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Some Time Slips And Questions They Raise

Updated on February 25, 2017
Time Melts in your hand
Time Melts in your hand

The Common or Garden Skeptics view of Time is that the past is fixed and unchangeable and the future does not exist. The Scientist and Philosopher are much less certain. Some argue that time is real, the past no longer exists and the future does not yet exist. Others claim Time is an illusion, which most working scientists would deny.

Some well attested phenomena, such as time slips, seem at first glance to derail the views above. When examining instances of these phenomena then, having excluded Fraud, self deception and other mundane causes, the simplest explanation is preferable, though sometimes there are several almost equally simple explanations.

Precognition and time slips are the two most obvious examples of temporal anomalies though some hypnotic regressions to a “past life” can also be considered as artificially induced time slips.

The time slips here are from Liverpool, but seem typical of time slips elsewhere and will become part of a database of time slips that may allow them to be classified. Further details can be found in the references at the end of this note.

This article is a condensed version of a chapter in the Author’s forthcoming book on Time scheduled for self publication in late 2017 or early 2018 where more details and examples will be given and some theories will be proposed.

This picture illustrates the sense of wierdness assicuated with the Oz Factor
This picture illustrates the sense of wierdness assicuated with the Oz Factor

A Retired Policeman visits the Past(1)

One sunny Saturday in 1996former policeman Frank was shopping in Liverpool. His wife went off on her own to buy Irvine Welsh's novel Trainspotting in Waterstones bookshop. Frank went to HMV to look for a CD he wanted then headed for the bookshop. On the way he seems to have experienced a time slip to the 1950s. He experienced what Ufologists call the Oz Factor, a sense of abnormal quietness as if he was in another dimension. Another woman seems to have experienced the time slip as well, but has not been identified.

The quietness suggests a waking dream, but there seems no reason why this would happen, and if it did Frank seems to have sleepwalked himself safely into the store, seeing a scene from forty or more years earlier while negotiating today's traffic. This seems a rather convoluted explanation. Since Frank and the young lady were the only people to experience this the event may have been focussed on them alone. Unlike the UFO situation there seems no reason to postulate any beings controlling the time slip, which seems to resemble the glamour fairies are supposed to be able to lay over a scene. Such deceptions are commonly described in connection with fairy encounters and prompts the fanciful explanation that the store had been overlaid with a glamour by urban fairies.

Does Time Travel require a Time Machine like this?
Does Time Travel require a Time Machine like this?

The Non existent MotherCare Store (2)

In 2011 a 17 year old Liverpool girl called Imogen went to Liverpool city centre to buy things for her sister who had just become a mother. Noticing a new branch of Mothercare on the corner of Lord St and Whitechapel she went in, chose a few things and noted the extremely low prices which she assumes were an opening offer. When she tried to pay with her credit card a senior staff member told her they did not accept those cards. She did not have enough cash and left. When she told her mother about it her mother said there had been a Mothercare store there but not for years, saying that the store was now the HSBC bank she used. The next day they went to town and found a bank where Imogen had found the Mothercare store. This explained the low prices: they were consistent with the early 1980s, or at least post decimalisation of the currency in 1973 and post the period where prices were displayed in both decimal and pre decimal currencies.

Imogen noticed nothing unusual about the store or the assistants other than the low prices. She either dreamed the entire episode, then woke without realising the building she was in or had just left was a bank not Mothercare or she travelled back in time briefly. There may be a form of temporal censorship either preventing time travel paradoxes or forbidding conclusive proof of the paranormal, suggesting Imogen could only experience a time slip because she had very little cash on her.

The Thief Who Escaped In Time

In 2006 a 19 year shoplifter running from a security guard turned into a dead end street 4 minutes away from Bold Street and waited for the guard to come round the corner. He was out of breath and developing a tight sensation in his chest which he realised was caused by the atmosphere around him.

When the guard failed to appear he walked out of the street and realised everything looked wrong. He found his mobile phone did not work. He headed over to a newspaper kiosk and picked up a paper dated 18th May 1967. By now he was panicking. Eventually he found himself back in the present but, turning round, could still see people walking around in 1967. A local paper that interviewed him found his account was historically accurate.

Meanwhile the security guard had turned into the dead end street and found the man he had been chasing had vanished.

This suggests a real if localised phenomenon. A highly selective phenomenon since the security guard, presumably moments behind, did not experience it. As with the other cases he brought back no evidence, though a copy of the paper would not have convinced anyone.

Other time slips, to the 19th and Early 20th Century are reported in the comments to [1]. In one case a cafe, near Liverpool St Central station seemed to have sprung up overnight in which the patrons, inside and outside, were dressed in clothes characteristic of the 1900s. Another reported time slip occurred near Waterstones in Broad Street in the late 1990s when the scene suddenly changed and a hansom cab shot past the woman who experienced it followed by a bunch of people, the men wearing top hats and the women wearing bonnets with broad brims. Both experiencers initially assumed a film was being made but changed their interpretations later. In a third case, in 2017, the experiencer was looking for a newly opened shop but only saw an empty shop at the site. Having checked the location in the store next door she returned to the site and found the empty shop had changed to the shop she had expected.

The simplest explanation for all these cases, since the shoplifter case has indirect confirmation it was probably not a hallucination, is that the person was briefly either actually transported back in time or into a parallel universe almost indistinguishable from ours to a time in that universe appropriate to the experienced time slip. This would explain why no one else – except possibly in Frank’s case, seems to have experienced the time slip. It also raises the possibility some mysterious disappearances may be time slips where the person could not get back to their own time.

In Brief

The time slips here could be explained in terms of waking dreams or hallucinations, except for that of the shoplifter, which has a degree of external confirmation, but do not explain how no one was injured by today’s traffic or the sheer triviality of the interaction with the past in the case of Imogen. The Oz factor seems present in only one case and the theory the experience was built up using telepathic access to the memory of a living person seems unlikely since some time slips seem to have been back to a period a hundred years ago. The most intriguing case is that of the shoplifter who managed to look into the time slip from outside as well as experiencing it from the inside. Even this small sample of time slips raises more questions than answers.

About The Author

Freelance writer, former academic, mathematician and freelance software developer the author is working on a book that will cover the mysteries of Time with excursions into the Philosophy and Science of Time as well as Temporal anomalies such as Time slips.

The author is also administrator for the Badjao Bed and Breakfast in Edinburgh, Scotland


These are the best sources currently available for Liverpool time slips. The book will include many more time slips outside Liverpool

  1. Mysterious Occurrences in Bold St, Liverpool

  2. Tom Slemen's tales of Liverpool: Timeslips


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