Do you have a special place you love which is not real?
I don’t mean like Billy Liar with his imaginary country of Ambrosia where he is the benevolent, but brave, leader, guiding both his country’s development and armed forces.
I mean the sort of place Peter Pan would call a “happy place” where you could have your “happy thoughts”.
I have one and I could guide you there from any starting point in the country, because whichever road I take it always reaches a country crossroads, or the coast road, or the narrow path across the moors which take me to the bayside town.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend vast swathes of time daydreaming about an imaginary town where I am the premier citizen. Although dreaming does come into it.
My town, I don’t even know what it is called, has grown a bit over the years, although my memories of its early days seem to indicate it was pretty well fully-formed in my mind. Maybe it is not growing, could it be that in my dreams I am exploring new turnings, alleys and lanes which were always there just never seen?
I frequently remember my dreams (some say they know they had a dream but never remember it) and although they may begin anywhere in time or space I always seem to end up in Dreamtown.
Sometimes my dream may be split with an early morning awakening and a need for a drink, or even a call of nature. I then tend to pick up where I left off, often still en route to my town, sometimes being somewhere completely different which still lands me in my seaside town.
I awoke very early this morning with a dry throat and remember distinctly that I had been dreaming about being in a balloon, well in the basket underneath one of those gaily-coloured monstrosities.
After assuaging my thirst I was aware of the balloon and at the same was aware that I was no longer in it. Instead I was walking up the beach to reach the promenade. This delightfully broad area stretches in a three-mile curve around Dreamtown Bay with the blue sea behind you and the crescent of old Victorian houses to the fore.
Beyond this frontage the town rises up behind it on a hillside. It is one of those quirky towns where you could enter a store on level ground and go up three floors to then exit the building on its other side and find yourself half way up the hill.
Somewhere in the middle of this sloping town (and don’t ask me how they managed it on a sloping site surrounded by other buildings) is a large open square with a fountain in its centre. If you stand with your back to the bay you are confronted with the massive red-brick municipal centre, while to your right is a toy shop bigger than Hamley’s in London – a store I visited with my mother when I was nine years old.
To the left, and this is probably the strangest of all when you consider this is half-way up one side of what is probably a hill, is a railway station from where you can travel to anywhere in the UK.
Then, when you turn your back on the grand Town Hall you find yourself looking out to a curved bay with the arms reaching up before dropping away as sheer cliffs. In the distance there are grand sailing ships (even though I generally arrive in a 20th century car).
If you do get to the edge of town at the top of what initially appeared to be a hill, you will find yourself on a broad road running from left to right and beyond it is wild moorland which rises and falls as far as the eye can see.
If you turn left you will find your way to a town, or city (rarely the same one twice) which is in the real world and from there you can find your way home.
If you turn right then you’re on your own. I have never travelled in that direction although there are rumours that it leads to a land of milk and honey, although it might actually be a desert with no food or drink.
You can, if you dare, head across the road to the moor beyond. I usually find at this point that there is a horse tethered to the branch of a small tree, which I then mount and ride off into the sunset, even though the sun never seems to finally set in this land of dreams.
It doesn’t matter how long I spend in this place out of time – I always get back to my bed in time to wake up.
If I didn’t I wouldn’t be here to tell tales about Dreamtown.