Monday, 22 October 2012


I'm really glad you put me in this situation, I am. What a lovely way to start my existence, but the weight of thoughts you happened to burden me with, I'm not so sure. I know that I will only ever exist for these 24 hours, part of some sort of clinical trial, that we all shall only exist for this one day, but really, did you have to shove all of this into my head, these memories, this history, these neuroses and inadequacies, the fumbling and tumbling, the hopes and failures, whilst I wake up happy I feel so small.

I had a dream before I was born, I dreamed a life prior to my waking, and in the life I dreamed I went to bed and slept and had a dream, a dream that the trains and buses were cancelled and I wouldn't have to go to work. All these ideas, these notions, placed into my brain by you, whomsoever granted me this perception of a life lived prior to this moment. Why did you give me this need to work, or, at least, this obligation to not let them down, to arrive on time, to wake up early and leave something fun and exciting and electric, to keep my passions in check. Why should I do that? After all, this is the only day I will ever exist, this is the only day you will ever exist, this is the only time any of this will ever be here.

I would say that tomorrow it will all be gone, but there is no tomorrow, tomorrow is part of the perception that you have implanted into my head, this idea of past and future it's all make believe, made by you, otherwise what would I be? I'd be a confused baby, my own limbs a puzzle that I have to decipher and by the time I do time is already up.

How I wish I could seize the moment, take this sole day of my existence and truly live it, throw absolute caution to the wind and not to go to work, it doesn't matter, because tomorrow they will be gone and before today they never knew me. But this, this present happiness, the one thing that would make being alive for a day worthwhile, I casually, nonchalantly, walk it outside and bid farewell.

In this dark, gloomy winter morning I marvel at the world and all its detail, impressed by how much effort has gone into this fleeting reality. Are all your realities like this or is this one just here for me? Either way, today, my one day, I'd like to say thank you.

As I take my train to work I wonder whether the things outside of my immediate awareness continue to exist, now that I'll never see you again does that mean you're gone for good? I've been conditioned to remember a phrase about thinking oneself to be the centre of the universe, but knowing what I know, I imagine that to be true. It's a phrase that was created in order to make the idea of being the sole focus of your attention seem arrogant, but, it's accurate. Like a character in a video game that I've never played but remember playing the world only exists as far as I can see it and beyond that there is nothing, an emptiness ready to fill with colour and shape as I head toward it.

For the most part though, on this singular day, the designs are simple, I move from a box to a foggy street (the fog hides the fact that the distances I only have memories of have not been generated) into another box that travels along a track, my view carefully obscured, I change into a box underground, so need for detail in the dark, and find myself stepping into the next box and taking my seat, and I will spend a third of my day sat here, waiting for that moment when I get to do my journey in reverse.

I feel like I should challenge the universe, stand up from my desk and unexpectedly walk outside and then run, run down the alley out into the street, run up the street towards the park, race through the park, my desire making me ignorant of my sweat, my lack of breath, who needs such things when I am but a fleetingly improvised man, the faster I run maybe I can out-run the universe, find the point where reality ends, where you lose track of me, you forget to keep creating and I dash beyond the world that I only believe has existed for millions of years, the Earth that I blindly accept will be here tomorrow and that I shall always, in some form, be attached to, that this sense of self, this chemical perception that sits behind these eyes telling me I'm me, that I am forever, I am eternal, and not, as sometimes I have told myself I wonder, merely a moment, a thing that can never truly exist, because each single second is gone by the time I have realised it was there, and that with every single one that passes I edge closer to tomorrow, to the day where I don't exist, where nothing exists, but by then it'll be too late and all this worry about what tomorrow brings will be unable to take shape, you will have closed the lid, filed it away, done your studies, that was interesting, but I have other things to do, goodbye.

So I sit, I wait, I send emails to people who I only assume exist, I answer the telephone to the disembodied voices and take their messages, I perform these tasks in the hope of earning enough to keep me in some form of comfort, such pointless hopes, when I, this very morning, denied myself the one thing that might have made this one day worthwhile.

