Thursday, November 2, 2017


We are at one of those big events, where all the important art people gather. There are lectures and panels. Even the Queen is there--a younger queen than she is now, but recognizably Queen Elizabeth. Late at night, the event devolves into a smaller party, where everyone celebrates and dances with abandon. Amazingly, the Queen joins us. My old friend Les is there, enjoying himself tremendously. As usual, I get tired and bored. I want to leave for home. I note that it's now 3:45 in the morning--way past time to leave, and get annoyed with Ellie when she gives me the kill-joy look. She doesn't want to leave. I'm an old bore. Les is also keen for the party to continue.

It's 6:30 in the morning when we finally leave. Dawn outside, a pale yellow sky. We pile into a car. We have first to take the Queen back to her palace. She sits in the passenger seat. Les drives through deserted streets to a secret location where the Queen slips out of the car. It is apparently pre-arranged. She must have people there to escort her further. We wonder if it's appropriate to give the Queen a hug. We wonder if we'll ever see her again.

We drive on. I get off at a place from which I think I can easily walk back to my room at Caius College, in Cambridge. (For some reason, Ellie doesn't join me. I'm alone from here on...) I start to walk, and soon realize I'm completely lost. This is nothing like Cambridge. I'm walking though this nightmare suburban landscape, dog tired by this time, and getting more and more desperate to find my way back to my room. I would call Uber, but the telephone I have in my hand belongs to John, my former brother-in-law, and its screen is a constantly shifting mystery to me. Even if I could find the Uber icon, there's no way I could use it because I don't know his password.

In a daze of fatigue, I approach a place that looks a bit like a college and ask someone how to get to Caius. I get a blank stare. I now realize that I am nowhere near Cambridge, let alone Caius College. Someone directs me to "the gallery" for further directions. To get there I have to cross a stampede of people rushing into the dining room. I shove my way through the crowd.

Once in the gallery, I find myself in an installation art piece that requires the participant to push forward, making a narrow passage through a marshy field of grass, the vegetation pushing in on either side. I'm quite pleased that I'm sufficiently art-conscious to know what this is about, and press on, through the maze, into what is apparently the gallery office.

Here the gallery director is quite obviously not the person to ask--a spaced-out character who is busy answering questions anyway. (Incidentally I notice, at the top of the wall, a long line of very plump bees making slow progress to some unknown destination.) I identify the gallery director's husband and beg him for help. Could he call Uber for me? Please? I can't use my credit card, but offer him cash--any amount, just to call me a car to take me back to my room.

But he is a dreamy character, too. He doesn't say yes and doesn't say know, but leads me out onto a balcony. From here a whole vista opens up. Far below, a river bed. Beyond, a wild landscape, virtually unpopulated. I despair of every getting home. I despair of ever getting the sleep that I by now so desperately need...

At which point I wake up. It's as though I'd never slept.

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