This is, without any modicum of hyperbole or inaccuracy, one of the best tours I have ever made through time and space. It is unquestionably in the top five of my adventures, no mean feat considering my age is now in quadruple digits. While the trip as a whole is in the top five, one stop off out of the dozens has irrefutably been established and cemented as my second favourite place to visit, in all of time and space. I’ll come onto that one in a moment.
Before the most recent division of the two-man-team known as HH & W, I instructed my friend – when he was finished with whatever he had to do – to “finish the guitar solo.” Even now I can’t explain what made me say it or why, I gave the idea/plan without even the slightest fraction of thought. In an infinite universe of varying phone signals and Womble using his mobile primarily as a clock, it’s difficult to contact him anyway, not least to try and explain the guitar solo idea. Thus the plan still stands, somewhat, and has led to this highly enjoyable incursion. I requested Womble finish a guitar solo, I did not specify which one, meaning I have had the opportunity to choose my favourite guitar-based song from an endless multitude of possibilities.
The main location, not surprisingly, was Earth in the 1960s. Music has come and gone a long way across the cosmos but only Earth made it into an art form, other interplanetary races and cultures view it as a convenience or reclusive hobby. Not on Earth. Songs in the 60’s were at their psychedelically-powered peak. I flit about up and down the timelines of the decade. I went to Woodstock and witnessed Jimi Hendrix re-invent Star Spangled Banner. The shivers under my skin remained there for hours afterwards, still echoing to each, shrill note. I air-guitar-ed with a crowd of fans wearing the same red-and-black t-shirt, all of us amateurs compared to the skills of Jagger and Richards as their songs carved through the night. For an incredibly brief period I managed to convince the public there was a fifth Beatle. Simon and Garfunkel turned silence into sound. I heard through the grapevine that we were born to be wild, the times they were a’changin’ and no-one knew whether I was dazed and confused or just lost in a purple haze. Not all of them had guitar solos, those that did were not entirely workable, but I still had an awful job ahead of me making a choice. It settled the first tier of decision, this was definitely the planet to give me my song………not to mention a few generous helpings of narcotics and stimulants.
That’s right dear friends, this Timelord got as high as a red balloon lost in the stratosphere. Perhaps it was through inebriation and a bad case of the munchies which led to my gate-crashing what transpired to become HH’s Second Favourite…
There I was, adrift in the vortex, simultaneously hearing, seeing and feeling All Along the Watchtower. Ceiling lights bled the rainbow spectrum in transcendent waves. Solid and liquid changed faces. Everything shimmered and seemed to occur several dimensions beyond me, reverberating back through the void and into my splintering frame of mind. Electric flames cavorted across the walls, each upward tendril disgorging golden thunder that sparked and dissolved into white powders and tumbled away into sands of time.
I meanwhile was on attempt seven to open a bag of Monster Munch, my fifth packet so far. Fingers dusted with yellow maize fumbled at the packaging and intermittently struck the controls as I made wordless, Neanderthal requests for more snacks. Five times out of six, this merited no effect, the music continued to play and reshape my console room. Sixth strike, either a lever fell, a turtle escaped or Odyssey grew tired of being punched. It is difficult to recall the hazy patchwork of memory, but whatever happened caused Odyssey to reach a screaming halt and unexpected materialisation. From a standing start I finished upside down behind the sofa which moments before I could have sworn was an armadillo.
I take it you didn’t mean to use the handbrake?
“My hand isn’t broken,” I report confidently, hauling myself right side up. My vision takes a bit longer to do the same, leaving the floor, walls and ceiling all interchangeable. “Why are we?”
You mean “where”. Although. Saying that. I think you might find the answer to both here.
I commit to several long, deliberate blinks and my mind reassembles itself. Always the party-poopers, my Timelord biology has by this point processed the majority of the happy pills and funny rocks. We have the ability to take a dosage which Keith Moon would call generous and still get out of it within an hour, though what an hour it is. What completes the come-down and clears my mind, bringing me back to a less rippled version of sense, is the tone to Odyssey’s voice. Suddenly I can’t shake the fact that my artificially intelligent time machine has expressed an opinion.
“I’m going to like this one, am I?”
Take a look outside.
I switch on the external scanner and consult Odyssey’s main screen, on which is displayed an alternative HH and alternative Odyssey. As I watch, he looks straight at the camera and raises his middle finger before hurrying off. That’s fair enough. I don’t like being watched just as much as he doesn’t.
He’s the second one I’ve seen so far, present company somewhat excluded.
I grab my top hat and head towards the exit hatchway. “Clearly, I’m trying to tell myself something. I’ll be back in a bit.”
Yes. I very much believe you will.