3 It’s Gentle on Silk Too

Professor Ivan walked into the board room escorted by two John Major clones. All the major government figures were there. Professor Ivan enquired as to the reason for his being brought there. A voice boomed out from speakers at the end of the long, polished table: ‘You have a Government funded Time Travelling experiment. We will withdraw all funding from this exercise unless you come to us with a useful application for it within the next now!’

‘You mean you want me to find a useful application for my time machine, travel back in time to yesterday, so that you can kidnap me again, but not really again, so that I can come to this meeting with a useful application for my time machine?’ said Professor Ivan.

‘That’s about the strength of it,’ replied the booming voice.

‘But if I do that, I won’t be able ask you why I am being brought here, so you won’t tell me, so that means I can’t do what you asked me to,’ argued Professor Ivan.

‘I’m sure you have a point, but I don’t know what it is. You could still ask us why you’re here, and then that’ll work,’ replied the booming voice, and then, after pausing for a minute, he continued, ‘Just a minute. How do we know that you haven’t already found that useful application, and have just come from tomorrow, that is, today to tell us?’

‘How do you know anything? And how do I know you’re really a booming voice. You could just be a voice masked by an actor’s voice!’ replied Professor Ivan.

Realising that the readers of the story would be so confused by now that they would give up, Professor Ivan pressed his secret communicator button on his watch and sent a Morse code message to Dan the Man to come immediately. Just then a helicopter passed the window and Dan the Man swung through it (the window that is, not the helicopter). This really confused everyone in the room
since they were sure they were in an underground bunker.

‘Hold it right there,’ said Dan the Man ‘I’m Dan the Man and I’ve come to stop this nonsense once and for all. You can’t withdraw our funding because we’ve just come up with a useful application for time travelling. It is sure to be a winner. It’ll be crowned as a scientific breakthrough. And it’ll stop those washing powder commercials for good.’

Dan the Man was holding a video tape in his hand. He told one of the John Major clones to put it on. After realising that Dan the Man meant putting it on in the video machine, he did so, and the video began. It was a commercial.

‘Do you long for your whites to be whiter than white? Do you long for a powder that won’t wash the colour out of your clothes?’ asked Mr. Rotivator. Mr. Motivator was already signed to another leading brand and Lawnmower Man was making a film. ‘Well long, no longer! We have the answer, giving perfect results every time. That’s right PARADOX will leave your clothes looking, feeling, being brand-new after every wash.’

‘Just put the PARADOX capsule in the tub and switch it on.’ The camera cut away to a young mother. ‘Will you use PARADOX now?’ asked Mr. Rotivator.

‘Oh definitely,’ she replied ‘I’d tried everything: bleach, cutting the stains out with scissors. PARADOX really works. I won’t swap this for anything else. And it’s value for money too!’

The advert ended. ‘But what has this got to do with your Time Travelling experiments?’ asked the booming voice.

‘It’s quite simple really,’ said Dan the Man. ‘The PARADOX capsule is a condensed filament time travelling chamber. You put it in your washing machine and it takes your clothes back in time and causes a paradox. At first when we tried it, the clothes would go back in time, get clean and then get dirty again when they came back. This was because time was not altered. But then we hit upon the idea of changing the past so that the clothes would always come back clean. That’s the beauty of it. This capsule contains intelligent electro-cell mechanics. Never again will you have to worry about dirty washing. And it’s gentle on silk too!’

‘That’s some man,’ whispered everybody in the room to themselves.

‘Well,’ boomed the booming voice, ‘It seems that we won’t have to withdraw our funding after all. And we’ll throw in a bonus too; after all you may have just saved the world from those horrible commercials.’

‘Thanks,’ said Dan the Man and Professor Ivan together, ‘You won’t regret this.’

So another mission ended for the team of Time Travellers who went sailing off into one of those endings that English teachers always scribble out and write ‘Use your imagination next time!’

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