-Nowhere. I would stay here.
-Oh, come on. There must be somewhere you want to go?
-Alright. Say I said Swanston. So I got there right now and wandered round the shops for a bit, then I would come home. That’s £2.65 bus fare! I’m not made of money!
-Swanston? But you could go anywhere!
-Well, where? If I went to Mars I would choke to death or explode or something in a few seconds. If I said New York, I know one blogger there, I’ve never met him, I’m not interested in the Statue of Liberty because I’m thinking well what next, I’m thinking, I don’t have a passport. I met this bloke in Rome who had lost his passport, and was waiting around for months while the embassy sorted him out.
-No, you get the power to go anywhere, and come back.
Don’t look at me like that. You’re asking me, what do I want to feel. Excitement, fascination, the wonder of seeing something beautiful, or meeting someone, or anything I wanted. OK, I want to meet Nicole da Silva. She’s busy at the moment, and someone is calling Security. The Grand Canyon is one of the most inspiring sights in the world, but right now I want a cup of tea. I’m happy here, thanks. Who are you, anyway? How did you get in?
-What if you could- Do- Good?
You know what I mean. Change someone’s life for the better. Meet a new person, find out who they are, find out the problem which is besetting them, and help them sort it.
-What, like Jonathan Archer in Quantum Leap? Or like the Pope’s miracle in Earthly Powers?
-The Pope lays hands on a dying child, and against all odds the child recovers. After he dies, this is considered a miracle, making him a saint. But the child grows up to be a mass murderer. Mass murderer. Geddit?
It didn’t end well for Jonathan Archer. So I save someone and they make the world worse: their vote lets a Republican become US President. Or I save someone, and they fall into endless misery, because they knew their time to die had come. Or I tell Margaret Atwood to make her novels cheerful, and people are denied that wonderful angst, schadenfreude and catharsis. Or I rescue someone from a knife-wielding maniac, except that was the moment he had to save himself, the iron would enter his soul and he would turn his life around. I would do him harm.
Why do you want to give this gift, anyway? I would go somewhere, and my first stop would be the bank vault, for cash; then I would cut a swathe of chaos through the town. You don’t want to do good, you want to rid yourself of this curse. Useless fairy godmother you are, you couldn’t sell a fridge to an Arab.
I’ll go into Swanston, please. I need the supermarket.