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‘Bristol is the frontline of the war to maintain history?’ I said with a healthy dollop of scepticism.

‘Yes,’ Kai Diamonde confirmed to my disappointment, ‘it’s where our portal into the past is located.’

‘But surely, New York City is the place to be, with that Professor thingy?’

‘Professor Delphi,’ my driver companion corrected me, without moving out of cruising gear. ‘When it comes to cerebral matters he is the big cheese. You could say the brains, administrative arm and political muscle of the History Maintenance Commission are Stateside. But Bristol is where the heart and guts of the organisation are to be found.’

‘If Professor Delphi is the boss in the Big Apple,’ I ventured, ‘then who is the big banana in Bristol?’

‘Pamela Wettypants Wetherall,’ he replied without hesitation.


‘She has two other names, mate,’ Kai answered with disdain. ‘I didn’t realise you were incontinentist.’

‘I didn’t realise there was such a word,’ I fired back, ‘or such a prejudice.’

‘You’ll be under her,’ he chuckled, ‘and if she had her way, you’ll be on top of her too.’

‘You paint a wonderful picture of this Pamela creature,’ I surmised, allowing my disappointment at news of my new destination and boss to leak out. ‘An incontinent nymphomaniac.’

‘She’s a heavy smoker too,’ Kai added. ‘Be prepared to be assailed with smoke and advances in the Bristol war room, pal.’

‘But none of those have been allowed in the workplace for decades?’

‘The Bristol War Room isn’t a typical workplace,’ Kai corrected me. ‘And Pamela Wettypants Wetherall is considered such a genius orchestrating the frontline response that she’s allowed special dispensation to select her own period of time in which to operate. She has chosen pre-nineteen-eighty.’

‘Special dispensation!’ I uttered in disbelief. ‘Sounds more like she would benefit from special treatment for her unhealthy addictions and her waterworks! How old is this special saviour of our past and present?’

‘She admits to being in her fifties,’ Kai replied. ‘But unlike the mileage signs on this motorway, friend, I wouldn’t vouch that she’s as accurate.’

‘I can assure you and her if it comes to it, that I will in no way be attracted to her.’

‘The feeling will not be mutual, mate,’ he warned me. ‘But hats off to her, but preferably not in front of her in case she mistakes the removal of a garment as a sign that we’re interested, she’s bloody good at her job. Just seems that all geniuses are flawed and Wettypants is no exception.’ Prompted, so I thought, by talk of Pamela Wettypants Wetherall, Kai started moving around in his driver’s seat and with the vehicle comfortably in fifth gear used his free left hand to feel around his backside while still ensconced there. To my mind it appeared that he was reliving a past occasion when he had erroneously sat somewhere recently vacated by the overlord of the Bristol War Rooms and the unpleasant damp feeling he experienced as a result. However, this presumption was swiftly doused when instead, from his rear jeans pocket, he produced a folded sheet of paper he then placed on my lap. ‘That’s an official HMC document, pal, on why Bristol is the portal to dealing with the past. Take a look.’


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