St Matthew’s Piece Trees – Under Threat

A guest post from Valerie Neal, a Friend of St Matthew’s Piece

Local residents have been fighting to protect and conserve local amenity and environmental assets via Friends of St Matthew’s Piece since 30thApril 2020 – and, before that, via Petersfield Area Community Trust, since 1998). We stand on the shoulders of the giants who, 100 years earlier, in 1898 had established St Matthew’s Piece. This included planting the magnificent London Plane trees that provide all of us with such wonderful benefits today. Read more on the history of St Matthew’s Piece, on the St Matthew’s Piece Timeline 1890–2020.



Trees in Petersfield 

Consider how poor is the tree cover generally in the surrounding area. Our little St Matthew’s Piece is Petersfield’s only official park (versus the 56 parks in the other 13 Cambridge wards; see the 2018 Cambridge Local Plan’s Appendix C). Petersfield  is poorly provided for not only with regard to Public Open Space but also when it comes to tree canopy, number of trees, and tree coverage. All of this while Petersfield has the most densely housed population in Cambridge, living in properties that are predominantly very small houses or flats (with little or no private gardens; see p24 of the most recent Friends of St Matthew’s Piece submission to the Planning Portal).

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece are not the only ones to have noticed. A recent (late 2021) pan-European study included Cambridge in its review of 1000 cities – Green space and mortality in European cities: a health impact assessment study [The Lancet, VOLUME 5, ISSUE 10, E718-E730, OCTOBER 01, 2021]. This revealed that 68% of Cambridge residents do not have the WHO-recommended access to green space. 

These 68% are, naturally, not evenly distributed across Cambridge. The Environment ‘Domain’ of the latest iteration of the Government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation reveals that the area around St Matthew’s Piece falls into the 2nd most deprived of 10 deciles nationally, with regard to this parameter.

All of the splendid mature trees around the (now, tragically, privatised – in 2018) northern half of St Matthew’s Piece have continued to thrive, thanks to the twin protections of Tree Preservation Order No 4/2005 and their location within the Mill Road Conservation Area (1993). The benefits are mutual: these trees are themselves vital to the Mill Road Conservation Area. Check Tree Preservation Orders on the Cambridge City Council website here.

But that does not mean these precious trees are safe. 

A New Threat 

On 15th March, a scant week before the 22nd March deadline set by Greater Cambridge Shared Planning for the submission of comments, Friends of St Matthew’s Piece learned by chance of the ‘tree application’

22/0271/TTPO | T1, T2 & T3: London Plane – Reduce height by ~5m and spread by ~4m balancing crown of all three trees. Prune on a triennial cycle to maintain broadly at reduced dimensions. | St Matthews Centre And St Matthews Piece Sturton Street Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB1 2QF

This proposed a brutal cutting back of three of the original 1898 trees along Sturton Street: each by 5 m in height and 4 m in spread. Why? To address problems detected in a 25-year-old property at 193 Sturton Street – a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). The papers on the planning portal concerning 22/0271/TTPO are viewed by Friends of St Matthew’s Piece and other Objectors as scanty, flawed and contradictory, building a very weak case for any cutting back any of the trees – never mind all three trees. 

The trees are still at risk. The local community responded magnificently to an appeal from Friends of St Matthew’s Piece to defend them. Within five days, no fewer than 43 local Objections to the planning application were submitted. 28 have been uploaded under the ‘Documents’ tab of the Planning Portal for 22/0271/TTPO; as well as 15 Comments (all objections) under the ‘Public Comments’ tab. The objections are thoughtful, well-informed and effective – worth reading.

If you wish to add your voice to these Public Comments, you can register and submit your views right until the application goes to a meeting of the City Council Planning Committee. 

City Councillor for Petersfield Ward, Richard Robertson, has ‘called in’ the application, which means it can no longer be decided by a Planning Officer but must go before the Planning Committee to be determined. We don’t yet know when this will happen (the next meetings are 14th June and 6th July 2022). 

Arguments against the proposal are varied and wide-ranging. Many wrote in support of the importance, value, diverse environmental roles and beauty of these historic trees. The most powerful perhaps relate to water, as explained in pp 17–19  of the full submission by Friends of St Matthew’s Piece –Objection to 22/0271/TTPO.

