Elephants, bananas and Aunty Ethel

I looked at my watch and saw that it was going backwards. 'That's OK,' I was thinking. 'If my watch is going backwards, then it means that it's early, so I'm not late for work at all.' And then I woke up. Again.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the story and do the exercises.

So, I was walking along the street on my way to work as usual, but for some reason I was in a hurry. I wasn't really sure why I was in a hurry. And then I realised that I was holding a banana in my hand. I didn't know why I was holding a banana in my hand, but I knew that the banana was really important for some reason. The banana had something to do with the reason that I was late and in a hurry. It was a really important banana, only I didn't know why the banana was so important. Then I met my Aunty Ethel on the street corner. It was strange, because I hadn't seen Aunty Ethel for about twenty years.

'Hello!' I said to her. 'I haven't seen you for about twenty years!'

I was really surprised to see her, but she didn't seem surprised to see me.

'Be careful with that banana!' she said. And I laughed, because I knew that it was a really important banana and, yes, I had to be careful with it. Aunty Ethel decided to walk to work with me, which was a problem because I was late and in a hurry, and she walked really, really slowly. Then, when we went round the corner, there was an elephant blocking the street. It depends where you live, I guess, but in Manchester it's pretty strange to see an elephant blocking the street. The strange thing was, though, that I wasn't really that surprised. 'Oh no!' I was thinking. 'Another elephant blocking the street … what a pain! Especially this morning when I'm late and in a hurry, and with Aunty Ethel, and this really important banana …' Then I started to get really worried, and then … I woke up.

I breathed a sigh of relief. 'Thank goodness for that,' I thought. How strange dreams are … I wonder why I was dreaming about elephants and bananas and Aunty Ethel. The radio was already on. The radio comes on automatically at 7 o'clock to wake me up. I looked at the clock. It was already ten past seven. I had to get up quickly. I went into the shower, and I could hear the news on the radio. I couldn't hear it very well, but there was a story on the news about an elephant that had escaped from a local circus. The elephant was causing a lot of trouble walking around the town. I thought this was an incredible coincidence, but then I realised that I had probably heard the news story on the radio when I was half asleep. That was why I was dreaming about an elephant. I quickly got dressed and went into the kitchen to get some coffee before I went to work. I work for a film company. We get ideas for films and film scripts and then we try to produce the films. I thought a film about an elephant in Manchester would be great.

There was a note on the kitchen table. It was from my wife. 'Don't forget to buy bananas on your way home from work today!!!' it said. It was a good job she had written the note, because I had completely forgotten about the fact that she has to eat a lot of bananas because of the crazy diet she's on at the moment. I tried to remember to buy bananas on my way home from work and rushed out of the house. As I was walking down the road my mobile rang. It was my mum.

'Hello, Mum!' I said. 'What are you ringing at this time for?'

'I've got some sad news, I'm afraid, love,' she said. 'Do you remember your Aunty Ethel?'

'Just about,' I said. 'But I haven't seen Aunty Ethel for about twenty years.'

'Yes, well, she was very old … and I'm afraid she died last night. She'd been very ill … I told you a couple of weeks ago …'

'That's sad,' I said.

So there I was, walking down the street, late for work, thinking about Aunty Ethel and bananas and elephants, and of course I realised that it was all exactly the same as my dream. And as I started to think more about this, I realised I was walking more and more slowly, and I looked down and saw that the street was turning into hot, wet, sticky toffee, and it was sticking to my shoes, and the quicker I tried to walk, the slower I went. I looked at my watch and saw that my watch was going backwards. 'That's OK,' I was thinking. 'If my watch is going backwards, then it means that it's early and not late, so I'm not late for work at all …' And then I woke up. Again.

Now this was strange. This was very, very strange. I got up and pinched myself to make sure I was really awake this time. 'Ouch!' The pinch hurt. This meant I really was awake, and not dreaming this time. It was early. I wasn't late. The radio alarm clock hadn't come on yet. It was only half past six. My wife was still at home.

'Have you got enough bananas?' I asked her. She looked at me as if I was crazy.

'What do you mean "bananas"?' she asked.

'I thought you had to eat lots of bananas for your special diet …'

'I have no idea what you're on about!' she said. 'Why? Do you think I need to go on a diet? Do you mean that I'm fat?'

