How to have fun without taking your clothes off

Time is an illusion, but you can never tell what's going to do the trick. You don't believe me? Ask any theoretical physicist, or, better still, an actual physicist, if you can find one. "Time?" he will tell you; "It's just an illusion." But he won't tell you about the trick, because he doesn't know what it is. If he did, he wouldn't be futzing around being a physicist; he'd open a business, and get rich: Time Rolled Back While You Wait! Easy Terms For Pensioners and The Unwaged!

Normally I hate all that stuff, 50 per cent off if you produce your benefits book and so forth. They loll around all day like medieval potentates, occasionally helping themselves to a delicious baked bean from the brimming bowl at their elbow, and then when they do decide to go out, they get in cheap, while the rest of us work our arses off and then have to pay through the nose for the privilege.

But, in the case of Time Rolling Back, it's fair enough. Pensioners and The Unwaged need it more than most. Stuck in a nugatory present - more like an absent, really - with bugger all to look forward to, they strain and strain, trying to recapture their past with its illusion of hope and potential. I know. I've been there. Not the past; everyone's been there, common as muck, worse than Ibiza; no, I mean that state of mind where the past is not just a collection of memories, but a sanctuary, and you strive to get back there, and you can't.

I bet you have, too. Don't lie. Your family, friends and colleagues may see you as a positive, proactive, coping sort of person, someone with a Healthy Outlook on Life and probably regular bowels to boot, but don't tell me you've never waited until the house was empty before creeping guiltily into the bedroom, like a man walking up the brothel stairs, your ear more finely tuned than any adulterer's for the sound of the key in the lock.

Then you climb into bed, fully dressed of course. It wouldn't work, otherwise. You might just go to sleep, which isn't what you're after at all. Instead, you pull the covers over you, dispose yourself like an effigy on a medieval tomb, and begin the process of Rolling Time Back. You choose a memory, focus on it, let the rest of the mind go blank, and wait.

This time of year, from September to Christmas, is particularly rich in memorial stimuli. First terms at a new school, your new blazer neatly pressed, a brand-new fountain pen and a brand-new pencil case in your brand-new satchel, anticipating the brand-new exercise books, covers still shiny with the maker's glaze; new friends, new teachers, new resolutions, new leaves to turn over.

And if they don't work, there are others. Move on. Autumn evenings heavy with mist and leaf-mould, old farts coughing on the bus, tyres shushing on wet streets, the lights on in the shop windows and the girl you were hop-ing to see is snogging someone else in Halford's doorway ... but there are still the tobacco- nists with their stern, intellectual pipes, their voluptuary cigar displays, the shelves of cigarettes, exotic and mysterious as the bordello of your dreams (which you haven't started dreaming about yet).

There are still the clothes shops, too, with their Ben Sherman shirts, their peg-bottom, dogtooth, tweed-style trousers, their leather jackets, their aviator scarves. If you had that black polo-neck jersey and this dark green leather jacket (smart but casual blazer-cut) and were smoking Passing Clouds, she wouldn't be in Halford's doorway snogging someone else; she would be with you, holding your hand or, better still, walking along with her arm round your waist, leaning against you, with that special smell of girls in the autumn, wool and leaves and shampoo and woodsmoke, and the special weight of girls in autumn, too, when they lean against you as you walk along. In those long-ago autumns (as you lie fully dressed in your grown-up bed) it's still only-just-now that a girl has leant against you as you walk along, and you're still astonished at her warmth and that she's real; she should be weightless, like a dream and the gentle leaning weight of her flesh and bone seems magically heavy, like mercury. And your arms and your body and your head grow heavy too, in reply, gravid with potential.

It's not an illusion. The illusion, under the covers in your daytime clothes, is that you're back there, in the past. But the hope and potential were real. And you don't always have to sneak off to bed for time to roll back, either. I had a call the other day from a woman I haven't seen since we wear at school. Barbara Peak. She was publishing something called the Dodo-Pad. Would I like to come to its launch?

So I said, yes, you bet, and I rolled along to a place called Bureau in Great Newport Street, a stationery-junkie's paradise full of wonderful files and folders and writing paper and those perfect Proximage et Prat notebooks, and there was a life-sized dodo with a life-sized redhead inside, very hot but working valiantly, and there was Barbara Peak and there was the Dodo-Pad, and time rolled back because I used to get Dodo-Pads in my Christmas stocking. I loved them. They were quirky, culty diary-cum- scribbling-pads which came pre-defaced with odd cartoons, peculiar observations on life, weird maxims and general graffiti, so that you could be organised but didn't have to feel organised in that frightful, time-management, tight-arsed, purse-lipped executive fashion. The chap who invented them, a writer and artist called Sir John Verney, croaked. HarperCollins ("The Firm With The Silly Name") sold the title off. And now they're back, and with them come Mrs Vartan's dancing-classes, the steam-haunted bridge over the Victoria Station platforms, trolley buses, the Kardomah cafe, the skating rink, frost-bitten mornings as a Christmas-holiday postman. And the girls. Hope and potential, the past folding back like a concertina door, all for pounds 8.95. A bargain; and you don't even have to go to bed with your clothes on. !

Arts and Entertainment
The Rolling Stones at the Roundhouse in London in 1971: from the left, Keys, Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger

Music ...featuring Eric Clapton no less
Arts and Entertainment
In the dock: Dot Branning (June Brown); Union boss claims EastEnders writers are paid less than minimum wage

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Roger Christian wrote and directed the 1980 Black Angel original, which was lost until 2011

film
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Green (Hand out press photograph provided by Camilla Gould)

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones reviewWarning: Spoilers aplenty
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific