April 29th, 2002.

A tourist in time.

Where do I start? At just after half-past two in the morning I should probably just not bother starting this at all. I should try and go to sleep as any normal person would already be. My alarm will go off at 8 AM as usual, and chances are at this rate that I'll ignore it again and sleep on till I wake. A perk of working for yourself I suppose.

I'm busy at the moment. My days turn into evenings that quickly become nights. The hours chase the minutes away until it's time to sink into a bath and begin the nightly run down ritual that brings me back here to my bed. Usually, I am damn near asleep at this point. My head touches the pillow and I quickly disappear to the land where anything is still possible, and time is not important.

Tonight though is different. I am tired, I am nearly asleep, but I want to write. I want to say something, not sure what yet, but I'm just going to follow my fingers and see where this goes. It was so very nearly going to simply be a one-liner, but alas the 'brilliant one-liner' department of my brain has switched off their terminals and headed home for the night. If my head were staffed by keyboard punchers by day, then the only person working now would be the rent-a-cop, sitting there, feet on the reception desk reading a copy of 'The Sport' with his fuzzy radio playing music that he pays no attention to.

You know what, I smell good right now! The bath was full of things that a 'real man' would never admit to putting in a bath. Cheap bubbles that last just a few minutes, and some moisturizing stuff that makes me feel like an oiled up bodybuilder... without the built body! It's a relaxation thing for me though. Showers are good, but a bath is 'where it's at' as far as I'm concerned. I sit there, cheap bubbles disappearing quickly at my feet, candles dotted around the room, a cold drink, and a book.

Sometimes I call my friends in America from the bathtub. This used to surprise them at first, though I have no idea why. Indeed Karen, my adopted "older sister" in America, still refuses to speak to me while I'm in the bath because I am surely naked. It always makes me laugh that she can't see anything but is somehow still offended by nothing more than her imagination!

Time passes very quickly in my bath. I read for a bit, soak for a while, then before you know it it's damn near dawn! I mean right now, for me to be in bed before three A.M. is somewhat of an early night.

Where does the time go? How come when I was a kid the six-week summer break from school seemed like a lifetime. And yet now six weeks can be gone in a heartbeat? Back then a sunny day seemed to go on and on. With my two best friends, Darryl and James, we'd ride our bicycles on the sidewalks through the neighborhood doing stunts and shouting at one another as we went. We cut up old Corn Flakes boxes and pegged the cardboard into the spokes of our bikes to make them sound more like motorcycles, and with the help of our young imaginations, they sounded every bit the part. We would speed to the local shops leaving our bikes wherever we stopped while we picked candy inside the store. My favorites were fizzy Cola bottles and 'Space Dust' that would crack and pop on my tongue.

James had a Grifter. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It weighed about the same as a Rolls Royce but looked so cool with its big seat and chunky tires. My bike was equipped with a triple tone police siren that I had gotten one Christmas. I had colored ribbon tassels on the handlebars at one stage too, but I cut them off as soon as I realized that neither Ponch or Jon from my favorite TV show, CHiPs, had them on their California Highway Patrol Kawasaki motorcycles.

I was a lunatic speed demon of a kid. Trying always to go faster and faster. I'd have the most spectacular crashes, sometimes with cars, sometimes with street lamps, always with painful consequences.

I remember the day I found I was able to ride "no-handed". It all went well until I tried to turn a corner. I fell off the bike scrapping my hands and chin along the road. Let me tell you, that hurt. Boy did that hurt!

And how come it was always sunny? Every day in my memory is sunny or so it seems. I think I have a kind memory that injects a blazing sun and deep blue skies into even the most overcast of days.

In my memories the sun shines out of a cloudless blue sky, it's penetrating heat warming my adventures with Darryl and James and the times we used to make go-karts and have horrific accidents while trying to pilot them down the impossibly steep hill on 'Bunny's Walk.' Playing Badminton and eating barbecue with my friend Oliver and his family in their garden, or when I was 16 and used to walk Lucy home after youth club thinking she was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen and wondered how on earth I was going to ask her out. They were all sunny days, or so it would seem.

Recently I had cause to stay in my old hometown. The days were hot and sunny, just like they were in all the fond memories from childhood and my teenage years of discovery.

While I was there I realized just how very different my friends and I have become, yet still somehow remaining, in essence, the same people we once were. We've grown up at our own pace, of course. But somehow, in the unusually warm and sunny weather, I caught glimpse of my life gone past. It wasn't so much of a recollection, but something more real than that.

I could feel and taste moments from back then. Not in their entirety, of course, just fragments every so often, like echoes. It was as if time was ricocheting back into me, allowing me to have something from those times again just faintly, but enough to make my body shiver and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

James is married now and has two kids of his own. He's a chemistry teacher at a school in Hertfordshire, and he drives a huge Land Rover that's vaguely reminiscent of his chunky Grifter days. Darryl started his own business, a fact that wouldn't surprise anyone who ever played the board game 'Monopoly' with him all those years ago. And these days I run my own internet business, taking time to travel and explore the world at every available opportunity.

It seems we've gone from Grifters to Land Rovers, from Monopoly Streets to London offices, and from playing with felt tip pens to playing with pixels on a computer screen in just a few moments.

Sometimes I feel like I'm watching it all happen right in front of me, powerless to intervene. Like a tourist in time or a passenger on a passing train peering from the window to a world rushing by. It's a beautiful blur flashing before my eyes, merging from one moment to the next in a mosaic that will form the background of the memories I'll one day look back on.

I don't want to sleep. As comfortable and inviting as my bed is I want to stay awake and see more. I want to taste more, have more, experience more, read more, and write more. It'll never be enough though will it?

Shakespeare called life 'a tale of sound and fury'. He wasn't far wrong. Whatever happens though, there are sunny days and great memories yet to be made, and I don't plan on wasting a moment.