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Thursday 5th June 2014

Thursday 5th June 2014


A being called "Space Character" tweeted me an article from a mid-90s magazine about the internet called ".net". That's a sentence that says so much of its time. That ".net" was the favoured url at the time, that the internet was so much in its infacy that when you wrote about it you did so in magazine form. Stew and me had been fairly early adopters of email and websites (thanks largely to Hobbit king Rob Sedgebeer, who is still responsible for the site you're reading) and as you can read in the article we had a couple of websites and a compuserve email address. Even though this is only 18 years ago all this stuff looks like ancient history. Check out those urls and the numerical email address and the fact that we call the internet, "The Net".

Aside from that though our predictions for comedy on "The Net" are pretty accurate. I am surprised about how much foresight we had, though I remember arguing in 1990 that paper books would more or less die, as computer ones were bound to supercede them. My flatmates and Luddite Stewart Lee said that that would never happen because people loved books as objects too much, but I argued that a device that could store hundreds of books and not use paper would be more convenient and environmentally friendly. I am like fucking Nostradamus.

I guess I didn't realise how big a part "the Net" would play in my career, but I am impressed that I recognised it would be so important (even though I think I might have been taking the piss a little bit).

But the email address was too tempting and old-fashioned. I wondered if by some computer magic that if I were to send myself an email whether it could travel back through time. I decided to give it a go. I could give the young me a warning from the future and maybe change the course of my history. It might not work, but it was worth a go surely. But what would I write? "Kill Stewart Lee, he will betray you"? "Here are the lottery numbers for every week until 2014"? "Warn the world about 9/11"? I'd probably need to give more details about that.

I wanted to take it seriously, but it was difficult to know what information I should place in my shuttle back to the past. And I was aware that the information I gave could change my future. If I did convince the young me to kill Stewart Lee, then I would have done a great service to the world, but then I would probably be just being released from prison about now. So the positive action would have some negative consequences. Even by giving myself money-making or world-saving information I would massively change the future for myself and for everyone else. I wouldn't be where I am now, doing the things I am doing, with the people I am with. I wouldn't be with my wife.

I realised that I didn't want to change anything about my life. There have been lots of bad things, but they needed to be there to get me where I am. I didn't want to change anything.

So I just put, "Things aren't going to turn out like you think." And sent the email off into orbit. And the thing is I might very well have received that email in 1996 on a computer that probably wouldn't have been able to handle a non-numerical address, so which wouldn't reveal it came from rkherring. I would almost certainly have dismissed it as a stupid piece of nonsense, just the kind of thing we would get on that account from the few people with email access. It would be a warning that would be ignored and unheeded, but still an accurate message for the younger me that wouldn't change a bloody thing.

I expected the email to bounce straight back as undelivered. But it didn't. I think it got there. To a stupid young man whose life would not turn out as he hoped. And thank God for that. He could have been a monster. Instead after being bashed around a bit by fate and his own basic uselessness he has accidentally turned up in a place where he's happy.

Though if the future me is reading this could you please send me back the completed "I Killed Rasputin" script as it's going pretty slowly at the moment and I am shitting myself about it. Thanks.

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