Interpreting Your Dreams: World Cup Edition

How are England’s chances in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia? Most people agree that our side has as much chance of lifting the trophy as Ksenia Sobchak had of being elected president in March (#politics).

Nonetheless, as a football-loving nation, sleep experts predict that the prevalence of football-related dreams will increase tenfold in the upcoming weeks. The Society for the Interpretation of Dreams (SID) has released pamphlets providing information about the most common footie-based fantasies (England wins, England loses, the entire team forgets their kit and has to compete in vest and pants, Germany is disqualified for slaughtering Brazilian players on the pitch); yet to my dismay, some of the most interesting dreams have been left off the list.

Here’s one of my favourites.

Shin Pads

Everyone’s been there: you snuggle up in your duvet, having guzzled a tall glass of warm milk, ready to peacefully wander into the Land of Nod – but when you close your eyes, all you see are shin pads. Rows upon rows of them. Shin pads as far as the eye can see – all different colours and brands, some with that new-car smell, some reeking of overpaid leghair. Such dreams can haunt a person for weeks on end.

Luckily, there’s nothing inherently sinister about dreaming about shin pads. Shin pads symbolise protection, but protection from a threat you have exposed yourself to purposefully. Such dreams may imply you’re feeling uncertain about a risky decision you’ve just made and want to be prepared for any outcome.


Interpreting your Dreams For a Fourth Time

When dreaming, the average human burns over four calories an hour!


Oh dear! Dreaming of sheep is fairly common amongst the stressed or disorganised – in fact, Google searches for “I dreamt of livestock and it scared me” peak during times of elevated national stress levels, like during exam season or just before the final of Bake Off.

Luckily there’s a simple explanation for all that wooliness – and you’ll kick yourself when you hear it.

Think back to the last time you dreamt about sheep, then think further back to the moments before you fell asleep. Have you got it yet?

That’s right! Silly, distracted sausage that you are, you counted dreams instead of sheep to help yourself drop off. It’s well known that visualising sheep, perhaps grazing in a field or jumping over a hedge, is a sure-fire way to doze off, but counting dreams is an untested method, often resulting in bizarre dreams!


Interpreting your Dreams Once More


Your uncle

We’ve all had it: that weird, Being John Malkovic-esque dream where you’re walking through a crowded city, and everyone has the face of your uncle. You wander the streets for a while, bemused, but your uncles seem to be getting more and more agitated and it puts you on edge.

Before long, you’re running for your life towards the (mercifully deserted) railway station, pursued by a pack of baying uncles. You try to escape by getting on an empty train, but when the ticket collector asks for your rail card, you see that he also has your uncle’s face. You jump out of the train window, the conductor’s hands grasping at your coat, and, thoroughly freaked out, you rush into an abandoned flat.

From the window, you can see thousands of replicas of your uncle wandering the streets, and you feel a sinking horror. Although you already know what you’ll see, you can’t stop yourself from going to the mirror. Looking back at you – your uncle.

Don’t worry! This is totally normal – in fact, some scientists suggest that the real weirdos are the ones who don’t have this dream.

Whilst it might be scary at the time, the real meaning behind this dream is pretty simple: your uncle is a metaphor for family obligation, and although you try to flee your responsibilities (or, “your uncles”), as all young adults do, you come to realise that you are an integral part of your family structure. At its essence, it’s a dream about belonging.

Either that or, you know, you’re repressing something.

Bland Stuff · dreams · living abroad

The Next Morning

This is a story based on a fever dream I once had.

It had been a heavy night.

Ella woke up, still dressed, still wearing shoes, glasses askew, absolutely hanging.

She was tangled in her bedsheets, dazzled by the mid morning light, and somehow both spread eagled and curled up: One arm was dangling off the side of the bed; the other was crushed underneath her body and had gone numb.

She barely remembered getting in last night, and when she’d flopped, fully dressed and still drunk, into bed, she’d forgotten to draw the curtains: light streamed through the window, igniting her pillow with golden fire and reminding her how dry her throat was – she felt like she’d been drinking dust. She struggled free from her blankets, trying not to notice how much her head was pounding and stomach churning, desperate for some water.

