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For this text:

dreaming of houses uncluttered by reality, by half a lifetime of memories, perhaps.----

What does this mean? Does it mean:

The one who was leafing through Country Living Magazine was dreaming of houses uncluttered which the one has no such houses so uncluttered in the one's reality and perhaps the one has no such houses so uncluttered in the one's half a lifetime of memories.

Or can i understand the sentence in this way:

In the one's reality and perhaps in the one's half a lifetime of memories , the one's house is cluttered up with many things, and this provokes the person to dream of houses uncluttered which are in the Country Living Magazine actually.

The context is :

Boy-blue and girl-pink. Through the kitchen double-doors I watch you eating supper – carrot and coriander soup – and leafing through Country Living Magazine, dreaming of houses uncluttered by reality, by half a lifetime of memories, perhaps. But my, how well you look. White hair endows you with the demeanour of a friendly witch.


Excerpted from David Mitchell's novel "The Gardener" partly:

Satin white, Persian purple, oil-paint yellow. When I planted these birches they were broomstick-height, and now look at them. They tap our bedroom window on stormy nights. Hyacinths on (what I fondly call) my rockery. Boy-blue and girl-pink. Through the kitchen double-doors I watch you eating supper – carrot and coriander soup – and leafing through Country Living Magazine, dreaming of houses uncluttered by reality, by half a lifetime of memories, perhaps. But my, how well you look. White hair endows you with the demeanour of a friendly witch. Our geriatric radio – a wedding-present from my brother – is twittering away to itself.

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    I guess you will have gathered that boy-blue and girl-pink are references to the colours of hyacinths - blue and pink as well as to the traditional colours for boys' and girls' clothes Aug 21, 2013 at 4:26
  • well, at the first time , I thought the author describes the boys and girls directly, but after I read the text several times, I think something wrong... thank you too.
    – Lincoln
    Aug 21, 2013 at 8:09

1 Answer 1

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He's pointing out that houses photographed in magazines like Country Life are not cluttered. In real life, houses have articles strewn everywhere. He's suggesting that perhaps people with Country Life houses don't actually live their lives in them, they just use then as photography sets. This type of metaphor is fairly common in the type of ironic humour David Mitchell is known for.

Your first suggestion seem the most likely, that whoever's reading the magazine (presumably his wife) is dreaming a house that looked like one in Country Life. Though the price of that would be he had not got the memories that cause the cluttering.

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  • after my cool re-thinking , I found that my two suggesions actually are the same thing, but different  expressions.
    – Lincoln
    Aug 22, 2013 at 1:58

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