James Christie - writer

Photo: James Christie. James Christie is a West End resident with Asperger Syndrome who recently published his first novel, Dear Miss Landau, the true-life story of his historic trip across the United States to meet Juliet Landau, one of the stars of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. James won a Daily Express short story competition in his early teens, won College Colours for work done during his creative writing course at Crewe & Alsager College of Higher Education, and edited the script for Ghost Dancer, a film which won Glasgow University's 1993 MacTaggart Prize. Then - after fifteen years trying to write the Great Scottish Novel - came Drusilla the vampire. Flatmate, muse and guide along the way.

James Christie’s blog: Why Stop the One Stop Autism Shop?

Motherwell One Stop Autism Shop

So it seems the future of Scottish Autism’s One Stop Shop in Motherwell hangs in the balance. Three years financial support by the Scottish Government is coming to an end and  as yet no joint commitment to further funding has been made by either North or South Lanarkshire councils.

One concerned parent, Karen Noble, has been very well aware of the benefits the One Stop Shop brings to understanding autism ever since her daughter was diagnosed with high-functioning autism (HFA) on her eleventh birthday. It had taken quite some time and struggle to receive the diagnosis in the first place, and afterwards the only support provided was a list of books and the One Stop Shop’s phone number.

But in this case, that number was indeed the means by which Karen’s daughter gained confidence and found common ground with her family and neuro-typical sister. The One Stop Shop provided courses in arts and social skills which made a great difference to a young    girl with HFA, giving her the confidence to understand who she was and even explain to schoolmates that she was on the spectrum. In addition, the Shop delivered numerous courses which social workers, parents and therapists could attend plus a convenient family drop-in service.

As only about 6% of Autists hold jobs and (according to Professor Martin Knapp of the London School of Economics) “autism remains one of the UK’s most expensive medical conditions, costing over £32 billion per year,” you’d think any set of measures put in place  to improve the lot of those on the spectrum and alleviate the ongoing financial haemorrhage would be deemed vital and continue to be supported.
But I’m afraid it’s neither lie nor exaggeration to say that Scottish councils and the public sector sometimes show all the clear vision and far-sightedness of three blind mice.

After successfully completing a year-long voluntary project for South Lanarkshire Council and requesting the letter of acknowledgement and appreciation I’d been faithfully promised, I’ll never forget being told by some apparatchik that “they cannae do that, the council widnae like it…”

Nor will I ever forget being left hanging in redeployment hell for four years by a Scottish NHS trust which plainly did not know what to do nor how to make any sort of decision. Aspergers need certainty and like structure. I had neither. It was hell.

There are times I’d have been happier leaving the decision-making process in the hands of said mice than with the council, and I wonder if this is one of those occasions…

Nor is it any exaggeration to say that many local families would be devastated by the Shop’s closure, and in the meantime they (like I was) are left hanging in a hell of uncertainty while the councils fail to commit. Aspergers may dislike a lack of structure, but that doesn’t mean neuro-typicals, conversely, have any affection for chaos, misrule or inertia.   

Karen Noble is clear about her feelings on the matter:

“My daughter wouldn’t be where she is without our One Stop Shop, and neither would we. The advisors have helped Amy relate to her own family, and helped us relate to her.”

James Christie, 5 May, 2016.

James Christie: Walking the Mexican Wall

James Christie: Walking the Mexican Wall

Trump's border wall

You wouldn’t think Donald Trump’s ludicrous bombast re building a border between the     U. S. and Mexico (plus the primary elections now taking place in Ohio, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois which might just give him the platform to put his bonkers idea into practise) would have much to do with some middle-aged Asperger whose biggest journey, these days, seems to be to go buy crisps at the local Co-op in Biggar. And forget     to get cat food.

You wouldn’t be quite right there.

