Beatrice had selected an isolated booth in the coffee shop. Still, she leaned forward onto her elbows, holding her coffee mug in both hands. She quietly told Alim the truth; she had developed rudimentary time travel.
Alim gasped, Has she literally done it?
Wildly and uncharacteristically, he shouted the first thing that came to mind, “Prove it!”
Other coffee shop patrons turned to see who had shouted. Alim cleared his throat, leaned forward and repeated in a whisper, “Prove it.”
Knowing Alim as she did, Beatrice had come prepared. She smiled confidently and said, “Alright…”
She reached into her handbag and extracted what looked like a newspaper and a woman’s shoe. She handed both over the table to Alim, saying, “Both items are from the past. They are not definitive examples of time travel, by any means, well, not here in this coffee shop, in any case. I mean, you could subject both items to carbon dating, if you wished. As you know, pretty much any organic compound can be dated.”
Alim unfolded the newspaper. He had to admit that it was like new, the paper white and the ink clear. He looked at the date.
Beatrice continued, “The newspaper, as you can see, is from 1942. It was brought back from that year by my dog. Yes, my dog, Legal the Beagle, in a pouch on his back. As I say, the paper might not be the best proof for you; you can get historical newspapers from a variety of sources. But Alim, look at its pristine condition. Even the ink! You cannot get one that new…because there aren’t any! Now, check out the shoe.”
He picked up the shoe – of a simple design with just the hint of a heel – and said, “Sure, the shoe is very much great.” Alim had retained some of his ‘Inglish’; that is, Indian pronunciation of English, “It looks authentic, but you could have purchased it somewhere or even had it made, Bea.”
“Sure, I could have, but I didn’t. What you’re holding is genuine 18th Century woman’s footwear made with all-natural materials. It was worn by Helena on her trip from 1766 to here and now. Most women’s shoes from the period featured heels. But, because Helena is so tall, she prefers no heel. She told me!”
Sam Richter is the diplomatic agent who had volunteered to see young Skypilot safely home to Canada after his ordeal in Africa, when Sky’s parents were murdered. Sam had become a friend of the family.
Now a Canadian Security Intelligence Service operative, Sam was not in Fraserdale just for the wedding of Skypilot and Helena. He had been directed to find out more about the scientist, Beatrice Westover.
CSIS routinely observes the activities of scientific leaders to ensure that national interests are not being subverted. Ms. Westover was a leading scientist at a prominent research agency; an agency that has been on the cutting edge of technological advances in quantum theory and the space-time continuum. That alone placed that agency and its leaders under the scrutiny of CSIS.
The national intelligence service had learned that Ms. Westover continues to be employed, but, curiously, works primarily from her suburban home.
As Richter’s boss in Ottawa had put it during his briefing, “We assume that the nature of the research agency is to maintain a collaborative work environment to forward knowledge in its primary areas of research; not to have leading employees working in isolation over a lengthy duration. She may be, knowingly or not, an information security threat.”
Director Hancock, the steely-eyed boss, leaned forward and slapped a report with the back of his hand, “And, to top it off, the Canadian Space Agency confirms that she is a former astronaut candidate. She turned down an opportunity to fly into space, citing ‘personal reasons’. Something stronger than mere gravity must have kept her on earth.”
He paused, then scratched his chin, “Find out what’s keeping her grounded, Sam.”
So having returned from London in 1766, where do you think Sky and Zac are headed next? Aunt Beatrice thinks that they should travel back in time to prove that Jesus Christ, the man, existed. And her colleague, Alim, with his knowledge of Aramaic (the language of Jesus) agrees.
What are your suggestions for a destination?
The book signing was a huge success, thanks to all those who attended. I hope that you enjoy reading "Ticking" and that you let me know what you thought of it.
I will be at Chapters, Coquitlam Centre on Saturday April 13 between 1 and 3 pm to sign a copy of Ticking for you. Please drop by; I’ll have softcovers for sale and signing. For those of you who have read the book, I’ll have a place for your comments. See you then!
A MUST READ BOOK! TICKING captured and held my attention from beginning to end. I am really looking forward to reading TICKING II: The Hawking Sequence to discover what adventures are in store for Sky and his best friend Zac.
The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both.”
James A. Michener (writer, 1907-1997)
You know, of course, all about the iconic K2 from reading “Ticking: A Tale of Two Time Travellers”. Yes, that one, the one shown below. The one that Aunt Beatrice purchased from eBay for her time travel project.
Bea knew that, with some modifications, the K2 would be the perfect vehicle for time travel. So, if Kiosk #2 is the second generation of phone booths, what about the first? How did the telephone box start? Who do we thank for providing a British cultural icon and for providing Sky and Zac with their chrononautmobile?
Alexander Graham Bell, a Scot living in Canada, received the first patent for the telephone in 1876. A few years later, the General Post Office (GPO) in Britain changed the rules regarding telephone exchanges which allowed for the development of the first public telephone network.
But, having a phone was expensive, so only the rich and some businesses had one. Telephone service was owned and operated by several private companies which operated a series of local exchanges to which households and businesses could subscribe. This pricey subscription provided them with a telephone and connection to the network. Gradually, phone services were consolidated under the National Telephone Company (NTC) and the GPO.
In 1912, the assets of the NTC were acquired by the GPO, effectively nationalising the telephone network. With the combined staff and assets of the two organisations, the GPO sought to standardize equipment, including telephone boxes (or ‘kiosks’). However, the outbreak of the First World War meant that such standardization would have to be postponed.
The first telephone kiosk was designed in 1921 for the GPO and we are glad that they used their imagination in naming the first kiosk “Kiosk No 1” (abbreviated to K1). But the design of the K1 did not tickle the fancy of the British public, who cried “too conservative!” and “rather old-fashioned, I’d say!”. In fact, some even resisted the introduction of K1 boxes on the streets.
The Royal Fine Art Commission had to intervene. So, they organized a competition to design a new kiosk.
The commission received entries from respected groups and architects, including the winner, Giles Gilbert Scott. Scott was a well-known architect who had designed many of Britain’s popular landmarks such as Cambridge University Library and the Battersea Power Station. But, his most popular creation was the ubiquitous K2, the red telephone box.
Scott designed a rectangular box with a domed roof. Each side had fluted architrave moldings on the outer edge and a blank rectangular panel with trim moldings at the base. Above, on three sides, Scott put six rows of three rectangular panes of glass, with trim moldings and internal beading. The entablature above (the upper portion of the building or portico) was set back from the face of the kiosk and finished with a crown-molded cornice. The entablature featured the illuminated “TELEPHONE’ sign, and above it, prow-like, Scott carved a royal crown.
Scott based his K2 design on the mausoleum of Eliza Soane, wife of Sir John Soane, a renowned architect. He wanted the K2 to be silver, with a blue-green interior, but the General Post Office chose red. Beginning in 1926, some 1,700 kiosks were built and installed around London.
A few years later, the GPO realized that the K2 was too big and costly to produce, so Giles Gilbert Scott produced a revised design, the K3, that was smaller and with less architectural styling and thus cheaper. The design of the telephone kiosk continued to evolve, but the basic structure remained the same—a rectangular box with a domed roof.
Over the years the telephone box became a British cultural icon, a beaming beacon of Britishness in the oft English rain and although their use has diminished and changed over the years, hundreds of them still stand all around Britain.
In 2006, the British public placed the red telephone kiosk in the top ten of all of Britain's favourite design icons since 1900. The international star, however, might be the TARDIS police box, from the BBC science fiction series 'Doctor Who', which first appeared on British television in 1963. But, as Aunt Beatrice noted, “[The TARDIS] is dimensionally transcendental; that is, its bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. No such magic here [with the K2].”
But time travellers everywhere know that the K2 was, and still is, the best design.
 You can go to Hull; the city of Hull, that is, if you’d like to see a telephone box that is not red. In Hull, the boxes are a crème colour. Nor do the Hull boxes have the Royal crown above their 'Telephone' sign.
Are you my ideal reader?
A writer must know his readers. A market analysis is the first step to find out more about who is reading, and why. The steps for conducting a market analysis are twofold:
1. Describe Craig Vann's ideal reader. I'll need details including demographic info. Who do I see reading my work? What are they like? What problems or concerns do they have? Where do they hang out? What do they buy? What do they like to do? Where do they live? What are their professions? Are they in relationship? What do they want and need?
2. Determine the size of the market for "Ticking". I will then use the information from above to conduct online research to find statistics -- from the census bureau or from specific organizations -- about how many of these people exist. Numbers are what I want—hard facts that will reveal that there are “xx billion people” in Craig Vann's target market.
So, in the coming weeks, I'll be asking you to help with some of this demographic information. I hope that you'll participate! Thanks.