I’m skulking around a garden in the grounds.  I don’t have permission to be here and I’m trying not to be seen.  There are some safe places and others which I should keep clear of, such as the track past the old house; people might see me out of the windows.  Away from there, no-one is around and all is peaceful.  I’m the one doing the haunting: this place is important to me.

The garden is beautiful and green, with bushes and tall trees.  Parts are wild, parts more formal.  Here, there’s a pattern of stones inlaid into the lawn; a long curve.  I think there’s a lake nearby.

I need to go into the outhouses by the track, but just beyond the building, a father is walking with his child.  Perhaps if I am quiet?  I creep inside and around the corner, but the child senses me.  His father tells him to wait, while he checks.  I hide around a corner and hope he won’t be thorough.

Almost, he doesn’t see me, but then looks around my corner and recognises me, knowing I have no right to be here.  I want to explain how much I belong here, how I can help look after the garden, but I can’t find the words.

Waking early in the morning I have time to think about my dream and catch a little of it in my memory.   Half awake, I begin to find words to tell the man how I can make my contribution in return for being allowed to stay in the garden.  I have a portfolio of drawings and maps which will be helpful in maintenance and planning.  I have a feeling for what needs to be done, perhaps.  I imagine beginning to dig out the part by the lake where the wall is failing, and imagine my work being discovered and someone leaving materials for me to use.

It’s an important dream, I recognise, and not hurtful or very disturbing.  I think it tells me about my desire to belong.  I remember liking to be at school when no-one else was there, and feeling a sense of belonging.  I took it quite far.  I found where the cleaners kept their key, and got several copies made.  I used my key carefully, and was never found in places I shouldn’t have been.  I gave a copy to my friend, but he used it to break into the science lab and steal an old hand grenade.  He came back another day to put it back, not realising the teacher was in the lab, and was caught.  He confessed where the key came from, and the teacher’s reaction was interesting: he kept quiet.  I wonder what his insight was; he never discussed it with me despite the fact that we were quite close.

I had a similar experience at my next school, a little different as the oldest pupils were allowed a key; I just got mine a little early.  I seem to remember that when I was in the top class, a teacher said there was no need to give me a key, seeing as I already had one.  When I left that school, I often returned and used my key to get into secret places; I stayed the night several times sleeping in the loft of the gymnasium!

Later again I worked in a research lab; now I had free access to a large lab site and often spent all night walking the eerie corridoors and peering into the labs.  Once again, I liked to be there when no-one else was.

Part of the feelings associated with this story are to do with belonging and part perhaps explain my desire for hacking.  Computers maybe in the past, but locks certainly.  I have a great relationship with doors and keys.  I still have a Halls and Catering knife from Loughborough University, the end of which I carved into a working copy of the master key for my hall of residence.  Students used to come to me to let them back into their rooms if they locked themselves out.  The measurements for that key are drawn on a piece of paper sealed and buried under a tree on an island in a reservoir in Leicestershire.  The lattitude and longitude were once built into the structure of my bed in hall.  There are electronic doors at my office which open without the need for me to use my keycard, and forget to report that I’ve been through.  This is pointless, as there are no restrictions on access.  In the old tradition of hacking, I’ve rarely ever used my skills to do wrong – it’s not the motivation, and I don’t have the need.

Remembering a dream is so rare for me, and this one has a wonderful feeling, as well as a sad one.  I’m glad to have been able to write about it.