(Chapter one here. As I said then — This is all first-draft stuff. I’m getting the story out in these blog posts. Prose style can come later.)
Holly had to wait until the weekend before she had a chance to see her Granddad, but on Saturday morning she got up, got dressed, and then got on the bus with her mum to the other side of town where he lived.
She brought a copy of Trans-Temporal Times with her to read on the bus, as always, but couldn’t really concentrate, even though there was a dead good interview with Richard Thomas, the head writer of The Temponauts, about how he’d first come up with the idea of the Nastons. She was too excited — her Granddad had actual film! And a projector!
“Calm down!” Her mum said, “It’s really not that exciting, you know.”
“But mum! It’s a projector for films!”
“Yes, but it’s only like having a big TV”
“But it’s one where you can look at all the little pictures separately. It’s ace!”
Holly couldn’t make her mum understand how important this really was — films were old, they were how they’d made The Temponauts. You could see all the little pictures, and how they fit together. It was almost like being with the people who’d made the film, looking at those strips of celluloid.
She was trying very hard to be good, but she couldn’t help but wriggle a bit.
After far too long — almost twenty minutes — the bus finally stopped, and she got off with her mum and sprinted to the end of her Granddad’s street and pounded vigorously on the door.
The door opened, and her Granddad stood there smiling.
“Well, hello there!” He said, “Someone’s excited to see me!”
Holly’s mum laughed.
“Don’t kid yourself, Dad,” she replied, “she’s not excited about you. We told her about that old sixteen mil projector you’ve got up in the attic.”
Holly pouted. “I am excited to see you, Granddad,” she said, “I just also would like to see the projector, please?”
“That old thing? You can have it if you want it.”
Holly’s mum looked stern. “Now, dad, you know how much that cost, and you’re giving it to –”
“To my beloved granddaughter, who I know will get far more use out of it than I ever have,” he interrupted, looking down at Holly’s astonished face. “Come on in, and I’ll dig it out for you.”
Holly had never been sure her Granddad was a proper Granddad at all. He was old — probably sixty or something like that — but he didn’t have a pipe, or slippers, or a bald head or a moustache. Instead he had a scraggly beard that itched when he gave her kisses, and he wore T-shirts that said things like “Deep Purple” on them. Holly didn’t really approve of this kind of thing. She’d read books, and she knew Granddads were meant to be jolly and fat and wear flat caps, not be tall and skinny with a big nose.
But whether he was a proper Granddad or not, he always treated Holly like a real person, and that was something she appreciated a great deal. Most of the teachers treated her like the other kids in her school, but she was much more mature than those babies; while her mum and dad loved her very much but didn’t understand her most of the time.
Granddad, though, understood her. She didn’t always understand him — lots of the time he’d say things she was pretty sure were jokes, but she didn’t have a clue why they were meant to be funny (like the thing he kept saying about the Yorkshire cow), but he didn’t treat her like a baby, and he listened to the things she had to say.
She liked her Granddad.
So after Granddad made her mum a cup of tea and brought her through to the living room to watch the TV, she went with him up the ladder into his attic.
It was dark, and dusty, and she heard a strange scratching noise.
“Don’t worry, that’s probably just rats,” her Granddad said, “don’t tell your mum about them. They’re not doing any harm up here. They won’t bite you if you don’t bite them.”
The attic was full of boxes. Some of them had things written on them in marker pen — one had “LPs” written on it and was full of flat cardboard squares with pictures of men with long hair on them — but most seemed to be just full of the random detritus of life, the things that Granddad didn’t want to throw out but had no more use for.
One box she looked in had a lot of lady’s clothes in. When he saw her looking in that, Granddad very quietly said “Please don’t. They bring back bad memories.”
But they walked across to the other side of the attic, where there were some tin cans, flat and round and a little bit bigger than those “LPs” that had looked so interesting. Next to them was a strange-looking machine that looked a bit like the robots in The Arachronaut from series two of The Temponauts (that story had never been Holly’s favourite, because it said that girls couldn’t run a planet as well as boys, which was just silly).
Granddad opened one of the cans and showed her what was inside. There, all curled up in a circle, was a lot of film.
“Have a look, if you want, but carefully,” Granddad said to her. “Don’t get your fingerprints on the film”.
She held it carefully, only touching the very edges, and looked. Just like the film she’d seen at the museum in Bradford earlier that week, it was made of lots and lots of little pictures.
“Now I’ll show you how to work it,” said her Granddad, “and then I’ll leave you here to watch some of these while I go down and have a chat with your mum.”
“You put the film reel you want to watch on here, you see? And then you get an empty reel, and put it on this other arm, and you thread the film through, like this,” he showed her, “just turn this knob and it goes through, do you see?”
“Then just turn this lever to turn it on. When it’s finished, push this other lever and it’ll rewind. Got that?”
Holly nodded again. It was all very complicated, but that was what made it so exciting.
“OK. I’m heading down now. Give us a shout if you need anything.”
Granddad went down the ladder. Holly pushed the lever, and a picture appeared on the big sheet Granddad had put in front of the projector — so that was what it was for!
Holly was amazed, but even more so when the familiar opening titles to The Temponauts started up. Granddad had The Temponauts on film! That must be the coolest thing ever!
And she was even more amazed when it was a story she’d never seen before.
There were no stories she’d never seen before.
But there it was, at the end of the credits.
“How to Build Your Own Time Machine, by Richard Thomas”.