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(Eff off) Back to the Future

April 01 2024
© Chris Bird © Chris Bird

Everybody’s favourite nepo-time-traveller, McHaggis, goes on a medieval Odd-yssey. By Chris Sampson

Hanging around Time-Travel HQ’s canteen, awaiting another assignment, McHaggis tucked into eggs Benedict, turnip Jeremy and sausage Marianne, washed down with lager Geraldine, with just a splash of lime Arthur.

“I hope you’ve left some room for pudding, McHaggis,” said his line manager, Time-Lance Corporal Fennymore, creeping up on him. “Because I’ve got a grub-related job for you.”

Fennymore would say little more about the task, but had our reluctant hero dressed in an onion shawl, over a fetching sack-cloth shirt, topped off with a dunce’s hat. Yes, you’ve guessed it: McHaggis was being sent back to medieval times. He just had time to smear Reek D’excremente (by Canal No5) over his features, so as to blend in, before setting off.

“You’re to sample the cuisine of the time and bring back recipes,” Fennymore ordered. “We’re going to open up a Medieval-themed restaurant in Shoreditch and, hopefully, more branches in other hipster-festooned gentrified areas of the capital.”

The Tories have been trying to return us to peasantry for decades, McHaggis thought, but at today’s prices of course: always a nice little mark-up for them. With a wearisome sigh, he set off through the CGI/special FX-laden sci-fi portal of time, etc. (Catchy name, huh?)

“Not another bloody time-traveller!” groaned Edwick Snizeburr, as our hero materialised in his 14th century roadside Scoffery. “We’ve had half the 35th century in this week! Ye lot seem to think that just because thou art from ye future, ye can eat us out of hovel and home, and for only a groat! Parsnips don’t grow on trees ye know! And not one of ye futuristic rascals ever think to bring a cure for the plague or leprosy with ye! No, it’s all ‘Hey nonny, nonny’ on your Insta, renderings of offal, tripe and cat’s arse soup, and all for a shiny ha’penny! Well, ye can fuck off back to ye future, McFly!”

“It’s McHaggis, actually,” our man replied. “Marty McFly is a fictional time-traveller from a film – a kind of moving tapestry – called Back to the Future.”

“Yes, we know,” Snizeburr snorted. “Other knaves from your era have shown us ye entertainment on their slates of light and noise!”

McHaggis was puzzled. “Slates of…? You mean mobile phones? Laptops? Tablets?”

Snizeburr tutted. “Aye! And who might ye be, McHaggis?”

McHaggis explained his mixed heritage, being the result of a union betwixt Mary Queen of Scots and Malcolm X.

“Forsooth!” scoffed Snizeburr. “Ye royalty impresses me not! I’d rather eat Griffin knobs and unicorn poop – again – than suck up to ye monarchy. Just cos they’ve got all their own teeth! As have I (in a chamber pot, admittedly). But I care not if they get all la-di-dah cos they have a bath as often as once a year, and watch a juggler set his own farts alight!”

He shook his head. “I see ye decided to dress as a simpleton, and to reek of ye effluent. Is this to blend into my era, or are ye regarded as a nitwit stinkard in your own?”

Before McHaggis could respond, Edwick introduced him to some Snufflers: medieval folk who enjoyed the stench of sewage. Their nose hairs all but leapt out on first whiff of the newcomer’s noisome aroma. This reminded our hero of 21st century Tory anti-homeless plans to give police powers to arrest those who “look like they’ve slept rough” and people with “an excessive smell.”

McHaggis then recalled his foodie mission, and his host finally allowed the 21st century man to taste the local delicacies: cabbage sandwiches, leper’s flakes in aspic, piping hot festering buboes and turnip surprise: it’s actually… a parsnip!

It turned out that Edwick and his contemporaries were equally astonished by what 21st century folk will eat and smell of: £60 for a cup of coffee made from beans that have been pooped out of some unfortunate creature. Whilst whale’s shite is used to make ambergris perfume.

“Gadzooks!” Snizeburr gasped. “And thou thinketh we are barbaric?!? At least we let the unfortunate homeless alone.”

McHaggis couldn’t fault this logic, but all misadventures have to end. He bade farewell to Edwick and the Snufflers, promising to return one day and bring them some 21st century pollution for their nostrils. He was shocked on his return to discover that Fennymore had abandoned the notion of a medieval eatery and instead opened a different business.

“Hi there!” quoth a sack-cloth clad, incongruously American-accented, AI-enhanced robot. “Welcome to the Unhygeinicon, a celebration of medieval London’s festering hub of disease, squalor and – Hey nonny, nonny! – an almost total lack of sanitation. Featuring lepers! Snufflers! And other filthy bastards to whom it wouldn’t occur to wash their hands after defecation! Soundtracked by Greensleeves, Gaudete and Gregorian chanting, with Chaucerian lavatorial humour!”

“Ah!” grinned Fennymore to McHaggis. “There you are! We’ve been waiting for you!”

We? Thought our hero. Whose -? Then it became clear: Fennymore was speaking to two burly policemen, and pointing to him.

“There he is, officers!” cried the treacherous Time-Lance Corporal. “He looks like he’s slept in a sewer, and stinks like it, too! Seize him!

McHaggis was indeed caught by the fuzz, one of the first to be arrested merely for his appearance and aroma. Will he be the last?



Readers of the Pavement were first introduced to McHaggis almost a year ago, in issue 144 of the magazine. A creation of the mag’s satirist-in-chief, Chris Sampson, McHaggis is a time-travelling agent of Time-Travel HQ. Relive some of his previous adventures below:

  • Issue 144: readers are introduced to McHaggis, who is originally simply a concept for a sitcom
  • Issue 146: McHaggis returns, this time as an agent of Time-Travel HQ, righting some of history’s wrongs
  • Issue 147: the most recent McHaggis adventure saw the time-traveller transport a star footballer from the future to the present
  • Now McHaggis has been sent on an assignment to bring 14th century cuisine to the present.