Eventually the sky will grow dark again, such a neat bookend, I will rise from my seat, leave this box, go to the station and make a mirror image of myself, return to my home, climb back into my bed, this time alone, draw the sheet around myself and remember this morning, though now I am not sure whether this morning even existed at all, I have come on too far, the past is just a memory, there is no evidence of it ever having been other than my own unreliable recollection, a thought that could have been placed there to excuse the fact that tonight I die and shall be born again tomorrow.

Good night.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

A Man Appeared In Court Today...

You know that dream where you're naked in class? I thought I was having that dream, but for some reason I didn't wake up, and the chill on my skin felt most undreamlike. A teacher screamed and one kid quickly grabbed a coat from the rack and threw it at me, whilst another kid shouted 'Not my coat you knobber!' I also remembered that before this I hadn't been in a classroom in nine years.

I walked sheepishly home, the small child's coat wrapped as best I could get it around my nakedness, trying to figure things out in my head.

The reason I thought it was a dream was because I had been asleep, I had been asleep in my bed at home, I had been naked in bed, so if I had sleep-walked all the way to this school it figures that I would have been naked there, but this school is four miles from my flat, surely a man can't walk naked through the streets of South London and stroll starkers into a school, depositing himself into the middle of a geography class without someone noticing and, more to the point, preventing him?

That was what struck me as most odd, that the time - according to the clock on the wall in the assembly hall of the school that I noted as I dashed out of the building - was 9.45am. Class had clearly been in progress for some time, yet I had also managed to place myself in the centre of the room, on the floor between two desks, and had only been noticed once I had arrived there.

Behind me I could hear a car slowing to a crawl, I knew who it was before they said a word, so I stopped walking and waited for the policeman to speak.

I was tested for drugs and alcohol, I was hoping there'd be some residual presence of the jagerbombs we'd done last night, because I figured if they found neither they'd just assume I was a paedophile. They asked me if I had been drinking, I told them about the night before, and I lied, told them I didn't remember how I got home, in the hopes that their Holmes-like brains would incorrectly assume that I'd drunkenly broken into a school and fallen asleep in the classroom.

Eight hours later I was released without charge, but lots of stern warnings. I returned home where I had to implore a neighbour to let me use their phone so I could call a locksmith, I had to write out an IOU to them saying I would reimburse them for the phone credit used, when I asked for a cup of tea they added an extra 70p to the IOU.

I went to my room to get dressed, sat on the mattress, it squelched under me and I leapt back to my feet. Cautiously placing a hand onto the bed I could feel a sloppy dampness, as if it had been glazed in egg yolk, and holding my fingers up to the light I could see a thin, gloopy substance with small crystals, kind of like hair gel.

After six rings Jessica answered the phone, she was still in bed, though she was awake and watching a documentary about hippos.

"How's your head?" she laughed.

"Fine, I've been in the police station all day."

"What!? What did you do?"

"Nothing... Well, I... You remember last night, right?"

"Sure, I wasn't that drunk."

"We shared a taxi, me, you and Rich, and I was dropped off first..."

"Yeah, but, why were you at the police station?"

"So, you saw me go into my flat, you saw me go home?"

"Yeah, well, no, but we saw you get out of the cab outside your flat. What did you do?"

"I didn't do anything, but I definitely went home, I got home, I went in, I went to bed."

"What happened?"

"I woke up in a school."


"My old secondary school, I was in class, naked."

"Are you sure this wasn't a dream?"

"If it was, then it was a very long and rather boring dream involving eight hours in a police station and two hours locked outside my flat."

