When I’m 64 is the corresponding story to “Trojans”, taking place in the same week as those events in Cardiff, and concerning Jack and Garrett on their holiday in Ireland.
I never actually named the island where they were holidaying. Several readers asked about it. It is loosely based on the island of Inis Meáin, one of the Aran islands. I spent a lot of time there about ten years ago. It is a place you can easily fall in love with, though far from an easy place to live on if you don’t have an independent income. It is literally a rock sticking up from the sea with about an inch of topsoil which was actually man made over several centuries by the laying down of rotting seaweed to compost into soil. Nothing much grows there. The main industries are tourism, some fishing and the knitting and export selling of Aran wool garments – the wool is imported from the mainland and finished products exported via plane. When I was there last, in 1998, the government had put down fibre-optic cables to bring phones, television and fast internet to the islands in order to encourage people to continue to live there. It seems to have worked. Other plans like a wind farm to provide cheap electricity were less enthusiastically received for all the usual reasons.
But anyway, Inis Meáin is beautiful and it’s exactly the sort of place Jack and Garrett might choose to get away from it all. Well, maybe not. Actually, I never tested the local feeling about gay couples when I was there ten years ago, although I recall a gaelic language soap opera with some quite homophobic ideas expressed in it. I am not entirely sure the two of them kissing in the corner of a pub in that part of the world would go down without a murmur. But let’s give the people of the islands the benefit of the doubt about that.
I got as far as the line about something being wrong with the sky before completely drying up on this story. I then had any number of things that could be wrong with the sky. I had some idea about the island being enclosed by some kind of force field such as Doctor Who fans saw in The Daemons many years ago. I also had an idea about aliens landing in a meteor shower and causing havoc in some kind of invasion of the bodysnatchers kind of way. But then I decided on the island being moved in time and the final story came together quite easily. I had a kind of an idea about them being trapped in the time warp for several weeks or months, and Jack and Garrett joining in with the locals in a fight for survival, but that kind of drawn out isolation would almost certainly have resulted in suicides that would have been hard to explain once the island was brought back to normal time. So it was left to Jack to make the decision to contact his old comrades at the Time Agency.
Two things are obvious here. One, I am ignoring Captain John Hart’s news that the Time Agency was shut down. Two, I have implied that Jack left the Agency under a cloud and was afraid to go back because he would face some kind of criminal charges. This is me making it up as I go along, of course. But I wanted Jack to have a reason to fear calling the Agency, which would make a sense of self-sacrifice, giving up his own freedom for Garrett and the islanders.
But of course, Jack is going to get away with it. And Garrett
learns something very interesting about him – his real name. But
he’s not going to tell anyone else! Maybe he’ll whisper it
to Jack in the heat of passion some nights. Who knows.