Thoughts that go bump in the night - Arts and Entertainment - The Independent

Thoughts that go bump in the night

WOKE UP the other morning, suddenly, at 4.30, absolutely frantic with worry about the Universe. You know the sort of thing, bottom sheet rucked up, inexplicable sand in the bed, tubercular glow of the street- lamps, cold sweat, palpitations.

It's not always the Universe. There are lots of other things to worry about: what is actually happening in my modem, where my other Space Pen - writes upside down, underwater, in zero gravity - has got to (Space, probably); whether there's a market for used pencil shavings, and, if so, what; who designs burglar-alarms' beeps, and how they feel about their work; whether I would finally be happy if I had a silver Zippo, a Fortis GMT chronograph, a Prince of Wales suit, a complete Oxford Latin Dictionary, the entire Creed range of gentlemen's eaux de parfum, a motorcycle and a Tyrolean hat; why Ginster's, Peter's, Miller's and all the other piemakers in the country are allowed to go on getting away with it; whether Frank Sinatra really is dead; whether there's any point lying in bed fretting or would it be better to get up and then risk feeling knackered all day ... so that, around 7pm I'd have to go out for a well-chilled Mai Tai just to keep going, but one thing would lead to another and I'd meet some paradisiac popsy in a sleazy bar who, hypnotised by my sesquipedalian manliness, would cry "Give it to me, big word!" and take me back to her place where I would be unable to Do It on account of being knackered because I hadn't had the sense to lie in bed fretting instead of getting up.

But the Universe leads the pack. You can worry about the Universe when you've exhausted all other possibilities. It even beats cancer. The only problem is, you never really seem to get anywhere. Sometimes you think you've got somewhere and you nod off happily enough, but then when you wake up there's nothing. Half-way through breakfast you think: "Good heavens! I actually got somewhere with the Universe last night!"; but try to be more specific and there's merely a vacuum, of the sort which Nature is supposed to abhor but doesn't.

I've been fretting about it more than usual lately, though. I finally managed to get the hang of quantum mechanics, which is as significant a piece of ammunition for a confirmed Universe-fretter as a new flesh- eating bacterium for a hypochondriac. At the same time, people have begun sending me unsolicited auguries and prognostications. A few days ago I got an entire horoscope by e-mail, full of stuff about trines and oppositions and rising signs, and basically telling me that I was going to have the most horrible year, not only of my life, but of anybody's, and that the purpose of my existence was to serve as a warning to others. And then the Jehovah's Witnesses turned up at the door, which, given that I live on the top floor and my bell doesn't work, is alarmingly spooky in itself.

So I decided to do something so unexpected, so egregious, that it would startle them into a radical re-assessment of their life and beliefs.

I invited them in for a cup of tea.

They sat down and I said, Nice weather, wouldn't you say, and they said, We've Jehovah to thank for that, and then they told me all about Jehovah (who, as far as I can see, is basically the same as God, except even more narrow-minded) and denounced my horoscope and explained how I could be saved, which was basically by listening to them and not listening to anyone else, which just goes to show that all religions are, at root, the same religion, credo in unum nostrum.

So I went out for a walk. You can think things through when you go out for a walk, don't you find? Assailed by stench and rumble, gassed by fumes and deafened by jabbering tourists and mad, pot-bellied roadwork gangs, the mind disengages itself from the surroundings and roams free. And so it did. I suddenly had an extraordinary insight, and I knew exactly what would happen. I would get home, and reach for my pen, at which point the insight would vanish completely. So I thought, This time it is not going to happen. I shall go to Tottenham Court Road and buy one of those speech bubbles, those tiny digital Thought Recorders that you can use to put down your Thoughts while walking along or having a bath or making love or even having just woken in a crumpled frenzy.

The process of getting to the shop and choosing my Thought Recorder of course completely drove from my mind the Thought I had wanted to Record, but I wasn't too upset. I was tooled up now, and ready for anything my brain could throw at me.

Four thirty the following morning, there it went again. Sudden catastrophic thudding, a tangle of sheets, eyes snapping open, brain screaming its head off: "The Universe! The Universe!" But this time I was ready. I grabbed my Thought Recorder, jabbed RECORD and started jabbering wildly. Got it all down, Turned over, went to sleep.

In the morning there it was. I listened to it over breakfast and it all made perfect sense: a perfect synthesis of Jehovah, the strong atomic force, quantum gravity, necromancy, astrology, New Age therapy and the moral failure of modern corporatism. I was, although I say it myself, most impressed.

Naturally, one doesn't want to keep it to oneself, so later that evening I popped out for a drink with some friends and took my Thought Recorder along too. At the appropriate moment, I pulled it out. "That's neat," they said. "What is it?"

"It's a Thought Recorder," I said. "Do you want to hear a Thought?"

"Yes please," they said.

I hit PLAY. "Right! Right, look!" it said. "The thing about the Universe is ... we're talking about discontinuity ... observable data's no good unless it follows the predictions of the theory ... the consistency isn't inherent in the methodology but interdisciplinary ... so far it's coherent ... the problem with God is - "

I turned it off. It was bollocks. My special Big Thought had gone off somehow, during the day. I have written a stiff note to the manufacturers insisting they rectify the problem. Until then, as far as the Universe is concerned, you'll just have to be patient.

Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
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.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week