I repeated the day's events to Jessica, enjoying her laughter and slightly embellishing certain details for her amusement. Last night we'd been out at the Frog & Bucket, it was supposed to be a quiet drink, just the three of us, but a group of city boys were in the pub having an arrogant, swaggering piss up and I couldn't help but swipe some shots from off of their table. A combination of the crime going unnoticed and the dizzying rush of godawful sambuca helped send us giddily from tipsy to smashed.

Shortly thereafter Rich was humouring the city boys at the bar and Jessica had gone to the bathroom, I decided I need to go as well, and Jessica and I passed on the small stairway down to the toilets, her going up, me descending, we had to place our backs to the wall to pass, our middles brushing close, Jessica beamed and said "Oh, hello!" in a Carry On-like fashion, and then we just kissed, both instinctively just leaning forward and we kissed.

After a short while we stopped and carried on our respective journeys. Nothing like that had ever happened between us before, it was so unprecedented I didn't even really hit me until later that night, in the taxi home, I felt silly and childish, like I did after my first kiss with Melanie Woodman behind the canteen building at school, we were both in top set geography together, we used to sit in the very classroom I woke up in today, at the very desks I was between.

That had been what I was thinking as I fell asleep, I had been wondering about Melanie Woodman, remembering her sneaky little grin when we'd glance at one another in class.

At the end of my conversation with Jessica I was confused, she'd laughed a lot, and I'd said things like; 'So last night was fun...' I wanted to mention the kiss on the stairs, but I couldn't bring myself to do it, what if she was embarassed about it, and I didn't want to treat it like a joke, because it wasn't a joke to me, it felt like something, it could be something, couldn't it?

I woke up in pain, I was at an angle, it was dark still, I was on a cold tiled floor, but the floor was stepped, there was a chemical smell, detergent and mop water. I didn't need to open my eyes to know where I was, I was on the stairs at the Frog & Bucket.

I stood, my back cracking from the awkward position I had found myself in, my naked skin kissing off the gloss, hurrying up the stairs I could see early morning light in the sky outside, but the pub, understandably was shut. I searched, carefully and quietly, for a set of spare keys, but no luck.

However a thought that yesterday would have seemed ludicrous had begun to enter my mind. I climbed into a booth, lay down on the soft padded seating, got as cosy as I could and tried to go to sleep.

"Oi, mate! What the fuck do you think you're doing?"

I opened my eyes, it was bright, I hadn't slept terribly well and now this voice had brought me out of what scant slumber I was in. But worse, I was still in the pub, still lying naked in the booth, except now the bar manager was staring at me and he was holding a broom in an aggressive stance.

The same policemen interviewed me, they gave me the same withering look that my mother would give me whenever I inevitably hurt myself after a stern warning not to be so boisterious.

"Drunk again, were we?"

"Well I was in a pub." I replied, a little too quickly and sarcastically, I instantly regretted saying it, I apologised. "No, I hadn't been drinking, I... just... um..."

"How did you get in?"


"Into the pub. There were no signs of a break in."

I lied to the police again, "One of the windows was open."

"I see," the policeman with heterochromia said whilst making a note.

Then they sat there for a bit, the two of them, just sort of staring at me, figuring me out and I stared back, feeling a bit cheeky that this is the second time they've had to loan me clothes in as many days.

"You'll be pleased to hear that Derek doesn't want to press any charges. But listen, if this happens again you'll be spending a night here, all right?"

I bothered the same neighbour, made another IOU, called the same locksmith, waited the same two hours for him to finally arrive, and shamefully entered my flat and went to my bed to find the same icky matter staining the freshly laundered sheets I'd put on yesterday.

Out of concern for my health I ran my hand along the bed cover, gathering as much of this slop up as I could and deposited it into a tuppaware container.

It was early afternoon, the police had treated me with more haste today, though I undoubtedly believed that if I wound up there again tomorrow they'd really take their time with me, and I was certain they'd stick to their word and shove me in the cells, at least for one night.

