I’m not sure if any of you have heard of those weird and wonderful people who take vintage to a whole new level? I saw a TV programme about some once; two couples, one who lived in the 1930s and another in the 1950s. They had each done their houses out to reflect their styles, with authentic furnishings and vehicles and so far as possible, employment. Not surprisingly, it was this last point where things seemed to fudge a little; Mrs 1930s worked in a call centre and Mrs 1950s was a civil servant, but I suspect neither of them could afford to be the housewives they would have been expected to be in the eras of their choice.
The reason why I mention this is that this story by Philip K Dick reminded me a lot of those couples; so invested in their chosen era that they have elected to live the life so far as possible. It’s a wonderful idea, and in Dick’s hands it turns into something a bit special. We are no longer in a museum exhibit – we have genuinely gone back in time, and compared to the life that he was living before, perhaps going back isn’t much of a temptation.
Dick often wrote about memory and nostalgia, and how the past can sometimes seem a little rose-tinted compared to the reality. I think this story really brings it home. A part of me would love to have lived in the 1940s, but perhaps without rationing, the bombing and the disease… thinking about it, I’ll stick with the here and now. It’s stressful enough.