Saturday, December 17, 2005
Our local bookstore, Bullocks, was once a great and extraordinary emporium, a Colosseum of books. But now it has a coffee-bar franchise where the Classics department used to be, and a Business Centre where Polar Science used to be. (Question: what is a Business Centre? From the glances I've given it, I'm not sure: there's an assemblage of signs and notices and staff in uniform (uniform!) and some white, car-sized machines -- photocopiers? business card generators? I'm too scared to investigate more closely). The moving of the Classics department was particularly traumatic. Poor café staff. For months after opening they were harangued by tweedy, ired dons who found a coffee shop where they expected rows of red and green loeb hardbacks. I worked in the Literature Department of Bullocks one summer a long time ago. So long ago, it didn't even have machines that would take credit-cards. It was brilliant. We cultivated a mannered disdain for our customers (the correct English Bookseller manner) and we used to talk about Bullocks having an in-store café in the way people talk about nuclear apocalypse or a meteor strike. Just unthinkable. The end of the world. Our store was for books, not customers!
Anyway, I dreamt the other night that I was living in pre-café Bullocks. In the dream, I was living inside a bookshelf, downstairs. A nice, rather deep, empty wooden shelf. It must have been the Natural History section, because I remember reaching down to the next shelf and bringing up some books on bugs and birds and things. It was all very nice, living there, but even in the dream, I knew it meant something. Of course it did. I woke up, puzzled. It took a long time to realise that there was a clear, literal meaning to this dream: I’m on the shelf. How pathetic. But it gets worse:
Because last night I dreamt that a crowd of friends and colleagues and I were waiting on a station platform. I had an inordinate amount of baggage. No-one else did. And every time a train came in, my friends would all get on board. But the doors would shut before I could drag all my baggage through them. Hoot hoot. Off goes the train: and I'm left standing on the platform.
Missed the train! Oh no.
Too much baggage! Oh lordy lord. How lame.
Please, please, please could I have an optimistic dream tonight?
And if that’s not possible, can I have a less obvious one?