In your dreams

7th September 2001 at 01:00
John Puddick, 53, from Shoeburyness in Essex, teaches music at Thorpe Hall school in Southend on Sea.

My dream always starts beside the War Memorial in Chingford, a scene from my childhood. Then from the right comes a small, green train which goes head-over-heels down Kings Head Hill. This is always followed by different, frequently revisited scenes.

Sometimes I am on an interminably slow Underground train from Enfield to Chingford which twists and turns and spirals through dimly lit tunnels with irregular brick supports. Sometimes I am waiting forever at a deserted Aldgate station, where there are lines in all directions but no trains. Sometimes I am standing at the corner of a field of ripened corn at Leyton Midland Road watching a green three-coach railcar making its way up a gradual incline round three sides of a square.

Sometimes it is a brand-new rubber-wheeled Underground train surfacing at Ilford, having just left Oxford Circus on its bright white concrete channel.

I am a happily married father of four, a reasonably contented music teacher, without even a passing interest in trains, yet these precise locations and colours have been with me all my life. When I am there I am not worried by the dream. I don't wake up in a sweat. I awake refreshed, assured that these images are still with me.

Petruska Clarkson writes: Sometimes recurrent dreams can be a form of reassurance and comfort - a sign that we are "on the right track". In this beautiful and interesting dream, the images John likes and is reassured by are around the places he grew up.

Doesn't it sound like a journey through life? Sometimes things seem to be going slowly, twisting and turning, and we can hardly see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes we have to wait forever because the right train or "train of thought" isn't there. Sometimes we arrive at "a field of ripened corn" - a harvest ready for the picking. In a symbolic way, this man is saying that he draws psychological comfort and reassurance from his childhood environment. It has helped him on his journey through life.

You will have noticed how the dream loves symbolising through word play - of which this dream contains many lovely examples.

John Puddick and Petruska Clarkson were talking to Harvey McGavin. Send 300-word descriptions of your dream, with contact details and a photograph of yourself, to Jill Craven, Friday magazine, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Email: Petruska Clarkson says anyone wanting to understand their dreams more fully should contact a recognised psychologist

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