In which our intrepid hero makes a new palaeontological friend.

I had an interesting dream earlier this week, and to allow you to fully grasp its significance, I’ll have to make a few explanations beforehand.

Firstly, as a child, I really wasn’t excited about dinosaurs. What did it for me (and still does) is fauna of the Caenozoic Era—the time since the dinosaurs went extinct. Although I’ve since broadened my interest, WE Swinton’s Animals Before Adam introduced me to the strange world of Pleistocene megafauna. I’ve been hoooked ever since, and Beasts is by far my favourite of the Walking With series.

Secondly, I see myself as a bit of a bearish figure. I’m big, I like to hug people, I growl when I’m annoyed, I love berries, and I can drop into a berserk rage when I need to. In short, if I have a totem animal, it would be Bear.

Lastly, I take two trains to get to and from work each day. On the longer of these legs, I often fall asleep and dream.

It was on one of these train trips that I had the dream in question. I was heading towards work, nodding off and dozing every couple of stations. As I approached work, I dreamt that I was asleep on the train, approaching work.

I felt something with long fur brush my arm, and long, hard claws gently poked at me. Then, in a voice remarkably similar to Neil of The Young Ones, I heard the words: “Wake up, Dave! You’re going to miss your station.”

As I looked up I quickly realised I was staring into the eyes of a mylodon, one of the smaller varieties of (now extinct) giant ground sloth. Then he smiled at me and I awoke.

Mim K/W and I have been joking about the sloth all week. We named him Barry. Whenever one of us is falling asleep at an inappropriate time, the other will put on the Barry voice and say, “It’s time to wake up, Dave!” whilst gently prodding at an arm.

Even for me, it’s a little strange to dream of mylodons. I like to imagine that maybe Bear’s sick or on long-service leave or something, and some sort of spirit-guide temp agency has put Barry on in Bear’s place.

My pro-tem spirit animal is a giant ground sloth. How cool!

I gotta say, I kinda like the big, ol’ lunk. I hope he enjoys his stay, and one day, finds full-time employment as somebody’s totem. If I knew where to send it, I’d even write him a reference.