Dreams can be a fertile source of ideas for a writer, just keep a notebook handy - Ian McMillan

I’m at Oakwell watching the mighty Barnsley FC and the East Stand is pretty full and the crowd is buzzing and because we’re all so close and there’s no social distancing you can tell I’m dreaming.

For the writer dreams can be a very useful source of material, says Ian McMillan. (JPIMedia).
For the writer dreams can be a very useful source of material, says Ian McMillan. (JPIMedia).

In the dream it’s one of those afternoons in August when we say to each other “They should play football in the summer!” and we laugh hollowly at the idea of those freezing February evening games (although I’d give my long johns to be marking one of those off on the calendar now) where your breath hangs like the ghost of one of those players you had in the team for the FA Cup win in 1912.

My dream carries on, the midnight showing in the cinema of the mind going through its paces, and in the dream we’ve signed a new striker and we’re all excited to see him but for some reason he’s not on the subs’ bench, which causes me an anguish that is so deep it almost wakes me up.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Then suddenly, as is the way in dreams, we’re in another scene and there he is, the new player: he’s about 15ft tall and he’s wearing glasses that, from my seat near Gangway 7, look like two copies of the Jodrell Bank telescope in psychedelic colours.

I’m amazed but everybody sitting nearby doesn’t seem to see anything unusual about him. I turn to the bloke next to me who is dressed as Henry VIII and say: “They’re big glasses!” but then I notice that he’s wearing vast glasses too, and the whole crowd is, and all the players and officials are and I’m the only one who isn’t and my brain has had enough of this and knocks on my skull’s door and wakes me up.

And for a moment I’m still in the dream and I’m wondering about the new player and I say, to nobody in particular: “Well, we’ve been looking for a big lad up front.” Then I go downstairs and write the bare bones of the dream in my notebook because if I don’t they’ll fade like steam from a kettle.

I know that sometimes it can be embarrassing or boring for somebody to tell you their dreams, especially if they become either too surreal for words or too mundane to put up with, but for the writer dreams can be a very useful source of material.

Somehow they present you with images you’d never have thought of for yourself (football supporter as Henry VIII, for instance) that, even if they’re not usable as they are, might lead you to somewhere else.

Imagine a Tudor king turning up at a football match through a wrinkle in time; imagine a player wearing some glasses (or perhaps contact lenses) that would enable them to see a tiny bit into the future so that they could see where the next-pass-but-one was going to end up. There’s a couple of ideas for stories, for a start.

Think I’ll have a cheese sandwich before I go to bed tonight, and take the notebook upstairs with me. I don’t want to miss sleep’s free gifts!

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you'll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click here to subscribe.