For the most part FB doesn't remember his dreams, as their vividness vanishes the moment he wakes and focusses on more quotidian tasks such as finding a matching - or nearly matching - pair of socks. But there are some dreams that stick with him, if only because they seem to recur.
In FB's most frequently recurring dream he pressed for time for some event or activity. He is in a strange location. He is sure he knows the way to where he has to be. But can he find it? No way. He goes through doors, climbs stairs, proceeds down corridors only to find himself nowhere. The same doors, the same stairs, the same corridors reappear. He can hear on the other side of the wall where he should be. He can hear the expectant cries of his audience, his colleagues or even his family. Can he find the way there? No chance. His search becomes more frantic. The same doors, the same stairs, the same corridors. And so on.
This dream did once take on a cricketing turn. FB was preparing to bat (usually the stuff of nightmares for the rest of the team) and on being told the wicket had fallen set off for the field only to find the unfamiliar pavilion a maze of..........doors, stairs and corridors. But can he find the way to the middle? FB always wakes at about this point, so he never knows whether he is timed out.
FB has read his way through Sigmund Freud's great work on the Interpretation of Dreams, but does not find it compelling in offering an understanding of his dream. Freud is sadly silent on the symbolic meaning of cricketing situations in dreams. (No doubt there is a Freudian explanation for this oversight). More prosaic interpreters of dreams - and there are many - will tell FB that this form of dream is an anxiety dream. It is related to fear of failure or the reluctance to face up to his own inadequacies. FB wonders about this. He is not naturally an anxious sort, but this interpretation makes him anxious. And he faces up to his own inadequacies with every ball he faces.
He therefore thinks there is a more down to earth interpretation. The situation of FB's dream famously occurred to David Steele when he made his Test debut against Australia at Lord's in 1975. Leaving the dressing room and the famous balcony for the middle, he went down one too many flights of stairs and found himself in the basement toilets with little idea of how to get out. But by the skin of his teeth and the kindly help of a steward, he managed to make the field of play without becoming the first Test batsman to be timed out. FB closely followed that series and Steele's experience. For Steele was a hero that summer stoically standing up to the bullying Aussies Lillee and Thomson. He scored 365 runs in the 3 tests he played at 60.83 and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year. That he was so close to not getting on to the field at the very start has obviously wormed its way deep into FB's subconscious and from there into his dreams. So when FB is plucked from obscurity into a Lords Test - as Steele was in 1975 - he will not make the same error.
It might only be a dream, but FB is taking no chances. At away matches he can be seen unrolling a ball of string from the dressing room to the pavilion door to guide the way. Sometimes he plays it safe and leads the string all the way to the middle, just in case he takes a wrong turning. This season, taking note of the impact of his advancing years on his memory, he thinks he might err even more on the safe side and use the string trick at Carlton's home ground too. Just in case some doors, stairs and corridors suddenly appear or as is more likely he completely forgets the way.
A ball of string, it is another thing to remember to pack.........which leads us on to FB's other cricketing dream......when he's all set to bat but suddenly discovers suddenly that his batting gloves are not there.............he sets off to look for them...........through doors, up stairs and along corridors............