'No, no, no … not at all … By the way, have you heard anything about an elephant?'

'An elephant?'

'Yes, an elephant which has escaped from a circus …'

'We live in Manchester. There aren't any circuses in Manchester. And there certainly aren't any elephants. Listen, are you suffering from stress or something? You're working too hard on that new film you're trying to produce, aren't you? Perhaps you should just stay at home today, take it easy …'

'Perhaps you're right,' I said. 'I'll just phone my mum.'

'Why do you need to phone your mum at half past six in the morning?'

'Oh … nothing important,' I said.

'Well, I'm off to work. See you later, and take it easy today, OK?'


I phoned my mum.

'Hello, Mum!'

'Hello, love. What are you calling this early for?'

'Do you remember Aunty Ethel?'

'Of course I do … but I haven't seen her for about twenty years or so …'

'How is she?'

'I've got no idea. Why on earth are you worried about your Aunty Ethel who you haven't seen for twenty years?'

'Oh nothing … bye!'

I made a cup of tea and went back to bed. Perhaps my wife was right. Perhaps I should just relax and take it easy today. I phoned up my boss.

'Listen,' I said, 'I'm not feeling too good today … perhaps too much stress with the production schedule of the new film project …'

'That's a shame,' said my boss. 'We've just got a really exciting new idea for a film … I wanted to talk to you about it today. It's a kind of action movie. It's a great story. You have to hear this – an elephant escapes from a circus in a big city and it has eaten some strange, radioactive bananas, so it's going completely crazy. They eventually manage to stop the elephant by covering all the streets with sticky toffee, so that it can't walk!'

'I see,' I said. 'And where does my Aunty Ethel come into it?'

'Aunty who?'

I hung up the phone and hoped that I would wake up. Soon.

Chris Rose

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Submitted by Khin Yee Mon Khaing on Fri, 06/08/2021 - 07:02

No,my dreams have never predicted something that happen in my working life.But I think dreams are powerful.I don't remember all my dreams.Some dreams are forgotten when I wake up.Some dreams aren't forgotten and in my head.I wanna be some good dreams in my personal life.

Submitted by gracemetni on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 16:35

When my daughter was pregnant , I had a dream. I dreamed about the sexe of the future child and how he looks like. It was a very cute boy with blond hair and brown eyes . Well, when my daughter delivered her baby, it was a boy who looked exactly like the one I saw in my dream.

Submitted by Thinthinmyoe on Mon, 14/12/2020 - 11:44

I think dreams are powerful.About two years ago,I dreamed an unforgettable dream and it happened really.My neighbouring friend died in my dream.After two days later, my dream became really and l was very sad. I never forget that wonderful and horrible dream.

Submitted by BlaiChan on Thu, 03/12/2020 - 05:31

Normally I never remember about my dream as soon as I wake up. But I get a bit strange feeling about it. Then, I try to get it round my head but only a small part I can find. The most dream visit me is that I failed the exam. I guess this has been taking place in my unconscious mind without realizing it. And I truly still dream about it time to time.

Submitted by danisep on Thu, 05/11/2020 - 22:06

Almost always I don't remember what I dreamed, by the way this story remember me that about two weeks ago I had a weird dream, it was about a former classmate from university I hadn't see her in more then 3 or 4 years and I don’t even remembered her, it was a weird and stupid dream, when I woke up and I looking for her on Facebook maybe she was died or something but she's ok.

Submitted by Akramito on Wed, 04/11/2020 - 15:39

This story is really good, and I always have dreams like that a big dog walking around my house, and other things. But the good in all of this is that you make yourself aible to face your weaknesses, and when you wake up you feel peace inside.

Submitted by andreacch on Mon, 19/10/2020 - 20:40

I never remember the dreams. However, one day i memorized that I was running because someone was chasing me. I was nervous. All my life I never have seen the faces of the people in my dreams but it is curious that I always have the feeling of the people I was dreaming about. This happens since I was a child. Today this event hasnt changed. It takes some time to wake up because my dream was very profound. Last dream I was worried but happy at the same time because I felt that it was only a dream. Dreams are short moments in which you connect real and unreal moments with the actual life. Places, people and different scenarios and sounds similar for me but when I opened my eyes I said to myself in a low voice. Women this is not real, relax it is a bad dream. I Took a minute, I went to the kitchen, drank some water and then got up because I was late for work.