The insurance company could spend upwards of £80,000 to underpin 193 Sturton Street, to address the subsidence they have found there since the summer of 2019. The alternative they propose instead is to severely cut back our three protected trees and spend around £8,000 to repair the cracks and redecorate. They argue that the damage to the house is due to the trees taking up too much water, and have tried to prove this by measuring the movement of the house at 8 different points over the course of 1 year, running May-to-May. Here is their graph:

Graph titled:
Precise level monitoring for points 1 to 8 - related to drain

But are our trees the true cause of this subsidence?

The lower curves on the insurance company’s graph, the ones showing the most movement, all echo precisely that seen – on a matching May-to-May horizontal axis – in the annual variation in soil moisture deficit (SMD). This 2nd graph is from the Environment Agency, based on more than 60 years of data. This shows a predictable and well established regional seasonal pattern in soil moisture deficit:

Environment Agency Graph 
East Anglia
Ranking derived from data for the period Jan-1961 to Dec-2017
Horizontal axis: May 2020 to May 2021
Vertical axis: soil moisture deficit (mm)
Source: Environment Agency Monthly Water Situation Report

Parts of 193 Sturton St have therefore been recorded as moving entirely in synchrony with the: 

  • longstanding, 
  • natural, 
  • firmly established, and 
  • widespread 

annual cycle of soil drying under the property. This occurs over the entire East Anglian region – irrespective of any effect of trees on St Matthew’s Piece. It is the view of Friends of St Matthew’s Piece that no evidence is produced in planning application 22/0271/TTPO that crown reduction and spread reduction of our three trees would have any significant or sustained protective impact at 193 Sturton Street – in the inescapable context of this annual hydrogeological cycle. 

Furthermore: many houses are just as close to St Matthew’s Piece trees but it is only this one that has cracks – the problem seems to be with this new house, not with these old trees.


Local residents may also recall the long-running dispute about the trees at Alexandra Gardens Residents set up 24/7 watch over Alexandra Gardens trees in Cambridge to ‘keep chainsaws at bay’ [Mike Scialom – Cambridge Independent – 06 August 2021]


How many more Cambridge trees will face similar threats, when the fundamental problem is unlikely to be the trees themselves but over-abstraction of water associated with over-development and its impact on the local water table?


If you would like to join Friends of St Matthew’s Piece or assist in any of the issues raised in this blogpost, kindly hosted by Mill Road Bridges, please email Friends of St Matthew’s Piece.

Bibimbap House – Planning update

We reported, earlier, on this planning application Planned Replacement for Bibimbap House – How Big?

We can now report that the application has been withdrawn. See the text of the letter (below) from Luke Waddington, Planning Officer, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning.

Existing building with restaurant on ground floor
Proposed building with additional storeys and restaurant on ground-floor and in basement
(Application now withdrawn)

Cambridge City Council
Application for Planning Permission

Why you have received this letter

Reference: 21/01609/FUL

Proposal: Demolition of existing HMO and construction of 7 no. replacement 1 bedroom apartments and 1 no. restaurant

Site address: 60 Mill Road Cambridge CB1 2AS

Further to previous correspondence relating to the above matter, I write to inform you that the applicant has asked for the application to be withdrawn. Accordingly, we have stopped all work on processing the application and no decision will be made. There is no right of appeal against such a decision.

What happens next?

The applicant may choose to re-submit this or an amended application to us at a future date. We will notify you again if such an application is submitted.

Tracking future applications

Through our web site you can save searches on specific criteria such as a property address or mapped area, you can then choose to receive updates by email when new applications are submitted meeting your criteria.

To use this facility you will need to register a user account on the website. Go to https://applications.greatercambridgeplanning.org for more details.

Should you wish to discuss this application please contact me.

Yours sincerely

Luke Waddington, Planning Officer, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning.

Planned Replacement for Bibimbap House – How Big?

Plans have been submitted to the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning service for the complete demolition of the Bibimbap House Korean Restaurant building and the residential accommodation above and behind it. If approved, the existing three-story building would be replaced by a five-storey building, with an additional basement.

