I went to the toilet recently.
Not the most inspiring of starts to a post, I know - but this wasn't just any old toilet: it was a toilet on a train.
Trying to negotiate your way down the corridor, then around the array of buttons that open, close and lock the door - let alone the half-hour dilemma previously as to whether you can make it to your stop or failing which whether you can a) trust the other people on the train sufficiently to leave your bag, hat or coat on the overhead rack, b) to leave your seat empty for your return- are bad enough without the toilet suddenly talking to you.
This one was on a train owned and run by a certain British bearded business mogul originally known for his record company, then later for his music shops, condoms, hot-air balloons, trains and space rockets - not directly run, you understand: I'm not suggesting he was sitting on the driver's plate pulling the whistle chord: oh no - just run by him in the sense that somewhere along time ago in an office far, far away he had waved his hand and trains had come into being.
Anyway: back to the toilet that talked. This one was very friendly, talking in a gentle female voice about how happy the company was that I had chosen to patronize their toilets (in fact I wasn't even so much as slightly sarcastic, but that's another story...) and hoped that I would refrain from flushing paper bags, nappies, sanitary towels, scarves, jumpers and finally hopes, dreams and goldfish down the toilet.
For a moment I assumed I had imagined the entire escapade and could well have come to question my sanity if it wasn't for the handy invention of YouTube that enabled me, upon returning home, to establish that I wasn't the only person to whom this had happened.
But, being me, it got me thinking. Not so much about talking toilets, but about dreams and their fragility.
Let's face it: we all have dreams - both the kind that happen during the night and the kind that we aspire to happening - and both are as easy to lose hold of. Most of mine, at least the ones I remember, are anxiety dreams - the kind where you are trying to get back to your car, but it's not where you left it or you are not where you left you. Once I dreampt that a famous radio star moved my house. I've often meant to have words with him about that.
I can remember being told at school that if you didn't wake up in time from a dream where you were falling then you would die. At the time it never occurred to me to question: how could anyone possibly know? I mean - presumably the people who hadn't woken in time hadn't survived to tell the story right?
Then there's the other kind of dream - the one we hope one day will come true. Think back to your own childhood. I doubt that there has ever been a child who, when questioned about their future, replied that when they grew up they wanted to do a hard-to-define white collar job that sort of paid ok but actually, at the end of the day, wasn't particularly hard and a tiny bit dull: oh no - they wanted to be a train driver, a space pirate. I wanted to be a policeman, or a photographer like my dad, but instead have sort-of bumbled from position to position with no particular plan of where I was going (and been perfectly happy doing so on the whole)
As we get older though, or dreams tend to get smaller: slipping away between our fingers unless we are careful. The day-to-day activities get in the way and suddenly the days have flown past. That's not to say that some of those dreams can't come true. I mean: it's unlikely now that I will ever become a famous writer, artist or musician - but that doesn't stop me getting published, maybe selling a few paintings and putting some tracks down.
But what, exactly, is wrong with small dreams? When you look back at a life it's often the small, almost unnoticed, steps that brought you to where you are and it's the small steps that will take you forward - not the giant leaps (unless you're Neil Armstrong clearly): the important thing is to take those steps and not be afraid of where they might lead - to leave yourself open to the opportunity that if you take those small steps then somewhere down the line some of your dreams may just come true.
On a final note I was dozing lightly at work a few days ago: not at my desk, but in a small break out area where I sometimes go at lunch. I was in that state between sleep and wakefulness: where you're not quite asleep but fragments of dreams slip into your head like a breath of wind blowing under the door as it moves on by - never equating to much but just offering glimpses of what may lie behind those heavy oaken doors.
And one of those little slices left me with nothing more than a sentence - meaning nothing on it's own and leaving no clue as to it's relevance: no one survives the bear apocalypse.
Which is true enough I guess. After all, we all know the saying: Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Except bears: bears will kill you