If I could turn back time …


I suspect this is a question which has piqued us all at some point:

If you had one turn in a time machine, where would you set the dial?

What a wonderfully indulgent thought, to be given the opportunity to set the record straight, to right that wrong, to write that book. Would you go back to last week to relive that argument with your best friend? Would you go back to your last job? Your first marriage? Back to school? Even back to the crib? Or as far back as the womb?

I’m tempted to say I would go back to being a baby and do everything again. I’d grow up eating healthy food, I’d pass on the deep fried spam fritters and 1/4 pound bags of kali (northern English word for sherbert) that undoubtedly rotted my teeth beyond redemption. I would have continued running, cross country running was my thing, I was good at it as a kid, as a teenager. I found running easier than walking, and I should have exploited that, not neglected it.

I would have been more confident, less shy. I would have asked girls out at school and I wouldn’t have turned down that kind offer from Jane T. in 1981. I was bright and fairly academic, but I wasted my education. Had I applied myself I would have certainly attained better grades and that in turn would have led to better career choices and more money and … and …

So many choices, how far back do I turn the dial? So many choices! However, university was probably my greatest tragedy – 3 years of drinking beer and very little else, probably the single, greatest downturn in my life, certainly the period I look back on with the most regret, and so that seems to be a good place to return to in my time machine.

But wait, I met my wife at University. The Butterfly Effect, borne out of chaos theory, tells us that infinitesimally small changes can have huge longer term effects. Had I not been a beer monster, I may have turned left into the library rather than turn right into the top bar at Essex University. Had I done that I wouldn’t have seen her, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with the girl that rocked my world. We would never have married, and in turn, our children would have never existed, and that’s unthinkable.

If I step into that time machine, whichever point I choose to return to, I risk losing everything I now hold dear. The butterfly effect tells us that anything we do differently during our trip back in time, risks changing everything from thereon in. If I stop eating kali, perhaps I replace it with something else more sinister – I may have nicer teeth on my 2nd attempt, but perhaps I have a more addled brain. If I start running more in my second life, perhaps I end up at a different university, studying a different subject, and most certainly never get to the top bar at Essex University in the spring of ’82, and never actually meet that girl in the green combat trousers.

To imagine, or to wish for a different outcome from our past, is to risk changing everything going forward, including all that one holds dear. I don’t think we can pick and choose, we just act spontaneously and we must therefore live with the consequences of our actions. You pays your money, you takes your choice, and you have to accept all that comes with it.  I might wish I had better teeth and a flatter stomach but would I risk everything for that? To change anything about us is to change ourselves forever, and that has unintended consequences.

On reflection I think I’m OK after all, so I think I’ll pass on the offer of a spin in the time machine, thanks.

I warned you …

When I started this blog, way back in March 2012, I predicted, and in fact pronounced in the tagline of my blog, that it would become ” … tumbleweed within a month”.  I was wrong, it took just over a year before the tumbleweed rolled into town.

April 2013 was my last entry and it’s now November 2013, some 7 (seven) months on.  That’s how they do it on the football vidiprinter, for large numbers they spell the number (word) just in case you can’t believe your eyes.

Vidiprinter: Barnsley 7 (SEVEN) Huddersfield 1.  “Is that a ‘7’ or a ‘1’?  Was it a draw? Surely Barnsley didn’t score SEVEN did they??  But wait, if you look closer, they actually spelled it out S-E-V-E-N, it really is SEVEN-ONE to Barnsley!”

And that did in fact happen in November 1998, and this was the best goal of the match, no the season, no, ever:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UdBOgZPHLw  See, told you.

I tried to work out why that happened.  No, not Darren Barnard’s screaming volley, I will never understand why or how that ever happened, but rather why did I stop blogging? I had a year to get used to the fact my blog wasn’t going to set the world alight, and anyway my enjoyment came from the writing, not from the responses.  ‘Good job!’ I hear you heckle, but fair heckle, for indeed the responses were indeed spartan at best.  In fact if I had a penny for every response I ever got, I would have about 13p.  I’m guessing, I really haven’t counted but it’s a low number, certainly not one worthy of spelling out on the vidiprinter of “Blog response” scores on a Saturday afternoon, that’s for sure.

I changed jobs in February 2013, and then again in May 2013, and such changes are always quite significant.  On both occasions I had to adjust to commuting again after years of being a homeworker.  That was very significant.  Going from a 2-minute commute to a 4hr round trip commute certainly has an impact on one’s work/life balance.  Something had to give and I think the blog was probably a casualty, but is that really an excuse?  A long commute means a lot of down-time, a lot of sitting, surely there was time right there to do some blogging?  Damn you and your logic …

So what else changed?  Probably the biggest change (after commuting) was travelling.  My Feb 2013 job was entirely UK based, in stark contrast to the transatlantic jet setting life oft blogged about before.  In fact the May 2013 job was also UK based and involved no overseas travel .. until last month.  Last month involved a trip to New York. This month has seen trips to Germany, Poland and France, and more are planned. And here I am, blogging again.

I’ve said it before,  I love travel, in fact I said it at the very beginning of this blog. For sure I find it stressful, tiring, sometimes a little lonely, occasionally a bit scary, but I really do love it. It feels like it’s always meant to be there. My first ever job, way back in 1986, was an international job, and ever since I have gravitated towards international work.  It’s like the travelling awakens the blogger within.  Sitting on a BA plane isn’t that different from sitting on a First Capital Connect commuter train but it certainly feels different.  You feel part of a bigger world, you meet new people, you hear different news, encounter different problems.  You experience different cultures and hear fresh perspectives, and you see your self differently too, and I think it’s that essence of travel that sparks my desire to be more introspective and therefore to blog*, more than anything else. More than anything else in the whole wide world in fact.

*This blog was written on a Paris to London Eurostar train on 14th November, 2013.