Time Travel for beginners



History does not repeat itself

Or give edited highlights

For those in the kitchen at the time

Making a cuppa during the ads.

It doesn’t go in circles either

Though it feels that way sometimes.

No. Time moves in careful spirals

Like bedsprings coiled and compressed.

We can look across to other curves,

See both past and future

Caught in the coils of time

At parallel points but not the same.

So deja vu and premonitions

Are echoes of ourselves

Vibrating across the spirals of time

Giving that queer tugging at the heart

That speaks of the mysteries of life

And offers only ourselves as answers.


Perfect Timing

You know those days when nothing goes according to plan; you miss the bus by ten seconds, you fail to see your friend in a crowded Starbucks, you lose a tenner when the wind catches it and blows it away? Those days when everything goes wrong? Had it ever occurred to you that there are the equivalent days when everything goes right, goes your way, effortlessly?

I had one of those sort of days yesterday, one of the ones where things go so smoothly and effectively you are waiting for the disaster that rebalances the universe. I had resevervations about packing so many things into one day but I figured I’d go with it and see what happened.

First thing that went according to plan was getting into London itself on time and no hold ups; second was finding a parking place at the Tower to drop off safely. Then we split into two groups; one going into the Tower and one going on a perambulation round London. Guess which I got? Right, the walking one. We walked. Over Tower bridge, along the south bank of the Thames, past HMS Belfast and back across over London Bridge and on to try and find the Great Fire monument. Easy. It is 202 feet high but then the buildings are higher…but there it was, exactly where we wanted it to be.

Retrospectively, given my dislike and fear of heights, I ought not to have risked going up as it gets narrower and narrower as you go up the 311 steps to the top…but I went anyway. I guess the Eiffel tower was in the bag, so this didn’t scare me…much:

  Bars helped, let’s put it like that.

Down again we headed towards the general direction of St Paul’s where we ate lunch and a drug squad undercover officer tried to arrest one of my students. Seriously. He thought better of it when shown the rollie was simply tobacco…One more thing that could so easily have gone horribly wrong… 

Then onto the Tube for a short trip back to Embankment and rejoin the whole group to start the official walking tour. This was now 3pm and I said I could do the essentials in an hour. This was optimistic because there were two protest marches taking place and also they were setting up for the marathon. By that lovely blind chance we crossed Parliament Square a minute before the March closed it…Onward to St James’s park and towards Buckingham Palace. As if for us, they had shut it off for traffic so we could saunter unimpeded. Back down the Mall and towards Horse Guards. My heart sank as it appeared to be blocked till I discovered this was because they were changing the guards. In all my many (50+) London tours I have never landed here on time for this. Just as Big Ben struck three o’clock moments after I explained what Big Ben is, the timing could not have been more perfect . I nearly did myself an injury perching with my legs stretched out with a foot on a ledge either side of an arch to raise myself to a decent height to see over heads.

I finished the tour at just after four fifteen giving the students enough time for a quick trip to either Oxford Street, Chelsea football ground, British Museum or Covent Garden, and finally meeting them all down in Embankment Gardens at 5.45pm, and just as we counted heads, the coach arrived. We even had time to have a services stop to eat. OK, so it was Mc Donalds but you can’t have everything.

Not a perfect day by any means but a day of perfect timings. I wish I knew the secret of reproducing them….I’d have a great deal less anxiety in my life.

Time travel

You can’t change the past.

But you can change how you feel about it. I discovered this almost by accident some years ago, during a meditation.

To be honest the meditation was one where I lost focus fell asleep and started dreaming. The dream was more of a nightmare as I let myself slip into a time of my life I really hate remembering.

My first year at university was the worst year of my life so far. Last year at work came a very close second but at least last year it was only in the professional area of my life that things were hard. My first year at university just about everything was bad.

I found myself in the dream looking down at my eighteen year old self as she sat crosslegged on her bed in the hall of residence, late at night, crying bitterly. Usually when I dream I am the dreamer. This time I was an observer, floating high above my younger self, detached and strangely compassionate. I wanted to communicate with myself and tell myself things would change and I would get through the whole silly mess I was in. I think I tried to touch myself and the figure on the bed looked up. The lights in the room were blazing. I had had a lot of trouble and had begun to be very scared of the dark, though don’t ask what I was scared of. That’s another story. I even slept with the lights on back then.

The weird thing is this was now a lucid dream. I was fully aware I was dreaming and yet, there was something incredibly real about the whole thing. I found I remembered that evening, remembered a comforting presence being in the room, though not being able to hear what was said.

The dream lost focus and I woke up.

I found that I felt totally different about that time; I felt that whether or not I did actually visit and comfort my old self, the comfort had come through. Time and the mind are very odd things.

I’ve done this in waking meditations now. It takes a fair bit of effort to stay focussed and having another person talk one through would surely be a help too.

“You can’t change the past but you can change how you feel about it”

……or perhaps you can change it, subtly.

Thief of Time?




The above picture is of the new clock at  Corpus Christi college in Cambridge. I quote a new’s report to explain the clock a little:

“The masterpiece, introduced by famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking, challenges all preconceptions about telling time. It has no hands or digital numbers and it is specially designed to run in erratic fashion, slowing down and speeding up from time to time.

Inventor John Taylor used his own money to build the clock as a tribute to John Harrison, the Englishman who in 1725 invented the grasshopper escapement, a mechanical device that helps regulate a clock’s movement.

Making a visual pun on the grasshopper image, Taylor created a demonic version of the insect to top the gold-plated clock where it devours time.”

The clock was “opened” in September but I’ve not been to Cambridge since the summer.

I rather liked this clock because I couldn’t tell the time! Time ticks away and I end up feeling guilty because of the amount of it I seem to waste, just doing nothing, watching the sky, watching the flowers grow, listening to silence and the birds. Each day passes and I chide myself that I have done nothing. And then I get angry with myself for that chiding.

Time is a concept that is a modern one. Early man divided the year into seasons, and that was enough. Now we divide it into milliseconds and even that is not enough.

I want to step out of time and stop worrying: worrying about whether I am doing enough. I want to allow myself to be idle and lazy and not be angry with myself.

You see, the greatest ideas and thoughts in my life have emerged in the still moments between frenetic activity, and if I don’t slow down and cherish those idle moments, the inspirations will vanish without me ever seeing them and understanding them.

“Slow down, you move too fast, you gotta make the morning last”, is a great mantra, and I’m going to try and make it MY mantra today. What about you?