jstanier Here be dragons.

Fever dreams

I’ve been ill these last 4 days. We’ve both been ill. I’d been hit pretty hard by something bordering flu, but @eleventhleft took the full force of illness, combining flu with a horrid chesty cough where she completely lost her voice. After coming home on Friday to a poorly, struggling partner, I did my best to provide soup, medicine and general care.

As the evening progressed, I could hear a slight wheeze in my own throat. More time passed, and I’d entered that hot-cold-hot phase where within minutes you can be wearing infinitely too few clothes and then infinitely too many. In order to distract ourselves until we were able to move from the sofa, we indulged in a marathon of Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys.

Michael started in Rebecca’s home city of Carlisle and, over the course of 5 episodes, travelled through the Lake District, down the east coast via Kendal and Liverpool, making his way to Alton. A key facet of the history of life in the North and the birth of the railways therein was the Industrial Revolution, where cities like Manchester became global powerhouses in manufacturing. In each episode, Portillo visited a number of factories including Carr’s, somewhere I forget in Kendal, known for its eponymous mint cake, and one of the UK’s largest sheet glass producers.

Being a relaxing program, and feeling terribly ill, I slipped in and out of something resembling consciousness over the course of a few hours. By bed time, I had a terrible sinus-induced throb putting pressure on the back of my eyes. All I really wanted was to maintain blotto throughout the night, but I had slipped into a fever and my dreams were consumed by having to work in a ceramics factory, not unlike one visited by Portillo, and I was stressed and panicking at the overwhelming speed of the production line. Stacks of chalky bowls and pots kept arriving to be moulded and fired in unbearable heat. I couldn’t keep up and dear me, did it make my head hurt even more.

To make matters worse, my larynx was emitting honking noises not unlike a goose, resulting in swift pokes in the side to get me to roll over and, in the nicest possible way, to shut up. That night amongst fever I slipped in and out of this factory dream, waking up sweaty and short of breath. When I made it through to almost 7am, I popped downstairs and laid on the sofa where I tried my best to imagine calmness rather than roaring flames and dust.

Staring blankly at the wall, I vividly remembered a similar fever dream I had as a child. I recalled being upstairs in my parents’ house and slipping off into a dark montage, in black and white, of factory workers hammering steel. The repeated pummeling gradually slowed down and reverberated more, with the scene switching between the impact of the hammer to an aeroplane descending from the sky. As the metallic sounds slowed down to a crawl, I’d wake up, bolt upright and shaking.

Next time I get ill, I’ll make sure we watch Sesame Street instead.