The worst day of my life. Again please!

It’s probably one of the most commonly asked questions in time travel – to what time and place would you like to travel?

It’s probably one of the most commonly asked questions in time travel – to what time and place would you like to travel?

I always thought I’d like to travel to the future. Things have already happened in the past, and I think (I’m still open to the idea) that the past cannot be changed. The dogs are sleeping – let them lie. So let’s get over whatever happened (or didn’t happen) and move on. Let’s take a peek at the future instead and see what’s in store! Surely that’s more exciting!

But then the question was asked again over on the Goodreads time travel group, but this time posed with a slight difference; the trip is limited to travelling to the past – but you can travel there 3 times.

Now that puts a different spin on things! Although I’ve already posted my answer on the forum, I wanted to (re)post it here because maybe it might give you a little insight into who I am.

So here it is:

When I’d like to go 3 times…and why

I’d relive the worst day of my life 3 times over – the day when my youngest daughter fell off a climbing frame, hit her stomach on the way down and stopped breathing.

Time both froze and zoomed by all too quickly.

My worst day
My worst day

I was holding her, and watching all of her 3 years of life rush before my eyes as her little body went stiff and arched backwards, eyes rolling upwards and going white.

My smart phone took too long to unfreeze, for me to find the phone symbol on my smart phone, to key in 999 and get connected, and to answer the preliminary questions before an ambulance was dispatched. Time crawled.

At the same time, time was passing all too quickly – every second she wasn’t breathing was a second’s worth of oxygen that her brain wasn’t getting. A second closer to… I didn’t want to think about it, but I was.

Thank God she miraculously started breathing again. (Apparently children “often” – the ambulance man told me – stop breathing as a panic reflex to trauma.) Onlookers said she drew breath again quickly, but for me it was an eternity. And thank God she came through fine and healthy.

Could I have done anything differently? Avoided the accident, helped her more and more quickly? What did I learn during this ordeal that should it happen again I can help her more effectively?

3 more trips back to those terrible moments would help. They’d get my hands shaking again as they did the first time around. My throat will go dry again as I panic, and my heart will beat like the clappers leaving me in near paralysis as I hyperventilate. An ironic p*ss take when my little girl is taking in no air.

But I’ll learn, and I’ll do better. I’ll learn.

I’ll learn.

Maybe I can’t change what’s already happened in the past, but I’ll be able to change the future.

Paul

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Temporal Disentanglement

We’re deeply entangled in space and time – but if people can’t deal with different cultures or with people who change location how can we expect to deal with time travelers?

On 23 June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union. When I say “the UK”, I should clarify: statistics show that older voters were more likely to vote to leave the EU and opt for a regression back to pre-European times than voters younger than 49 years.

Temporal origins

Presumably the elderly are more tied up with the(ir) past and olden day values than younger generations who may not have been around much before the eighties or who have experienced and remember happier more recent times.

And of course being mortals, older people have less ties with the future than younger generations who will see more of it. The descendant argument applies to both age groups.

To be clear: I don’t intend the above to be ageist (that would be nonsensical) but to point out that differing age groups have differing strengths of ties and attachments with different temporal origins.

Spatial origins

And for the immigrants in the UK who are cruelly beaten, mocked and despised in these post brexit racial attacks (carried out by lunatics across all ages)…they are permanently reminded of their spatial origins, however long ago they (or their ancestors) shifted their spatial location.

What's worth more - experience with age, or from location?
Is time passed more important than space traversed? (Image source: www.thedailybeast.com)

My youngest daughter is growing up and is well out of her baby years. But bring on the sound of a baby’s cry and both my wife and I are brought straight back to those times of disrupted nights, continual nappy changing and bottle feeding.

In much the same way, reading about these post Brexit racist attacks brings me right back to the eighties – those British days where I was bullied at school and shouted at in the streets just because my skin colour is different from the local majority. It seems that like it or not, I have a tie with the past, albeit in part to my spatial origins.

(And I should publicly add here, that despite a few tongue in cheek comments about the Dutch, my experience with them over the past 7 years or so has been very good! It’s a turn of the tables – in Holland I have an English origin; in England I was made to feel I didn’t.)

Politics has had its time

It is evident that campaigns for and against Brexit needed to address how people perceived their ties with the past and their hopes for the future (however the ratio of the balance of duration between their past and their future is weighed). Apparently for some, disentanglement from their past was difficult and called into question the essence of their being.

Anyway, this is all fickle politics – whether it’s correct or not is a separate issue.

Entanglement with time

It is easy to understand that people have ties with their country of origin and culture etc., but less prevalent are the temporal ties. How tangled are we with our past, or to a deeper level, to time itself?

Many time travel mechanisms in time travel fiction refer to the flow of time as being like a river (The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers is an excellent example); a river in which we are bound, for example, in some sort of marine vehicle which by design is attached in some way to the water (so to time, in this analogy). Being able to travel in time means separating from the river. To disentangle ourselves from time.

Or there are more biological forms of time travel where our bodies are intrinsically linked to some ethereal omnipresent time cloud or something. Just as we’re immersed in our usual 3 spatial dimensions we have a ‘place’ or point in time from which drugs (or a virus) can extricate us.

Drugs which alter our physical existence in one way or another sound harsh – a more softer approach (arguably…) is hypnotism (for example, in Richard Matheson’s Somewhere in Time) where we play with our perception of time, or take on a more spiritual awareness of it around us. Mental techniques can be enough to separate the body from time, with memory being the simplest example.