3rd US trip 426In another day, in another life, I went (like Gene Autry) south of the border, down Mexico way. Crossing America for the last time in November 2013, I cruised into El Paso on Amtrak’s Texas Eagle, stopped over at the Camino Real and, realizing that life is short and chances scarce, took my nerves in my hands and crossed the bridge over the Rio Grande to Ciudad Juárez (once, with its drug cartels and gang wars, charmingly dubbed the murder capital of the world), spent precisely ten wary minutes there, on the way back had some photos deleted from my camera by a pleasant Homeland Security officer after I recorded    the logjam of cars trying to get into town and, profoundly relieved that I hadn’t run into difficulties (I was carrying a British passport, which might not have been as familiar to Mexican eyes as an American one), bought myself a new belt at Starr’s Western Wear       and felt pretty pleased with myself.

I lit out the next day for Albuquerque, going Greyhound with gritted teeth.

Not that all this was easy for an Autist. To this day, the “back-up hardware” installed            (I believe) in my head during a year-long working holiday in Australia still has to work     like hell to help me set out my next steps, and what may seem like an easy adventure for a happy-go-lucky neuro-typical sure things will work out still, for me, feel like a trip through   a hell of interlocking bureaucratic barriers, all of which are quite happy to stop me dead     and disallow me passage.

3rd US trip 418And that hellish paranoia isn’t always wrong. Some days later, I boarded the Southwest Chief at Needles, California. A lady I’d been chatting to assumed she could pay upon boarding.  She was wrong and she stayed on at the station. At midnight.

Round about then, President Obama wasn’t doing too badly. Re-elected in 2012, he was trying to increase gun control after Sandy Hook, lobby for gay Americans’ rights and restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. At the time I lit out for Albuquerque, his approval ratings were about 39%. Not great, but not bad for a president after five years in office.

I think, if I could hop into that TARDIS I keep in the back garden and jaunt back and tell   my younger self that, not three years later, a bombastic real-estate billionaire with a bad combover would be bucking to take Obama’s place on the strength of campaign policies which included a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, deportation of all illegal immigrants and, most xenophobic of all, the construction of a massive border wall between Mexico and America (presumably in place of the bridge over which I walked), backed up by his claim that “the Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States – in many cases criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”; I believe my earlier alter ego would truly wonder from which fantasy world I hailed, and perform an      eye roll worthy of Buffy at her best…

3rd US trip 414Well, I hear that Ciudad Juárez is cleaning up its drug cartels and decreasing its murder rate, and while I can hardly claim to have complete knowledge of everyone with whom I was crossing the bridge, people were most definitely walking both ways, the existing border controls were strictly enforced, and quite a few Mexican-Americans work on one side of the border and live on the other. As Andrew Rice of The New York Times once put it, “its fluid social ecosystem still retains something unique and emblematic and perhaps worth saving.”

The idea that a cartoon clown with fascist policies can somehow just roll down a wall between El Paso and Juárez (there’s already a fence) would be funny if Trump was not  doing so well. As I write, he’s won the North Carolina, Illinois and Florida primaries and  sent Marco Rubio spinning down to defeat, but lost to John Kasich in Ohio.

 That’s not a final lock on the Republican nomination for the White House, but he’s close.
If the cartoon clown wins, my friends, of one thing you can be sure: Trump won’t make America great again, and the circus won’t be coming to town.

Trump the cartoon clown

James Christie, March, 2016.

James Christie is the author of Dear Miss Landau and The Legend of John Macnab. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism, at the age of 37 in 2002. He lives in the Scottish Borders.

James Christie's blog: Why Stop the One Stop Autism Shop?
James Christie: Thorns Upon a Rose

James Christie: Thorns Upon a Rose

It’s surely tempting fate to satirize James Bond the way I did in another blog, assuming that every time I head off on an innocuous assignment I’ll end up avoiding a shooting war by the skin of my teeth or be seduced by a Monica Bellucci look-alike. So it was certainly quite a surprise only weeks after hearing something about the possibility of doing an armed forces-related speech via my publisher, and only days after the Paris attacks, to find myself walking into the Ministry of Defence (MoD), HQ of the British Armed Forces and the building from which UK defence policy is implemented.