But, more than anything I was crestfallen. I had been certain of my hypothesis that sleep had been the cause, perhaps I hadn't been thinking about my own home hard enough, maybe that was why, or the discomfort of lying naked in a pub had kept me on edge, I hadn't been able to enter a deep sleep. Yes! That must be it. But, I needed to find out.

Fortunately there was a half used box of Nytol in the bedside drawer, remnants from two ex-girlfriends ago, I figured it'd be fine to take one, though it felt strange doing so at two in the afternoon. I decided to set optimum napping conditions, I went into the front room, lay on the sofa, put on the telly, it was some asinine homes show, the guests were nattering about a cottage in Porthmadog, I popped a pill and cosied up. I thought about my bed, my bed just upstairs, I tried to picture it clearly in my head, its position in the room, the feel of lying in it, where I like to lie, the right hand side, stretched out, one hand under a pillow, my bed.

I woke up, the sun was either setting or rising, I couldn't tell, but what I could tell is that the sky I could see was from a window that shouldn't be in my room, which meant I was in a room that wasn't my room, and standing I could see I was in a lounge, immaculately decorated, with a view of a bay, it was the house from the television show, the cottage in Porthmadog.

Despite falling asleep in my clothes I was naked again and I didn't know whether to first go to the telephone or to t ry and find something to wear. I crept around the rooms, the cottage to seemed to be reassuringly vacant, but I still winced with every unexpected knock and squeak as I tip-toed through the dark, expecting, at any moment, a set of keys to jangle toward a lock, or a light to suddenly illuminate my nakidity. On the plus side, I thought, if I do get caught, at least it'll be a different pair of policemen giving me a bollocking.

I found a bedroom, there were various items of jewellry strewn on a cabinet, so I assumed that this cottage did have inhabitants but they just weren't here, and, as I then discovered, they were of a size rather larger than I.

With a dressing gown almost double-wrapped around me I slunk back downstairs and picked up the landline, suddenly realising that I don't know Jessica's number off by heart, nor any number bar my childhood telephone number which my parents had made me memorise in case I was ever lost, but that was no help now as they'd sold the house to be bulldozed and developed into a supermarket over ten years ago.

Then the foolishness of my situation struck me, I wouldn't need to phone anyone at all, I would just have to fall asleep and think of somewhere safe, and do so in an environment where my thoughts could not be distracted by reality television. The only catch now being that I didn't feel at all tired and, after scavenging through their cupboards, couldn't find any kind of sleeping pills or sedatives.

I didn't much fancy hanging around until I felt naturally tired, the Nytol had done a great job and I felt rested and refreshed.

What I did find though was a large bottle of vodka, and I figured that desperate times call for desperate measures, in this instance, quadruple measures, with a splash or two of orange juice to take the edge off.

I knocked back the first glass in one go, the after taste was horrendous, like being punched in the stomach and having some spray deodorant in your mouth at the same time. Fortunately, as is usually the case with alcohol, the second and third glasses tasted progressively more palatable, and by the fourth my brain was starting to sway uneasily in its casing. I staggered, lop-sided around this cottage and found myself, for some unknown reason, re-enacting the reality show that I had fallen asleep to earlier.

"Oh, look at the exposed beams!" I cooed to my imaginary husband (I was playing the wife), "Such character! Yes," the husband agreed, clearly not interestested in exposed beams. "If you'll follow me up the grand eshcalier," the host joined in, "to the master boudoir." I don't know why I made him so camp, he wasn't like that at all in the show, but I was giggling to myshelf now asssss I mayyde my whhay upppp d' stairsh and, y'know, I'm luuuccky, I really am, and, and I got this power, I could go anywhhhhere, yesssh, I, well, I, they tried, if they try to lock-ock me up in d'at cell, well, I'lllll, yes, I'll laugh in their facesh, ha ha, in both those poleeeshhhman's faces...

