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The Day After

I awoke refreshed and decided to take a step back from all of this.

I went through to the main house and Mum made me breakfast. She switched the radio on – the sound of Ten Years After filled the room. “Oh, that brings back memories,” she said.

After breakfast, I returned to my flat and lay down to think.

I had appeared in King Edward’s bed-chamber in the clothes I had been lying in, when I had fallen asleep in the camper. And… that was it – I had been listening to a radio interview with Edward Fox, the actor and he had been talking about his role in “Edward & Mrs Simpson” just as I slipped away.

But what about my camper? I had been in it when I had woken in my new world – but luckily, not when I had turned up in Eddy’s bedroom.

Touch. That had to be it. I had been lying on my back on the bed when I fell asleep.

But when I awoke, I had rolled over and my hand was draped over the side and lying on the floor of the vehicle. Damn, I was going to have to watch that.

But this brought into focus another important question. Could I bring stuff back with me? And if I fell asleep wrapped around a person, would they come back with me?

I had to find out more. But until I did, I would have to be careful. What I needed was something safe. Then I remembered Mum and Ten Years After and it hit me: Woodstock – Three Days of Peace and Music – what could be safer than that?

Yes, but this was a different world. Did Woodstock even happen here? Time to hit the Internet again.

It turned out that while my tinkering with history had radically altered things in Britain and Europe – the knock-on effect had also reached the other side of the pond…

While Britain and America had The Bomb, Russia did not. Thus the Cold War had never happened – and so fifties America had been a relaxed time.

The driver who had been scheduled to ferry Richard Nixon to his debate with JFK had come down with a virus, so had been subbed at the last minute by “Fabulous” Freddie King.

Freddie was not a great driver, resulting in the limo getting stuck in traffic. But the young man was not backward in coming forward, so when he caught sight of a blue-chinned Nixon in his rear-view mirror, he opened his glove box and handed the presidential hopeful his battery shaver. “If yo’ is goin’ up against that fine Mr Kennedy, yo’ doan wanna look like a gangster – this is TV, man.”

Since the car was not moving, Nixon had nothing better to do. So he thanked Freddie and gave himself a shave. Then, resigned to his fate, settled down in the aircon luxury of the car.

Eventually, the traffic began to move and Nixon arrived at the studio, clean, cool and relaxed – with just three minutes to spare.

He became the next President of the United States.

Realising the Vietnam conflict was unwinnable, he kept America out of it and left office with the reputation of being one of the best presidents the USA had ever had.

Meanwhile, JFK and Bobby had become embroiled in a messy affair with Marilyn Monroe (still living, as a recluse in a dilapidated Bel Air mansion) and as a result, became marginalised on the political scene.

Thus the Russians had reached the Moon first and now had a permanent base there.

In the seventies, Ronald Reagan ruled the White House for two terms. He had gained a lot of sympathy when, in the middle of his first term, he had been shot at by Lee Harvey Oswald. Lee had missed Ronnie – but killed Nancy stone dead.

The eighties were dominated by the Bushes. First George senior, then Jeb. But George junior had been beaten by Bill Clinton, who was riding high until an indiscretion with a chubby intern called Mary-Sue Rindner resulted in his impeachment – some things never change.

When Clinton fell, his VP took over and followed on with two terms as president. His ten years in the White House resulted in most of Oklahoma being turned into a gigantic wind farm – and these days, over 90% of Americans drove electric cars. His name was Al Gore.

After Al came the current incumbent, Joe Biden. He was doing okay – but a lot of people were saying his bright, personable Vice President could become America’s first black president…

Musically, things were quite different too. Paul McCartney emerged as a successful writer of West End and Broadway musicals, while George Harrison & The Harrisongs became the top-selling artists of the sixties.

John (Lennon) and the Jaggers (Mick, with Keith Richards) were a useful blues band for a while. But when John met Yoko, Mick and Keith split off to form the Mannish Boys.

And Ringo played drums with Gary Glitter.

However, the lack of social struggle seemed to have slowed down the pace of the era. Rock ‘N’ Roll, led by Elvis, continued as a musical genre well into the sixties. And Hendrix (who also still lived) did not become a star until the mid seventies.

All of which meant that while Woodstock did happen – it had to wait until 1979.

I searched my library of Greenray disks and discovered I had a copy of the movie.

Then I looked through my wardrobe and found a pair of battered jeans. However, a teeshirt to go with them proved trickier. The logos were all modern. But eventually I discovered an old one, with the Yin-Yang symbol on it – that would predate everything.

Next, I needed some period money. The hippie movement may have been founded on the idea of everything being free – but one had to be realistic.

I hunted high and low for the Yellow Pages, but to no avail. The reason was they were pink.

But they were much the same as the yellow version in my old world and I quickly found a list of numismatists – one of whom put me onto a specialist dealer for notaphilists.

From him, I was able to secure a couple of hundred period bucks, which I ordered to be couriered to my flat.

By this time I was hungry, so I got Mum to make me a BIG meal while I waited for the vintage money to arrive.

After dinner, I returned to my flat with the envelope and having extracted the bread, put it into my jeans pocket, slid The Device (as I had now come to think of it) into the small key-pocket and sewed the top closed. Then I showered, dressed – and felt as ready as I ever would be.

I put the Woodstock disk on, selected Joe Cocker’s set and lay back on my bed, waiting…