing manoeuvres). Then Ann and Bill's gay dog ran up and started biting at the hems of my trouser legs. The next thing I knew, Carolyn and I were in an office somewhere, and she was explaining how it was really important for her to arrange a meeting between her boss and the actress Imogen Stubbs. I said that, by an amazing co-incidence, I happened to know Imogen Stubbs quite well, because she was a friend of Irish Mick, and lived at 66, Bromborough Village Road (Note: Imogen Stubbs is not a friend of Irish Mick, nor, as far as I know, does she live at 66, Bromborough Village Road—but she did in this dream.) Then Carolyn had somehow disappeared, and Irish Mick brought Imogen Stubbs into the room. Only it wasn't really Imogen Stubbs; it was this very fat woman, who vaguely resembled a very fat Imogen Stubbs. I decided to go along with her pretence: "So, Imogen, would you be happy to meet Carolyn and her boss?" I asked. "Erm," said the pretend, fat Imogen Stubbs, clearly embarrassed, "I'd rather not, if you don't mind… Not after last time."

And then I woke up.

All of which goes to prove that you really shouldn't mix grape and grain.

Yes, yes, I know what you're wondering: where was Stense in all this? Exactly!! Boy, has she got some explaining to do!

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