Time slips through our fingers but we can’t escape it. We think about it, and are ruled by it, and apparently in some books (and on some blogs! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) we can’t stop going on about it!

entanglement in time
Image: Gabriela Barreto Lemos

In Bonnie Rozanski’s The Mindtraveler there were a series of experiments which lead to the conclusion of a temporal entanglement – I remember it because shortly afterwards I read an article in New Scientist which reported evidence of quantum entanglement.

I’m expert here, but entanglement isn’t simply the joining or merging of two otherwise distinct entities, but something much deeper which an intrinsic union of inherent

I’m struggling to find a good example, but perhaps this comes close: The birth (or actually, the news of an impending birth) transformed me into a father. Whether my kids are with me, or separated from me, I still feel and think as a father. I’m entangled with them because when I think about them I smile. The fatherhood entanglement, once created, cannot be uncreated.

And so it is with quantum entanglement; we don’t simply exist in a moment (or spread of moments) in and across time, but rather we’re both embedded within time and time in us. And separating the two may not be easy.

Some argue that one reason why we like swimming is because we’re tangled with our evolutionary past when at some stage some bright fish suggested a walk on the beach instead of swimming along-side it. Apparently we want to return back to our watery roots. We’re tangled in both time and space.

Will we ever be free from time, or are we destined to be forever ruled and tangled up by it? Or do we just leave that to the politicians and voters?

Brexit racism against refugees.
If we can’t deal with people who change location how can we deal with time travelers? (Image source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/27/brexit-racism-eu-referendum-racist-incidents-politicians-media)
If people can't deal with different cultures how can we expect to deal with time travelers?
If people can’t deal with different cultures how can we expect to deal with time travelers? A halal butchers in Walsall that was firebombed. Photograph: DD Maxwell/FameFlynet UK (Image source: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/29/frenzy-hatred-brexit-racism-abuse-referendum-celebratory-lasting-damage)

So perhaps the time travel dream is going to be a tough nut to crack. If we can’t get on with freeing ourselves from spatial origins, how can we deal with doing the same with time?

Feel free to comment, but please let’s keep it time travel! I’ll remove political / racist / ageist commentary. Time binds us all – or does it…?

Paul

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Site announcement: Thank you for your patience!

You’ve probably noticed that things have been quiet on the time2timetravel front recently. This hiatus will soon be over!

Hi fellow time travel fans!

You’ve probably noticed that things have been quiet on the time2timetravel front recently. This hiatus will soon be over!

My time’s been spent on fixing some back-end site issues, but I think all is now solved – along with a new site layout which I hope will keep those of of you on mobile devices even happier!

I really appreciate your patience over the past days, especially given some odd site behaviour but hopefully now everything is back on track (though that said…if you notice anything strange please let me know!)

So now I can finally get back to writing and posting! ๐Ÿ™‚

Next up will be a review of Time Bangers (by Luna Teague and Ivery Kirk) which was a very different – but welcome! – read from usual! And I’m about half way through my current read, d4 – another instalment from Sherrie Cronin’s “46.Ascending” series which includes the excellent z2. So that’ll be the following book review!

In between reading and reviewing, I’ve got some more ideas on time travel (or why or even if we should time travel) which I’m planning on writing up and posting.

So stay tuned – exciting stuff is on its way! ๐Ÿ™‚

Paul


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An exciting future with Time Travel Nexus

The start of the new year is traditionally the moment when we make resolutions and take on new projects, and it’s looking like I’m going to be involved in a grand one with timetravelnexus!

The start of the new year is traditionally the moment when we make resolutions and take on new projects, and it’s looking like I’m going to be involved in an exciting new future with a grand one!

I recently came across timetravelnexus.com which is setting out to be a focal point for time travel enthusiasts who can use this site as a resource or information centre.

As the founder, Craig Richardson describes, there are many time travel sites out there – several defunct – but each take on different roles and fill different voids in the time travel world. What appears to be missing is a central calling station, as such. And this is where the time travel nexus will find its niche.

This is an enormous undertaking, and responding to Craig’s call for contributors I have very gladly offered some of my own time – and Craig has accepted! Woo hoo! ๐Ÿ™‚

Another kind of distance: A time travel podcast has described my enrolment as being sucked into a temporal vortex which I think I’m quite happy about! ๐Ÿ™‚ (and of course I’m happy to have found this time travel podcast too!)

So lucky you – you’ll get to read from me on at least two time travel blogs!

Paul

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A late time keeper

When people are late it’s a sign that they disregard your own time. Sometimes though, lateness can’t be helped. Indeed, other people may cause it, or even make alleviating the problems being late causes, worse.

The ability to avoid being late and to keep good time is a highly valued attribute in a personality. It shows that you value not only your own time, but also the time of those with whom you choose to spend it.

When people are late it’s a sign that they disregard your own time. I hate it when people are late, and likewise, I hate being late myself because I assume that other people would place me in a lower regard as I would them if they were late.

Sometimes though, lateness can’t be helped. Indeed, other people may cause it, or even make alleviating the problems being late causes, worse.


The pupil silently cracked the door open at the back of the classroom, spotted his seat, sidled his way into it and laid out his books.

Late for class?
Image credit: Terri Heisele

A silence filled the room as the teacher glared over the top of her glasses.

“You’re 3 minutes late!” she snapped.

