Feature

THE JUBILEE PARK TIMESLIP

On the sunny morning of Saturday 1 March 1975, 13-year-old Tony Drake had his usual weekend breakfast of eggs, bacon, black pudding and two rounds of Mother’s Pride bread fried in lard, and afterwards he watched The Flashing Blade and Mr Deeds Goes to Town on the telly - until he left his Huyton home around half-past noon to the strains of BBC1’s Grandstand theme. 

He ran all the way to Jubilee Park to meet up with his best friend Billy Fotheringay, who had a brand new football with him, and Billy was juggling and heading the ball with considerable expertise, until Tony sneaked up behind him, stooped down, and grabbed the back of Billy’s knee with a pinch of the finger and thumb, accompanied by Tony’s impersonation of a dog’s bark. 

Tony thought Billy would be annoyed but instead his friend said,  “Hey, guess what? I saw a big robot over there before!”’

“What?” asked a bemused Tony as he picked up the ball; he imagined he was a goalkeeper about to kick the football over the half-line. 

The ball was booted high in the air, but the March winds blew it into a tree - and it never came down.

“Oh, played you divvy!” moaned Billy, and Tony said, “Well, you’re a liar saying you saw a robot.”

“I did, honest to God, over there”, he pointed to the trees bordering the southern side of the park adjacent to Dinas Lane.

“It was like a big man in a metal suit and then he vanished.”

“Criss cross the Bible, never tell a lie, if you do your mother will die!” warned Tony Drake, and he spat to make the oath official, so Billy spat as well and said, “And me mam won’t die because I seen it!”

The two lads went bickering to the tree and Tony, being the tallest, gave Billy a bunk up before needlessly climbing up the tree himself.

“Stay down there, I’ll throw the ball down”, said Billy.

“Hey, I say we build a tree-house up here, like a secret den, and live up here!” said an excited Tony, when something strange happened. 

The blue skies became grey and overcast within seconds, and a thick fog rolled into Jubilee Park - and then the boys saw it - a weird figure wearing a helmet just like a policeman’s one, only this policeman had on some sort of suit of armour and carried a huge rifle. 

Under the peak of the helmet, the lad could see the weirdly-attired stranger wore a mask. 

He came marching out of the fog towards the tree.

“That’s it!”, said Billy excitedly, “That’s the robot I told you about!”

“Be quiet, he’s got a rifle,’ whispered Tony, hiding in the branches.”

A group of six grey silhouettes emerged from the fog, about thirty yards away, and Tony and Billy saw they were men dressed in very strange clothes - and some of them had guns. 

One of these figures shouted something and pointed a gun at the heavily-armed policeman and in a flash the latter dropped to one knee and trained his bulky rifle on the gunman. 

Five of the figures quickly turned around and tried to run and there was a muffled bang. 

The man pointing the gun seemed to explode into a red mist, and then there were five rapid bangs which echoed across the park as the five figures also exploded into bits. 
The boys in the tree were so traumatised by these unearthly deaths, they started to cry. 

The policeman swung around and a powerful light from his helmet blinded Tony and Billy, and when they regained their sight, they found the fog - and the policemen had vanished. 

No one believed Tony and Billy’s story, and years later I traced and interviewed them, and came to the conclusion that they had probably experienced a timeslip that day in 1975, and had seen some future era when armed police - and armed criminals - might sadly be very commonplace. 

I have the unsettling feeling that time is very near...

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on August 1st, 2019



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