A Journey Through Time



We all have our dreams and the need to have questions answered even when we know that the questions themselves probably have no answers.

If there’s one thing I really wish someone would invent, it’s a Time Machine and Time Travel. But I fear it will never happen because of the paradox – if a device as useful as that is ever invented then people as curious as me will use it and before you know what’s happening we’ll find ourselves bumping into crowds of sightseers from the eightieth century. I haven’t seen a single soul from the future and all historical accounts of famous events that occurred in the past totally neglect to mention the existence of time travelling tourists.

So no Time Machine, then. No Tardis. I’ll not tell my eight year-old grandson or he’ll weep.


But wait: I’ve used a Time Machine device in Officer Gentry and the Ghost of Mavis Adder! If they don’t exist why have I dared to mislead youngsters of today into believing they just might? Well, the answer to that one’s simple. I’ve got what they call imagination, and I know that kids have. They believe in all sorts of fanciful things anyway – Father Christmas, the tooth fairy, ghosts…. There’s no harm in adding to a list with a simple device that will transport their imaginations back to times they never knew. (I hope no kids read this or it’ll undermine their faith in the fat red man who rides in sleighs…) So my schoolboy hero can examine the original Crystal Palace and then go head-to-head with the cruel and vindictive Witchfinder General of an even earlier age. He can shiver in fear when he discovers that there have always been nasty men. So even though Time Machines may be as fanciful as a sledge that transports fat men round the world during a single night, they can point a finger towards the discovery of real knowledge. Hurrah for that, then!

But failing the physical reality of a device that will effortlessly zoom us back into the distant past there is a next best thing, I suppose. There is the subtle and careful extraction of bits and pieces from the past via the gift of Archaeology. If you’ve ever delved into the soils where ancients once lived you’ll know what I mean. I used to, long ago in my student days. And there is a huge thrill to be had from unearthing the pot in which the bones of a man were interred after he’d been treated to a funeral pyre, maybe fifteen hundred years ago. The man, long dead of course, once lived. He had his loved ones. He cherished his offspring, played ball games with his sons. He walked the days of his life hand in hand with whatever it was fate chose to throw at him. And that life was probably quite a brief affair by modern standards, but that didn’t make it any less precious to him. And we shouldn’t dismiss him out of hand because he might be a great deal more important than his bones imply. He might have been a forefather of ours, a rugged ancestor from Saxon times, and he just might have been part of a bloodline that includes you and me. Take him out, then, and we take out ourselves. That’s how important the past is to each and every one of us. I’ve reached an age when I’m beginning to understand this, and therefore I take quite diligent note of documentaries on the Television when they deal with the me of yesteryear.

And using the knowledge thus gleaned, and maybe twisting it to suit my purposes, I have incorporated bits and pieces into some of my books. I’m specially fascinated by the distant past, by the possibilities of the birth of language, by the men and women who dwelt then and (yes, you’ve guessed it,) may prove (if I was able to delve deep enough) to be a personal Ancestor. There’s the good old bloodline again. We all have one and it would really fascinate us if we could accurately delve back far enough just how closely you, dear reader, are related to me, the amorous writer. Spooky, isn’t it?


So it was with a little bit more than academic wishful thinking that I created Owongo from Cro Magnon times. You’ll find him in Love’s Deadly Dawning. I followed a few presumptions as to the nature of very primitive societies – an increase tendency to violence, the need for men to be strong enough to hunt successfully, and the most powerful given extra rights in the mating game in order that their genes be given preference over the genes of less able men. I actually think Owongo’s society is repellent, but when you really ask yourselves the more difficult questions I wonder if you’d decide whether they behave very differently from our own society today when faced with the arrival of unexplained aliens who appear to make the first assault on Mother Earth.

I added a few drugs into the mix, too. I have no idea whether there has ever been a poppy toxic enough for smoke from its burning fibres to spread to those dancing round a fire, and intoxicate them, but for my purposes there was one.

I also provide Owongo with a balmy climate and assume that under circumstances of warm weather and loads of sunshine he and his fellow tribespeople would go naked. It seems only rational to me, and anyway there’s something noble about an image of a naked savage.

So that is my kind of time travel. It is taking a sliver of knowledge about the past (and that’s all we have, you know: even the remains of our earliest ancestors are only scanty in number, and largely incomplete.) I sometimes wonder just how many assumptions are made by the experts who contrive to draw a portrait of a whole human being when before him on the table, as a model, he has but a single bone! Whatever the answer to that you can rejoice in the fact that I’m a writer of fiction and it simply doesn’t matter to me whether I’ve hit the nail on the head or missed it altogether.

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