Some surprise and certainly no joke, with the Parisian death toll hovering at around 130, Islamists attacking a hotel in Mali and Brussels going into lockdown virtually as I delivered my talk. Perhaps ironic to be looking for ways to promote co-operation and inter-faith dialogue within the military as the West faces an onslaught from without. From an organization that (defined with difficulty by The Atlantic):
“…rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of – and headline player in – the imminent end of the world.”
But the One Voice Initiative, founded by RAF Flight-Lieutenant Harriet Tadikonda and gathering in the very building where hard and terrible decisions have been and will be made to ensure the security of the British State, strives nevertheless to open a corridor to a world “where fear and hatred are nothing more than thorns upon a rose” despite being part of a planet which might be moving towards a piecemeal World War III.

If memory serves, a wise old sage once said that any military operation is automatically a failure – if no peaceful solution has been found, war is the obscene alternative. Could an effort to ‘recognise difference as an enabler for innovative thought’ (the title of my talk) find some way of enabling the armed forces better to understand themselves, and to move away from the potential dangers of traditional “one size fits all” thinking? To understand differences in faith (Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist), in the way people think and work (in my case, autism), and/or in sexual orientation.

And not just to tolerate these differences, but use them to enrich internal military thinking and thereby, perhaps, avoid external warfare.

The funny thing is, shuttling between Edinburgh and London, preparing my paper, poring over my father’s words (born into the British Army in India but fluent in Urdu before he learnt English) in accounts he wrote about Army thinking, skip-reading news articles and enabling innovative thoughts in my autistic mind, I saw one fascinating quote which made some sense of the present-day Middle East meltdown and its monstrous ripple effect…

The talk itself, deliberately delivered open-ended as I don’t know exactly how the MoD could cope with those free-thinkers now known as ‘disruptive talent’ had, as its last point, the revelation that Lawrence of Arabia, a British Army officer fluent not in Urdu but in Arabic, had also been (like me) an Asperger.
No one else in that room knew that.

Then there was the quote I’d seen. Three short paragraphs in a screed about Islamic State from the Labour peer, Lord Maurice Glasman:

“It is nearly a hundred years since Britain and France, in the form of Sykes-Picot, drew their lines in the sand and created Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt as multi-faith secular states with centralised governments."

“That settlement has clearly failed. There is no loyalty or affection towards the state and we need to imagine a different way in which the peoples of the region can govern themselves and live together.
“Lawrence of Arabia drew a much more realistic map and it was rejected. It may be time to revisit it.”
(The Mail on Sunday, 22nd November 2015)

That final paragraph may be the key to a locked and forgotten drawer within which at least part of the answer to curing the current catastrophe of a militant Caliphate may be found. As Glasman said, and

One Voice may well agree, “we need to imagine a different way.”

But Lawrence is gone, so maybe another Asperger will have to gather up the threads of his thoughts.
I’d better not tempt fate by suggesting someone send me off into the desert on a camel. 007’s former spymaster, Dame Judi Dench, is now patron of the One Voice Initiative.

I can just imagine her calling me a sexist misogynist dinosaur and sending me on my way…

James Christie & Harriet Tadikonda, MoD (20th November 2015)

James Christie & Harriet Tadikonda, MoD (20th November 2015)

James Bond at MoD

James Bond at MoD

Lawrence of Arabia's Mid-East map

Lawrence of Arabia's Mid-East map

James Christie: Walking the Mexican Wall
James Christie: To the Future, Back…

James Christie: To the Future, Back…

Back To The Future

This day, October 21st 2015, think on the most delicious notion…
What if Back to the Future, whose fans are now celebrating the fact we’ve reached the actual date in 2015 to which Marty McFly time-travelled in the 1989 sequel, had actually happened?

Think I’m crazy?

