Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Dream and Imagination

Long ago, the top room of our house became known as the Dream Room. Lodger after lodger who lived there – and our lodgers were mostly good friends in need of a place to live for a while –  reported on the extraordinary dreams they had there. Perhaps it was something to do with the shape of the room, the sloping ceilings and the little casement window looking out over the garden.

Or perhaps it was the sense of being high up, far away from the business of the house down below. Or perhaps it was a sense of security in which you could float away into the colours of dreams without worrying whether you’d ever get back.

It has been one of the pleasures of living in this tall terrace house that when you’re at the top of it, you are far away from the life at the bottom, the cooking and eating and sweeping and talking. I probably haven’t ever spent enough time up there to really relish the sense of security it gives. But I’m pleased  to have been able to extend the space to others.

Grazyna was Polish. She used to wear very high heels on the basis that young men would find them attractive. Paul and I smilingly remember the time she lived here by the exclamation she’d often make when trying to get out of the front door early in the morning on her way off to work. Finding the door still locked (for Paul and I would usually still be in bed), she’d cry out, ‘Oh! Is lock!’ Then we’d hear her heels clicking into the kitchen to fetch the keys. Oh Grazyna, where are you now?

Just about all our lodgers were already – or soon became and still remain – good friends of ours. One was a very tall young Italian man, Francesco Guidicini, who’d just finished his photography course at Sheffield. His father was a friend of Paul’s: hence the contact. And one of the many pleasures of having Francesco here was that he was and is and always will be the most fantastic cook. Typically he’d arrive back home bearing a little brown paper bag which might contain, let’s say, just a few beans and an onion.  ‘Tonight, I think, risotto,’ he’d say. And whenever Francesco took on the cooking, we knew we were in for a treat. Now he is a renowned photographer, taking portrait photographs for the Sunday Times and with examples of his work in the Portrait Gallery.

Another former lodger of ours, Dominick Tyler, is also a wonderful photographer. The son of close friends of ours and now with a lovely family of his own, he has just – amazingly – completed a four person relay team Channel crossing swim for charity. Maybe the sustaining atmosphere of our Dream Room helped nourish and sustain his wonderful energy and artistic gifts.

I should try the Dream Room out more myself. To be honest, it’s not that I’ve never slept there. But it’s only ever been for an odd night or two when our usual bedroom has been needed as more convenient for visitors. And wasn’t it on one such night in the Dream Room that, long ago now, I had the extraordinary dream that formed the basis of a set of stories I subsequently wrote? The main characters are the Sea-Ling, the Tiger-Mouse and the Blue Flamingo. They were characters that could certainly not be swept aside from my mind by the advent of day. It soon became obvious that each had to have a story of his or her own and together these stories became The Tiger-Mouse Tales. I never did try to get them published. Ah well!

PS: The top photo is the view from the Dream Room. Plants in our house have done well this summer. My bottom picture shows some that Paul has photographed.

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