“Sorry miss. I -”

“The clock over there”, the crooked finger waggled, “is there for all of us to see so that we all know what time we begin.” she barked. “And that’s 9 oclock. What time is it now?”

The pupil bit his lip. He summoned his courage and opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted.

“Don’t mumble in my class! I asked you what time is it. Well then?”

“A bit after 9 o’clock miss”

“A BIT AFTER. Yes. Now go back outside and come in properly.”

The young boy walked outside and closed the door softly behind him which he then knocked on. His teacher’s voice came through.

“Who is it?” she screeched.

The boy called out his name through the closed door. The children in the class giggled; other children in other classes heard the noise and looked up.

“Settle down!” barked every teacher in every class room.

The voice though the door continued. “Well come in then. You’re late and you’ve disrupted the whole class. Now get your books out.”

“I’ve got them out already miss!”, said the boy, hoping that he’d be appeasing the wrath.

“Don’t answer me back! Now we were talking about [some crap or the other] before we you interrupted us.”

“Sorry miss.”

“Well for your benefit, I’ll say it all again.”

“Thank you miss.”

Paul picked up his pencil and wrote the date in the top left corner and underlined it. He remembered the date well, for it was the date that he’d both been dreading and looking forward to for the past two weeks. It was the date of his early morning dental appointment which was needed after a football had been kicked in his face in the playground by an over zealous PE teacher. The anaesthetic was beginning to wear off now and his mouth was feeling sore.

Well, that. And it was also his birthday.


From memory, this kind of thing happened very frequently at the school I went to. I’m not excusing being late, but sometimes it does just happen. My question is this: Why spend a minute complaining about 3 minutes, then spend a further 3 minutes repeating what’s already been said to the majority of the class?

Or alternatively, why after 30 years would my stupid brain still think to remember Miss Glazard? It’s ironic that out of all the history that Miss Glazard tried to drill into me this is the bit that remains in my head.

Some people and some experiences are best forgotten.

Paul

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A non-existent school past

A non existent high school alumni group points to whether I have a past school life and asks whether my memory of it is simply a figment of my imagination.

At the end of the movie The Shining the camera closes in on a 1921 photo which shows current hotel guest Jack Tottance who had throughout the movie been going crazy and communicating with ghosts. Although it seems to be up for discussion, one of the implications of the photo is that the Jack that we’ve been following in the movie in the present is either a ghost of the past or a reincarnation. In effect, Jack does not fully exist in the present.

I think I’m ‘victim’ to a kind of opposite event.

not quite a school reunion
Ghost of the past.
Image credit: http://illusion.scene360.com/movies/72675/stanley-kubrick-film-inspirations

I found that there was an alumni group from my secondary school on Facebook and I thought it might be interesting to check it out. It’s a closed group so I asked the owner if I could join. We were in the same class in primary school and then moved up together to senior school and although we never kept in touch afterwards I figured she might remember me.

She didn’t, and it took a couple of emails to remind her convince her of who I was am. Finally my membership ‘application’ was approved and I was free to browse through the photo album.

Over 400 photos had been submitted. Some were random shots of the school building – ‘proper’ photos which had been taken with a 35 mm camera taken to a chemist for processing and developing and picked up, likely with 23 or 35 others, some two weeks later. In time this photo had aged like us school pupils, and faded a little before it was scanned with a technology 30 years more advanced and uploaded to a server so far away it’s in a different time zone. Unheard of back in 1983.

Today, sepia is an effect applied digitally to photos to make them look aged. There’s no need for that with these photos from 30 years ago! The school had a presence. The reddish brown gives a sense of foreboding just as it had in real life when I was there. Looking at those photos you’d know it housed nightmare teachers. I wondered what had become of those teachers – the ones who told me I had no hope, but more importantly the ones who believed that I did and supported me. (Mr Holiday, I salute you, sir).

I could see from the photos that the sizes of some things were smaller than they used to be. The railings used to reach my chest, for example, but today’s memory translates that to a height higher than it really is. I can see now that it’s waist height. The trees at the back of the playing field were smaller than I remembered too. Not because they have been growing (or shrinking) since but because I’ve grown since. There’s a funny one – I grow and my memory shrinks.

Changes in apparent size or sepia-induced sense of foreboding didn’t apply to the photos of my classmates. Fixed focus cameras held by excited hands of 11 year olds in moments of fast excitement meant a lot of fuzzy faces through lack of focus.

Lack of focus“. Yeah I think that appeared on my report card. I never did find history interesting.

Over 400 photos bringing back lots of memories and lots of feelings. But here’s the thing: I wasn’t in one of them. Not even in the class photo taken at the end of the year. It’s as if I wasn’t there. Ever.

Out of interest I sent someone on the group a friend request, and rather quickly the reply came – “Sorry, who are you again?”. Was I even at school? Are all my days of education a figment of my (or someone else’s) imagination? Perhaps; I remember my teachers who favoured closed-book exams used to say it was good to have things in your head…

OK, I can’t remember the future, but what about remembering a past for which there seems to be no evidence? Time: they say it heals everything. Some things that did happen in my school are probably best forgotten. Some of the twatty kids too – it’s just that I never thought I’d be one of them.

And here’s another odd thing: I started drafting this post several months ago. And now that’s it’s ready I returned to the Facebook group to pull out a photo.

And the group doesn’t exist any more.

