It is international Pretend You’re A Time Traveller Day today, and as I am going to spend most of my day indoors writing, I won’t be able to run around pretending to be from a Dystopian future, nor would it be particularly sensible to host the whole of Fat Tuesday constantly screaming ‘WHAT YEAR IS THIS?’ at the audience and demanding they start killing all the household pets now, for they do not know what they will do in years to come. I feel like that may not warm them up in the way I probably should. So not wanting to disregard this rather awesome day, that should indeed become a worldwide day off and celebration, here is a short story I have just made up about a man from the future:
‘I arrive from the future with urgent news’, he said in a distinctly deadpan voice. I debated for a second whether or not to take him seriously. He had appeared, seemingly from nowhere, right into my living room. I had been rather interested in seeing exactly how the Scofe was going to tactfully ask the severe burns victim why she was releasing ‘Come On Baby Light My Fire’ for charity, while Willoughby merely giggled to cover up her inability to understand why the woman’s face wasn’t as pretty as hers, but I decided that a man arriving in my living room condoned turning the TV off for at least a minute. The sudden appearance was almost certainly a reason to believe whatever he was about to say next. The only other person I’d ever seen do that was the Dungeon Master in Dungeons and Dragons, and yes, while that was a cartoon, you would always be sure that the kids had listen to what he said or Venger would get his evil way. So I was fairly certain this man, who I was sure was not a cartoon, appearing just past my coffee table, was a big deal. On the other hand, any importance he may have had was immediately demeaned by the large colander he wore on his head. It didn’t entirely fit his head either, it lopped slightly to the left and meant he was unable to see out of the corresponding eye, causing him to squint. It did not quite fit the rest of his clothing, a muddy brown suit and tie, with a grubby shirt that was once close to white but now looked more grey than the eyes of office worker who had used their last few days holiday for another year having to move house because their landlord had discovered they owned a cat. And then, there was his tone of voice. I would have said it was sarcastic. The extreme lack of effort at making the word ‘urgent’ sound at all urgent made me think that it probably wasn’t.
‘Hello’ I responded, and he paused for a minute, slightly taken back at my calmness. It was hard to be alarmed by a man with a kitchen utensil impairing his vision. ‘I arrive from the future with urgent news’, he repeated again, with the same intonation on each word. ‘Cup of tea?’ I offered, but his face contorted as though he hadn’t quite prepared for this. ‘No…thank you.’ He added as an afterthought. ‘I don’t have time for tea, this is important.’ Again ‘important’ was said with all the gusto that you might use the same word to say how important it is you don’t have another drink at the bar, before proceeding to down three tequilas and say yes to another. ‘Ok. Fire away’. There was a small moment of further confusion, and I quickly amended my previous sentence and said ‘Ok, go ahead, what is the news?’ He cleared his throat and then said as though the script were imprinted on the underside of his collander ‘In the future the world is a desecrated landscape. The skies are blackened, children are starving, no one has an iPod.’ I gasped in shock. ‘ To prevent this from happening you must tell the world to stop….’ he paused for dramatic effect. ‘…to stop…..eating vegetables without washing them in only the best colanders!’ He took the collander off his head to reveal some overgelled blonde hair and disturbingly thin eyebrows. With a flick of his wrist he revealed two courgettes from his sleeve and a bottle of water from his pocket. He started to pour the water on the courgettes singing ‘you won’t regret, washing a courgette, in a collanderrrr! Don’t give a wince, put a carrot to rinse, in a collanderrrr!’
After he’d finished his song and dance he noticed I was just sitting staring at him with some bewilderment. Its hard to do bewilderment accurately. Too little and you look like you aren’t really all that bewildered. Too much and its reminiscent of Scooby Doo which can seem mocking to that which you have been bewildered by. ‘Have you stopped now?’ I asked the man. ‘Yes’ he mawkishly replied. ‘Are you really from the future?’ ‘Yes’, he replied again, even more embarrased at himself. ‘I come from 2117. And…’ He kicked his feet around a bit and gently put his collander down on our carpet, managing to completely ignore the puddle of wet floor he had created around him. It would be at least two kitchen rolls before that was soaked up. ‘…and…I wondered if you’d like to buy a collander for the introductory price of £19.56 for 7 months and then £25 a month for the next 6.’ ‘No’ I said rather bluntly. ‘I have a collander already thanks’. ‘Oh.’ He seemed rather taken aback by this. There was some flustering and he quickly put the collander back on his head, water dripping onto his brown suit and shoved the two very clean courgettes back into his sleeves.
‘So you have time travel in 2117?’ He nodded. ‘And all you use it for is to sell collanders?’ He nodded again, before quickly adding that it wasn’t just collanders, it was all sorts of kitchen implements, double glazing and it was just starting to be used for compilation albums of the greatest hits of the 60s. I asked him if he’d ever thought of using the time machine to change the outcome of the world? To kill Hitler or prevent global warming? The future man said no one had ever really thought of that and that he might mention it at lunchtime if he gets a minute’s break. He apologised for wasting my time and gave me his card should my collander ever break and I am without clean vegetables for more than a few days. And then, he was gone. Is that what the world had come to? Finally we invent a way to traverse the concept of time, and delve into the past or future with no end of possibilities and that is how its used? More importantly, I thought everyone had a collander? Is it not standard? So much to think about. I lay the kitchen roll down on the carpet, and put the television back on just in time see Phillip accidentally say the woman’s song was ‘hot stuff’. He’s a legend.