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Boy in the Archway

Dreamed before 1963 by "Anonymous #18" as reported by J.B. Priestley


In 1963, writer J.B. Priestley put out a request on a BBC show for examples of strange experiences with time, whether waking or dreaming. Over a thousand responses came: predictive dreams and visions of varying clarity, accuracy and credibility. The following year he published many examples (though withholding most dreamers' names for privacy reasons) in his book Man and Time. This is one of the thousand.

--Chris Wayan


...a games master at a boys' school dreamed he was walking across the playground, discussing with the captain of the school team the possibility of a certain boy playing in the next match. As they walked through the gateway into the playing field, a small boy ran bang into him. Then--"the actual event took place exactly as in my dream, and as we approached the gate I suddenly realised that this was an exact repetition of the dream and quite subconsciously I braced myself for the impact of the small boy coming through, and he came."

--JB Priestley


As Priestley points out in the similar dream Umbrella, usefulness and the strict definition of prediction clash in dreams like these. One can argue that the dream's prediction didn't come quite true, for in reality he braced against a crash that came as a surprise in the dream; commonsense argues that the whole point of seeing danger is so you can prepare--or better, avoid it. One view assumes there is a fixed future to see (accurately or not); the other assumes either many futures or a mutable future. Yet if time can be changed, aren't billions of us tinkering with it all the time? How could the collision be predicted so exactly--one moment and spot? Despite the triviality of the incident, Priestley is right that with such dreams "we are already in deep waters."

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