Paul

PS: Yes I know – a blog post about a Facebook group which doesn’t exist and if it does then I didn’t…

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Contact with my Doppelganger

After over a year of ignoring each other, contact has been made with my doppelganger! A public acknowledgement of each other’s existence, but I’m worried…

With my long distance and long commute times, flexibilities at home are maxed out. Flexibilities are now so strained that there’s no room left for further movement, either in time or space.

A delayed or missed train means that I won’t be in time to get to the daycare centre before closing time, or I’ll miss the exciting department meeting at work. My timings and movements are closely meshed with my wife’s who’s also got a tight schedule with her work and her travel.

But here’s the thing. Today there has been an upset. Actually it started on Tuesday thanks to a horrendous train delay. Train delays are bad enough anyway, but in Holland they’re crazy. You simply get kicked out of the train and get left stranded with no information. “This train doesn’t go any further. Get off.”

I got home 2.5 hours late, and crucially my girls were already in bed and tucked up for the night. They weren’t awake when I gave them their goodnight kisses; I wasn’t there when they needed me to be.

The impact has shuffled onwards through the week. Yesterday some cretin in his big car pulled out across the cycle lane and I needed to slam on my anchors; I couldn’t move around him as there were oncoming bikes in the other direction. Needless to say I felt obliged to kick the side of his car and let him know what a prick he was.

And he looked at me as though it was my fault. That I shouldn’t have been there.

And walking back to the station at the end of the day I managed to trip over a concrete slab the builders nicely left on the pavement. Yeah, I should have been looking of course, but I was focussed on getting to the train station on time, but it shouldn’t have been there. It could have been embarrassing, me rolling around on the floor in the early stages of rush hour, but at least my doppelganger was in front of me and didn’t see it.

I’ve written in the past about my doppelganger – and made the comment that he and I seem to have also synchronised with our train times, favourite seats on the train and places to park our bikes. It’s an awkward synergy, much like when your toilet trips in the pub get synchronised with a complete stranger, but I think over the course of the last year we’ve now both somehow got used to it, silently ignoring each other but keeping the other under close surveillance and making up stories about each other.

So now I’m convinced he’s got a dodgy knee. I damaged mine some years ago when a large single cylinder motorbike backfired when I was kick-starting it. Admittedly it’s mostly OK now, but every now and then, like when I climb a mountain (not many of those in Holland…) or cycle quickly (to avoid my doppelganger slipstreaming me), a few twinges remind me it’s there.

And now he’s caught up. He’s got an electric bike now which means he doesn’t need to slipstream me (and I certainly can’t pedal fast enough to stay in front of him), so he regularly overtakes me and zooms on ahead. But why? After he’s parked his bike he walks the final 100 meters or so to the train station.

Slowly.

It’s so slow it’s like a taunt which says “Even though I’m not in a rush, you cycle so slowly I still overtook you. And yes, I saw you fall over yesterday.”

So I reckon he’s got a dodgy knee too, needs the electric bike to help rest it, and walks slowly as it’s too painful to do anything otherwise. He surely didn’t hurt it turning a key on an electric bike (or however you start them); or maybe he fell over somewhere and landed badly.

So this morning something strange happened and it sums up the accumulative effects from the delayed train on Tuesday which has me displaced in time. The displacement means that today I came to work early so that I can leave early and collect my girls and spend some time with them tonight and make up for Tuesday. And here it is: my doppelganger was on the same early train – he’s early too. I walked behind him from the station to the bike shelter, overtaking him about halfway, and paying particular attention to the concrete slab which was now no longer where it was yesterday. As if it had never been there…but I know!

bike cycle turnstile turnstyle

I unlock my bike and head for the turnstile out of the shelter. There’s only one, and it serves as both entrance and exit so at busy times there’s an unwritten rule of alternating people coming in and going out. It’s my turn. I put my bike in the slot in the ground and look up to check it’s clear. It’s not – there in front of me, is him.

He holds up a hand, signalling that he’s waiting for me. I swipe my card, the turnstile opens, and I walk through. You’re welcome! he nods, and I nod back.

After over a year of ignoring each other, contact has been made! A public acknowledgement of each other’s existence!

And I’m worried that we’re going to blow away into non-existence like matter does with anti-matter. It’s already happened at least once before.

You know what’s weird? When the train on Tuesday stopped and we got kicked out…it was at the station where the doppelganger gets off.

Worrying.

Paul

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That syncing feeling

Syncing Forward is a powerful novel and it’s really touching me. I’m fearful of medical things and biology and as a protective husband and father of two young daughters all of my sensitivities are getting mashed through the grinder. Time travel? Make it horror…

At first I wasn’t sure if Syncing Forward by W. Lawrence was a time travel novel.

The main character (Martin) is injected with a drug which slows his metabolic rate to such an extent that a few moments for him are several hours for everyone else. When he’s back to his normal self, time has marched on, carrying his family and world with it.

Then I thought a bit more. In effect this is similar to time dilation, and whilst not strictly time travel it does sort of fall into my own self-defined version of time travel in that the time traveler experiences time at a different rate to the normal ambient rate…albeit with no control.

And so, at least for now, I’m calling the main character a time traveler (as do some of the characters within the book) and I feel justified in writing this post on a time travel blog!

I’m only on page 156 but it’s freaking me out!!

Syncing Forward is a powerful novel and it’s really touching me. I’m fearful of medical things and biology and as a protective husband and father of two young daughters all of my sensitivities are getting mashed through the grinder.

Time travel? Make it horror.

This is the human side of time travel. Not the “feeling dizzy” stuff from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, but that of zooming forwards in time and missing time spent growing up with your family. The emotional stuff. The stuff which makes us human and not robotic drones.

