My Time Machine

Went back to Barrocco on Friday but was with Deep and my sister Pam this time. Much better night, (better company I guess!). We ended up in The Green Rooms, a pre-show Bar/Restaurant opposite the Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre. It’s sort of my local and apart from chatting to an intelligent and attractive schoolteacher named Satnam, (although she called herself ‘Nik’), I bumped into Simon, a guy I went to school with many, (too many!), years ago.

Of course I was too crap to get her number but I regret, even more, not getting his. When we were at school, Simon was a unique individual, intelligent, sensitive, principled, fat, funny, just a little bit weird and he suffered from creeping alopeatia. Being an outsider myself I think we naturally gravitated towards each other, (along with other nerds/geeks/foreigners), and he was someone I should have kept in touch with. In particular I remember that he would stick up for victims of bullies irrespective of the inevitable pummelling he would receive by putting himself ‘in harms way’. He was also an ardent fan of a punk band called the ‘Four Skins’…(go figure!).

Anyway, it’s Easter weekend which means that I’m constipated as a result of eating at least half a kilogram of chocolate but while I poured copious amounts of coffee into my straining digestive system this morning I got a chance to watch ‘The Time Machine’ again.

This was the 1960 version, starring Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux and not the 2002 version starring Guy Pearce and Samantha Mumba. I know quite a lot has been written about the underlying themes of the original H.G. Wells novel and I don’t have the inclination nor the intellect to go into it myself but I know it’s one of my favourite movies. I take something different out of it every time I see it and this occasion was no exception.

Whereas the 2002 version have the Elloi portrayed as a ‘coffee coloured’ peoples – possibly representing a future in which we’re all blended into beautiful Samantha Mumba types, (hmmmm!), the 1960 version’s Elloi were all beautiful Nordic visions of perfection. I always found that a little disconcerting – a future were perfection is represented in such glowing ‘Aryan’ terms and in their lotus-eating state they’re being exploited by the blue ape-like Morlocks. I think I identified with the H.G. Wells character, (Rod Taylor), in a strange way.

I remember growing up in England, equipped with my budding anglocentric consciousness wondering why all the sundar manush (Bengali: fair people) appeared to be so oblivious to other people’s pains.

I don’t think that anymore, I’ve met plenty of individuals of all types who display compassion and humanity and I am hopeful for our long term future but still, there is in me a residual echo of past doubts as I remember the words of Frantz Fanon:

“I have no wish to be the victim of the Fraud of a black world.
My life should not be devoted to drawing up the balance sheet of Negro values.
There is no white world, there is no white ethic, any more than there is a white intelligence.
There are in every part of the world men who search.
I am not a prisoner of history. I should not seek there for the meaning of my destiny.
I should constantly remind myself that the real leap consists in introduction invention into existence.
In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself.”

(–Fanon “Black Skin, White Masks”, 1952)

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