It's started closing in

PAST Midsummer's Day, it starts closing in. Well, there you are, then: Nature's a bugger, really. Physicists will tell you (whether you want to know or not) that beneath the gross, coarse, macroscopic surface of things, it's all excitement, glittering unpredictability, the world like a cat and nobody knows which way it will jump. Molecules swirl and jostle, electrons change orbit with a quantum click, quarks dance and sparkle, winking into existence like glow-worms or snowflakes in the headlights, then vanishing again. Why do they vanish? Because they couldn't have been there in the first place. There's physics for you, and no wonder they won't stop talking.

But for the rest of us, it's a different story. Being the sort of man I am, gross, coarse and macroscopic happen to suit me very well, but there are times when one could fancy a little more variety, the occasional surprise. But no; the natural world just goes through the motions, endlessly repeating itself while we strive to get a toehold on the numinous (bungee-jumping, religion, weird sex) or just give in, put our affairs in order and buy a new damp-course for the damnable house.

The solar system is the worst offender. Past Midsummer's Day, it starts closing in. I'd welcome a change. You'd notice it about now, three weeks on. "I say, fellas: anyone notice anything strange? About nightfall? Like, the days are still getting longer?" But it won't happen. Physics is against it. The orbits are fixed by gravity, and gravity isn't just a good idea; it's the law. And the nights start closing in.

They're closing in for me, and they're closing in for you. Other things are closing in for me as well. And for you, but you just haven't noticed it yet: the little signs: feeling sick when you see someone running; wanting to go to bed a lot; dreaming, not of orgies, but of libraries; deciding it's probably too late to give up smoking, then deciding Things are closing in for me. Other people notice it, too. A man noticed it in the women's shoe department of Top Shop last week. I had gone with my daughter on a Shoe Expedition, and I had expired on one of those low pouffes you always find in fashion shops. After a while a man came over.

"Are you all right, sir?" he said. He had a radio and boots and I imagine he was Store Police.

"I'm fine," I said.

"No, can I be of any assistance? Is everything all right?"

"Yes," I said. "Everything's fine."

He looked at me dubiously. "I am with my daughter," I said.

"Ah," he said, and clomped off to Police the Store. And it occurred to me that he thought I was a pervert, the sort of creepy, middle-aged pond- life who hang around shoe shops, sitting on low pouffes with their eyes at crotch-level, eyeing up the girls as they slink back and forth, wiggling, or bend over to adjust their ankle-straps, or extend a long coltish limb in a graceful gesture of invitation, they are gagging for it, she led me on, Your Honour, she was deliberately inciting me by going out to buy shoes with her clothes on and underneath her clothes she was wearing her body, she was asking for it, Not Guilty!

So I had a bit of a peer around, a speculative wetting of the lips, a bit of a shufti, try on a leer for size, you know the routine, yes you bloody do. And ... nothing. What I saw was young women, thinking about making themselves look nice or trying to look nice or making the best of themselves, young women who were loved or will be loved or had been or at least hoped to be, and even the silliest of them had plans, wanted homes and someone to care for and maybe babies. Even the cleverest of them. And I couldn't see them as candy, but as the future. They and their children would carry things on when I'm gone; entirely unaware of my existence, they would, all the same, make sure that things didn't just ... wink out when I am dead.

It's so predictable; the turning of the seasons, the tiring of the heart. One day someone in a white coat will say, "I'm sorry ... we did everything we could" and it will be me they're talking about, and I hope I have time to thank ... whoever for the young women spending their money on shoes so that they look nice and find someone and keep things going when I'm gone. It's closing in for me. It's closing in for all of us. But pop down to Top Shop and it won't seem so bad.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone