Dear Aunty Ora,

I've got this *groovy* party scheduled for the weekend, at my friend Mikey's house, ya know? Well, Mikey said he'd make sure to invite a whole lotta chicks to the party, which is cool 'cos chicks always make a party more fun, ya know, and here I am lookin' forward to it and all, but I was just now lookin' through my 'drobe for some funky threads to put on the app-ear-ance, and I realised I ain't got a thing to wear. Like, absolutely *nuthin'*! So I'm going to this mad-ass party in two days, and all I got is this barrel wot don't even keep out the wind-chill! What can I do?


Delphic Research, Inc.
FIELD RESEARCH REPORT
Subject: Rain Barrels as Evening Wear
Researcher: Cassandra McBlonde

Look, it wasn't *my* fault, okay? I mean, that professor from the university, he just rushed through the explanation for the controls of the time machine. I think he still blames me for him losing his thingie from another space-time continuum - the one that made that hole in my desk. Such a creep!

So I like couldn't remember whether he said it was 28 seconds or 28 minutes I was supposed to hold the switch down for. But he did say it was very important I didn't meet myself in the past because of the impossibility of two identical objects occupying the same space or something, so I thought I'd better play safe and go for the minutes. And he could have called that thing on the dashboard a clock, instead of a "chronometer". That would have saved me a lot of counting "one-elephant, two-elephant", you know?

Anyways, that's how I ended up in the Stone Age, instead of in the Great Depression to find out how bankrupt millionaires decorated their barrels when they went to parties. But I was very careful, see? After all that fuss Sibyl made beforehand, telling me to come straight back again and not to "pollute the timeline". As if! I mean, here's a girl that recycles all her aluminium cans! She could have a little faith. She even wanted to send Pythia along to watch over me, but Pyth was still at the nerve clinic recovering from her encounter with Sister Mary Theresa (who was *ever* so scary!), and then the customer said that if we couldn't do it he'd go to Captain Pegleg, and whenever someone mentions that name Sibyl goes all funny and shivery, because I think they had a thing going between them years ago, see, and... where was I?

Oh yes. Well, the Stone Age people were real nice to me, treating me like I was somebody real special, you know? Like a queen or something. So the least I could do was give them a few fashion pointers, right? I mean, they just threw their animals furs on any old how! Can you *imagine*? And when they crushed berries to make red dye, they used it for painting on the walls of their caves, when anybody could see it was *ideal* for lipstick!

Then I came back to the present as quick as I could, see, but things had got real weird while I was away. I mean first Pythia is there made up to the nines and wearing this mega cool Versace number, and she sniffs the air and says, "Sweetie, is that Yves Saint Laurent you've got on? I mean to say, Yves is just so *totally* out this season, sweetie! One little word, sweetie: Givenchy." And I'm just thinking they wired her brain up wrong at that clinic, when in walks Sibyl wearing the full Jean-Paul Gaultier, complete with conical metal breastplates! And she's like dyed her hair orange! I mean, this is the woman that thinks not wearing tweed and brogues once in a while is a fashion statement!

So I rushed back to the university to ask the professor what has happened to Sibyl and Pythia, and only find him wearing an Armani lab coat and glitter nail polish! So I explain about everybody being different, and he says it sounds like something must have disturbed the timeline. Well, I know it wasn't me, because I hadn't even taken any aluminium cans with me! So to find out where the disturbance occurred, he lists great events in history, but they all sound kind of right to me. I mean, that Newton guy *did* discover gravity so he could develop the strapless bra, didn't he? Though I sort of feel the wheel must have been invented earlier than 1912. And does the bible really say "Blessed are the dressmakers"?

Then the professor said he didn't have any more time because he had been invited to President Calvin Klein's inaugural ball and his hair was just *tragic*, and he rushed off with a lab assistant called Ramon to fix it, or something. Only before he went, he said that my timeline sounded oh so dreary and that in his opinion I had done the human race a favour, but if I was really set on figuring out how to change things back, I should contact Stephen Hawking at Cambridge University, because he's the world expert on this kind of thing. So that's why I'm sending you my field research report, see?

So please, Mister Hawking, tell me what I've got to do to get the timeline back to normal. I mean, like, I know everybody's real well dressed and manicured now, but I hate it the way Sibyl looks like a Madonna impersonator and Pythia talks like Edina from "Absolutely Fabulous", and I want them back the way they used to be, even if they were sometimes horrible to me. Please, please help me.

Yours hopefully, Cassie.

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From: Stephen Hawking, Dept. of Astronomy, Cambridge University
To: Ms. Cassandra McBlonde, Delphic Research, Inc.

Darling!
You don't mean to tell me you are actually *still* using Yves Saint Laurent? Oh my *god*!!! Don't they have laws against this sort of thing in your country, darling?

Hugs and kisses, Stevie.