I woke up, I could hear the silence and I could sense a presence, and I opened my eyes to see that I was about three feet off of the floor, lying on a desk, my face pressed against some papers, the rest of my bare skin amongst various items of stationery and, as I arched my body round to survey the situation, the now entirely expected faces of the two policemen stared with a mixture of disdain and supressed laughter.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Day I Invented Time Travel

People always ask me about time travel, and about how, if I go back in time, reality doesn't collapse in on itself. You know, if you do something in the past, that changes the future, surely you should unmake yourself or something.

Well, it turns out that all of reality is actually entirely subjective, all the people who think they're the centre of the universe are right, every living being on the planet is its own universe and the reality which we perceive is the only one that - technically - exists.

Therefore, if you travel back in time you are only changing your perception of reality, and you can't go back and change something in the past in order to directly effect the future and unmake yourself, because the past is only a memory, and the past or future you may travel to is merely an alternate present.

In fact, the thing about time travel is that you aren't travelling into the past or the future, you are always in the present, it is just your perception of the present that has changed.

So, I invented time travel on a Wednesday, at about three in the afternoon, but by the time I realised what I had done it was five years earlier, same day of the week though, but now it was four in the morning. I was sat in the same place, except now I was staring at myself instead of the boggle-eyed cat clock hanging just behind my head.

I was scared, naive at this point, that seeing myself would cause some sort of paradox, but that's impossible, because that me is composed of different matter, pieces of the past if you will. But, it was at this point that I realised the true nature of time travel, because, if going back would alter the future then I would have always had this memory of having met myself in the past, but I didn't, this was unexpected. Now, if I were to travel to tomorrow, the me I would meet then would of course remember meeting me, but only because yesterday has always happened, and if I travelled further forwards to meet the me sat at that kitchen table on the day I invented time travel then he probably wouldn't be there doing what I did when I did it, he's a product of a now alternate future, something that never existed in any form prior to my journey into the past, yet my past, the past where I invented time travel has and always will exist.

Now, I'm not saying there are a series of parallel yet alternate universes and realities happening simultaneously, and even if there are I do doubt that we could travel between them, I think that's where your paradoxes and science fiction starts to occur. But, this singular perceived reality, the reality of my head, can be transformed as much as I care, heck, I could go all the way back and kill every organism on the planet at the dawn of creation and yet I would still exist, I'd just be real lonely for the rest of my natural life.

You see, once you do something in the past the only way to undo it is to then go back before it happened and change it that way, kind of like going back and stopping the guy from walking under the roof slate about to fall on his head, then, when you go forwards again you can see the reality that follows.

Once this clicked in my own brain I tried to think about what I would most want and how best to achieve that in a way that would benefit me, the time traveller.

You see, the problem is now that I have shifted my present off of its linear course I don't particularly exist, the only space where I think I can continue to exist is in the time after I first vanished. I haven't been back there yet, but, like I said earlier I may have altered things in my perception of reality to mean that I don't time travel on that day. Therefore I will be ambling about, doing my thing, and I don't want to have share a continued linear existence with a duplicate of myself.

As I age I keep track of where, in the present I was born and grew into, I would be. It's not Wednesday anymore, it's four months later, a Friday evening, though I currently exist one hundred years ago in a French cafe.

One day I plan to go back and pick up my life where I left off, but I need to do it silently. If anything I hope that some sort of quiet accident happens to me in the future and I get there to find my dead body, which I can secretly get rid of and just carry on as if nothing changed. But I don't know if I can leave this to chance anymore, and the more I wait the more I worry I'll go back and find out I died in some terrible, public way that means I can no longer be myself in the time I am accustomed to.

Or what if I get married, have kids, a career, but they are all different to that which I had planned for myself, and I have to sit there, once I resume my life, like a prisoner, married to a woman I don't love, with children that aren't mine and a job I despise.

But then I realise that I am not a time traveller, and that this is my life, and I look away from the computer screen and drink my coffee, time travels forwards at a rate we are all accustomed to, I am not the centre of the universe, and I can't go back and change a thing.