I’m on the train coming home from work. Nothing unusual in that, except that I’m 2 hours early because there’s going to be chaos on the trains and I’m heading home quickly before that nonsense begins and I get stranded without my family and get stuck in some random spot wherever the Dutch train service sees fit.

I’m reading how Martin is slowing down and how he’s missing his family. It’s nearly bringing tears to my eyes…I can understand his pain. He sees messages and photos his family leave him, but of course it’s nothing compared to the real thing. To actually being with them.

I need to take to a break from the emotional strain and let my wife know I’ll be home early. I send her a message on my phone and the reply comes. She’s looking forward to seeing me. “Wifey typing…” I wait for an eternity for the message.

love from my wife, hearts from my daughter
love from my wife, hearts from my daughter

It’s a little similar but I guess nothing close to the intensity Martin is experiencing. He’s separated from his family not by some 45 minutes of travel time but by months or years of difference in metabolic rate.

I get my message. Love from my wife, and various characters of hearts and other things – which ultimately mean the same thing – from my youngest daughter.

I’m missing them – and my eldest daughter who right now is learning how to swim. I can’t wait to see them. And to misquote W. Lawrence’s dedication…I pray that nothing will ever separate us.

30 minutes to go…

Paul

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Not enough time

Whatever I do, I always seem to have too little time to do it in. Even if it’s simply getting out of the house in the morning. I think I have an excuse, but this guy…?

Whatever I do, I always seem to have too little time to do it in. There’s just never enough time, even for simply getting out of the house in the morning.

All we have to do, is wake up, get dressed, have breakfast, brush our teeth, and leave the house. 2 hours should be enough, right?

The alarm is set to early. My daughters’ clothes are pre-chosen last night and are lying at the bottom of the bed ready for them or for me to help them put on. Breakfast things are laid out on the table from the night before in preparation. School bags are already loaded in the car.

But it’s still all rushed and frantic. My two and a half and my 5 year old are getting distracted by…anything and everything. Hair clips, toys, walls…and before I know it the 2 hours I’ve planned in just isn’t enough. The time that was earmarked for a few simple basic activities has been lost to untangling and brushing hair, finding and fixing hair clips, deciding what things to do next and in what order…and doing these same activities for my girls instead of their dolls.

Aargh!

If I don’t get them sorted and dropped off to the nursery and school in time I’m going to have misunderstanding child-carers and teachers having a go at me (or worse…my girls) and I’ll also miss my train.

I barely make it in time, but I do. I’m on the train and reading the free newspaper. I can’t read Dutch, so I look at the pictures.

Never enough time!
“Snippers” cartoon from Dutch newspaper Metro (Thursday 8 January 2015)

I think I have an excuse, but this guy?!!

Paul

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Time travel mug shot

My work group produced this mug with a tagline which is rather fitting for a time travel fan. It even has a time travel accelerator stick in the form of chalk to allow me to go back in time! Shame I’m not so keen on coffee!

Most of my colleagues aren’t aware that I’m a time travel fan…so imagine my surprise when they produced this mug!

time travel mug shot
Understanding the PAST; predicting the FUTURE…but it’s coffee NOW

It even came boxed with a stick of chalk – the black background is actually a blackboard so I can chalk up my ideas, rub them out, go back in time and chalk them back up again!

Stick of chalk or time travel accelerator?!

Paul

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Mental time travel with imagination

I’ve had a double helping of mental time travel recently – I found a school exercise book from when I was about 10 years old, and I’d written a couple of short stories about clocks. Young children often have wild imagination, and I think that this should be nurtured – after all, the world is built on the backbone of imagination!

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Albert Einstein.


Reading diaries and journals in a way takes us back in time. (At least, it was the case in The Butterfly Effect! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) It’s a form of mental time travel.

This being the case, I’ve had a double helping. I came across an old school exercise book – there’s no year on the date, but judging from the content and the teacher’s handwriting, I think it’s from the 1982 / 1983 school year. (Apparently, like the UK tax office who start their year in April, schools adopt a different year to the standard Gregorian calendar…)

Reading through some of the stories, many of which were descriptions of my life at the time, really seemed to take me back. I was surprised at myself at how many of the events I could remember, and I could also remember how I felt. This in itself was an odd feeling…having different feelings back then than I would have now given the same circumstances. Time and experience has made me into a different person..but not in one go, rather, as a progressive series, building upon previous moments in my life.

A couple of stories struck me, and I’m posting them here.

They’re not quite time travel, but apparently I had an inkling of an interest in the theme of of clocks and time…

Hope you enjoy!

The Clock that Went Bonkers

17th November

Flying Scotsman

“I was riding along in a flying Scotsman. There was a clock that had a very loud tic…….TIC TOC TIC TOC. and so on. I was looking at this clock when it went bonkers. First the hands started to go whizzing round and then they broke through the glass, through the open window and then they started to fly round the flying scotsman.

They pointed at me and shouted “Supermonkey!” As the hands were off the main part of the clock, it started to make a humming whizz. Then the flying scotsman captain came and he put things right.”

Midnight Hour

5th February

Midnight hour

“I had just went to bed. The clock was going very fast with its tics……..TIC TOC TIC TOC. I changed the clock so it said 24.00. Then I sneaked out of bed, went to the sweet jar, and took some sweets out. I then went outside I saw a skeleton party I asked if I could join in, but they did not talk in my language. Well what did I do!. I started dancing but they threw me into the garden pond. I tried to swim out. Then I found myself rolling in my bed.”