Existing building with restaurant on ground floor
Proposed building with additional storeys and restaurant on ground-floor and in basement

What do you think of these proposals? You can check out the full details, and download all of the drawings, here.

Read the comments which other local residents have made about the application, here. You will note that there is a very thorough, detailed objection from the occupant(s) of 21 Mill Street.

If you’d like your views taken into account by the planning committee, log in to the planning portal and submit your own comment here.


This post is open for comments, but please remember that nothing published on our website can be considered by the City Council’s planning committee. You are, however, welcome to use this space to encourage others to submit their own comments on the planning portal.

Victory for Friends of St Matthew’s Piece

Image of planning proposal, with word refused superimposed
Celebratory poster. Email Friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com to request a copy of the poster to print out.

On Wednesday 24 March 2021, 10.00 am, deep in cyberspace, Super Matt the super squirrel defeated The Thing From Outer Space!

More prosaically Cambridge City Council’s planning committee held a virtual meeting, in which the application to build a block of student flats on St Matthew’s Piece by developers Federated Hermes was considered.

Planning Officers recommended refusal of the application, although there were certain aspects of the local plan and of planning considerations which the development would have satisfied. You can read/download the full officer report (PDF 3.3MB) here (pp187-240).

Of course Super Matt had help from all of the community and Friends of St Matthew’s Piece had massive support for their objection to these plans.

A shoutout to Val Neal who gave a good presentation at the online meeting!

Agnès Aubert, Sleaford Street, on Nextdoor

Would you be able to display Friends of St Matthew’s Piece’s new ‘Refused’ poster in your window?

If yes, please email Email Friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com to request a copy of the poster to print out. Or just smile and celebrate every time you pass one in the area! Thank you all for your crucial efforts to protect our park.

Of course, any further attempts from these (or any other) developers may emerge. The community would then choose its response.

Everyone’s support and active contributions to preserving, celebrating and protecting St Matthew’s Piece would be very welcome!

Val Neal, North Petersfield, on Nextdoor

As others have posted out, the developers could appeal or submit a modified proposal, so local residents will have to keep being vigilant.

What happens next?

The applicant now has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against our decision to refuse this application. The appeal must be lodged within 6 months of the date of this decision. In the event of an appeal being lodged, and if you have previously commented, we will notify you and forward any comments you may have made to the Planning Inspectorate.

The applicant also has the right to re-submit an amended scheme which may seek to overcome our reasons for refusal. We will notify you again if such an application is submitted.

Notification from Greater Cambridge Joint Planning to people who commented on the application

However, the redoubtable Roy Stamp strikes a positive note…

In Romsey Terrace, we found that fighting an appeal made residents more determined: the residents won in the end!

Roy Stamp, Romsey, on Nextdoor

It is difficult to second guess what this multi-national investment fund will do next.

It is possible that when they bought the site from Chard Robinson they were told, based on the previous scheme that was consulted on but was never actually submitted, that there was development potential.

At the planning committee their agent Bidwells claimed that pre application advice given by the planners at that time was positive, but this has little status as it is not binding on the Council. It is a very weak argument and I was surprised it was even mentioned.

The main problem, if they appeal, is the fairly new National Planning Policy Framework introduced by the LibDem Tory coalition government in 2012. This planning directive considerably weakened the power of local councils’ decision-making powers and introduced an overarching presumption in favour of development. It also gave more power to planning inspectors to award the applicants appeal costs adainst local councils.

This happened five years ago in Station Road where the City turned down plans for a massive office block. BrookGate won the appeal and the Council was forced to pay them £175,000. The reasons for refusal in this case by Cambridge City Council are, however, very robust and are taken from the approved local plan so we are in a strong position.

If Federated Hermes are realistic they will give up as, given the strength of feeling, the local Councillors will undoubtably put considerable funds into the defence of the Councils position at any appeal hearing.

Local activist and fount of knowledge on planning, Frank Gawthrop, South Petersfield, on Nextdoor

Wildflowers for St Matthew’s Piece

While many of us hit the shops for last-minute lockdown supplies this week, volunteers on St Matthew’s Piece were stocking the larder for insects.

Bees and other pollinating insects are essential to the life cycle of plants. But their numbers are plunging as the amount of open land dwindles and their sources of food disappear.