Submitted by Mine on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 15:04

This story is very mixed, we don't know if it's real or is a dream at the beginning. But, I think it's a good story to practice and develop our reading comprehension.

Submitted by AAAAAnthony on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 15:03

I'm sad because every morning I wake up and I never remember what to say about my dream. Maybe I should stop drinking coffee before I go to sleep or maybe it's because my dreams are not very interesting. Could you help me to fix it ?

Submitted by Amel. on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 15:01

I had a dream about something that had already happened. But it wasn't really the same story and it was very strange.

Submitted by Liticia on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 15:01

I've never dreamt of something that came true but for some time I force myself to remember my dreams and when I wake up I google it's. Furthermore, I dream often of sea, swimming pool or tsunami. Can you help me with an explication please ?

Submitted by TASLIM MOLLABUX on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 15:00

Amazing story, i love it.

Submitted by yyy on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 15:00

It's a very good story for improving my English language about Elephants

Submitted by Tm on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 14:59

Your dream is crazy, you dreamed in a dream, this has never happened to me before ! I'm like you, my dreams are very exciting and sometimes they mix reality and fiction, it depends!

Submitted by BANANA SPLIT on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 14:57

it is a funny story, it makes me smile at several moments especially when the wife asks his husband if he wanted her to go on a diet...

Submitted by Bods on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 10:33

I have never predicted something with my dreams but sometimes I had the feeling of "déjà vu" in some discussions or situations.

Submitted by Jeannice on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 10:28

I never remember my dreams but, sometimes i have the feeling that something is happening that happened before. It's deja-vu feeling

Submitted by AB on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 10:26

Hi, I think this was a crazy dream. I've never heared a story like this. It was very stressfull and I it may have a signification. For me it can be just a nightmare. Regards

Submitted by Jonathan75 on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 10:25

It was a wonderful story about a dream and Elephant, but it's a copy of Dumbo movie. You need to pay royalties to Disney.

Submitted by dyguilan on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 10:23

Hello, this story is very funny and interesting , sometimes i see strange dreams especially when i sleep after watching TV or when I'm so tired, but many times my dreams comes true just like if the dream is a vision, so i advice you to avoid watching horror movies before going to sleep

Submitted by Terence on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 10:23

When I was young, I dreamed a lot of nightmares and I was very scared when I woke up. For many years, I don't really remember my dreams

Submitted by Newaccount92 on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 10:21

Wanderfull story, which permit me to practices and improve my English

Submitted by Hinata123 on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 10:20

I love this story, it's really good

Submitted by Tun Aung Kyu on Wed, 16/09/2020 - 15:43

I used to dream about my grandfather after he died for a week. In my dream my grandfather came back to home with another man. I can see my grandfather but I can't see the other man clearly. My grandfather wore the same shirt when he died. They stood in front of the door without saying anything. We called them to come in. My grandfather only came into the house and his partner just stood in front of the door. My grandfather had some meal and went back to his partner. And then Everything changed to the white color and I woke up.
OMG, I had a similar dream like yours. In the second night my grandfather passed away, I dreamed him coming back home and he was looking for something in the living room. I asked: " Grandpa, what are you doing?" Grandpa replied: "I can't find my slippers, where are they?" I felt strange and went away. I didn't remember if I tried to help him or not. I told my father about that dream in the morning, my father had dreamed about my grandfather as well! What a ......

Submitted by Sweetie on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 17:14

In my house, we used to close all windows due to some dispute with my neighbors. On one day, I got a dream that window hooks are open and thief are coming from that window. I immediately checked the windows hooks when I wake up. This was really strange. The window hook was open as exactly the same as my dream.

Submitted by Lila Naem on Mon, 18/05/2020 - 08:58

I used to dream about some people and often a few days later I hear from them, also sometimes in my dreams I predict that something bad will happen to some people and I become very worried about them, although this does n't come true most of the time.
In China, there is a saying like: Dreams and reality are opposite. If you dream something really bad about someone, that means that person will be lucky or long live in the reality. Therefore, don't be too guilty about the dreams.

Submitted by dan on Sat, 02/05/2020 - 07:43

I never felt it the dreams predicted my real life. But sometimes i had the feeling that something was happening that happened before. It's deja-vu feeling. Anyway, nice story. Thanks!

