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...and the third genie or giant was surpassed by the fourth, who defeated it and cried out in triumph, and lo! the genie or giant was orange, and multifaceted, and drawn simply, and I increasingly came to realise that its laughter was cartoonish and jolly. The culmination of this great adventure was to be in the hands of a friendly cartoon genie, and lo! I was bitterly disappointed.

* * *

And I also greatly regretted when I woke that all this dream faded but the impression of the ending, for it had seemed so rich and strange that I had wanted to node it, to preserve it, to enrich myself again with the story dipped deep from the well and lavishly coloured and which had affected me...

Then I dreamt another, and this I recall very clearly, a day later, with a different kind of pained regret, for I was also going to node this, but it too proved false.

* * *

I was in the grounds of --- in Lancashire. The name was something like Hawkworth (Hawkmoor?) so I'll call it that. It was the country estate of Robert Louis Stevenson (or possibly Walter Raleigh), but I recall Stevenson because I'd read in iain's node on him that he was born in Edinburgh, so that made it near Lancashire - which was in the north-east for purposes of this dream.

The village, the grounds, the house, and the Egyptian ruins were all famous. The ruins were of two great pillared temples, and approaching them I saw enormous fantastic excrescences off the top, like huge palm frond flags, and even like the enormous banks of lights used to illuminate football at night, but still recognisably stone and in the Egyptian manner.

They were follies, created by Stevenson (Raleigh?), being not as ruined as they first appeared: a roof and walls concealed within them made them splendid and habitable big rooms for dining and balls. Between the two was a remarkable corridor, almost invisible being made of glass, connecting them while hardly anyone would spot they were connected unless you saw from the right angle. Inside these were sumptuous ornaments of the usual kind you would expect for the late nineteenth century.

The house proper was separate from the ruins. I could still draw you a map of all this: I can still see the sketch map my mother had made at her visit years before, main house to the left, closer to the village, ruins off to the right, and all the trees and rosebushes marked all around them, for the gardens were my mother's greatest interest here, and some points were even marked by literature they had inspired: one spot down below was annotated with a line from W.B. Yeats, which I cannot quite remember.

Now the house was a more traditional grand house, open to the public for a fee, with uniformed attendants and velvet ropes to guide you. Apart from the bigness and the lavishness of the decoration, it had nothing to recommend it, nothing to the connoisseur: my parents have better taste than to pay attention to what is neither truly old nor tasteful. But I was touring it, it was there.

Then the village, accessed by a winding path between old houses, and to the main hall. It was either a tithe barn or a guild hall or something of that nature, a protected monument, dated 1597 in one place (perhaps a National Trust sign) and 1598 in another. I noticed the discrepancy and rationalised it somehow. It was more classical, more solid in stone, than a tithe barn, and it was now used for chamber music concerts. There was one going on now. I wandered in. People were casually listening or chatting. I noticed someone I knew, Terry from the pub. For some reason I didn't stay.

In a village shop I was trying to buy a computer. I was looking at several, and two attendants were helping me. I wanted the rather unusual property (it now seems) of being able to function on and as a solid table if I had somewhere firm to put it, but capable of being folded up and used on my knee like a laptop if I was outdoors or on a train. The first one the young man showed me did a tolerable job of this, and cost £500, but was not too flexible, and the folded-up form was like a large skeletal suitcase. Then they found a better, which folded right up into a tiny compass like a carpenter's ruler, the size of a purse. I was interested in this, and the young woman offered to ring Japan for me to get it.

While she was so engaged I said I'd just nip back to the house to finish off the tour. By now it was getting towards the end of the afternoon, and the staff were starting to usher visitors into certain corridors and stairways to get them to circulate towards the exits. I ended up standing on the great carpeted stairs leading outside, and in the courtyard where cars and buses departed.

Now there was interest when an enormously long black car with darkened windows drew up. This was the Soviet delegation to visit. We peered over trying to see if it would be Mr Gorbachev, or perhaps Mr Andropov. Some senior officials came out and were escorted to the main entrance of the house but I didn't recognise them. Suddenly from the crowd my old boss Dave crossed the ropes and shouted a friendly greeting to those inside. A little later we got a chance to go closer to the car or bus and could clearly see inside: they were mostly Russian sailors with big beards and splendid braid.

Back in the shop I was browsing in a pile of postcards on the counter. They included old pictures of the village, and I recognised exactly the same view of the lane between houses, going towards the hall. The young woman assistant warned me rather sadly not to look too closely, because of how much the place had changed. I didn't see much difference at first, but she pointed out the banks had been fenced in and shored up, and perhaps houses were missing, and it had been modernised.

I agreed, and said that back in my parents' day (and I think I was meaning fifty years ago) they had been able to go right uup to Stonehenge and park by it, and wander around it unobstructed by any fencing or other people. By this time I was quite friendly with her, and looking forward to the prospect of knowing her better.

* * *

When I awoke I was lying there enjoying recollection of my dream, thinking what a good factual node it would make: I had so much information on the place, I had the tour guide, and even my mother's hand-drawn map with its details of rosebushes and poetry. I basked in this for a while before the needs of talking to my love, and bathing, and dressing for work, obtruded.

Gradually something went wrong with the vision. It did not fade, for I can recall so much of it now, the next morning. But I tried to recall exactly the name of the village or house, and its creator or owner, and found both had slipped away, and I might be unable to find it again. Very slowly the awful thought stole upon me that it was all a fiction, a dream.

I want to know where they go, that first one with the giants and the adventures, I want to know how to visit the parts that are most real again and see what I missed and look closer, and I want to know her better, and learn whether I kissed her.