Well, I don’t have a DeLorean in the driveway but, philosophically speaking, Back to the Future is about pivotal moments in history and the way in which altering the outcome of one of those instances can change a person’s entire future. At the Entertainment Under the Sea dance in 1955, Marty McFly helps his own father, George, stand up to Biff, the local brute. As a result, Marty (who has travelled from a future 1985 where Biff has continued forever to browbeat his father, where his mother is obese, his brother’s in jail and that Toyota pickup truck he so much wanted is an unreachable dream) returns to an altered 1985 where his Dad’s now a successful author, his Mom is svelte, his brother has an office job and Marty’s got his truck.

So what if, in real life, someone had actually changed their whole future at one pivotal moment when two alternate timelines hung in the balance?

Dear Miss Landau has a fair few themes, but I’m glad Back to the Future was one of them:

After losing my order three times, billing me wrongly and leaving me hanging on the telephone longer than Blondie, BT finally delivered broadband unto me. … I was hooked up to the wired world, and as the BT engineer was leaving, he mentioned he’d been able to give me access to my old dial-up email account.
I am glad he did. Events might have turned out a little differently otherwise.

Late on a stygian Friday evening early in October, I took a look at my obsolete account.

I scrolled down through the 75 or so emails stagnating in the inbox, deleting some, not really concentrating on the job but still doing it with autistic precision.

Then I saw something.

An email from Juliet Landau, dated August 15 2009.

The 15th?

The 15th!

Two weeks before I’d emailed her!

With the care of a librarian handling the Book of Kells, I opened the email:

From: Juliet Landau 
Sent: 15 August 2009 03:57 
To: James Christie   
Subject: Your Story

Dear James
I just finished your story. I thought it was great. I really enjoyed it. You managed to catch Drusilla’s voice and behavior so beautifully. The sad, lost, haunted feeling of Dru was there.  I myself have just written a comic about Dru as part of season 6 of “Angel.” 

Please check it out if you’d like.

I sat there for a full five minutes, deciding what to do.

Take the advice and hold back, or take a shot in the dark and reply?

Sometimes there are signs.

I felt a quite a lot like Marty McFly at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance in Back to the Future Part II.  He and I, both at a turning point between two alternate futures and not sure which road to take.

Reply. Something might happen.

Hold back. Nothing will happen.

In the end, I came to a simple decision.

Juliet Landau had been kind enough to email me. It would be impolite not to at least reply.

So, with the click of a mouse, I summoned the future.

(Dear Miss Landau, p 93-94)

At the time, she and I had just got in touch, I’d stupidly fallen out of touch and it all came down to this lone email: one last, pivotal chance to straighten out the timeline.

And I think I knew it. That if I did not reply, the timeline which now exists – where I crossed America and met the beautiful and talented Juliet Landau on Sunset Boulevard, where Dear Miss Landau was published, Drusilla’s story was completed and the stage musical version is currently in development – would never have happened.

Of course, it’s important to note that I myself did not travel in time – I ‘merely’ changed my own future and as a result was able to fulfil my lifelong ambition to be published, realize my potential and become the person I’d always wanted to be.
You might say I got my pickup truck.

The alternative does not bear thinking about: my personal and creative potential would never have been developed and I would very likely have become a bitter, twisted and isolated old man. That is neither joke nor exaggeration: Autists are particularly prone to social isolation, it happens to us a lot and causes serious mental health issues. Artists, if unable to express that creative urge which cannot be denied, can go mad with frustration.

I’m glad I made the right decision.
I’ve watched others get it wrong.

Macnab

Buy at Chaplin Books

Buy at Amazon

James Christie: Thorns Upon a Rose
James Christie: Last of the Rare Book Cataloguers

James Christie: Last of the Rare Book Cataloguers

Only a few more books to go and then I too shall pass. It’s been a long journey to a small room in the dark tower of a Victorian hunting lodge. My last library job turning out to be voluntarily cataloguing old and rare books not ten miles from the room where I first learnt my trade nearly twenty-five years ago.

Aspergers make natural cataloguers but there are few of us left today (cataloguers, that is, not Aspergers - most work is now done by a few agencies) and while I’ve come against all odds to a fairly dignified end, I leave a failing trade in utter disarray. According to this Independent article, the total number of libraries in Britain has decreased from 4,622 to 4,145 (and counting) in a decade, 324 have closed just since 2011 and about 400 (10% of the remainder) are run by volunteers. William Sieghart’s 2014 independent library report for England also confirms that “the public library service in England is at a crossroads” and “there have already been far too many library reviews in recent years which have come to nothing.”                                                                                                           

And given my quarter century of experience with a library “profession” obsessed with jargon and qualifications, bereft of leadership and bare of actual jobs, I simply do not believe the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) or the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) are able, as Sieghart recommends, “to encourage and develop the library workforce and especially new recruits and graduates.”

I really don’t have much time for CILIP, librarianship’s “professional” body, whose only response to being at a crossroads was to consult each other about changing their name.

Talk about rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, and then they didn’t even do it!
Not that my library life started so badly in the first place, though. My postgraduate course in librarianship was a pointless exercise in regurgitating jargon, but my first job the extraordinary experience of cataloguing antiquarian monographs sometimes worth millions of pounds, which is why I’ll leave the descriptions scant and location blank. Not only that, after a dodgy start and working unsupervised, I taught myself the art of cataloguing using Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2) and put my records manually onto index cards. I may be one of the last people left to have done so. A colleague at the Mitchell Library created his last manual record in 1975, I did mine in 1995.

 I found that Aspergers have a natural firewall between their everyday personalities and the manic nutter subroutine needed effectively to catalogue. If I ever joke to you that “cataloguers make accountants look like hippies,” I’m not actually joking... Three years living, breathing and stacking books which created modern society in a room like a time capsule from Victorian days where the ghost of Sir Walter Scott walked softly and the view hadn’t changed since 1922.

Time and Again, a book by Jack Finney, defined the delicious possibility that:
“...it may be possible this summer, just barely possible ... for a man to walk out of that unchanged apartment and into that other summer.”

The idea being that, unlike the concept of mechanical time travel defined by H. G. Wells and the TARDIS, psychological time travel might just be possible, that (as mentioned in Dear Miss Landau) if you spent enough time in a room from the past, you might find:
“...doors which let the lucky traveller, still young, walk out into a different summer and another day.”

I came as close to seeing that different summer and other day as any man living. I also learned my trade hard and well. I was a graduate, fascinated with rare books and cataloguing, looking forward to telling my incredible story, hoping to be encouraged and developed.

And then I tried to get another job.

It was a long and disillusioning story of burgeoning pseudoscience and frustrating interviews, my hard-won skills withering on the vine, my interest in rare books dying for lack of development and my patience shortening like a lit and burning fuse.
Some men must endure Thoreau’s “lives of quiet desperation.” I decided not to be one of them. After years of frustration I took a leaf out of a book entitled The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and in 2006 calmly, satirically and career-suicidally wrote out how I felt; reasoning that I was pretty much doomed anyway and at least by doing this I’d avoid ulcers of frustration.

I called it The Gordian Knot:

“It’s not often I start to write an article intending to crucify myself, commit professional suicide and probably get myself beaten up by a rampaging mob of respectable librarians into the bargain, but I can’t even preface the following heresies with the caveat ‘I’m retiring this year, so it is all academic for me.’  I’ll only be forty-two years old come September but I’m now so disillusioned with the profession that I would rather fall on my sword than stagger through interviews mumbling tripe I don’t believe about metadata, revalidation, ICT, twelve-digit Dewey numbers and all the other pseudo-professional jargon we have invented.”

 It might sound funny now. It wasn’t funny then. Vampires, Hollywood and published authorship were still parts of a future I could not know; and I truly believed I had taken a hacksaw to my precarious hopes of work by cheerfully insulting my fellow librarians instead of solemnly networking with them.

