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?


Heidi the Hick said...

Maybe in a way you're lucky that your dreams are obvious...I keep dreaming that Johnny Depp and I are leaving movies in the middle because they're bad, or worse, interviewing each other about our weird dreams, only to find out that we had THE SAME DREAM! I love your blog pluvialis. In my hometown last year a bookstore opened where two grey cats greet you, and an old record player provides tunes, and the young lady running the place has read everything. Best store in the whole world, ever. And so far, no coffee!

Heidi the Hick said...

oh and also, please tell us who the disgruntled protesters outside of Black Books are!

pluvialis said...

Black Books is an unbelievably awesome comedy programme. More details here:
The first series, in particular, reduces me to tears of helpless laughter. I suspect part of this is because I worked, briefly, in a bookshop very like Black Books. In fact, I ought to write about it: there are some priceless stories! I really, really wish I had dreams about Johnny Depp. I envy you SOO much!

Mei said...

...Then later you tell us your dream about how sandgrice have gathered up all the water leaving you with none. Don't tell the Freudians that one!