7 May 1968
Hello reader, I am writing to you, my peers of forty years hence, from the tumultuous May days of 1968. I came here direct from City Hall on the evening of the London Mayoral elections of 2008 in an attempt to travel to the London of 1666. My plan was simple: meet Pepys, hang out with him while taking some Polaroids of The Great Fire, and make a killing from those lucrative post-fire plague-free construction projects in the City. I rejected out of hand the tired trick of setting up a bank account in 1666 and withdrawing the interest in 1996. What I couldn’t work out with this time-travel-drama-chestnut is firstly, how I would be able to convince the bank of my identity upon withdrawal, and secondly, how to safeguard against the bank’s closing of my account and seizing of the funds sometime around 1789 when the account holder would quite reasonably be considered deceased.
At least one of you has complained to me of the lamentable infrequency of my musical bulletins on these pages. In between updates I have been conducting experiments in the correct combination of notes that will summon the ancient palace of lights that serves as my portal to the very real past. The terrible chords and clusters that are made in the process are too awe-full to notate: there are sounds that should not be, and I fear the written score would summon them permanently into existence. Consequently, I have been struck by an unshakable fear of committing my music to tape – and of recorded music in general. The spirits I summon tell me that our individual legacies will not last; they shriek at me: “HOMER WAS NOT ONE MAN!”
So for the time being I am stranded in 1968. I left your century with my heart full of optimism at the certainty that the London Mayoral elections had been won decisively by the Green Party, birthing with the coming dawn a new golden age of Natural wonder, but just as I was departing I heard a voice cry “nah mate, they’ll only get seven thousand six hundred and sixty-three more votes than the BNP”, and with that I struck a jarring note on my lute which took me three hundred and two years ahead of my intended destination.
Reader, I ache to tell you of the sights I see first-hand, uncoloured by the false memories and hindsights of soixante-huitard commentators, of the palpable feeling of self-possession and mastery of the collective destiny, of a world where a return to the pre-existing hierarchies is not considered inevitable. Unfortunately I materialised in Berwick-Upon-Tweed and am geographically as far from the action as I felt temporally in 2008. If I hadn’t stuffed my pockets with seventeenth century currency, I might have been able to catch a ferry to the continent; instead, I sit and ponder the reclamation of Berwick by Scotland until my musical spell is broken and I wake up with a diabolic hangover and my hair caught up in the spools of my four-track.