Thankfully she’d had the forethought to buy a bottle before she went out last night, and now she drank from it greedily, surrounded by chaos: her desk covered in makeup and homework and a Russian dictionary; the floor littered with rejected outfits. She closed her eyes as she drank, trying to put off the inevitable, but a couple of seconds later the full force of her hangover hit her. She felt like her brain had been roasted and her throat fried. She felt like she’d been marinated and seared in a hot pan. Stick a fork in me; I’m done, She thought as she tenderly set the bottle on the floor by her bed.

Gingerly, she removed her glasses and lay them on her unfinished jazyk smi homework. She’d almost finished the litre bottle, but her insides were still all dried up. She ran a hand through her hair, cringing at how greasy it felt, and, still sitting on her bed, began to poke through the papers on her desk, looking for a sheet of paracetamol she vaguely remembered seeing there. The arm she’d slept on was beginning to wake up, full of strangely acute pins and needles. She wanted to change out of her button-up shirt and jeans into her pjs, but she couldn’t bring herself to look for them; anyway, all that really mattered to her at this moment was getting rid of her headache and getting some more sleep.

Ella eventually found the paracetamol under a list of imperfective/perfective verb pairs. She took two with the last of the water and, kicking off her shoes and wriggling out of her jeans, hid her face under the covers. The darkness was soothing and she lay perfectly still, feeling the blood beat through her aching brain, and waited for the painkillers to kick in and allow her to rest.



When she woke up a few hours later, she felt significantly better: her throat was still dry, but her stomach had settled and her head was numb. She slowly sat up, put her glasses back on, and found her phone in her handbag. Its display lit up for a moment before going dark, reflecting her tired face: of course, she’d forgotten to charge it. She plugged it in now, and, grabbing her dressing gown from the end of her bed, headed into the kitchen.

Her flatmate, Sophie, was at the table, hunched over a mug of tea and looking worse than Ella felt. They acknowledged each other wordlessly; neither girl spoke until Ella had sat down with a cup of tea.

“How’re you feeling?” asked Sophie, her tone making it clear how her day was progressing.


They sat in silence for a while. Ella felt grubby – she was still wearing yesterday’s shirt under her dressing gown, and her aching feet told her that she’d been dancing (where? for how long?) last night. So far, as if retreating from her throbbing mind, she’d not tried to remember what they’d done, where they’d gone, but now, without trying to, she seemed to remember a dark, narrow club on Dumskaya and a lot of Moscow Mules. She’d definitely thrown up at some point. There’d been a karaoke bar, and quite a few shots. She remembered clambering into an Uber with Sophie and trying to make conversation with the driver in her bad Russian. She remembered the balloons being sold in the clubs, the women dancing on the table.

She couldn’t get it straight in her mind, though. The things she remembered were nothing more than fragments; she knew there was a lot more, but the more she concentrated, the faster the memories drained away.

They’d walked along the frozen canal at some point, she remembered suddenly, wincing. When they’d arrived in Petersburg, their teachers had warned them not to walk on the rivers. Who’d walk on the rivers? she’d thought, but now she’d gone and done it. Well, she’d lived to tell the tale, though.

“What did we do last night?” She asked finally.

Sophie didn’t respond for a while. “Everything,” she said.

That seemed likely. Ella sipped at her tea, wondering why her arm wouldn’t stop hurting. She must have slipped on some ice yesterday night and not noticed how badly she’d bruised it. The pavements were uniformly covered with black ice, and all the British students had been warned about falling when drunk and waking up with hypothermia. Sophie was on her phone, jabbing half-heartedly at the screen.

“Did the others get home alright?” Ella asked, feeling lost and lonely without her own phone.

“Yeah. They left before we met up with the Nottingham people. I’m trying to figure out what we did.” Sophie had opened her maps app and was examining her location history. “Blinders, Mishka, Dumskaya…” She tapped on a location off Nevsky Prospect. “Huh. Do you know what this is?” She slid her phone over – apparently, they’d spent a couple of hours somewhere before getting a taxi home.

“Dunno. Try Googling the address.”

Now her stomach had settled, Ella was beginning to think about food. She imagined herself eating different things, trying to gauge what she could take without upsetting her delicate constitution, and realised that she was ravenous. She knew that there was nothing but onions and smetana in the fridge; maybe they’d go out to get something. It was already gone two o’clock so the lunch rush in the stolovayas would be over – they could go and eat their weight in mashed potatoes. The thought cheered her up significantly and she finished up her tea.

