Mr Dorsitt’s Great Vacation Exhibition
August 2, 2012
— christopher lee artist, Mr Dorsitt's Great Vacation Exhibition, Time Machine, Time Travel Short Story, Vacation Arts Project, Vacation Exhibition, Weymouth Art Exhibition, Weymouth Cultural Olympiad, What's On In Weymouth During The Olympics
by Jude Ellery
The problem with Mr Dorsitt was that his eyes were bigger than his belly. Unlike his intellect, his greed knew no bounds; he wanted it all and had irons in every fire, right through the Jurassic age all the way to the year 80,000. This time he had well and truly bitten off more than he could chew though, and unfortunately for the time traveller, however you muddle up your metaphors that inevitably results in one’s fingers getting burned — or worse.
Science fiction, the reading of which Mr Dorsitt firmly believed had made him a self-educated man, is overpopulated with eccentric scientists and their implausible inventions. Dorsitt had every faith that his destiny was to join that pantheon, so when he stumbled upon an actual time machine, having taken a succession of wrong turns that led him ever deeper into the cellars of the British Museum (where he typically took his luncheon), he naturally believed that the discovery was a result of his own genius, rather than a stroke of pure luck.
So, although it was luck and not inspiration that gave Dorsitt his big break, he rationalised that Good Fortune was the silent partner without whom Dedication and Hard Work would never find their names on a patent application. Thus, citing the ancient law of finders, keepers, he happily credited himself for having “discovered” time travel. If the actual inventor was just going to leave such a valuable thing lying under a dusty tarpaulin deep in some underground recess where anyone could stumble across it, he didn’t deserve the credit anyway. H.G. Wells and Marty McFly, eat your heart out! That was Dorsitt’s favourite catchphrase, in fact, which he boasted loudly to every bewildered soul he had the pleasure of dealing with as he sped through the ages, picking up trinkets along the way.
Ah yes, the trinkets. You see, having concluded that the flabby physique and fallen arches which had disqualified him from most physical endeavours must also be interfering with his intellectual pursuits, Dorsitt decided his calling must be more entrepreneurial by nature. He wasn’t going to use his time travel gizmo for scientific discovery, oh no! Profit was Dorsitt’s mantra. Profit, profit, profit, and he stuck by this come rain or recession.
Dorsitt zipped through the fourth dimension, collecting relics of the past and future. His business plan was simple: people from the past wanted gumpf from the future; people from the future wanted tat from the past. The problem here though was that Dorsitt’s greed far outweighed his business acumen, and mathematics had never been his strong suit at Knowhope Secondary Modern. While he usually picked the right stuff to sell, the time machine wasn’t cheap to run and he invariably spent far more in travel expenses than he made in sales. Soon, he was all but penniless.
Imagine the look on greedy Mr D’s face then, when he received a colossal order from the President of the United States of the United Kingdom and America (USUKA) in the year 2212. Following the coalition of these two great Western powers, water transport had become all the rage. While it was obviously quicker to fly — or even teleport if one could afford it — across the Pond, people were increasingly seeking quaint, Olde Worlde methods of making the voyage between the US and the UK a little more interesting. Yes, as ever, retro was cool.
To mark the bicentenary of the epic Olympic Games of 2012, Dorsitt was commissioned by the President of USUKA to collect relics from the seaside resort which had held the sailing events. Boats were out of the question; the time machine simply wasn’t big enough to haul them through the ages. Trinkets though, Dorsitt’s speciality, were two-a-penny in every tourist town. He knew just the stuff. He was promised hugely inflated prices if he could deliver on time, and upon a chubby, sweaty palm the deal was struck.
Dorsitt set about researching Weymouth & Portland, the small picturesque resort that was the backdrop to Team USA and Team GB’s record hauls of sailing gold medals. It had been such a long time since he’d dropped by the twenty-first century that he needed a refresher course. What did people do in the midst of a recession, when they could barely get to the end of the street without getting tangled up in roadworks? What Dorsitt needed, to please the President and collect his fat cheque, was to capture the mood of Weymouth in 2012.
Taking up residence in an empty shopping space on the first floor of the Colwell Shopping Centre, Dorsitt set about creating his masterpiece: The Great Vacation Exhibition. His theme was, like his business plan, simple. Weymouth was a busy tourist town, full of life, with a population that would swell like the underbelly of a toad in the summer, then hibernate like one in the winter. And what did a tourist town sell at the height of tourist season? Tourist tat.
Dorsitt sat in his workshop in a jolly mood, hunched over a notepad where he planned his raid of the Weymouth shops, aiming to empty their contents and what remained of his bank account. It was then that he suffered a major setback. A letter arrived from his garage: all was not well with the time machine. In fact, it had conked out completely and failed its MOT. Just what he needed, another expense when he trying to fulfil the order of the century!
Now Dorsitt truly was penniless. What’s more, even if he did have the money there was no profit in this tourist tat anyway. The town was heaving, the Olympics brought visitors from far and wide and sneaky shopkeepers had hiked their prices to scandalous levels. Where was Dorsitt’s profit going to come from now?
This major hitch, coupled with the repairs on his time machine, left Dorsitt feeling a lot less jolly. And then it struck him. Why spend out on the genuine articles at all? How would those daft futureheads tell the difference between a real twenty-first century relic and a cheap replica? Oh, this was his best, most cunning scheme since the time machine itself!
Only it turned out not to be such a smart plan after all.
Putting his arts & crafts skills to use, Dorsitt gathered together the cheapest materials to hand — ‘free’ materials, in fact. He pilfered cement from a building site, stole a bucket of plaster from a skip and found some old rope at the harbour. He was pretty sure the rope hadn’t been needed, anyway; the boat it had been attached to sailed away without it shortly after he untied it. He then set about mass-producing the trinkets, and when they were done, applied the finishing touches with watered down paint samples.
The thing is, Dorsitt was about as talented at using his hands as he was at mental arithmetic and economics. The trinkets, while looking like decent copies of the real thing, unfortunately looked like decent copies of the real thing. The President of USUKA was, as one might imagine, no mug. When Dorsitt’s time machine was finally fixed he zipped over to 2212 on the double and eagerly unpacked his first batch in front of the President, his face a picture of naivety and palms literally dripping with excitement. He was met with quite a shock.
Not only had the paint run, churning literally minutes of careful brushwork into a garish mess, but also all of the trinkets were broken. Sailor figurines were missing their heads; ships had no masts; seagulls had no wings. Mr D’s cheap imitations were exposed for what they really were, and he for what he really was: a charlatan after a quick buck.
And thus the story ends; that was the last that was ever heard of our hapless hero. While great advances had been made in computer technology, communications and space travel in two hundred years, the human race was still a somewhat primitive, bloodthirsty bunch when it came to punishment. Rumour has it that the electric chair was experiencing something of a renaissance.
Dorsitt’s legacy lives on, his prototypes scattered around the town. Visit Vacation Project online or one of the following five locations in Weymouth, Dorset, 6 – 17 August, to follow the walking tour and enjoy “Mr Dorsitt’s” work: