Time travel in four easy lessons

This is my entry for Zak’s “beer and time” competition.

Lesson 1
We’ll start with the basics. As you probably know, this type of travel relies on “anchor points”: the vivid moments in past experience which call us back through time. Experiments have shown that beer is peculiarly effective in enabling us to access anchor points. As we’ll see later on, anchor points don’t have to be uniquely memorable peak experiences, although these are ones which beginners will generally use.

Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Now, use the beer. Take a generous mouthful, savour the aroma and let the flavour fill your mouth, then swallow and feel the finish. Now do it again, but this time as you swallow think to yourself: the first beer I ever tasted. Ready? Give it a go…

I’m fifteen years old. I’m fifteen, it’s a sunny day, we’re in south Wales and my Dad’s just bought me a half. My Dad’s bought me a sneaky half of Buckley’s and I’ve gone to heaven in a beer-garden. I’m leaning back in my plastic chair blessing him for buying it, blessing the brewery and blissfully anticipating the years when I’ll be able to drink this stuff whenever I like, because this is the best thing I have ever tasted

And rest. Use the beer.

Lesson 2
This isn’t so much a single lesson as a series of practical exercises. Remember the anchor points? Yes, that’s ‘points’, plural!

Use the beer. What is it – a wheat beer, a stout, a Trappist ale? Close your eyes and travel back to the first time – that cafe, that sunny day, the smell of yeast, the sound of foreign voices and the taste of cold beer under an inch of head; that first astonished swallow of Guinness Foreign (what is this stuff…?); that holiday when you worked your way through the Chimays… You’re there. And you’re here, but you’re then.

Use the beer. Relax.

Lesson 3
Now that you’re getting the hang of it, try finding your way back to a wider ange of times. Use the beer. Close your eyes and

bitter, the quiz is going well and I’ve just been bought a pint, no time to drink it though

mild, I’m 22 and there’s a ploughman’s with Stilton in front of me

black-and-tan, it’s nearly midnight but the music’s going strong

And you’re back. Relax. Use the beer.

Lesson 4
Use the beer.

Lesson 4 is for advanced travellers only. You have been warned!

Use the beer.

Don’t rush it; use the beer and relax. You’ll know it when you find it.

Lesson 4 is about the ultimate form of travel: travel within time. At a certain moment – you’ll know it when you reach it – the anchor points stop mattering. All that matters is this moment: this moment that’s perpetually coming into being and perpetually fading into nothing. With enough beer you can surf the wave of the present moment: you can feel the passage of time. All you need to do is relax and let yourself be in that moment.

And use the beer.


  1. Posted 28 November, 2010 at 11:02 am | Permalink | Reply

    Nice, brought a little smile to my face! absolutely spot on.

  2. Nich Hills
    Posted 28 November, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Use the beer. Sound advice, Phil.

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