“It’s a tattoo place,” Sophie said suddenly. They looked at each other in surprise. Sophie laughed nervously. “I guess one of them from Nottingham got ink.” Ella didn’t say anything, trying her best to remember any of the Nottingham students they’d met, let alone what tattoo they’d got.

She was too hungry to think very hard, though. “I’m gonna shower, then let’s get some food,” she said decisively. She left Sophie texting the group from last night, trying to figure out who’d got what tattoo, and went into the cold bathroom. For once, she thought she wouldn’t mind that the shower never had any hot water: she desperately needed to wake up.

She let the water run as she shrugged off her dressing gown and began unbuttoning her shirt. Her arm really did hurt – she wandered over to the mirror to see if she had a bruise.

At the exact same moment she saw the tattoo, Sophie knocked loudly on the bathroom door: “Mate, don’t freak out…”


Looping around Ella’s forearm, in the most stereotypical soviet script imaginable, was the Russian alphabet. “Shit,” she said. She let Sophie in, and the two of them examined her sore arm.

“Shit,” said Sophie. She leant back against the sink. “Shit.”

They stood there for a while, the shower still flowing.

Suddenly Ella started laughing. “Fuck me. What the fuck.”

“At least you know you picked the right degree.”

“Sure.” Then, “My mum’s gonna fucking kill me.”

They looked at the tattoo again. Ella couldn’t be sure it was real: it looked so much like it had been drawn on with a marker pen. She wanted to rub it to see if it’d come of with soap and hot water, but it was too tender – and this, she reflected, strangely calm, implied it was genuine.

“Wait,” said Ella abruptly. She was confused. She looked at the alphabet again, twisting her arm to see better – something wasn’t right.

Sophie seemed to have realised the same thing. “Where’s the soft sign?” she asked.

They counted the letters: only 31 – she was missing two, the hard and soft signs.

“Fuck,” said Ella again.

The two girls, utterly lost for words, stared wide-eyed at the tattoo in the mirror. The incomplete alphabet, stark against Ella’s pale skin, drew their eyes and it was a long while before they could look away.


Interpreting your Dreams Again

Dreams connect us, so they say, to the metaphysical world. Let’s explore their meanings together.


Ever jerked awake suddenly, with the horrible feeling that you were falling? I read a really interesting article about that, but I can’t remember what it said, so I’m just going to make something up instead. I think it had to do with your body freaking out because your muscles suddenly relaxed as if you’d died, or something sciencey like that.

My explanation is much simpler: the reason you have such a vivid sensation of falling is that you actually were falling.

Think about it! When have you ever felt like that before? I’ll tell you – when you were falling. And be honest – your imagination isn’t that good. You can’t just pretend to fall and have it feel that real, so you must have been actually falling. Stands to reason.

The question remains – where were you falling from? Well, boys and girls, that’s for the scientists to explain. I just write the blogs.



Interpreting your Dreams

Did you know that the average person experiences over fifty separate dream sequences in a single night? That’s not true, but it makes the study of dreams seem more relevant.


It’s a classic TV trope: the lovable but ne’er-do-well protagonist is sitting in an exam hall. He’s freaking out because he hasn’t studied, maybe he’s naked. He’s staring at his paper, clenching his pencil in his fist, sweat beading on his brow. Then something implausible happens, like his crush kisses him full on the mouth, or he looks down and he’s wearing his sister’s skirt, or his teacher turns into a bat. This is a subtle technique to let the audience know something isn’t quite right here. To hammer it home, he might say something like, “Of course, this is a dream,” in a resigned tone before he jerks awake, sweating, in his dark bedroom.

The truth is, no matter how well you did in your GCSEs, exams are a stressful time. So stressful, in fact, that fully grown adults remain traumatised by them well into their thirties, breaking into a nervous sweat at the mere sight of a revision guide.

Dreaming about such a stressful time is an indication that you are, perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively, too relaxed. Your subconscious is seeking out high-stress memories to try and provoke a chemical response in your brain.

Why not try some high-octane sports, like jousting or badminton, or push yourself to engage with things outside of your comfort zone? You will subliminally reward yourself with sweet, sweet dopamine.