Submitted by Archana on Tue, 24/03/2020 - 11:10

I never remember the dreams. Mostly they are from day to day life and good ones. It takes some time for me to come to fully awaken state. At the threshold of the waking and dream state I am generally very happy but soon realise it was a dream not actual but i quickly forget. It is said that you should try to remember dreams to have a good memory. When I was a child in exam days I usually had dreams that I got late in reaching examination centre. I woke up with fear. I dreamt that I am falling down a cliff but before I touch the ground I woke up. Sometimes I felt I am unable to breathe. In all such cases I generally woke up and found myself normal. I never have had dreams like we see in movies eg giving insight of important event in future or romance. My dreams are mostly sweet dreams.
I don't know about the other dreams, but in China there is one saying about falling down a cliff or losing gravity, it means your body is growing.

Submitted by Falken09 on Fri, 13/03/2020 - 03:14

I used to have a dream that I failed my test when I'm 10. When I woke up I realized that it was a dream but later on in the afternoon I failed my test, just like in the dream. After that I thought dream is a kind of prediction. It really stress me out every time I had a bad dream or nightmare. Now that I think again I was kind of childish and funny.

Submitted by cittàutopica on Thu, 12/03/2020 - 17:56

I don't think, or I don't remember this, but it has sometimes happened I had the dreams connected to the events which had occurred just before.

Submitted by carlosfromchile on Wed, 12/02/2020 - 02:00

Hi guys, Oh just wondering where can I find those super cool audios you guys used to have together with these stories. Are they available in a different part in your website? Thanks a lot! :D

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 20/02/2020 - 06:28

In reply to by carlosfromchile


Hello carlosfromchile

I'm afraid the audio for these older stories is no longer available. The good news is that we have lots of other free, downloadable listening material in the Audio zone, Listening skills, Podcasts, Big City Small World and other sections.

Please let us know if we can help you find something!

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by AKA97 on Mon, 03/02/2020 - 15:28

Great story and true fact about dreams. Dreams are strange with no doubt, they sometimes make you feel whether you are alive or dead or actually in to something happening in your dream. I have had a lot exact dreams but not dream in to dream

Submitted by Sk_189 on Fri, 23/08/2019 - 12:06

I looked my self in a technical container from inside. I was seeing some peoples watching me from out side of the glass, which was fixed in front of my face those all seemed so real running in my brain , I was approximate eight years old and that was very odd feeling for me. When i woke up i felt my hole body was swagger. In those days there was so less electricity in nights so my room was full of dark. It was to hot,I can feel; i was sweating a lot,I was trying to move my body and legs but i can't then i was decided moving my fingers slowly after five to ten minutes my body was become conscious, i was just thinking what happened to me. First that dream which was not belonging to my real life and then swagger of my body. At that age i don't know any thing and then i slept again and forgot everything till i not watched that movie AVATAR i don't know its a coincidence or what. According to my thinking we are connected to some mysterious and invisible super power.

Submitted by parisaach on Mon, 15/07/2019 - 10:26

Many dreams are a shadow of our real life while some of them are fictional or meaningless. Everything can happen in our dream. I don't remember exactly which of my dreams happened in my real life, but sometimes something happen in my life that is familiar to me, the place, the people I met... all of them are familiar I guess I saw all of these in a dream, maybe nothing speciall happen but the environment and the feeling are familiar I'm not sure where I saw them before: in a dream or in my previous life (some people believe we all lived before in other life and now we died and rise again in a different life.). Anyway some of our dream are really live and natural you can't believe it is just a dream and when you wake up you still think of that. I had a scary dream many years ago, It was so real, after all these years when I remember it I feel fear. I hope that one never come true.

Submitted by onurcankayacan on Tue, 12/02/2019 - 14:27

Christopher Nolan is shocked :D

Submitted by Janelrahi on Mon, 04/02/2019 - 10:21

It's really funny story. Really enjoyed. Made

Submitted by Sridhar reddy on Sat, 19/01/2019 - 14:26

I wonder if there's any difference between the phrases "round the corner" and "around the corner".

Hello Sridhar reddy,

As far as I am aware there is no difference in meaning. I think 'round' is a little more informal in terms of use.



The LearnEnglish Team