Posted on: 2013-03-21 by coldsteelblizzard

Last night in 2010... My most recent trip took me to a city that I know well, but a city radically altered by a change in established history. Not another time or place, but another branch of probability entirely, which was a first. I took the opportunity to explore. I walked through a much smaller London than exists today, with all but the very oldest monuments and historical buildings absent, and many of the street layouts different. Much of central London was suburban, but not cheap-looking. Lots of Victorian streets with Tudor details, a little like the centre of York I suppose. There were no large modern buildings, no skyscrapers or gherkins, no millenium dome or London Eye. Docklands was a heritage site rather than a financial district, with remnants of Tudor harbours being preserved and restored in the East End. The River Thames was wider in some places along the West End with reeds growing on the shallow banks, and wildlife. It was unmistakably London as I could make out the shape of the river, the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, but where there should have been massive old buildings, famous landmarks and great public spaces all along the riverside, there were modest walkways flanked by modern-looking car parks, trendy pubs, shops and houses. It looked a bit like Kingston-upon-Thames or Windsor. Even St Paul's Cathedral had been replaced by an older-looking cathedral building with a pointed spire. I continued west, heading for Hyde Park. The outskirts of Central London were semi-rural with some cheap housing estates being built on wasteground in the vicinity of Marble Arch. Hyde Park was smaller, a municipal park bounded by country lanes rather than the hectic speedways that surround and permeate it now. I continued west along Uxbridge Road and don’t remember any of the places that I passed until I got to Shepherds Bush. The great tangle of road and roundabout and flyover between Earls Court and the Westway was not there. It was a straight road into Shepherds Bush Green with old cottages and terraced houses and a couple of what looked like old country pubs along either side where there should have been shops and garage and shopping centre. The great green triangle of Shepherds Bush Green was much narrower and shorter, and had been recently covered in tarmac. Where the Central Line tube station should have been was a small outbuilding with a double doors and peeling paintwork, like an old garage or electrical sub-station. I continued along Uxbridge road until I got to the site of the Hammersmith & City Line station. It was a massive construction site with a road and a railway track rising right up overhead towards Acton like a rollercoaster! Beneath it was lots of twisted metal and construction debris. The rest of Uxbridge Road from this point ended in a narrow cobbled alleyway blocked by a pointed metal fence, close to where Shepherds Bush Market should have been. From that point I could see to my left down a country lane towards Hammersmith, and to my right another country lane that would have been Wood Lane. I jump onto a little vehicle on the train line and start to drive it up the slope of the newly constructed mega-flyover thing. As I rise I can see for miles, and I get the impression of another huge metropolitan city several miles south-west of my vantage point, farther up the Thames! Then the train, having reached an apex, starts sliding down the other side of the rise, though there is a wooden block on the rails stopping me from rushing down the unfinished rail line which hangs over empty space on the other side. Realising that I am only dreaming I decide to move the wooden block and take the plunge! What a rush! As I shoot off the edge of the rails and drop past bricks and girders I wait for the pain of the impact, but everything slows down and I am lying, eyes open, in a bed! I leave the bed in the strange house in which I have awoken which turns out to be on Scrubs Lane, just north of Shepherds Bush, where a group of friends have congregated. I try to explain to them the dream that I had just had, but they are obviously not interested and wouldn’t listen, even though I am still dreaming. IMD