And my teacher’s remark…

Paul, some of stories are becoming rather silly. You have a good imagination so don’t only use it for funny stories. I expect your work to be much more interesting to read from now on. See me.

Ah yes, the “See me.” comment! The true dread of a sensitive young schoolboy who wore his heart on his sleeve trying to write things down and getting called up in front of class to justify the wanderings of my mind to an elderly lady who couldn’t think past full stops and and capital letters (apparently she didn’t care for the definite article), and to the jeers of school mates hungry for some entertainment.

I was very sophisticated back then. I used my sleeve for wearing my heart and not my snot. I guess Miss Powell (name possibly changed…) would have had it otherwise. Some 32 years later, I still disagree with her. The world is built on the backbone of imagination.

I wonder what she’d make of this blog! I’d like to think that she’d approve of some out of the box thinking that has lead to reading some fantastic articles on other time travel blogs and websites, pieces of time travel fiction and watching time travel movies. To think that out of imagination come ideas which create and shape the world we live in. That through our minds, anything, if we really try, is possible.

But what do I know? The thought of my old school teacher being able to accept imagination is in itself…a product of my silly imagination! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Paul

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My trouble with ebooks

I must admit I’ve never even held an e-reader, but I guess at heart I’m just an old fashioned tree chopping dinosaur who prefers paperbacks over ebooks! I tried reading An0ma1y by C. J. Moseley in ebook format. It has a fantastic first chapter with an incredible amount of thought behind it, but I’m having troubles reading in electronic format.

In a recent post I described my anxiety in deciding what to read next: Somewhere in Time with an irritating writing style but a nice plot and a discussion in the Goodreads time travel group, or An0ma1y with a fantastic promotional video, promise of solid time travel intricacies and a gripping start…but in e-book format which I don’t get on well with.

I chose An0ma1y.

I do most of my reading on my daily commute on the train so in the past few weeks week I’ve joined the fast majority of other passengers in gormlessly staring downwards at a phone screen.

First musings

The first chapter is fantastic! A superb blend of aliens, time stasis and a fascinating main character. I feel that every sentence has an incredible amount of thought behind it – there is real depth to what I’m reading which makes it feel solid; definitely not a superficial smearing of words to beef up a page count.

It’s written in the present tense – a style I’ve never read before. It took me some getting used to and at first I felt a little disconnected, but now I’m well settled in and find that it adds to the eeriness of the alien encounter.

The reason why I chose An0ma1y over Somewhere in Time is that after reading just the first couple of pages I wanted to know more.

But finding out more is taking too long! Chapters 2 and 3 are additional settings with additional character introductions which no doubt will tie together at some point. This is a bit of a distraction when I’m so eager to read the alien / time travel line, but I know it will make later stages of the novel a really good read when it all comes together.

The problem is the dratted e-book format, or at least, reading it on my phone. I’m somewhere in Chapter 3 with no idea when the chapter will end, or indeed, if the end of the chapter will return back to the alien plot. I can flick through easily with a paperback, but swiping one page at a time is…a snore chore.

But maybe I should be patient and wait it through. Everything in its own time, right?

A new start

Last week saw me attending a conference away from home. The funny thing about conferences is that despite the overall high level idea that they are a good place to mix and mingle with other like-minded professionals in your area of expertise, there is a significant underground sub-layer of introverted geeks such as myself who are most comfortable to simply be left alone.

So in the evenings after the talks, posters, discussions, etc. whilst some 25% of the attendees go on to visit the sights and sounds of the city, the rest of us retire to our hotels rooms and work on our papers, and after sobbing a little bit because we miss our family at home (the dust in the hotel rooms really gets in your eyes) we settle down with a good book.

And so I had time to return to An0ma1y.

Life after Chapter 3

So what happens after Chapter 3?

I can report that…I never got that far. The kindle app had updated and my place was lost. I swiped a gazillion pages to where I thought I was, read a couple more pages and hurled my phone on the chair on the other side of the hotel room in total and sheer frustration.

To be clear…not because of the book, but from reading on a phone.

I was never picked for sports at school. Here’s an example why: from 2 meters I missed the chair.

The phone sailed past the chair, and into the wall. And when I say “into” I mean “against and along”. The screen now has a crack. I thought with present tense reading I was disconnected…now the same was happening to my family too during my skype connection.

The author of An0ma1y, C. J. Moseley, mentioned in a tweet that phones aren’t the way to read ebooks. And I believe him.

Would a proper e-reader be better? Or would they, as I suspect, repeat the same kind of problems by providing a series rather than parallel reading experience, limiting the reader to swiping a single page at a time rather than flicking through whole sections in one go?

I must admit, I’ve never even held an e-reader, but I guess at heart I’m just an old fashioned tree chopping dinosaur who prefers paperbacks which give me a better overall view.

Paul

Edit: I’ve just read that C.J. Moseley has published an Omnibus edition in paperback; I’ve updated my Christmas wishlist!

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An An0ma1y Somewhere in Time

So what do I read first? Somewhere in Time: a rehashed novel, poorly written but with a good plot and a lively Goodreads discussion, or An0ma1y: a cracker of a novel with promises of well researched time travel intricacies but on a medium which will drive me nuts?

I’m torn between which of 2 books I should read first: Somewhere in Time, or An0ma1y?

