Where I Go in My Dreams (Part 6)

In which The Author discovers one of London’s best kept secrets

I’m putting this one in as it was such an odd one. I haven’t dreamt of this place before, but I thought it was worth recording anyway.
I was in London with a friend (unknown) and we wanted to get across the city fairly quickly.
My friend said, ‘I’ll show you a short cut,’ and led me though a narrow side street lined with shops (a bit like Castle Arcade in Cardiff). We came to a staircase, which I was expecting to lead to the Underground. Instead, we went up to what must have been second floor level. The whole of the second floor was taken up with antique shops and vintage clothes shops (again, like Castle Arcade used to be), but where the gap between them should have been, there was an aqueduct with a canal.
My friend checked the visual display board and said, ‘It’ll be along in a minute.’ And sure enough, a barge drifted into view and came to a stop where we were standing. A few people got off and headed for the exit. My friend explained that it shuttled between the West End and the City, stopping every so often on the way. We boarded and it set off.
I was expecting to enter a tunnel, but instead the shops continued to line the route all the way. My friend told me that the whole set-up was one of London’s best kept secrets. It didn’t feature in any guidebook, and unless you found out about it by word of mouth you’d never know it existed. We disembarked at our stop, where there was a large second-hand bookshop. As we had time to kill, we decided to have a browse around. I didn’t see anything interesting, but we stayed for a while anyway.
(Possible external influences: I’ve been watching Julia Bradbury’s TV documentary about canals recently. Before going to bed last night I watched a documentary about Hawkwind, in which Michael Moorcock was interviewed at length. Mr Moorcock’s novels often feature unknown parts of London.)
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