• Helen Smith
  • Notes and Observations on the Risks Involved in Time Travel
Notes and Observations on the Risks Involved in Time Travel
Written by
Helen Smith
January 2011
Written by
Helen Smith
January 2011
I made my first attempt at time travel yesterday, Sunday 2nd January 2011. I travelled forward one day to visit Hampstead Observatory to watch the conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus some time after 6pm tonight.

When I returned home, I wrote up my notes and then got dressed to go to a party. I put on some clothes, including my stripey skirt that I always wear, and a pair of black tights that I found lying around in my bedroom, then I ate two poached eggs on granary toast with hollandaise sauce, and drank a cup of milky coffee.

As I was eating the poached eggs, a small piece broke off one of my back teeth. I crunched it and swallowed it, thinking that the seeds in the granary bread were rather gritty, and then my tongue touched the sharp edge of my broken back tooth and I realised what had happened. My teeth don't usually break when I eat breakfast. I have to conclude that my recent experiment in time travel made them weak and crumbly.

It wasn't until I got on the no. 38 bus from Angel tube station to Clapton Ponds to go to the party later that day that I realised the tights I was wearing - which felt rather snug when I put them on - were so constricting, and the crotch so low, that either time travel had made me gain weight, or they mustn't be my tights at all, but someone else's.

I checked my reflection in the window of the bus (CCTV cameras presumably will have recorded my journey; my appearance can always be verified later by independent witnesses, if necessary) and I didn't seem any chubbier than normal. It therefore must follow that the tights I was wearing belonged to someone else. But who? How did they get into my bedroom, how long did they stay there, why were they there in the first place, and why did they discard the tights?

Here's my hypothesis: when I made my journey to Hampstead Observatory, someone (a female person) was sent back here temporarily to take my place. If she had been outside gazing at the stars in the chilly night air before she was sent back here to Brixton, when she arrived in my bedroom she would have found that she was dressed too warmly. She removed the tights, dropping them on the bedroom floor. I was only gone for a few minutes and whoosh, as I returned she was propelled back out into the night sky towards Hampstead, shoes in hand, bare-legged and surprised.

The other thing I noticed about time travel is that it has a hallucinatory, distorting effect on the perceptions. Reviewing my notes from yesterday morning, I doubt that the people near me really turned into swans. I don't think that Jupiter will look like a big marmelade moon in the sky tonight.

And yet... I made it. I left here and went there. With a few tweaks, with practice, with the help of a good dentist and perhaps with some polite notices explaining the need to 'keep your belongings with you' posted around my house for the benefit of anyone arriving unexpectedly to take my place while I'm away - yes. I believe I have done it and can do it again. Armchair time travel is within reach for all of us. Be a pioneer. Join me!

And if, tonight, some time during the conjunction of Jupiter and Uranas, something 'funny' happens to you and you feel displaced and lose a pair of tights, please get in touch so I can return them to you. Otherwise I'll keep them here as evidence; the first exhibit to go into my time travel museum.


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