I used to have dreams about unrecoverable childhood places. I was always trying to find them--my grandad's house in Cambridge, a shop in a village where I bought my favourite childhood coat one day (black with yellow stripes down the arms--ah!), or another shop in an unknown village which was housed in some kind of enclosed space that caught my childhood imagination (you have to remember, there weren't many shopping centres back then). I dreamt about trying to find the home in Cambridge many times. The last time I was successful, but when I got inside it turned into an immense marble hall and an edition of "Antiques Roadshow" was being shot up the stairs. But the shop in the enclosed space always eluded me. I would get half way, sure I knew how to reach the village, and the village wouldn't be there. Once I was even peddling furiously, as a grown man, on a children's tricycle, and being hooted at by passing cars and lorries because of the danger I was putting myself in.
Last night in my dream I was travelling with L., not going anywhere in particular, and we stopped somewhere to have a break before travelling on. And there was the shop! The enclosed space was a huge stone warehouse with an upper floor. "This is the place I always dreamed about!" I shouted to L., getting out of the car to go inside and take a look. I was excited. My body trembled. I couldn't believe that after all this time I'd finally returned to the mysterious village, and I hadn't even known I was coming. All around me workmen loaded and unloaded stock; men carried boxes along the upper floors. The ordinary labours of an ordinary day. No one noticed me but L., sitting back there in the car with an inscrutable smile on her face. I felt for a moment that she may even have delivered me here on purpose.