However, I found a friend in library campaigner Tim Coates (former managing director of Waterstones and W. H. Smith, mentioned in the earlier Independent article link) who put my five-page death wish onto his Good Library Blog. A couple of senior library figures commented appreciatively about The Gordian Knot on the quiet and, feeling profoundly rebellious, I went on to slag off librarianship on a fortnightly basis in Tim’s blog for the next five years.

Oh God, it was fun!

Favourite quotes include:

“Senior library management should be shot out of the USS Enterprise's shuttlebay doors in their underpants”

and...

“Current Culture Minister Ed Vaizey is as suitable for his job as Jabba the Hut would be to run the Triathlon.”

It was easy to satirize people who used words and phrases like “social cohesion issues, animate the space, automated tagging based on behavioural pathways, user-endorsed ratings system and the negotiation of a reference question as opposed to the communication theory of reference interview,” and, believe me, I did. An email of mine laughing at their dismal, self-defeating, pseudo-academic drivel won letter of the month in the library journal Update in May 2008.

Nor was I the only non-conformist out there.

In the December 2012 issue of Post-Lib, Francis Hendrix said:
“Of course there are library reviews and reviews and more reviews, how many I have lost count. In 2003, whilst I was still at the LASER Foundation, we commissioned Charlie Leadbeater to undertake a review entitled ‘Overdue.’ It is still the best in-depth look at the sector. He finished by stating that ‘Unless decisive action is taken now, the decline of our public libraries could become terminal by the end of the decade. If that happened Britain could be writing off vital social and cultural assets. Public libraries used to be central to the life of many communities but they are increasingly marginalised.’ The report recommended a 10 year strategy for transforming libraries. Well the 10 years is now almost up, opportunities have been lost, all-encompassing government support has gone out of the window and with it one of the mainstays of a democratic and civilised society.”
Well, now it’s 2015 and British libraries are apparently on the brink of absolute disaster. There are certainly scarcely any jobs for either neuro-typical or Asperger, and very little future for librarians in general, I’d say.

But my satirical blogs were read by Amanda Field, founder of Chaplin Books, and this led to the achievement of my life’s ambition: published authorship.

Wiston Lodge

I also thought my involvement in librarianship had ended in 2011 when the NHS failed, laughably and amateurishly, to provide me with the post of part-time library assistant they’d offered me in writing although I’d successfully completed their twelve week work trial. But in 2014 I became involved with Wiston Lodge in South Lanarkshire  and it just so happened they had a roomful of old and rare books which needed weeding and cataloguing.

Funny how what goes around comes around...

It’s been a fine and satisfying time demonstrating how my dying art’s done. It’s been good to show I still know my AACR2 from my elbow. It’s a pity my art will pretty much pass away with me, but I can’t respect a “profession” so unsupportive, indecisive and inefficient hit opens a £189 million library in Birmingham in 2013 and virtually shuts it the following year.

Place, publisher, date and page. No maps or ports. to show.

Last book (poems by Fiona Macleod) logged by the last of the rare book cataloguers.

Now it’s time to go.

I take the steep stair down to the small office, and leave the key above the door.

James Christie: To the Future, Back…
James Christie: Led by the Lamb to the Slaughter

James Christie - writer.

Wednesday 23 Jan 2013

Rake the Trader Over the Coals and Wring Him Out on the Rack!

"You broke the bank! You broke the b***** bank!"

(based on a line of Alan Rickman's in Galaxy Quest)

There is a bank in Abington, the outside walls washed in white and window frames laced in black. It is solid and cheery and old, an image of stability and source of continuity.

People with autism like such stability and continuity and the routine it engenders, and if you think about it, that isn't such a bad thing. I didn't know I was autistic when I opened my account there, but all I asked of them was that they kept my money safe and let me bank for free while I was in credit.

But it's a neuro-typical world, and such safe and boring stereotypes seem easy prey to Ronald Searle's robot ant boys who, desperate to curry favour at board meetings, show the world their fixed grins and make changes for the sake of change, submerged that world, shattered Steagall's Glass, let Fred Goodwin tread and shred with gay abandon, and drove the bank into debt and merger via Dutch and toxic waste.

