What Would You Change, Time-Traveller? (story #1)

In the summer of this year, I placed an advert to an online local directory, which included within its pages, a volunteer section. The advert read:

If you could travel back in time and change one thing in your life, what would it be? If you have a story you would like to share, get in touch for a short Q&A interview, email me

The interviews were created through the exchange of two questions posed and two answers received. The questions were the same for everyone who responded. I never met with any of the interviewees and each correspondent who participated is aware of the intention to post their stories here, on this site.

The following, is the first response I received. It is unedited, the replies are shown as they were received. Subsequent responses to the advert by other people, will be posted over time, as part of a series on this theme.


Dear Mr Brinkinfield,

I read your advert with interest and I am interested in being involved. Please could you let me know more details on how you will conduct an interview?

Many thanks

Catharine ¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤ (identity protected)


Dear Catharine

Thank you for your reply to my advert. The interview will be carried out through the email exchange of two questions and two answers. Full transcript of the Q&As will be published here, on this site. (follow link)

Q1. As a time-traveller able to go back in time just once, before returning back to the present, what one thing in your life would you change? 

Best wishes



Dear Mr Brinkinfield, (do you have a first name?)

I am happy with the format, here is my answer to your first question – see below:

A1. If I was a time-traveller able to go back just once (assuming I had the knowledge of hindsight that I have now), I would return to the point in time when I pestered my mother for a drag on her cigarette, and naturally not do so. In the 1970s, both my parents were smokers, during a time when smoking was still popular. Everyone seemed to smoke, especially on television. Whether in films, in interviews, documentaries, it was commonplace to see people smoking. Younger readers won’t believe this, but I can recall when newsreaders and children’s TV presenters were often shown smoking! Even the local vicar where I lived at the time, obsessively chained-smoked, evident by his yellow teeth and brown, nicotine-stained fingers.

Aged 7 years old, I remember watching my parents sat together in the lounge of the house we lived in at the time, reading the Sunday papers and both smoking. Mesmerised by the plumes of grey smoke swirling in the sunlight streaming in through the windows, I repeatedly asked my mother if I could have a go on her cigarette. Probably imagining I would cough myself silly, she relented, allowing me the first taste of a powerfully addictive foreign substance.

I hope my answer hasn’t been too long and that you don’t think me silly for wanting to change this event. I understand that it could appear trivial, to some, but I assure you it is not.

Anyway, I await your Question 2, with anticipation! 


Catharine ¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤ 


Dear Catharine

Thank you for your answer.

Q2. What impact, do you imagine, does the change you make have on your life?

Many thanks

Brinkinfield  (I am happy being referred as this)


Dear Brinkinfield,

A2. Hypothetically, had this event not happened, I believe there is a strong chance I would not have pursued the idea to take up smoking, which in actuality, I had established as a habit, by aged 11. Neither would I have formed the ambition to take up smoking pot, achieved at age 13. Which, in turn, would had saved me from experimenting with other illicit drugs, covering (in chronological order) alcohol, amphetamine sulphate, LSD, cocaine, ‘magic mushrooms’, ecstasy, crack cocaine and heroin. Had I not adopted an addictive disposition towards dangerous and mind-altering substances, I believe my life, relationships, education and career, in all likelihood would have been so very different.



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