Wednesday, 28 December 2016
"Rough sleepers" are homeless people, sleeping out of doors. Only on p. 109 did I begin to understand that one of them, Freddy, was time traveling:
"As he reached the entrance to the gardens he slowed down, knowing that if he were to get back to the place where she was waiting for him, further digging was required." (p. 109)
Digging? Rereading p. 106, I get a better understanding of what had happened earlier. Thorn hedge had grown where Georgie Bumble's office was. Freddy would have to "...get stuck in..." to this hedge in order to "...dig back to it." (p. 106) Back to what? To "...Georgie's time..." (p. 106), apparently. Freddy starts by pushing "...all the present stuff to one side..." (p. 106). This did sound odd the first time I read it. He shoves the hedge away like smoke, squashes and bends construction machinery like modelling clay and uncovers Georgie's door, then brushes smears of stale time from his coat! (He ate a magic mushroom before doing this.)
To get back to where Patsy awaits him, he "...shoulder[s] his way into all the rubbish piled up from the fifties." (p. 109) "...the fifties..." means the decade, the 1950s. Now we understand what Freddy meant by saying on p. 96 that he had just been "'...up there in the twenty fives...'" - 1925 - and why he learned that he was in 2006 by looking at a calendar. Continuing his journey to Patsy:
"He pushed through the glory days of Mary Jane and further still, back through the blackout and the sirens, folding pre-war washing lines and cockle-sellers to one side like reeds until the sudden stench and lack of visibility told Freddy that he'd reached his destination, back in the high twenties when somebody else's wife was waiting for him." (p. 109)
In case we still do not get it, we are told:
"Freddy began to walk across the patch of designated recreation area with its swings, its slide and Maypole, that extended where the central avenue of Bath Street flats had been moments before, or where it would be nearly eighty years from now, depending how you saw things." (p. 109)
OK. He really has traveled physically back in time. This is a fantasy or sf plot element - unless Freddy is just imagining it - but so far it does not as yet introduce the concept of Eternalism - unless, of course, it is argued that time travel implies Eternalism because how can someone travel from 2006 to the 1920s if the 1920s do not still exist?
Addendum: OK. I have misunderstood this. Freddy somehow merges with his younger self and relives an earlier experience. Or something.