The biggest annual loss in UK corporate history (pound;24.1 billion).

84% owned by the taxpayer or they'd be bust.

Then, not long after, my bank asked me how I (the customer) could regain their trust? At the same time it knocked the bank at Abington's hours down from full-time to three mornings a week.

I decided I'd take them literally. Act more like an Asperger than I'd normally do.

Okay, I said. Open two more mornings a week and I'll forgive you.

Did they do so? Did they hell!

They no more listen to me now than they did before, but stagger on into Libor rate-rigging scandals and systems failures by the score.

We've bailed them out, we'll fine their ass, but their behaviour is, in toto, crass.

To a neuro-typical obsessed with change, the safe and boring stereotype I bought into might seem deranged.

If this to you is sanity it's mad I'd rather be. At least my money might have been safe if the Royal Bank of Scotland had had a routine-minded Asperger at the helm instead of one of thee...

You broke your b***** bank, there's no more cheer for me. That stable facade's a false veneer.

And the loss of trust? That will cost you, cost you dear.

Thursday 17 Jan 2013

Schr?dinger's cat...

Photo: james and juliet. Quantum mechanics, in its most simple state, could be defined as the science of probability. In essence, something could probably be either in one state or the other. A cat in a sealed box, for example, could in probability either be alive or dead and until the box is opened this probability cannot be swapped for certainty. The question the theoretical scenario of Schr?dinger's cat asks, then, is at what point can the superposition of probable states be swapped for the certain state of the cat either alive or dead.

Great way to start an article, talking about a dead cat, and Juliet Landau is allergic to cats as well...

If the tale of the last three years, richly alluded to over the last few articles or so (most notably Last Night I Dreamed a Deadly Dream), means one thing, it means that the timeline created in the early hours of October 3rd 2009 is (in all probability, anyway) valid, but is in my opinion facing another pivotal moment where the superposition of probable states must now be swapped for one certain state via quantum decoherence, the term defining what may theoretically happen when the box is opened and probable futures become actual futures, consistent with Hugh Everett's "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics in which alternate futures are created where the cat is, simultaneously but separately, both alive and dead.

So I'll say it.

And probably get shouted at.

In one probable future anyway.

In one of Everett's many worlds, Miss Landau will make a decision and the timeline which began in October 2009 will peter out. This timeline, to clarify matters, is the one where I found Juliet's "lost" email and had to decide whether or not to answer it (Dear Miss Landau, chapter 25). If I had not done so, it is highly probable that the time line in which you, the reader, are now living and reading this article, would not exist.

There would in all likelihood have been no enduring correspondence between the Hollywood star and the Rain Man from Partick, no sequels to Roses and no Dear Miss Landau. The two trips across America would never have taken place, Juliet Landau and I would not have met that day on Sunset Boulevard, the possible unfinished story arc would never have been spotted by me and so on.

However, nothing more need happen. I've stolen the Enterprise for my Helen of Troy, crossed the world for my Hollywood film star, met Miss Landau on Sunset and published Dear Miss Landau.

By some reasonable interpretations, that should be enough for one lifetime and even earn me breakfast at Milliways...

However, in truth, I don't think that's all that is supposed to happen. So here is my probable scenario regarding the way I believe things should pan out:

a) Dear Miss Landau, with its melding of fiction and reality, was published in March 2012. I originally conceived the idea as a screenplay while walking down the hill from Candlewood Drive, and it can easily be turned into one.

b) My next published book should be the Drusilla trilogy - Roses, Redemption and Revenant. The three novellas which would make up this book would give it a nice, neat length of about 100,000 words - and the novellas are already, written, proofed and edited! They're all done! One signed set is sitting in my bookshelves in Glasgow, (I just got Drusilla Revenant signed at the Vampires Ball at Heathrow) and Revenant is waiting to be read. Chaplin and I are having trouble getting this to the attention of Simon Pulse (a division of Simon & Schuster) and we need help from the Buffy fanbase to do so.

c) Dear Miss Landau should be optioned as a film. During two trips across America, virtually everyone I met either had a friend or relative with autism, or knew of Buffy the Vampire Slayer - sometimes both. I've no doubt there is a large potential audience out there. The film version (with Juliet Landau's permission) would differ quite a bit from the book and is probably the only possible means in existence today by which some of the original cast of Buffy could return (albeit briefly) to their roles... Again, Chaplin and I need help to achieve this.