Somewhere in Time (Richard Matheson)

Somewhere In Time book cover

On one side I have Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson – a book I’ve already read after seeing the movie, but it comes to my attention now as it will be read as a group read by the Goodreads time travel group and I’d like to take part.

Against it though is my memory of the writing style. My recollection is that it is written in a rushed and lazy way, perhaps what you’d expect from a teenager rehashing a piece of work his heart’s not in.

Why do I say that? Because Somewhere is Time is a rewrite of Bid Time Return written by the same author. The latter is not readily available, and it’s very expensive.

Whilst I might be able to put poor writing style aside, Somewhere in Time has another nail in its coffin. It simply didn’t make an impact on me. I saw the movie first which I loved, and in fact this is what brought me to reading the book (after I couldn’t get hold of Bid Time Return). That’s personal…I usually prefer originals (i.e. the version I’ve come across first).

But the story line is great…and I’m keenly waiting an interesting discussion on Goodreads.

An0ma1y (CJ Moseley)

An0ma1y book cover

On the other side is An0ma1y by CJ Moseley. CJ has written a fantastic page on time travel paradoxes so I know that the time travel element is going to be executed well.

Actually, CJ’s web page lead me to subscribe to his website and the next thing I know I’m watching a fantastic promotional video clip for An0ma1y. Time travel, science fiction, fantasy, paradoxes, excellent Amazon reviews…and before I know it I’m clicking through to make a purchase –

– of a paper back. Whoa! $8.75 sounds a bit steep for me as I usually buy paperbacks second hand. I read my own paperbacks several times over…I try to do the same with other people’s!

So now I have the Kindle version. A snap at less than $2 and I can’t wait to get started. So I do.

I swipe and I read and I swipe and … it turns out I hate ebooks! I’ve read a few short stories and that seems to go OK on my phone, but I’ve only read one full length novel (The Mindtraveler). The reading experience was terrible but the story pulled me through the ordeal.

The problem

So. I don’t know what to read! A rehashed novel, poorly written but with a good plot and a lively discussion, or a cracker of a novel with promises of well researched time travel intricacies but on a medium which will drive me nuts?

Maybe the proof is in the pudding. I’ve started both! I’m further in Somewhere in Time than in An0ma1y but that’s because I’m skim-reading the crap. And the discussion doesn’t start till tomorrow.

With An0ma1y I’m only on page…actually, I’ve no idea. Apparently I’m on “location 82 out of 4524” whatever the hell that means, but despite considerable swiping I’m certainly not yet 82 pages in. But the opening pages are gripping and I want more!

My choice

That’s it then. If I want more, then surely An0ma1y it is! Maybe I’ll be able to dip into the Goodreads discussion from memory. Or recommend An0ma1y for the next group read!

It will be slow reading on my phone…but stand by for the review!

Paul

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Doppelganger

I have a doppelganger. He looks a bit like me and he behaves a bit like me. But he’s not me; he’s a little taller but not as scrawny, he’s a bit less bald, and he doesn’t wear glasses. He wears a black coat as I do and slings a small grey rucksack on his back. As I do.

And he really gets on my nerves.

Like me, he doesn’t talk to other passengers on the train and avoids them by fixing his focus on glitzy but intellectually dull pages on a free newspaper. Reading about characterless celebrities with non interesting lives. Loser. At least I read books. Or write in my journal.

But sometimes he likes to watch real people.

The first time I caught sight of him I thought he was a pillock and best avoided. The trouble is that it seems he’s everywhere I am – and can’t be avoided!

The routine

He catches my train every morning. And he cycles to his office on the other side of the road as mine, pedaling the same speed as me – either just in front or just behind. He leaves his office when I do, and cycles again either just in front or just behind me, back to the train station where he catches my train to take him back to his home.

The train

He waits on the same part of the platform every day so that he’s best positioned for his favourite seat – a single seat towards the back of the carriage where he can sit without the elbows and knees of an adjacent passenger protruding into his personal space.

I like to sit on the seat at the side with the back to the window. Many don’t like it as it means a sideways motion when travelling and that means I have space. No arms or legs or bags or large newspapers invading my personal space. And I can watch him trying not to let me see him watching me!

He observes everything with silent disdain; a scowl or disapproval of any facet of life he may encounter in his unchanging sphere. And yes, I have caught him eyeballing me too, through the corner of his eye – I have seen it!

(Non) Contact

I’ve never spoken to him, but he’s never spoken to me either. He started it.

A couple of times I have tried to make contact; to break the strange awkward aversion, but it never pans out. When I make a deliberate sustained look directly towards him, that’s when he sneezes, or reaches for his phone, or looks the other way. There’s always some excuse to not look at me directly. What am I…Medusa?

It seems that there is an unspoken battle between us, although I cannot say over what. Maybe for our very own existence.

I wonder. I read something a while ago that doppelgangers can’t share the same space or time – it is a paradox of causality. Some explain that multiple versions of a person exist in multiple parallel universes which are created at “bisection points” – when alternate outcomes of momentous or key decisions have been made.

Personally I don’t believe in the instantaneous creation of mass and energy out of nothing on a whimsical decision.

But if it were true, maybe a crossing or an intersection of these [not-so-parallel] universes would allow a person to meet an alternative version of himself? Or would interaction cause one or both of us to disintegrate? Or the universe?

I don’t know. But I do think it would be painful to find out.

