The past is another country

Google Earth is a strange thing. It gives the idea you’re looking at the here and now, but like any photo, it’s just a snapshot of the past, however many colours there are, whatever angle you look at the picture. The wondrous thing is once you have an address practically anywhere in the world you can see what someone’s house looks like, see the rake or the plastic broom they left outside, see the things they see when they walk down the street. But when? You don’t know exactly when.

For all the redacted car number plates, the weird Germans getting out of the boot of a car naked (yes, Google Earth snapped that picture one particularly German day) and the occasional man wearing a horse’s head it’s not now. It’s then. One of the most vivid ways of imagining it, checking out other people’s lives as well as places, but still then, not now.

I think that’s the attraction for me, of the past. You know how it ends. It’s one of the themes, maybe the main theme of Not Your Heart Away. It’s preoccupying me now I ‘m trying to start the sequel, not the past, but the idea of the past. And that’s the thing about it – you know how it turned out. When you look at the house you stayed in, when you follow your drive to work that summer, down the hill, over the railway crossing, down into the old town, you know what happened next. You know what became of you. You know who you were, as well as who you became. You know how that part ended.


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