Sunday, 15 January 2017

Quantum Mechanics - A Trilogy of Time Travel

I have started to write my next story.

This is an early draft. The chapter is a long way short of being finished and this is a DRAFT but see what you think.

 "But isn't what you are proposing illegal ?"

"Watch my lips very carefully," my former boss Bert said as he drew hi face close to my own.  "Quite frankly I could not give a fuck !"

I am not a prude but that was not a word I would use myself and is not something I would write down in reporting speech of another. Not even in a dream. This was a dream of course.

I scanned through the TV listings for the coming week, marking those I thought I would enjoy watching then programme them into the recording box. This was my regular Friday task.

Among the twenty or so documentaries, dramas and films I clicked was The Boat That Rocked, a film made in 2009 set in the 1960's world of pirate radio stations.  It had been a commercial disaster, I had seen it before, but it was fun and I'd quite like to see it again. Way before my time of course, not 2009 I mean the Marine Offences Act of 1967.  I would enjoy watching the story of Radio Rock and its crazy crew.

Very different was something on BBC4. I would never have licked it out from the listings if the TV magazine had not includes a full page feature. Everyone has heard of Quantum Mechanics but you could count on the fingers of one hand those who worldwide could claim to understand its theory. Most of them would be exaggerating their grasp of its physics.  The A B C of Quantum Theory could be interesting.  I would record it and may even give it a try at watching.

"But isn't what you are proposing illegal ?"

"Watch my lips very carefully," my former boss Bert said as he drew hi face close to my own.  "Quite frankly I could not give a fuck !"

Replying to my former managing director's e-mail and agreeing to meet him I knew was folly but Bert Lancaster, founder and former head of Lancaster Homes, did not understand the meaning of the word NO.  He also had a different concept of time, different to the way you or I use the hours in our day.  If Bert had an idea in the middle of the night he would think nothing of phoning up members of his unfortunate management team to share it.

"Nigel nobody takes early retirement at the age of forty-five for goodness sake, that is ridiculous !  Just because your great granny leaves you some money you give up work and buy a dog. What planet are you on boy ?

"It was three quarters of a million pounds,"   I defended and my dog Jimmy is my best friend."
" Three quarters of a million pounds - lose change ! Your dog, he can come and work as well, he can be our mascot.  I'll pay him a salary if you like."

"I can not perform all of this procedure in one operation," the dentist explained. "We will need three separate surgeries. You should not have left it so long before coming to see me."

Thirty-eight years, that was how long it had been since I had two teeth removed in my childhood.  That was such a terrible experience I never sought dental advice again until my mouth was in such a mess I was left with no choice.

"This is too involved for local aesthetic, it will have to be a general each time. Then when your gums have hardened we can think about dentures."

The thought of wearing false teeth was repulsive.  "Could I not have implants ?"  I asked.

"No."  That was the extent of the dentist's reply No, no explanation just No. Then he added, "If you had taken better care of your teeth and made regular visits you would not be needing the treatment you do."

"I can pay."

"It is not a case of funding. It is just not possible."

If there really was a multiverse, as the programme had suggested, within which there simultaneously existed an infinite number of universes anything and everything was possible there would be one where I had taken better care of my teeth and this major oral surgery would not be possible.

"The receptionist will arrange the dates for you Jones."

My best friend Jimmy was waiting faithfully in the car. "How come," I said to him on the drive home, "dogs do not have dental issues, I mean you never clean your teeth do you ? You don't need false teeth."

The days to my first appointment ticked down. I watched the BBC 4 documentary and thought I understood the basics then deleted it from the recorder. The Boat That Rocked I watched twice before deleting it as well.

"But isn't what you are proposing illegal ?"

"Watch my lips very carefully," by former boss Bert said as he drew his face close to my own.  "Quite frankly I could not give a fuck !"

I had heard him say that before.  I had suggested before that his plan was illegal. No, that was in a dream.

"But isn't what you are proposing illegal ?"

