Spectator Sport Part 1

Dear Mark,

Hope things are well. Let me explain how this is going to work to you, as it’s pretty plain that even if you knew that this was true, and that this had even happened, then you’d still have a fair bit of trouble understanding it. I know this, because it’s already happened to me. You see, I am writing this to you from the future. I know, I know, it’s confusing, but wait, I’ll explain. It’s all to do with perception. Time flows in one direction because we see it that way, but in fact it’s much like a normal dimension. You can move off it at any point if you can, and I have figured out how to do it. But that’s not the point.

The point is that I’m writing this to you from 2009. You’ll be reading this in 1999, ten years ago, and so I need to make it plainly clear how things are going to turn out for you. Why doesn’t this cause the universe to collapse? Well, unlike most Science Fiction, this has already happened. You see, when I got to the age you are right now I read this exact letter, before you had even written it. Before I had even thought about what to write in it, I already had read it. This doesn’t make sense to your mind and it doesn’t fully make sense to mine – I know, because if it did I’d have explained it to myself and have read it already, back in my 1999. I think of you sitting there reading this, and thinking “This is nonsense”, and I know this because I thought it to, and I read it here so probably thought it because it was written here. I also know that you’re wondering why I am writing this letter at all, seeing as if I have already read it.

Well you see that’s how time works. In the future, say 2019, I’m writing the letter to myself that I have just read. It was sent back 10 years, from 2019 to 2009. In it, it explains what will happen to me in the future 10 years. It also reminds me to remind you to write this in 10 years time, in 2009, so in 1999 you’ll get the 2009 letter. It also lets you know to expect to have one arrive in 2009 and also expect to be writing one as well. It’s complicated. I would know, seeing as I am you. So now with the whole annoying thing of explaining how it works to you I have to explain what’s gong to happen to you in the resulting 10 years.

Where to start? Well, keep doing well at school. Actually, scratch that. The fact that I am here and writing this from a well paid job is testament to the fact that you already have done so, and in time there’s nothing you could do to change that. But don’t try to. I know you don’t, but still, nothing like the temptation of a paradox to make someone give up revising.

And yeah, you should do that degree you are not putting much thought into. Yeah, the one that you won’t know why you chose it in the first place a few years afterwards. It’s strange that even myself, in the future, can’t explain why you will do Chemical Engineering, but you will. You probably have a better chance of remembering it than I do. Even after I read this I still forgot, so don’t try to remember it’s not going to work.

Grow your hair. It looks better. Later, grow a beard, it’s awesome with the ladies. Yeah, don’t worry you’re not gay, not in 2009 anyway. You don’t try that till later I think, unless the 2019 us is taking the piss. The 2019 us has shaved his head, so I expect we will probably be going bald, but don’t worry. I can’t send a photo back to you but rest asdsured you’re not too fat. We are built like a tank in 2019 (but then, I’m told that’s the law after the war or something).

Don’t bet on Al Gore. He’ll win the election, but will not get into power and that’s why you won’t win the bet. So don’t do it. Remember to always look both ways in the street – don’t forget this, there’s a moment in 2002 that’s pretty close and that sort of thing is paradoxically possible to change time, so seriously becareful.

Also, enjoy the whole thing about mobile phones. Try and trademark the iPod, but that didn’t take for me so it’ll probably not work out for you. And enjoy the summer of 2003, it’s probably the best you’ll ever have. And Paris in 2004. They’re the best holidays we have.

I think that’s all I remember reading in the letter I read in 1999, so that’s all I can write to you. It’s funny that there’s ten years of stuff to write to you about but I didn’t write any fo the stuff you wanted to read! Oh man, it was so annoying. I mean, I remember being so fucking pissed off that I threw the letter down on the ground and picked it back up after 5 minutes. Yeah, you’re reading intently again, that sentence always consfused me, and still does, even writing it.

Anyway, enjoy yourself. The next ten years are ace. Just one more thing: don’t live in Aberdeen. Don’t move there to work, it’s not very good. I know that this advice is useless because I am sitting here, writing this in Aberdeen, but it’s always worth a try, Paradox aside.

Take Care,
Mark Shields, 2009 version.