Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Tomorrow Never Knows
Today’s ‘deleted scene’ comes from the first draft of my 2004 novel The Tomorrow Windows, which was originally something like 100,000 words before losing a tenth to bring it down to, well, you do the maths.
The following was cut from Chapter 4. Can’t remember why I cut it (except for length) or indeed why I kept it in its own special file. But I did. At this point, the character Charlton Mackerel was called Winston Bull.
Re-reading this now, I think Russell T Davies was reading my mind for ‘Love & Monsters’. My tin foil helmet must’ve been faulty that week.
I haven't tweaked this first draft at all; see how waffly, overwrought and poorly-punctuated my writing is before I start cutting down it and sorting it out.
Winston grew up, but he never lost his dream. He listened to miserable music, joined some miserable societies, and went to parties where he met some miserable girls.
Four important things happened to Winston at university. It would’ve been five but none of the girls were interested.
Firstly, he enrolled in the Galactic Heritage Society. He had read through one of their leaflets and been struck gobsmacked. Planets were being devastated by unpitying developers. Where once there had been sniffing, hedgerow creatures there were now landing parks and StarMarts. The Galactic Heritage Society fought for planets to be preserved and protected. Particularly those planets with unspoiled inhabitants and ethnic cultures. Winston, he decided, would save planets. Just like his hero.
Secondly, he accidentally came across the Tomorrow Windows, and discovered the secrets of time. Just like his hero.
Thirdly, he decided to stop being miserable. It was getting him down. Instead, he would exude benevolence. He would start wearing multi-coloured waistcoats, and a knee-length Edwardian coat, and cravats and spats and floppy hats. He would grow his hair wild and curly, and wear a scarf even when he didn’t need to. He would be cheerful, and upbeat, and wouldn’t spend any more time with girls. Just like his hero.
Fourthly, he gained a hero. The Doctor.
They had all heard the rumours, of course. The mysterious adventurer in space and time with his glamorous assistants, who travelled the universe, finding wrongs and righting them. Many considered the stories to be a bit of a joke. They were intended for children – though never childish - and some students said you could only enjoy them if you were being ironic. Kitsch and camp.
But when Winston joined DocSoc, he discovered that the myths, whilst extraordinary, unbelievable and often deeply unconvincing, were not myths at all. They were all true. Wonderfully, beautifully true. Together the members of DocSoc searched through the histories of the known planets, striving to find a mention of their favourite enigmatic time-traveller. This was problematic, because descriptions tended to differ, and accounts of his appearance were inconsistent – there was very little continuity to the rumours. Sometimes he would arrive alone, other times with a young boy, or girl, or pet robot. Sometimes the stories were so ludicrous and contradictory the society would have long debates about whether they counted or not.
Of course, serious historians didn’t believe a word of it. They claimed that the Doctor was a fictitious construct, interpolated upon history, probably as in-joke by other, less serious historians. Winston, who underwent many of their lectures, felt it was because the historians wanted history to be as dull as they were. For many of them, the most adventurous thing they had done in their life was to grow a moustache.
On his visit to Earth, Winston had spent some time looking through the books and archives, searching for mentions of the Doctor, and was delighted and surprised to discover how frequently, and how egregiously, the Doctor would turn up. There he was, sheilding himself from arrows with an umbrella in a corner of the Bayeaux tapestry. And on an egyptian scroll, sandwiched between a jackal and a man with the head of a squid. He was even on television, fending off a Martian invasion.
And now, thought Winston as he wound his scarf around his neck, now he had actually met the Doctor. Whenever they spoke, Winston could hear his own words, sounding foolish, and was nervous and embarrassed. The Doctor was much shorter than he had expected, and older, and more softly-spoken, and it was odd, as sometimes the person would resemble the two-dimensional image from the photos.
Winston left his room, and prepared to meet his hero.
More from The Tomorrow Windows... tomorrow.