"Watch my lips very carefully," by former boss Bert said as he drew his face close to my own.  "Quite frankly I could not give a fuck ! F-U-C-K Fuck !"

Replying to my former managing director's e-mail and agreeing to meet him I knew was folly but Bert Lancaster, founder and former head of Lancaster Homes, did not understand the meaning of the word NO.  He also had a different concept of time, different to the way you or I use the hours in our day.  If Bert had an idea in the middle of the night he would think nothing of phoning up members of his unfortunate management team to share it.

"Nigel nobody takes early retirement at the age of forty-five for goodness sake, that is ridiculous !  Just because your great granny leaves you some money you give up work and buy a dog. What planet are you on boy ?"

"It was three quarters of a million pounds,"   I defended and my dog Jimmy is my best friend."

" Three quarters of a million pounds - lose change ! Your dog, he can come and work as well, he can be our mascot.  I'll pay him a salary if you like."

"Ships have cats not dogs.  We don't need money, we have the inheritance."

"That aint going to last for long is it ?

"I'll have the royalties from my writing coming in by then."

"Bollocks Nigel, how many novels have you written ?"


"Six.  How many publishing deals have you got ?"

"None yet but....."

"Take up this job and I'll publish all six for you plus anything else you write.  Can not promise any sales but I can promise publication."

"But what you are proposing is illegal.  Isn't it ?"

"What I am proposing is a declaration of war, a war that is not covered by The Geneva Convention. That does not make it illegal"

I hesitated with my reply, not a wise thing to do when speaking with Bert Lancaster.

"When you worked for Lancaster Homes do you know what everyone called you ?"

Again I hesitated.

"Mr Organiser !  That's what you were of course. You may have been our staff director but when it came to team building you came up with all the ideas and organised all the events.  You took families to Disneyland Paris on company holidays, you founded the angling club, the football team and the Christmas charity appeal.  Now I want you to become our Pirate King and head the boat."

"What about Jimmy, my dog ?"

"He comes as well.  He aint going to jump overboard and we'll not make him walk the plank.  When he shits on the deck you can kick it into the North Sea."

I inherited some money so gave up work to follow my dream of being a writer.  Multi-millionaire Bert Lancster inherited a deep sea trawler from an uncle.  he sold Lancaster Homes and was proposing to set up a pirate radio station with the intention of putting BBC Radio One out of business.

"I know nothing about boats."

"You don't need to.  The captain and first mate from the trawler are staying on.  You'll be in charge of broadcasting, you will be The Pirate King."

"I don't want to end up in prison."

"I don’t think much of our profession, but, contrasted with respectability, it is comparatively honest."

"What ?"

"That's a line spoken by the pirate king in Gilbert and Sullivan's opera Pirates of Penzance."

"Oh, but I do not want to go to prison."

"We are going to win this war, the victors in a war are never put on trial."

My former boss slid a file across the desk.  "Take this home, come back at nine o'clock tomorrow morning when you can meet your staff."

"I will read it but I doubt I will be back to meet anyone."

"You will," he smiled knowingly.

I turned to leave.

"Hey how about this ?  Brilliant idea !  You write the story of Radio Rock as a novel and I will publish it.  Now that will be a best seller."

"So Jimmy do you want to live on a boat anchored in the North Sea ?"

Jimmy is never far from my company.

"If we go Bert says he will publish all of my novels."

Bert is old enough to remember the launch of BBC Radio One on 30th September 1967.  I was not even born until three years later.

Reading Bert's file:

Radio One is wonderful - Bee - Bee Cee........

Radio One was a pathetic attempt to copy the much loved pirate radio stations.

Radio One is wonderful - like migraine headaches !  That's what people used to chant but the government was determined to smash those independent radio stations so poured unlimited finance into Radio One.

British pop music once ruled the world, America followed in the wake and tried hard to copy. Abba may come from Sweden but they always sang in English.  Radio One destroyed British Pop Music, we will now destroy Radio One and restore this country to its rightful place.

Bert's file was presenting his case well.

Technology has changed the way people listen to music, how it is produced and how it is distributed. 
As the head of the new Rock Organisation, Radio Rock will be our broadcast station which will be anchored in the North Sea.  Music will be played twenty-four seven by a small team of DJ presenters of which you will be the head.

I read on.

We will start off broadcasting a back catalogue from the sixties and seventies, when Britain ruled the pop music world, until new groups and solo singers can be found to fill the studios of the Rock Music Label in Lowestoft.

I was not sure how The Lowestoft Beat would compare with The Mersey Beat.  Did I want  be a part of it all ?  As a writer did I want to become the official biographer ?

On the boat there is planned to be a technician who will enable our programmes to be broadcast at 93.5 on the medium wave.  The signal will be picked up at Lowestoft then sent world-wide through the Internet.  We will carry no advertising but will welcome sponsors.  There will be regular competitions and prizes, expensive prizes well worth having and beyond anything Radio One may offer.  Each DJ presenter will have his own news features but these will be put together in Lowestoft by a team of reporters and grafted into the programmes.  Our news will be about real people doing real things.  There will be no tabloid sensationalism on Radio Rock. We will be positive.

The station, of course, will have its own website.  Our technician is in stalling webcams on the decks, in the studios and everywhere other than in private quarters.  A subscription of one pound a week will allow the viewing of the cams live from the boat.

Radio One has fifteen million regular listeners, poor fools, Radio Rock will have twenty-five million. We will aim to have 20% watching the webcam service which will bring in five million pounds a week.

A second website will be Rock Tube with videos from back catalogue and all the new material we will produce. We will use listener information from Rock Tube to calculate and publish The Rock Chart, the only pop music chart worth considering.

We will publish a weekly pop music magazine - ROCK ON.  These will be on sale at one pound per copy.  For the first twelve weeks of publication we will provide free copies to every supermarket, corner shop, club, bar, anyone who would like to take them.  For the first twelve weeks the retailers will keep all the sales money, from week thirteen copies will be offered at a wholesale price of fifty pence. We will aim to publish fifteen million magazines every week.

Bert had done his figures and they stood up well.  Only one figure was a negative number, every single person within The Rock Organisation will every time refer to Radio One as Radio Minus One.
"So what do you think Jimmy, shall we become a part of this adventure ?  Shall we become pirates ? Better than a visit to the dentist"

Jimmy understands English perfectly but has a little difficulty speaking it.  However, his bark confirmed we would indeed be heading down to Lowestoft the next day.

There had never been any doubt in Bert's mind that I would sign up to be his Pirate King and head the boat team of Radio Rock.  He had a display right across one wall of his office showing photographs of those within the different parts of his new empire.

There I was, Nigel Jones, The Pirate King of Radio Rock. Along side me as cabin boy was my ever faithful Jimmy. "Where did you get that picture ?"

Bert smiled.

"Two things,"  Bert explained.  "Everyone has a nick name - need to think up one for the cook, and this is an all male radio station."

"It it to be a," I paused, " you know a gay station ?"  I said the word gay quietly. "I am not married but I am not."

"Don't be silly !  Those employed on the boat are soldiers in a war, they are there to broadcast so no distractions.  Soldiers do not take their wives and girlfriends with them on deployment. No shagging onboard, shagging happens on shore."

I looked at the photographs - the skipper and his mate.

There was Sparky our technical guy.

How would I get on working with these people ?

Would I be able to establish myself as their boss and yet a friend in such a close and sealed community ?

"There's no name for this team member, it just says COOK,"  I queried.

"I haven't thought of a nick name for him yet and he has no ideas himself."

"When I was a student all the catering staff working in the refectory were called DORIS.  No matter what their real name they were Doris."

"Love it," Bert roared.

I wasn't sure that Doris would !