Volunteers from On the Verge Cambridge and Friends of St Matthew’s Piece came together on a sunny November morning to plant the Piece with hundreds of wildflower bulbs. On the Verge Cambridge works with schools and community groups to plant wildflowers in suitable spots, so insects don’t have to fly long distances in search of food.

Ben Greig and Jo Scrivens from On the Verge Cambridge, with volunteers from Friends of St Matthew’s Piece setting up their banners before planting wildflowers

The group planted anemones, bluebells, winter aconite, wild garlic, crocuses and snakeshead fritillaries, each in a different part of the park. When the flowers bloom, they will provide a rich supply of nectar.

Ben Greig from On the Verge Cambridge, planting wildflowers on ST Matthew’s Piece

St Matthews’ Piece is currently threatened by developers who wish to build a large block of flats on its northern edge.

Artist’s impression of the student flats hovering over the former Howard Mallett Centre like an alien spaceship

“It’s such a beautiful place, with all its stately trees – but developers want to cut some of them down,” said Janet Wright, of Friends of St Matthew’s Piece.

“So many people come here with their children or just to take a walk. From next year on, they’ll be spotting flashes of colour as various flowers start coming up. I just hope they won’t have a block of flats looming over them.”

“Quite a few people walking through the Piece were pleased that we were planting flowers and hoped the planned development wouldn’t be allowed.”


Friends of St Matthew’s Piece can be contacted by email at friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com or followed and liked (here) on Facebook.


Ben Greig and Jo Scrivens from On the Verge Cambridge

Find out more about On the Verge Cambridge, here, or email Ben Greig, Alice Willitts and Jo Scrivens by email at onthevergecambridge@gmail.com.

Peace campaigner now speaks up for the Piece

She defended her country in the Second World War — now Dorothy Runnicles is defending St Matthew’s Piece. 

By Janet Wright
for Friends of St Matthew’s Piece

Dorothy Runnicles

Developers who want to build a large block of student flats on the edge of this small but well-used Petersfield park slipped a consultation document out in April, while most people were preoccupied with lockdown.

“As a former local resident, now 95, I totally reject the proposed centre,” Dorothy wrote to developers Federated Hermes, along with more than 100 local residents who also sent in their objections. Though confined to her present home in Gloucester by the pandemic, she sent her support to Friends of St Matthew’s Piece.

After her wartime service in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, Dorothy became a pacifist, trained as a social worker and is still active in numerous community groups. In recent years she has advised the government, NHS and national charities on issues around inclusion and ageism. Due to represent the navy at the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Dorothy was instead phoned by the Princess Royal when all events were cancelled. 

A founder-member of Petersfield Area Community Trust, she has studied the results of increasing inequality, 20 years after a survey found that 10% of the Petersfield population lived below the poverty line. 

“The statement ‘We’re in it together’ has to be challenged,” Dorothy told Friends of St Matthew’s Piece. “The private business world is achieving what it wants. This area has a long history of continuous development, and of losing community assets.”

Petersfield, though densely populated, has less public open space than any other ward in Cambridge.

Artist’s impression of the student flats hovering over the former Howard Mallett Centre like an alien spaceship

“There are lots of people in Petersfield without gardens, some occupying one room in a house,” says Dorothy. “If people haven’t got gardens and haven’t got much money, they need free access to some open space. That’s being deliberately taken away from Petersfield.”

Click the image to learn about Super Matt’s campaign

The proposed student flats would be built above the former Howard Mallett youth centre – Dorothy notes that rates of youth offending increased after the centre was closed. Developers would also fell at least two of the mighty plane trees that are a feature of St Matthew’s Piece.

“Trees are extremely important,” says Dorothy. All the evidence shows there’s something important about the function of trees. Loss of trees is a health problem. Losing the big trees that are protecting our environment is extremely risky.”


Friends of St Matthew’s Piece can be contacted by email at friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com or followed and liked (here) on Facebook.


And see the Friends of St Matthew’s Piece campaign video…


Learn more about Dorothy on the National Development Team for Inclusion website, here.

Watch video recordings of Dorothy on Legasee – The Veterans Video Archive, here .