Incidentally, I'm also working on a fourth Dru tale, recently renamed Spike & Dru: the Graveyard of Empires, which should (I sincerely hope) be the romantic tale of love and bullets which James Marsters apparently always hoped would reunite the deadly duo.

So that's it. One possible future for the Buffyverse is sitting on a bookshelf in Glasgow like the Lost Ark of the Covenant, just itching to be revealed. A unique book which would make a unique film is waiting to be noticed.

It will be a great pity if such potential never fully saw the light of day, but I should accept everyone's right to exercise their own free will.

On the other hand, I do have a theory about why all this has happened.

As most fans will know, the 2009 Star Trek reboot featured a plot line wherein a bad guy from the 24th century came back in time and knocked the tapestry of Kirk and crew's 23rd century destinies askew.

As Spock put it:

"Whatever our lives might have been, if the time continuum was disrupted, our destinies have changed."

And what I think is this:

It's as if, a few years ago, something went wrong. Maybe not a big thing. An opportunity was missed, a story arc unfinished, a character and a person's potential perhaps slightly overlooked. Even a small glitch can cause major alterations in a timeline. This is known as a ripple effect.

Something which should have happened, but didn't. Events and destinies not unfolding quite the way they should have. This concept was most recently explored in the 2008 Doctor Who episode Turn Left where Donna Noble's decision to turn right instead of left at a junction led to massive temporal changes and millions of deaths, including the Doctor...

Over the past three years, I've always felt that the probable scenario detailed here is the one that should be taken. The original timeline, if you will, which should be restored. It has already enabled me to change my life and redeem myself by becoming a published author. Until recently, I took a highly conservative position regarding this scenario, but not long ago something convinced me that this is the way to go and there is more to be done.

It feels like somebody up there is trying to do a repair job, and it's not finished yet.

To be clear but partisan about it, ever since Dear Miss Landau was published I've been able to say that if it all ended tomorrow, I would have nothing to complain about.

But I think fate or quantum mechanics has, sometimes subtly, sometimes blatantly, thrown us all a curve ball; and if we don't run with it, we'll regret it to our dying day.

Weblog archive

The Black Man, the Asperger, the NHS and the Bigots...: Tuesday 20 Nov 2012

Scotland the Whaaaaa..?: Friday 26 Oct 2012

The Greatest Country in the World: Sunday 16 Sep 2012

Crossing the Continental Divide: Tuesday 28 Aug 2012

Things to do in Denver if you're not dead...: Tuesday 28 Aug 2012

Went looking for America and couldn't find it anywhere...: Sunday 19 Aug 2012

In Search of Smallville: Friday 17 Aug 2012

Flight of the Clara Pandy: Friday 17 Aug 2012

Meet Miss Landau, miss the President...: Tuesday 14 Aug 2012

If all good things happen in threes...: Tuesday 10 Jul 2012

What if Wakefield was Right?: Monday 2 Jul 2012

Trust at the Coach House and fulfillment of a dream: Wednesday 30 May 2012

The bitter and twisted writer in the blue silk dress: Saturday 5 May 2012

Hang the BBC Committee for Boredom from the yardarm!: Thursday 3 May 2012

Last night I dreamed a deadly dream...: Monday 9 Apr 2012

Shoving senior library managers out of the USS Enterprise's shuttlebay doors in their underpants...: Wednesday 4 Apr 2012

The second scoop: Wednesday 28 Mar 2012

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