Then there were the DJ presenters:

There were just not enough members of the team to cover all the broadcasting shifts.  I tried to explain the situation to Bert.  "Assume a presenter can broadcast for six hours in a day, we need four each day.  With days off, time to prepare play lists and so on we are woefully short of people.  We need to hire more.

"Impossible,"  Bert dismissed my thinking.  "We start broadcasting in ten days time and there is just not enough room on the boat for any more.  Everyone has to share a cabin as it is, everyone save yourself - you can bunk up alone."

I thought quickly.  "Sparky..."

"What about him ?"

"May be good if he and I shared a cabin, be good to get to know how the technical side of the operation works.  That would free up two beds."

"You don't fancy sharing with Doris then ?"

"We need more broadcast time."

"Your problem Mr Organiser, you solve it."

An idea was coming to me.  "We could....... If the skipper and mate were to broadcast, if Sparky and Doris were to broadcast we would have enough.  I will be broadcasting myself of course."

"Problem solved then and you won't need to bunk up with Sparky."

"We will have to train them."

"Train them Mr Organiser, you have just over a week and the boat sets sail for its anchorage tomorrow."

"I'll start working on a programme schedule.".

"I want twenty-five million listeners on day one.  I want Radio Minus One to fall to a single million."
"It will be done.  Jimmy and I will get on with it."

When Radio One, oops I mean Radio Minus One, Tony Blackburn launched the station  by playing Flowers In The Rain by The Move.  I wondered if Tony Blackburn or any members of The Move were still about. If they were  then perhaps we could get them along to our first programme and the launch of Radio Rock.

NO - not a good idea !

I then wondered if we could knock up our own version of that original Radio One jingle complete with the migraine headache. Now that would be a good idea.

I needed to come up with a play list for the launch show.  Immediately Abba and Thank You For The Music came to mind.  I would include every member of the boat in the show with each playing their all-time favourite.  I called everyone together to discuss the idea.

Better make it on the bridge," Captain Flint said. "I am preparing to get under way.  I guess my song will have to be Sailing by Rod Stewart.

"Mine would be Yellow Submarine," Billy Bones smiled.

"I'll chose something a bit kinky," Big Al smiled.  "I'll go for The Legend Of Xanado by Dave Dee, Dozey, Beaky, Mick and Titch."

"What's kinky about that ?"  Sparky asked.

"Have you seen the video with the guy and the whip ?"

"Like a bit of kink do you Big Al ?"

"Sparky are you ever going to lose your virginity." Al made the gesture of cracking a whip.

"Since you have given me the name of a woman, and that IS kinky," Doris sneered, "My choice has to be Queen and I Want To Break Free."

If only we could find another Freddie Mercury. Could The Rock Organisation do that ?

"What about you Sparky."

"Madonna Like a Virgin,"  Big Al giggled.

"I'll ignore that."

Sparky took out his phone and clicked to play something.

"What was that ?"

"It's Sparky in morse code. I'm going to make it into my own jingle.". 

"Clever.  What about your music choice ?"

"Dawn Trader ?"

"Here Comes The Sun, goes with my name."

"Night Hawk ?"

"The greatest single ever released, John Lennon's Imagine."

"And Simon, what's your choice ?"

He laughed.  "Can't you guess. Simon Says, 1910 Fruitgum Company."

"Excellent,"  I said, "Thank you all.  We'll include all of them in our opening show and we'll kick off with Flowers In The Rain."

"You've forgotten  someone," Sparky said.

I looked round and counted everyone in my mind.  "No I haven't."

"Isn't Jimmy a member of the team ? What's his choice ?"

"How much is that doggie in the window," Big Al suggested.

"Patti Page re-released the single as a campaign anthem for animal shelters."

"OK we'll let Jake play it but that gives us eleven songs and it messes up an idea I have."

"What ?"

"Ultra top secret, as soon as the show has been broadcast we put all on to Rock Tube to produce our first chart.  Our first Top Ten but now we have eleven."

"Turn it up to number eleven," Sparky smiled.