Traders overwhelmingly in favour of re-opening Mill Road bridge to cars

“The current bridge restrictions are having a detrimental effect on Mill Road Traders, residents and shoppers”

This was the message delivered by Shapour Meftah, chair of Mill Road Traders’ Association to senior County Councillors, council officers and contractors, at a meeting, on Wednesday 9th September at 2.30pm on Donkey Common, (next to Parkside Pools).

Cambridgeshire County Council and contractors were represented by Chair and Vice Chair of Highways and Transport Committee, Ian Bates and Mark Howell, contractor Skansa’s Principle Engineer, Anthony Eades, and County officers; Sonia Hansen (Traffic Manager) and Andhika Caddy (Engineer).

Traders cited these reasons for opposing the bridge restrictions:

  • Added extra time to people’s daily travel/commute 
  • Causing not less but MORE pollution because alternative routes for car drivers take longer and are over-congested
  • No access to disabled badge holders and emergency vehicles
  • The bollards and barriers have narrowed the road and resulted in more major traffic incidents along Mill Road and danger to cyclists and pedestrians 
  • The dangers of the build out particularly to cyclists with on coming traffic as well as buses which try to overtake parents with their children 
  • Disconnecting people from one side of Mill road to the other; It was explained to those present that Mill Road is not divided by the two boundaries it is ONE road 
  • Following  the 2019 rail works on the bridge and the ongoing gas works one obstacle after another has paralysed businesses and Mill Road has not been given a chance to get back on its feet after months of national pandemic lockdown and enforced closure of businesses
  • Closing the bridge hasn’t helped at all towards social distancing which is, by the government’s own admission not such a risk when passing someone in the street (sic on the closed bridge itself which was the contrived reason given for its closure) whereas gathering or waiting outside restaurants may be
  • People don’t feel safe walking; the government emphasis on encouraging people not to use public transport has made people feel that they are safer in their cars.
  • A number of shops are closing down on Mill Road due to the lack of footfall which has been caused by the bridge closure to cars

The Mill Road Traders’ Association Survey results and the ongoing Open Mill Road Bridge Petition which has already attracted over 2000 signatures was  presented to Councillor Ian Bates and his team.

The survey assessed the impact of the bridge restrictions on both traders and residents within the Petersfield and Romsey wards.  187 Businesses were sent out surveys and 170 responses were received. The 17 businesses which did not respond are no longer trading at this moment. See graphics, below.

  • 4.8 % (8 businesses) in Mill Road support the current restrictions
  • 87.6% of businesses want the bridge fully open
  • 7.6 % of businesses don’t mind
  • 92.9 % are independent businesses
  • 7.1 % are not independent
  • 100% of businesses felt that the Council Consultation was inadequate
  • 76.5% of independent businesses say that they are suffering
  • 17.6% of businesses report no change
  • 5.9% say they have benefitted from the restrictions

Councillor Ian Bates responded was that the County Council are listening and will will be reviewing the results of the Mill Road Traders’ Association survey. For the time being, Traders and Residents have been advised by the County Council to send all their objections to: policyandregulation@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Leading members of Mill Road Traders’ Association say that they doubt the sincerity of this ‘listening’, noting that the Minister of Transport who awarded the funds to the county for these ‘temporary measures’ Grant Shapps has forced his own constituency at Welwyn to reverse the restrictions on the high street saying that it benefitted no one.


See this comment, relating to one of our other posts about the one-way scheme and suspension of parking bays in Welwyn.

Mill Road Bridges Web Editor

The Mill Road Traders’ Association can be contacted for comments at millroadtraders@gmail.com.


Please note: Mill Road Bridges is happy to publish views from any section of Mill Road’s Community of Communities. And to host comments, replies and debate.

The publication of this post by Mill Road Bridges should not be considered an endorsement of the views of the Mill Road Traders’ Association nor of the objections to the Mill Road traffic-reduction measures and associated restrictions on the railway bridge. Neither should this statement be read as one of opposition to their views.

The press release, upon which this post is based, released under the name of Shapour Meftah, Chair, Mill Road Traders’ Association, continues with allegations of ‘collaboration’ and ‘bias’.

