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David Livingstone: One of several scares that have come to nothing

The recent revelation that the winner of our time-travel competition to spend an evening with Horatio Nelson might have put a spoke into the well oiled cogs of history by suggesting to the great maritime admiral that he attend a disability benefits tribunal instead of the Battle of Trafalgar prompted a deluge of correspondence both digitally and physically to both our offices on either side of the Atlantic. But please, we can allay your fears. Obviously we remain vigilant to the possibility that this could happen, with perhaps dire consequences to our present day situations (for instance it’s probably a given that the recent momentous events involving the British Royal Family would no longer have any relevance as they’d also be subjects to the descendants of Napoleon and be gripped by the latest gossip leaked from Bonaparte Palace). Of course, should we get wind of any change to the course of history as the name of our organisation implies we will do everything at our disposal to correct any anomaly. But to allay your fears, we can confess that this sort of thing has happened a few times previously without any problems arising.

Before we offered competitions to the general public our time-travelling experiences were available exclusively to the very rich who would contact The History Maintenance Commission with bespoke requests backed by very healthy donations to our organisation to fulfil their historical wishes. In the course of providing them with that service, several faux pas were made by the adventurers none of which has yet led to any change in the path of history. Without appearing blaise, we suggest the recent Nelson episode will be assigned the same harmless outcome.

Here are the bloopers made by the time-travellers under our watch. We make no apology for naming these Big Name Hunters as what they did in each instance was grossly stupid and had the potential to put us all at risk:

  1. The industrialist Sir Frank Ketchel on a visit to the notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone in 1926 advised him to diversify into the cosmetics business (we’re surprised that didn’t prompt Scarface into pummeling Ketchel with a baseball bat). Sir Frank thought it was a good idea because then Capone could bring out a range called The St Valentine’s Day Mascara.
  2. The shoelaces entrepreneur Hak Divine while chatting with the Scottish King Robert the Bruce at a MacDonalds in 1306 (okay it was actually Hamish MacDonald’s) tried to persuade him that he had arachnophobia, obviously in the hope that when the King spotted the spider he would do a runner before ever gaining hope from watching it try and try again to construct its web, thus preventing the English defeat at Bannockburn.
  3. The Atlantic City slots magnate Darvo Pantloff met Richard the Lionheart in 1193 and chastised him for not waiting for a human donor to become available like everyone else.
  4. The Dance School Franchise entrepreneur Nell Podges met the Victorian explorer Dr David Livingstone and endeavoured to impress upon him the dangers of identity fraud, no doubt in the hope that when the reporter Henry Morton Stanley found him after he had disappeared in Africa for six years and greeted him with the famous words ‘Dr LIvingstone, I presume?’ Dr LIvingstone would now vehemently deny it.
  5. The Swedish Ferry KIng, Olaf Hammer, who wanted to meet Jack The Ripper and was allowed to do so only on condition that The Ripper’s face and voice were concealed to protect his identity, totally screwed up the encounter by persuading Jack to undertake a first-aid course in Whitechapel before his notrious killings commenced in the Fall of 1888.
  6. Marshall Cadfry the chocolate heir met Richard Duke of Gloucester in 1482, the year before he usurped the throne of England as Richard III upon the death of his brother, and read him Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol in the hope that it would prompt him to be kinder to his nephews in future. He also compounded this historical felony by advising him what the going rate for a horse would be near Bosworth Field in 1485 so that he wouldn’t get ripped off and offer his kingdom for one.

None of these historical misadventures on our watch has resulted in the course of history being changed. We monitor the situation regularly and no deviations have occurred. So everyone remain calm.

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