I was  beginning to like Sparky. We would work well together.

"Brilliant ! Radio Minus One can have its top ten, we'll have our Top Eleven."

"Yeh,"  Big Al agreed. "Sparky once you get your first shag and lose your cherry you'll become dangerous."

I went back to my room, or should that be cabin. and worked on the  broadcast schedules. Sparky came in.  "Brilliant idea mate, thank you,"  I said. "Any preferences for your shore leave ?"

"Any time King, I'm not fussed at all."

"Shagging takes place on shore, "I smiled, "not on the boat.  Sounds like you need a shag to shut Al up."

Sparky winked an eye.  "Got to go King."

"You've only just come in."

"I'm setting up a test for the webcams.  When I have finished I'd like you to check them across the website."

"Well Jimmy that is something our genius boss did not factor in."

Bert is very good at making money, it is like an instinct for him but there is a careful thinking in any operational policy he puts into place.  No shagging on the boat, all shagging ashore has importance. Radio Rock's audience will include teenagers and children so who is bonking who can not be a part of what we do. 

"Jimmy what am I going to do ?"

As I pondered Sparky came back into the cabin and started to apologise. "King, or may I call you Nigel ? Can you forget what I just said ? I was being silly, making a joke that was not funny."

"Of course." I didn't know what he was talking about.  He hadn't talked, he's just grinned enigmatically.

"Thank you."

"Is Al's teasing upsetting you ?"

"A bit but nothing I can not handle.  I have worked with Al before. Can we chat about the webcams for a moment."

And so the topic of conversation was brought to an end.   Temporarily.

I put into place a series of rehearsals for the opening show and made the webcams free until we moved to a time of regular programme scheduling.  I set a series of audience targets.  Declaring war on Radio Minus One was going to be fun.

I started to learn how Bert had put the team together, how he recruited each individual.  Bert must have used his instinct to the full and I knew he would have checked his instinct by planting a spy in the team to keep an eye on me.  But who ?  It was not Sparky, I was sure of that, but it could be any of the others. Any of them at all.

Sparky had the webcam system operating right across the boat, everywhere with the exception of the cabins. He had cameras looking out to sea and drones which could fly up and look down on the boat.  From an incredibly well designed web page resembling a studio control gallery the viewer could pick out the cameras he wanted to watch and then edit footage.

Doris suggested he bake a giant celebration cake to commemorate our fist programme.  We could cut it up into small portions, pack them into individual boxes and auction them for charity.

Flowers In The Rain would blast the airwaves of Radio Rock at six o'clock in the morning on Sunday 25th October.  The cake auction and all other money we raise on launch day was going to support Lowestoft RNLI.

The news gathering team at Lowestoft was organised with reporters touring up and down the country interviewing real people gathering their opinions on our launch.

Bert had distributed five million car stickers declaring love for Radio Rock.  There were spotters who would take the numbers of cars showing off our stickers.  Every day when we were on air we would announce ten winners. Each would win a prize of one thousand pounds in cash with another thousand to be donated to a charity of the winner's choice. 
 In the war of public relations it was:
Radio Rock - 10
Radio Minus One - 0

And we had not yet played a note of music on the air.

Long term success and ultimate victory needed our organisation to find new singers and song writers.  We needed characters like Freddie Mercury and writing talents of Lennon and McCartney. Victory meant putting the balls back into music.  Modern technology has removed all the bass leaving a tinny, shallow sound.  The task was to put back the boom. We had to find technology to place in smart phones, tablets and so on which could bring back the balls.

I lay in the bottom bunk, Jimmy was wandering about the boat somewhere. Sparky was already aware of my compelling desire to bring back the boom but even the wealth of Bert could not finance the research needed to find an answer.

"To the music industry today it does not matter,"  Sparky explained.  "Today's songs are written round the systems used to reproduce them.  Call up Queen on YouTube, play Flash or We Are The Champions and it does not work as it should. Play the CD on a full stereo system and the effect fills the room."

