cast of characters. part two. the prof.

Professor Graeme Standforth. Without him providing the scientific know how and know when, the how and the when of time travel could never have happened. Possibly that’s true, although it wouldn’t be his position at all…

He would go into some long winded diatribe about it being inevitable that it would happen, has happened, and will happen, and that he is something of a vehicle for its somewhat directed randomness. After the first two or three sentences, you would be totally lost in the listening. But it’s OK, totally lost is where he is comfortable to live. And totally lost is a position that he regards as totally natural and expected if you look at it from a certain perspective. Well, that’s the prof for you.

He is 50 something, with a slender frame of a body and thick framed glasses that look like they are more integrated with, than attached to, his thoughtful face. Everything about him comes from the galaxy of thought, most of it cloudy, and some it stormy. He has made a career of being serious, but those who know him will attest to the fact that he has a seriously sharp sense of humour. Sadly many of his jokes require careful analysis before others can fully appreciate what the hell the punch line was meant to mean.

He had won two Nobel prizes at a young age, and was universally recognised as the world’s top scientific mind at the dawn of 2060’s, only to disappear from public view. A good part of the reason was the onset and progression of a terrible form of Parkinson’s disease. And to have Parkinson’s disease in a society which loathed the presence of any kind of neurological or psychological malady was a huge handicap. Because of his unique mind and the fact that he was working on anti-matter applications, the government was prepared to tolerate him, on condition that he stay out of sight.

He received a substantia nigra transplant to manage the situation with his Parkinson’s. It did improve his symptoms, but at the same time, changed him. Somehow it unlocked a pathway to musical excellence, possibly triggered by the musical prowess of the deceased donor. The prof was a rock guitarist par excellence, even when his hands trembled and his voice quivered.

When I was writing his character in the Time Anew series, I had several images in mind. I thought about Christopher Lloyd, from the “Back to the Future” series, and I also thought about Michael J Fox, who has been fighting his own battle with Parkinson’s disease. I fantasised the idea of Michael J playing the prof when Time Anew is put on film. For some reason Doctor Phlox from Star Trek Enterprise was there, as well as The Wizard from the Wizard of Oz. David Niven could have played him in a previous era, and Patrick Stewart could play him now. Matthew McConaughy, with a Texan accent, also came into my mind, inexplicably. Hell, the prof can be many people, and the prof is many people.

Expect the unexpected with prof. Expect it now and then, and where and when.

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