Jonesey's Blog

Jonesey's Blog

The ubiquitous Jonesey


No, it's not a story, and (spoiler alert) there really isn't such a thing as a time telephone (despite various Dr. Who episodes).

It's a notion which occurred to me a long time ago, and which still holds true for me. It is, I guess, a metaphor.

You see, there are people whose life seems to be planned out - my best friend when I was little was a guy who always wanted to be a pastry-chef. I don't  know where he got the idea from, his wasn't a culinary family. He always knew what would  be for dinner if he knew what day it was - If  it's Tuesday it's sausage mash and beans, if its Friday it's FIsh and Chips., and so forth. But somehow he got the idea that he wanted to be a pastry-chef, and when he left school he got an apprenticeship in a bakery, and the last time I saw him (long ago now) he was still doing what he'd always wanted to do.

Many people have a vocation - cop, nurse, astronaut, whatever. They pursue that dream, achieve it, and go on until they retire.

Not me. I've been banker, computer programmer, training manager, shopkeeper, palm reader, barman, plain old office worker, and so on and so on. If it doesn't involve hitting people or driving a car (or, indeed, hitting people with a car), then I've probably done it at some point.

Some people almost or never move house. I have at least one aunt who lived with her parents until she got married, (and for a while after probably) then got a house with her husband. She's still living at the same address half a century or more later. Another relative has lived in three houses his entire life -his parents' apartment , then granddad's house when granddad passed away, then the other granddad's house later. Three addresses, all of which he was familiar with his entire life.

Not me. From birth to today, I've averaged less than three years at each address. Currently, and for a while, I'm living about two miles from a house where I spent the years 2006-2014. When I stroll over to the old town, I'm glad to see old friends , but as I walk around it feels like I'm wading through a lukewarm memory soup. Here's the place where I definitively proved to my boy that I can't throw a ball to save my life, there's the bar where we ran that murder mystery, that shop used to be a paint-your-own-plates business which the kids loved when they were the right age for it, and on and on. It's odd, but while you're living in a place it doesn't seem like that. Once you go, it's an odd and not entirely pleasant feeling to return. I don't mean that the memories are unpleasant (though of course there are a few that still smart) but that a sort of cloying nostalgia seems to overlay what you're actually seeing today.

On a side note I remember the first time I went past the site of my old grammar school, and saw that it had indeed been demolished and replaced by a housing estate. There was a tremendous feeling of freedom in that moment, a sudden and unanticipated uplifting of the spirits as a piece of the past was obliterated.

So what's a Time Telephone? Remember, that's where we started. It's a conceit which occurred to me one day after some tremendous life-upheaval or another (I forget which one, there are many to choose from). I said to myself "If I could phone my self of five years ago he'd never believe where I am now, and what I'm doing". And then it struck me that this had been true my entire life.

Oh, I guess up to age 10 the most astonishing thing would be that I'd moved house again, (which happened four times by then). After leaving London, the next ten or so addresses were all within about a six-mile radius so that aspect of things didn't begin to be unexpected until I l moved out of my parents place.

But if you'd told me at age 11 what subjects I'd specialize in for the last two years of school, if you'd told me what my social life was going to be like, if you'd informed me I was no longer a pious little church-goer, that I smoked and drank, that... well you get the point.

The phone call to the me that was leaving school would get this response: "Married WHO?" "Working at WHAT?" "Commuting to WHERE?" and "Are you mad?"

The me that was getting married (the first time) "HOW long did it last/" "Teaching computer programmers? How did I get to THAT?"...

and so on, throughout my life.

There was just one island of stability, back in Surrey, in the south of England, where the Time Telephone conversation would have been "Same house. Kids at obvious school. still selling mail-order games." But that lasted only from one September to the following   until the New Year. Then I got a phone call from Mrs Me, who was off working on a project in Manhattan for a few weeks. "They've offered me a job. Would you like to move to the US?"

And the Time Telephone was back in business. It's still going strong today. 

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