"What's the answer ?"

"Don't have a clue but we do need to find one."

If Sparky could find the answer, patent it then licence it to selected broadcasters the others, including Radio Minus One, would just give up.

As each day went by excitement grew in anticipation of our first broadcast. That excitement doubled day on day.  I kept wondering what was being said in the offices of BBC Radio Minus One.  This could be a war that was over as soon as it started. Also with each day I found my team deepening.  Everyone on the boat was now a firm friend but Sparky was my special friend.

"It's live, it's real, it's here - this is The Pirate King launching Radio Rock at ninety-seven point two on the medium band and what better way to declare war on Radio Minus One than to start our new, exciting station with the same music that started the decline of British Popular Music all those years ago BUT this time the song heralds not a decline but a revival."

I tapped the computer screen and the migraine headache jingle hit millions of our new listeners. By the end of our first programme we had our fist chart live on Rock Tube. Twelve hours later we could publish the Top Eleven.
  1. How Much Is That Doggie In The Shelter
  2. I want to Break Free
  3. Sailing
  4. Yellow Submarine
  5. Imagine
  6. Thank You For The Music
  7. Legend of Xanado
  8. Excerpt From A Teenage Opera
  9. Here Comes The Sun
  10. Simon Says
  11. Flowers In The Rain
Bert loved the chart and was delighted Radio Minus One's entry came in at the bottom.  We all smiled at Jimmy the Dog picking number one. "For every person who donates one pound via Radio Rock I will match it," Bert announced, "and we will give the money to The Dogs Trust." A brilliant idea  but I doubt our CEO expected seven hundred and ninety-nine thousand people chipping in a pound. Cost him a fortune but every tabloid newspaper told the story and Radio Minus One did not cover it on any of its news bulletins.

By the tenth day of Radio Rock we were established as a force to be reckoned with and the lights burned late in the management offices of the BBC.

I had just come off a four hour shift, handing over to Big Al and climbed into bed to relax and think on he success of our operation when an excited Sparky burst in and jumped on to my bed.  "Move over, he said pushing me against the wall, "I've solved it."

"Solved what ?  Sparky I am tired."

Ignoring me he said. We've been coming at this arse about face. Talking of of arses, shift yours over a bit and make some room."


"Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells - Virgin Records - Richard Branson, do you remember what they put on the album cover ?"

"A bent bit of tubular steel."

"No, no the words." Sparky thrust a piece of paper in front of me.

This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station. 
"A clever bit of marketing by Richard Branson."

"But you could not play Tubular Bells on a mobile device, it could never work, Way back then people would have listened to Tubular Bells on hi-fi systems, they would not have been seen dead trying to reproduce the sound on a tiny loudspeaker."

"People do not have hi-fi systems like that these days."

"The TV is the centre of the home, agreed ?"

"Yeh I suppose so."

"Most homes have several sets and all are capable of playing DVD and CDs.  All at high quality."

"So..... ?"

"People are addicted phones, pads and such like.  Let them find music from any device they want but direct them to music with balls played via their TV sets. What would you say is the best music video ever released ?"

I thought for a moment then said, "Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen, has to be."

"Of course it is. We can market speakers for devices but change the focus of the way people listen to music.  We sell high quality DVD editions with sound at a quality beyond anything people can find on mobile devices, direct them to their TV sets and sell video versions of the songs."

"You may have something."

Sparky pushed himself close to me and said gently, "Call the boss man."

"Yeh I'll do that. In the morning."

"Freddie Mercury, we need to find another one like him."

Of course everyone knows the legend but Sparky would have been a child when Freddie Mercury died, I was still quite a youngster myself at the time.

"I wonder what life would have been like if you had been Freddie Mercury."
Well that's as far as I have got !  Quite a few twists and turns to come as Radio Rock's story is told and takes its place in my time travels.

I will bring the completed chapter to you as soon as I can.

My story library can be found on my diary:

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