There it is: Wellington House, East Road. Yes, I know, it's a bit blurry - I'm going to need to buy a new camera one of these days - but you're really not missing much. I see that it's no longer the happy home of the Geographic Information Systems company for which I used to work, whose name I'm avoiding not from any misplaced sense of discretion but because I've actually forgotten it, though I know they were ultimately owned by McDonnell Douglas if you cared to trace these things to their source. My proudest accomplishment there was a manual for their Reinforced Concrete Detailing software: I still have a copy of that, somewhere.
How foolish I was in 1988! I'd just got an MSc in Computing and a PhD in English, and I was following my then-partner to Cambridge, where they were working on Ben Jonson's masques under Anne Barton. The world was, in theory, relatively oyster shaped. But, deciding to get a job that combined my degrees, I ended up a technical author - which indeed used both, but at such a minimal level that I was very soon plunged into a boredom too deep for tears. It was only by the merest stroke of luck that having realised my mistake I managed to claw my way back into academia after all of... oh, eighteen months. It felt much longer.
On the train from London to Cambridge on Tuesday morning I dozed briefly, and dreamed that I had just woken at my desk in East Road, only to find, Bobby Ewing style, that the last 26 years had been a dream. All of the bad things that have happened to me or that I have made happen to myself or others - pouf! Also, I was still in my mid-20s. On the other hand, my children were dream children, I had published no novels, I had had no academic life. And transition was just a pipe dream.
The fact that my reaction in my dream was one of great disappointment pleases my waking self, because I suppose it shows that, taking one thing with another, my account is in credit, for all that I have made some large withdrawals to pay off Grief, and have set up a standing order with Regret.