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How to Build a Time Machine


Remember biting into a toffee apple...

Remember the crunch like breaking ice, followed by the tart, crisp sensation of apple juice mixing with sweet toffee?

How did you eat your toffee apple? Me? I always tried to nibble off as much of the toffee as I could while leaving the apple intact. My sisters however, would simply devour their toffee apples as if the toffee was merely a second skin and not a wonderful, delicate chrysalis containing a succulent, pristine prize.

A taste, or even the sight of toffee apple brings back strong memories for me, but we are all different.

We are all more likely to respond to a stimulus if it has a strong resonance. The response may be profound. dragging us back into our past and pulling forth long forgotten emotions and glimpses of a past life, sometimes facilitating dialogue with even the most withdrawn people.

So it seems to me that with a bit of thought, we ought to be able to make a sensory stimulation TIME MACHINE!

Our aim is to spark recognition through stimulating the senses. We are familiar with the power of music and the spoken word, but why stop there?

Our "time machine" will be comprised of a small suitcase which, when opened reveals rows of sealed boxes of various sizes, each containing a surprise. The fun will lie in the careful selection of sensory ephemera to be hidden in these boxes.

I suggest that the destination of each "time machine" should be limited to a decade or two - targeted at a specific audience, as too many failed attempts at recognition will result in the time traveller becoming bored or frustrated.

Some of the items will stay in the time machine permanently, others may be of a perishable nature and need to be inserted only just prior to the journey. Once the time machine is complete, one simply sits the traveller in a comfortable chair and asks them to close their eyes. Then they are presented with the trigger objects and asked to smell, touch, listen - whatever is appropriate and then either guess the object or say what it reminds them of.

The aim of this exercise is to transport them back in time to describe events and feelings, reminisce or tell an anecdote or two. Please remember that some of the memories retrieved may be upsetting for the traveller, so caution must be exercised at all times!

What will you put in YOUR time machine?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • A piece of Wrights Coal Tar soap - The creosote smell provokes strong reactions and memories

  • A piece of green Fairy household soap (still obtainable) - washing day memories for many

  • Some tiny morsels of toffee apple

  • A threepenny bit - Unusual shaped old coin

  • A porcelain inkwell from an old school desk

  • Some pipe tobacco

  • A little Imperial Leather talcum powder

  • Some Parma Violet sweets

  • Some patchouli oil

  • Cough candy

  • ....

Please let me know if you would like to make a time machine, and what things you might put in it.

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