Down one of the paths in London’s Brompton Cemetery, take a walk in silent reflection upon whatever meaning you want to make out of your life and your leaving, and up from the big sleep of the many hundred monuments and mausoleums will rise the Time Machine.
While the Victorian era (from which this mysterious construction comes), had a certain fascination with time travel, we are arguably living in a neo-Victorian time, where the travel we seem to worry about is the journey into old age.
The Brompton Time Machine is today, still a strange curiosity and like the historic cemetery itself, it has a supernatural, dreamlike and, if for some maybe, an off-putting feel to it. Walk around it and ask – why would you not let your imagination take you back or forward in time? Even joggers, lovers, painters and dog walkers thread their lives through this atmospheric moment in the present.
Last time I checked, death is inevitable, and as the saying often goes, it is a long time. Now, even though earthly longevity is a better prediction today than it was in Victorian times, it is not so certain a promise for everyone that living well past your 80’s will happen. But on our journey we do seek to connect and aim to project. We have, in our own neo-Victorian era, a dual fascination with both being in touch with our ancestry, while at the same time making sure our longevity passes on into a legacy.
Both fascinations reside where else of course but in the digital world, such as with Ancestry.com and Facebook, who have these covered. On line ancestry search is big business, which often leads to quaint surprises, and might be not unlike what you could find if you unlocked the Brompton Time Machine. Facebook has the If I Die digital afterlife application, which is marginally creepier for some.
If that isn’t enough, as a way of taking the worry (if not the wonder) out of aging, we now have ideas about the ways we can ease the journey as we make our way to later life – time banking. The worry. Who will take care of me and how?
Is care giving and the cost of providing it in an aging world fast becoming a human rights issue, especially so if you have no family or advocates, little money and loosely connected support systems that are in a state of constant tinkering? Wanying Ni, Associate Professor at the College of Humanities at DongHua University in China believes so. She has now joined the Wallenberg Institute in Lund, Sweden to research the time bank concept.
Visit your local ATM
A multi-generational effort, time banking is where people at various life stages volunteer to care for older people in need of help in turn for getting help when they are older themselves. It will be interesting to see how this rolls out. In 2012, I did a post featuring this exact same concept out of the UK.
Sadly, within a year or so the start-up funded Care4Care failed, according to the UK based Nesta Innovation Lab. It was a collaboration between Professor Heinz Wolff, The Young Foundation and Age UK on the Isle of Wight. The good news as of the date of this post, is that Professor Heinz Wolff, now 87 is still with us. Hopefully Professor Wanying Ni gives him and Nesta a call as part of her research. There is more to check out on the time banking concept, such as Timebanking UK and you can read the Stanford Social Innovation Review 2015 article on the subject.
Let us time travel. It’s 2026.
You step up to the latest World’s End corner ATM – Automated Time Machine, not far from Brompton Cemetery in London. You slip in your proof of care card and log your credits toward your future at home care visit in 2050. No worry. ATM service fees are minimal and your grandparent is happy you came to visit and care.