QotD: Anywhere But Here

Would you rather go back in time or visit the future?
Submitted by Auds.

I would go back in time – I love history too much to answer any other way.

But HOW far back?  WHERE far back?

I find that there are too many things I'd want to experience, to be delegated to a particular decade.  The late 1580's, to hear Elizabeth's speech at Tilbury (now that my ears have been poisoned by that Mirren travesty – as much as I love her; I do want to be Helen Mirren when I grow up)?  What about fifty years earlier, so I could watch her mother being wooed by Henry VIII?  Would I want to see a beheading?  What about poor Lady Jane Grey, blindfolded, frantically trying to find the block so that she could lay her neck upon it?  Would I want to stroll through the medieval courts of Burgandy, to take part in the courtiers' discussions on Love and Loyalty?  Would I want to listen to the troubadours and jongleurs sing of events in the even more distant past?

Do I want to stroll through the fabulous and exotic wealth of the palaces of ancient Egypt?  Watch – at a distance – the decadence of Rome?  Sit in the Coliseum and witness the carnage/entertainment? (only if I took my glasses off – they'd attract attention, anyway – everything would then be a blur…just crimson splashes everywhere).

What about the castles of 13th century Wales – Beaumaris, Caerphilly, Harlech - in their newly built glory?  Who's side would I be on – Edward I's or Llywelyn II's?

What about the battles – would I want to look down, Godlike, on their horrible formations?  Agincourt?  Crecy?  Or later: the Somme, Verdun, Ypres, Passechendale?  Would I be a nurse – or a V.A.D (Voluntary Aid Detachment) as I would have to be called?

What about the 1880's, the 1890's – what about the Gilded Age?  Would I like an invitation to the Devonshire House Ball?  Would I want to meet the personalities of the age?   Lillie Langtry? Daisy Warwick?  Caroline Otero?  Cleo de Merode?  Would I be a chorus girl, a Gibson girl, struggling through the crowd of 'stage door johnnies' waiting for me?  Would I wear the jewels they gave me, suffer through corsets, save for my Worth gowns, enjoy my London season,
change outfits five times a day as a lady was supposed to do?


What about the artists of the time?  Oscar Wilde, his 'sphinx' – Ada Leverson, Max Beerbohm, Aubrey Beardsley?  Maybe put a word in, so he wouldn't be fired as art editor of The Yellow Book?  Would I want to meet Leonard Smithers to see if he really did sell books bound in human skin?

The answer to all these questions is YES, a thousand times yes. 

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17 responses to “QotD: Anywhere But Here

  1. Out of all the posters, I think you're the one that would appreciate the time travel the most. If only if could happen!

  2. I agree with Michelle. Try sticking your hand in a toaster and see what happens. On second thought…
    Sometimes I have this thought in reverse. What if I brought Mozart back to enjoy Gershwin, to enjoy jazz and even hip hop. He would love it, I'm sure. Or when I think about the past, I think about being in the audience when Gershwin premiered "Rhapsody in Blue" with Paul Whiteman's orchestra. Or to hear Caruso. Beethoven's Ninth. I certainly wouldn't have rioted after "Rites of Spring", like everyone else did.

  3. If only, MMB – there's so much we've missed!
    AmyH – what about seeing Nininsky, and the Ballets Russes? Bakst's costumes? Golly!

  4. Oh! There are so many performances, so many great talents it would be hard to narrow them down. I could do without Wagner's Ring Cycle, though. I can't sit through all of it now…

  5. I think that it would be wonderful to meet Bach or Frederick the Great or Beethoven, or to attend a dinner party with Gustav and Alma Mahler and Richard Strauss. But then I also remember: plague, smallpox, TB, no antibiotics, open sewers, women treated like baby-producing chattel,my grandparents forced to sit in the "black" compartments on trains… One always has to add qualifiers to time travel: if I could be white, and an upper-class male, or at least a wealthy female, from a good family, and reasonably healthy, then yes, it would be lovely.

  6. My thoughts as well. Time travel would be great, except for that plague thing. I ❤ good hygiene.

  7. And of course I could do without all the discrimination, hate and inhumanity to fellow man as well. Too bad too much of that is still with us in the world.

  8. Which is why I would visit the past; living there would be quite a different thing. Yes, BrownA, qualifiers would have to be arranged – perhaps like vaccinations or insurance policies before a trip?

  9. [This is very good!] I am reading your post, Aubrey, and I am forcibly struck by how much you, personally, would appreciate out of jaunting back to the past. Whereas, if I were to go back, with my almost complete lack of knowledge of the events of almost any age, I would miss just about everything that was happening. Probably just as the everyday person in history missed the great events as they were actually happening. I have a lot of info in my memory. But, it is of nature, animals, anatomys, physiologys, chemistrys, microbiologys…..you get the idea! Not many histories in there a'tall! ;)I think what I would enjoy most, not being able to discuss anything knowledgable with any of the partcipants, is if I could go back invisibly and watch certain events unfold. Or watch great minds at work, great works of art being created, composed and performed. Yes, that is what I want to do. If you guys find out how to time travel, ask them about the invisibility part for me, please! :)Or I could just tag along with Aubrey, ba and Amy so you could keep me informed about what was happening! 😀

  10. If I were to time travel, I'd live out of my suitcase, pretty much. We'd just be alighting on different things, quickly:
    The execution of Thomas More – sure! (no, this isn't morbid at all; to the very end he was remainded light-hearted and wise)
    To write Catherine of Aragon's final letter to Henry VIII – wouldn't you like to take down these words: 'Lastly, I make this vow: that mine eyes desire thee about all things.'
    To see Robbie Ross raise his hat to Oscar Wilde, as he was being led away by the police, spat upon by the jeering populace (OK, you can stay in the car, if you like…I just always thought that this was really cool)
    And as for an animal/nature travel wish…I WANNA SEE DINOSAURS!!!

  11. Who was the Englishman who was being executed and just before the execution the grandstands that had been built for spectators collapsed, killing some of the spectators. The man about to be executed made some remark about what "great sport" it was, and then he was killed. Those English (I am one, too) and their droll senses of humor, right to the very end! Gotta love em!

  12. Lauri:
    Thomas More, on ascending the scaffold, (reportedly) said,
    "See me safe up: for in my coming down, I can shift for myself."

  13. I know I'm being a risk-taker here, what with changing history and all, but I'm sticking with my plan to travel back to Linz, Austria, in a public park on a pleasant summer day in 1893. While his mother's back was turned, I would strangle an unsuspecting 4-year old Adolph Hitler. Ha! Alright, so it reveals a dark side of me. If I were going to stay in the past, maybe I'd just kidnap Adolph and engage in the world's greatest test of nature vs. nurture, to see if little Addie would grow up to be a normal, well-adjusted artist if he'd been raised differently.

  14. I think Hitler sould remain on your hit list. It could be your greatest.
    But I don't think you could dance to it.

  15. Oh, and I just want to say that I choose to kill Hitler at age 4, not because I like especially being cruel to children, but I'd want to be sure he was of a size I could handle. At 4 they're still small and relatively trusting. By 6, they're stronger and a bit wily.

  16. It's funny, Redz, no matter what age, I still imagine him with that moustache…

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