Thanks to the Futurizer I’ve been able to look forward in time quite a lot and I long to grow up to be Lord Tim in many ways, and yet I think I like it here and now best. I live almost entirely in my imagination. My mum cooks meals and washes them up, I have a room of my own in which I’m free to dream. Except there’s school.
Mind you, with some clever adjustments on the Futurizer it’s possible to spend most of my time in the holidays. It’s an old time travellers’ trick which, as they say on Blue Peter, you can try yourself at home. On the first days of terms I wake up as early as possible and apply Zeno’s paradox whereby it is impossible for the time before I have to get up ever to end.
Zeno’s paradox works like this: The moment of having to get up will never arrive because the time before that can be divided into an infinite number of minutes, seconds, milliseconds, nanoseconds etcetera, it can be chopped ad infinitum into small and smaller sections and so it should logically take an infinity to experience them.
I lie in bed and force myself to savour every precious second so that each slows to an eternity that I can wallow in for as long as I wish to. It’s only when I choose to that I get up, get dressed and watch the hideous sight of my family chewing on their spoonfuls of Sainsbury’s Own Brand Corn Flakes, and then walk to school.
I pass the time by not treading on cracks in the pavement and wondering what I would do if an agent from Warp kidnapped my granny and threatened to kill her unless I promised to walk to school stark naked.
I discuss(ed) these things with Lord Tim on my wristwatch communicator sometimes, or just in my head. This is for the benefit of my viewers in the early 21st Century when my 24 hour adventures are a popular entertainment on the cosmobox. (They’ll be wondering what’s up).
On the way home I stop off and buy a Zoom or a Kinky from the sweetshop run by a bald man with what mum says is a goitre on his forehead who we call, for obvious reasons, Mister Bumponhishead. There’s a barber’s shop at the back where I went for what he lamely pretended was a Beatle-style haircut, but I knew it was only a not quite so short back and sides.
I walk home with a boy called Cottingham, whose real name is something very hard to say in Polish but his father decided when they moved here after the war that they would take on the most normal of identities. When he told me this I was amazed; I thought he was just an ordinary kid and now suddenly he had all this history involving bombed out buildings and purges and flight.
I know I am very fortunate. I know life can be cruel for many people on this planet and I feel quite passionately that this shouldn’t be so. But it’s hard to shake off the gentle harmoniousness of everyday life, hard not to believe that normal is if not happy then certainly profoundly all right. Am I happy? I don’t think so. And yet I am. Never more confident since, nor more shy.
And sometimes I don’t go to school at all. I walk up to the bus stop at Whitestone pond and then wander off onto the heath. Spend the day wandering about. But the other day I saw the agent from Warp there too, lying in the grass smoking a big cigarette and spying on me.