I was born in 1976. I remember dreadful shoulder pads, the Thatcher government, power cuts and the suspicion that all the food on the entire island was frozen. And it may well have been, I did grow up on the Isle of Man. I also remember Britpop, what Brian Cox did before he told us about how awesome the universe is, Doctor Who being cancelled and grunge.
It’s been a fun few years. But if I had the chance, what would I like to sit through again? What part of my history deserves a skip through the chapters to do over? Why is a man in a gold lame jacket smoking a cigar and punching a Stickle Brick iPhone walking through my wall? One of these questions will be answered, and that question is:
You can travel to any period of time you’ve been alive in? When do you go back to?
Take it away, chrononauts!
Stacey Whittle : “Right, I've seen and read enough science fiction in my life to know you can't change an iota of your past without something horrific happening to you or, worse, your loved ones. So, it would be a look-only mission then. Well, to be honest I have absolutely no interest in looking back. I was there; I did that all already, and some of it was amazing and some of it was horrific and some was y'know, alreet like.
“But do I really want to watch any of my life like a repeat on Dave...? No I'm okay, thanks. Take wondrous events like the birth of my children – honestly, I really don't fancy seeing that from anywhere but right where I was thank you kindly. And travelling further back then your own timeline? Well, we all know that such madness leads to pretending to your father you're an alien and snogging your mother and who wants to go there? The future though? Bright, shiny, new and untouched – yes please I'll have me some of that and please, please let there be jetpacks.”
Laura McConnell : “Well, this is a knotty one. I think it needs some parameters. Do we get to change things? Or just observe? If we can change things, honestly, I'd rather not open that can of worms. Time travel paradoxes give me a headache. And frankly, though there are, of course, things I would change in every decade of my life, changing anything would change the person I am now, and I might end up a lot worse off. Granted, I might end up in a better place, but I'm not willing to chance that.
“With my history, the former is a lot more likely than the latter, so no changes for me, thanks. Now, just to get to hang out? (Granted, even that changes things, but whatever. We'll say for the sake of argument that it doesn't.) Hmm… I think I'd go with the ’70s. I was a bit young to appreciate them the first time around, and I'd love to hear that music live when it was still fresh, be excited about space, and see Star Wars with a group of people who never have.”
“If you took the restrictions off and I could travel absolutely anywhere in time then I'd go back to the time of the dinosaurs, the Cretaceous or the Jurassic, and I'd have myself a safari holiday. And then I'd nip to the future to see if we ever get flying cars, rocket backpacks or houses on the moon. But seeing as I can't go to the distant past or the far future I'm gonna grab the money. I'm shallow like that.
“Actually, there is one place I'd travel to within my lifetime... I'd go to the cinema. And that cinema would be Mann's Chinese Theater on Wednesday 25 May 1977.”
Alasdair Stuart : “12 April, 1981, the day the first space shuttle launched. I spent my life watching shuttle launches on TV, desperately wanting to stand in those bleachers and watch as a space truck took off, hearing the countdown clock click to zero, seeing the plume rise, hearing the roar break around me. I’ve always wanted to see that and I was a few years too late. The shuttles are mothballed and now manned spaceflight is scattered across multiple companies and countries. The shuttle itself is remembered now more for the two crews lost than the audaciousness of the ship, the endless work it did, the simple fact that a spacecraft crippled by over design and budget cuts performed for so long.
“But not on 12April 1981. On that day, the future was laid out in front of the space program as something new was tried and worked. It wasn’t Apollo, it didn’t even have the pioneering spirit of the Mercury or Gemini projects and it would never, ever leave Earth orbit. But the shuttle is the embodiment of manned spaceflight for my generation. It’s big, and bulky and old and impractical and heartbreakingly beautiful. I’d love to see it launch in person, just once and this would be my chance. Because it may have been a glorified space truck, but the shuttle was my space truck and I’ll always love it.”
Dave Golder: “Well, I get the whole Quantum Leap vibe to the question, and surely the key thing to Quantum Leap was you were leaping back to ”put right what once went wrong”? In which case I’d leap back to May 2002 and stop myself writing that four star review of Attack Of The Clones . I swear they were pumping happy gas into the preview cinema, or they showed us a different film. I paid to see it a week later, recommending it to mates I dragged along with me, and sat there going, ‘I enjoyed this turgid cartoon?!’
“Either that, or I’d leap into Damon Lindelof just before he was about to write the final episode of Lost …”
So there you go, time travel and where to go with it solved in under four pages. Next week? The secretary, and by the secretary we of course mean Dave, will disavow us if the mission isn’t successful. Because next week, to celebrate the return of 007 to our screens, we’re asking this question:
You are a secret agent. Highly trained, experienced, deadly. However, your latest mission involves infiltrating a building with security so tight you can only use one piece of spy tech, which includes everything features in the James Bond movies to date. What do you choose and why?
Dum diddle um dum dum dum. See you in seven.