Mill Road Bridges does not wish to censor any viewpoint but declines to publish such allegations. Were the press release to be found on the Mill Road Traders’ Association website, we would link to that, for people to view and form their own opinion. The Traders’ website, however, does not appear to have been updated recently.

We take a similar attitude to comments on our website. We aspire to host polite debate on all matters concerning Mill Road.


See also:

Super Matt says Save St Matthew’s Piece!

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece have a new supporter – Super Matt the Super Squirrel in their campaign to protect their small Petersfield park.

Super Matt the Super Squirrel says, "Help! It's landing on the Piece! Your park needs you!"
Click on Super Matt to visit his Facebook page

Developers want to build a block of student flats that will crouch over the former Howard Mallett Centre like a spaceship landing.

Image of the proposed development.

The campaign’s new character Super Matt the Super Squirrel lives in one of the trees that will be destroyed if the developers get their way. He is warning neighbours in Petersfield about the threat.

And he’s urging them to sign up for the Friends of St Matthew’s Piece supporters’ email list. This will help co-ordinate community action when the developers put in their planning application.

“We want our beautiful trees, not a hulking block of flats,” says Janet Wright, of Friends of St Matthew’s Piece.

“Petersfield has less public open space than any other part of Cambridge, and very few trees. We can’t afford to lose any.”

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece can be contacted by email at friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com or followed and liked on Facebook.


This post is open for (polite) comments.
But this is not an alternative way of contacting Friends of St Matthew’s Piece!


“These images are like a nightmare”

Image of the proposal from the developers’ website

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece say, “The building is completely out of scale with its surroundings and shows no respects for the local community”

A proposed building that would tower over a Cambridge park is far more intrusive than developers’ illustrations show, say campaigners.

It would dominate the entire area around St Matthew’s Piece and throw neighbouring houses into deep shadow, new 3D images demonstrate.

“These images are like a nightmare,” says Janet Wright, a supporter of Friends of St Matthew’s Piece. “You can see this monstrosity crouching on top of the existing building, overshadowing ordinary little houses and filling the view from the Piece.”

Architectural projections skilfully woven into a newly released video [above] reveal the proposed student housing block, more than 19 metres tall, looming over St Matthew’s Piece. Local campaigners have likened the building, intended to house more than 100 students, to a ‘spaceship’ or ‘monster’.

“The building is completely out of scale with its surroundings and shows no respects for the local community,” says a local resident who has contributed key architectural skills to the production of this dramatic video. 

The video was made for Friends of St Matthew’s Piece by Mill Road TV. It marks the 122nd anniversary of the day the park was given to local residents “for ever”. Friends of St Matthew’s Piece celebrated the anniversary (23 June) with a socially distanced gathering, while calling on other local residents to join them in protecting the Piece.

Developers Federated Hermes have not yet put in a formal planning application, but have circulated their proposals to hundreds of local residents.

Press release from Friends of St Matthew’s Piece dated 6th July 2020

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece can be contacted on Facebook, by email on Friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com, followed on Twitter or Instagram.


See also Mill Road Bridges’s posts Residents object to St Matthew’s Piece development and Protect St Matthew’s Piece.


This post is open for (polite) comments.


Protect St Matthew’s Piece

Glenys and Dave from Friends of St Matthew’s Piece hold a celebratory banner

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece write:

Today (23 June 2020) marks 122 years since St Matthew’s Piece was given to the people of Petersfield “for the recreation of the inhabitants for ever.

Now the tranquillity of the small park is under threat from developers who want to build a large block of student flats on the northern half of the original Piece.  

The pandemic means Friends of St Matthew’s Piece, who oppose the development, can’t throw an anniversary party. But a small group will gather (safely) at 3pm on 23 June to mark the day with decorations and readings.

St Matthew’s Piece was opened in 1898 specifically to provide healthy public open space in a very crowded part of Cambridge. It is needed more than ever now.

Janet Wright, FoSMP

Image of the proposal from the developers’ website

Friends of St Matthew’s Piece can be contacted on Facebook, by email on Friends.of.st.matthews.piece@gmail.com, followed on Twitter or Instagram.


See also Mill Road Bridges’s posts Residents object to St Matthew’s Piece development and “These images are like a nightmare“.