The best place to appreciate the full effects was under the bedclothes. Pre-duvet folks will know that with a sheet, two blankets and an eiderdown pulled over your head, the world became a very dark place.
Illustration by SW
Sometimes I used to screw my eyes tight shut until when at last I opened them my vision was blurred and watery. The ideal time to turn on the torch. Suddenly the folds and shadows, moving in and out of focus, were cave walls or wild seas. A red filter brought an extra air of menace and on occasion I’d have to pop my head out into the open, just for some reassurance. The green filter reminded me of the sea. Although thinking of how vivid it was, perhaps the leaking of some radioactive substance would have been more accurate. But the sea, it was, and one I had no fear of drowning in.
These adventures were almost always followed by the same dream. There was a small trapdoor in my mattress, probably about the size of a small shoe box. Yet somehow I lowered a rope with a cage at the end and, one by one, I would rescue random animals by calling them into the cage and hoisting them up through the impossibly small trapdoor to the safety of my bed. These rescues could last some considerable time and, by rights, my bed should have collapsed under the weight of saved animals. Often my bedclothes were in disarray in the morning. So either I was a restless sleeper, or the mess could be attributed to a hoard of escaping creatures. One other odd thing: I could never find that trapdoor, in the daylight.