(Too much) Contact

I’ve only ever seen him smile once. Perhaps. Actually, it was more of a smirk. I hadn’t seen him for a few days since the weekend. I wondered where he was because he wasn’t waiting on the platform at his usual place. He must have been ill because on Thursday he was back and letting me know about it as he was coughing loudly on the train. And he wouldn’t stop.

It was strange because he wasn’t on his favourite seat – he was sitting behind me. I bet he did it on purpose as my side bench wasn’t free and I was sitting on a regular forward facing double seat. I could almost feel his germs flying through the stuffy train atmosphere in a direct but statistically random walk to the back of my own bald head.

I stood up early to leave the train so I was facing him whilst he remained seated. He decided to sneeze at that moment to avoid eye contact, but I’m sure I saw a smile of smugness, content that he’d infected me; an invasion of my physical and personal space.

As I stepped off the train there was a cough behind me. Too close behind me. It was him.

He followed me, as he always does, on his bicycle on the way to work. Some may call it slip streaming, but I find his close proximity disturbing. Shadow cycling. He was right there by the mudguard of my back wheel…so close I could hear him sniffing.

I increased my speed, and he matched it. I slowed, as did he. Why won’t he just overtake me? In desperation and frustration I weave from side to side in a futile attempt to shake him off. Get in front! S**t before shovel!

But I couldn’t get rid of him. I never can. He’s always everywhere I am.

All the time. Day after day.

Another day. Another time.

It’s another day and I’m on the train again. I’ve forgotten my book and I have nothing to read. I’m bored. I need to do something to pass the time on this hour long train journey. Lying nearby is one of those ridiculous free newspapers. I thumb through a copy, bored as hell, but there’s nothing else to do.

I glance at a few other passengers but they’re immersed with their phones. One is making notes and looking a bit peeved about something. I’ve seen him around quite a bit. He’s always looking at me. Must be a nutter, so I try to avoid him.

I’m not feeling too well, I think I picked something up from some cretin in the train. And I think I know who. The last few days I’ve stayed at home; he’s probably aware of that and noted it down in his journal. But today I’m feeling a bit better and I’m back, but this stuffy air in this carriage isn’t doing me much good. It’s busy today, God knows why, so I’m sitting in a regular seat and already I’m blocked in and I can’t get up to walk to the train entrance where the air is fresher.

It’s a really tickly cough that won’t go away. If I talk, it gets worse. I can’t get out.

He’s come and sat in front of me now. He’s always around. I can’t get rid of him.

Argh. I’ve got nothing to do! I’m so bored. I can’t even look through the window as my seat is by the broad metal window frame. I can look forwards at the back of the chair in front. That’s it.

I’ll check my phone; it has pictures of my wife and girls. They cheer me up. I’m looking down at my phone. I’m trying hard not to cough but I need to sneeze. I can’t sneeze looking down, but as I inhale and look up he’s standing in front of me. He’s always there! Wherever I am! No matter. It’s my stop, and I can lose him. Besides, my wife loves me. So do my girls. I smile at the thought and stand up.

When I get my bike from the bike shelter he’s there, looking at me. I always think he’s going to say something to me, but he never does. It’s very awkward.

Thankfully he’s in front of me. I hate it when he’s behind me; I can feel his eyes bore into the back of my head. But it’s difficult with him in front too. He wobbles, and does unpredictable things. I’ve tried overtaking him, but he speeds up! In desperation I free wheel, but he slows down! Anyway, I guess I’m still recovering – I feel weak and my nose is running.

I want to overtake him; to pass him and get shot of him, but I can’t. He wobbles all over the place making it impossible for me to do so.

He’s in front of me again when I cycle home from work. I’m tired and not in the mood for this nonsense. He’s tailing me again. I’m nearing the end of my journey. I’m approaching the level crossing near the bike shed where I’ll leave my bike and catch my train home to my girls.

It’s not far to go, but now I’ve had enough. I’m running late, and maybe I’ll miss my train. Surely it’s close. I urge the rubber of my front tyre to touch his back wheel – he can’t avoid me now!

I call out. I can feel the pressures of two parallel universes twisting and contorting, striving to make contact at a single moment in time, at an elastic point in space.

Let me pass!

He looks behind, glaring at me. He slows, but doesn’t make space. There is a wailing and amber light engulfs us.

Stay back! he hisses.

Of course I have no choice but to stay back. As usual. He won’t let me pass. I try again to move to one side.

Now he’s slowing down, but he’s holding out his arm. The noise is deafening. Whining. Screaming.

He’s looking back at me.

It’s not safe!

Within the amber lighting I can see a blur of blue and yellow. My train! It’s hurtling past me, a massive tonnage of metal relentlessly responding to electrical charges initiated on an atomic level and upwardly scaled to the real and tangible motion of matter of the train.

I squeeze hard on my brakes; friction from the rubber on the front wheel losing its purchase on the ground which slides out from underneath me. When I roll over and get on all fours I see my bike in pieces near the rail track.

No. My bike is still in one piece. That’s his bike; a twisted frame with sheared rough edges of metal agape.

I stand and walk towards it. Blue light is flashing, but it’s hardly doppler. He’s nowhere to be seen.

Doppleganger's empty seat.
Was he ever really there?

He saved my life; my current existence is because of him. But I’ll never seen him again. It’s ironic that I never wanted to see him but now I want to, at least just to say thank you. But that can’t ever happen.

There’s his chair – empty, as if he never existed. Just a ghost through a train window.

But my own existence still goes on.

Doesn’t it?

Paul