I stumbled across a prompt, what period of history or event would you like to time travel to? It sent my mind butterflying through the centuries and around the world, to Egypt when the pyramids were being built and then feeling a touch guilty, back closer to home and Stonehenge. I didn’t linger in either place; gruelling physical labour in either climate would have meant an unpleasant life and an early death. The story of the stones arriving from Preseli 150 miles away is known to be a myth but someone still had to shift them upright. Naturally as I would be arriving via time machine they might revere me as a goddess, but more likely they’d torture and punish me as something demonic. So, an alternative? I live in a city founded by the Romans around AD50, the arrival, overthrowing of the Dumnonii tribe and establishment of a fort overlooking the river as part of their march westward would have been terrifying to the locals. Some of them still get a bit anxious when tourists arrive for a bank holiday to drink our most expensively rated and billed water for free. Would it be worth cranking up the time machine for? Only for the wine they brought with them!
Many years ago I devoured a series of books, ‘Earth’s Children’ by Jean Auel. The heroine, Ayla manages to tame a young horse, the first step towards domestication of an animal. Since then I have often wondered about that period when other creatures started to share our lives, to mutual benefit – maybe, and carried to the extreme with the training of cormorants to fish for us. That’s quite high on my list of who, why, how did someone first think that up questions. This all takes place 30,000 years ago when the oral tradition of storytelling was probably flourishing but I’d probably miss my shelves of books and the Kindle app on my Android.
Take a quick step forward. I’ll disembark from Viator, as I’ve named my time machine, to the industrial revolution, the nineteenth century and the wonder of the first railways. To be among the first people to travel on, to be propelled from place to place, by a beast of a machine belching steam with a smell that I can conjure in an instant. Suddenly machines were making farm workers life easier, productivity increased and many moved to cities and factory jobs. Would I want to be there? Child labour abounded, workers were exposed to dangers appalling to our health and safety conscious society, exposure to toxic chemicals, I don’t think so.
The end of World War 2 in 1945, elation, sorrow, grief and loss. Children without fathers, women without husbands and mothers without sons. A time to rebuild and move forward with hope. What was there for women? To make way for the return of the troops they were forced into a backwards move to hearth and home, to being the housewife scrubbing the step instead of making ammunition and aircraft. Making do with food rationing for another decade and for those able to work the inequality of being paid at a lower rate than men for the same job, a situation my daughter couldn’t imagine, but was still in place when at 15 I had my first Saturday job. The joy and relief of peacetime would quickly dissipate under the daily struggle.
History is littered with war, destruction, misery, brutality, with a sprinkling of beauty and creativity for the rich, usually the perpetrators. If I’m correct in believing that I’ve been round a few lifetimes already, than I’ve experienced enough of history and I don’t think I want to travel to any past life anytime soon. Can Viator please take me to the future? The future of beauty queens where there is world peace and no-one is poor, hungry, at war or living with oppression.