Mens Temporum . UK

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The True Order of Events

My accounts of unusual incidents here emphasise how the apparently self-evident order of events may not tell the complete story. Equally seeing a single scene can seem to tell us the complete story about it but again we may be mistaken. For example, if we see a car in a parking space in a car park then it is self-evident that the car park and parking space were there before the car. The scene appears to provide us with the chronological order of events even though we have not witnessed them. It would seem unlikely that it doesn’t.

Early in my novel writing I needed a location for the unusual building where almost all the action in it took place. Looking at a map I found what appeared to be suitably isolated place, an old military firing range on the Isle of Grain lying at the confluence of the River Medway with the Thames Estuary. The Isle is no longer an island as the channel between it and the mainland of the Hoo Peninsula was blocked off at the Medway end by a causeway carrying an access road onto the Isle. Consequently the channel silted up and turned into nothing more than a drainage ditch called the Yantlet Creek running into the Thames Estuary with the old firing range on the Isle side and the farmland of the Peninsula on the other. In the shallow water of the estuary just beyond the cockleshell beach adjacent to the firing range stands the London Stone, an ancient column that marks the old limit of the control of the City of London over the Thames. During a research visit to the Isle I discovered that the beach and stone were not accessible as they were fenced off along with the range. I decided that I wanted to see the stone nevertheless, so suggested to my wife that we walk across the farmland on the peninsula to see it from that side of the creek.

We drove onto the peninsula in my wife’s car and parked it at the end of an isolated road just past a closed public house. Alongside the road, which ended at a field gate, was a long tarmacked area wide enough for cars to park facing into the boundary hedge. There was one car at one end of this area and a van at the other and my wife parked roughly in the middle a long way away from both vehicles. We walked in our hiking boots across the fields towards the creek but the going was not easy. The ground had been ploughed up everywhere by the hooves of cattle and the summer sun had baked the heavy clay soil hard leaving sharp ridges on which we had to balance as we walked. Consequently although we did reach the creek and finally see the stone column in the water the round trip took a long time.

On our return to the car we were surprised to see that the scene had changed. The other vehicles had gone and the previously unmarked tarmac was now marked out along its length into parking spaces by broad white lines on all sides and my wife’s car was positioned exactly within one of the spaces. Evidently council workers had marked out the spaces while we were walking, but we wondered how our car was exactly within a space. Had the workers possibly moved it bodily to place it there or had they marked out the first space around it and then marked the others outwards towards the ends of the area? Maybe this was even another example of the strange phenomenon, this time gently nudging my wife’s steering of her car into exactly the right place between lines that weren’t there at all until hours later. She has a different type of response to the phenomenon from me, usually openly remarking about something which often takes place shortly after her mentioning it. She calls this her Mystic Meg ability after an astrologer who goes by that name, but I will mention more of this in a later item. We both simply accept it as what it is, much as I do with my own experiences.

This incident emphasises what I have mentioned previously, that first hand experience can give a person a clearer perception of events than that of someone who comes upon the scene later, but even then not all the details may ever become known.

In the end I didn’t use the Isle as the location of the building in my novel anyway as an experienced writer told me that it had featured in too many stories already, so I placed the building elsewhere in Kent. However, I did use my research about the Isle to add an extra twist to the story. When a police detective is being driven to the building he thinks that he is going to the Isle of Grain, which is described as a very likely location for the incident that he has been sent to investigate, but then he realises that he is being taken elsewhere. After his visit to the building at its secret location he is then driven onwards to the Isle to complete his cover story concerning the destination of his trip, which was of course my original story before I changed it.

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