This is a story about fresh starts...
My luck is astounding. In fact, it's almost enough to make me believe in divine intervention and go all religious. However, I've studied theoretical physics, so I don't believe in imaginary sky monsters.
Underpinning our entire understanding of the universe is a theory that says that our very existence - our consciousness - is determining the reality that we experience. To give you a simple example, when you look at the Moon, every single atom of the Moon must choose its position in the sky, but when you look away, all those atoms could be anywhere... it's as if the Moon doesn't exist until you choose to look at it. The very action of looking at the Moon is what makes it exist, roughly where we expect to see it, but until you turn your gaze to the night sky, those atoms are just a probability cloud.
Just as we all know that Schrödinger's cat is both alive and dead until we open the box and look inside, what is less well known is that same uncertainty principle means that if you're not able to witness the universe around us, it completely collapses into a mathematical mess of probability - basically, if you die, the universe dies with you.
"But that can't be true! People die all the time!" I hear you scream.
Yes, you're right, but how would you witness their death, unless you had your own universe in which to observe independently. You can prove this fairly simply, by having Alice and Bob both make observations of quantum mechanical experiments, and see who is the one who is influencing reality. If you're Alice, you'll see that Bob has no effect - it's all down to you, baby. This universe is all yours.
"He's lost his mind and gone hypomanic again" I hear you grumble with frustration.
Until you've read Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics by John Bell and you've read the various interpretations of quantum mechanics - from the Copenhagen mathematical abstract idea, to the multiverse and the many minds interpretations - then I'm afraid, dear reader, that you're not qualified to judge me.
If you go deep enough down the rabbit hole, then you arrive at a quantum suicide paradox, and quantum immortality. Basically, in all the possible universes where you die... how would you know about them? In an almost infinite number of ways, your brain and your consciousness have died, but there are still an almost infinite number of universes left where you're alive and well. Does your brain hurt from all this? Well, try taking a gun, pointing it at your head and pullling the trigger - you won't die! Quantum mechanics literally predicts that the gun will misfire. In the universes where your brains got blown to pieces, you won't be alive to witness the aftermath, so you'll only be consciously aware of the universes where the gun jams or misfires or malfunctions in some way.
Basicallly, re-imagine the Schrödinger's cat experiment, but if the cat dies, you die too. What would happen is that every single time you ran the experiment, you open the box and find the cat is alive. You could do that experiment a thousand times, and 1,000 cats would be alive and well. The reason is simple: who's going to open the box if you and the cat are both dead?
Without a god, this is the only way that I can reconcile my experience of reality with the vast quantity of scientific books and academic papers that I have read over the years. God(s) are far more convenient and quite a lot more fun. Imagine being an ancient Greek, or a Roman: you'd have had loads of gods to thank and blame for everything that happened, good or bad. Learning stories about these imaginary sky monsters is a lot easier and more fun than learning differential calculus, matrix mechanics and imaginary numbers.
How does any of this relate to me and leaving London? Well, only a few weeks ago, I thought I was going to be sleeping on a sheet of cardboard in a doorway, sheltering from the rain. I thought I was going to be scouring London for empty houses with overgrown back gardens, where I could pitch my tent in the undergrowth and live in quiet seclusion; free from the possibility of being beaten up or pissed on by a lager lout; safe from the chance that I might be mugged for anything valuable that hadn't already been stolen from me.
Every area of my life had collapsed. I'm estranged from my family. I had lost touch with friends. I had broken up with my girlfriend. I was in arrears with my rent. I had no job; no income. Just servicing my debts was going to gobble up the few pounds and pence I had left. I'd sold everything of any value and raised a fairly paltry sum of money for my weeks of effort. I was going to lose my deposit and be unable to raise the rent and deposit needed to get another place to live. How would I pay the ongoing rent anyway, without income? Destitution looked like a certainty.
Then, I looked at the Moon and the planets aligned or the gods smiled on me or whatever you want to believe, but my plans to commit suicide by taking a tramadol overdose got transformed into a plan for a fresh start: the chance to have another go at getting the secret recipe right: friends, family, home, work, income, expenditure, stress, fun and every other variable that needs to be tweaked until it's just right, and you want to live more than you want to die.
If you've never taken a razor blade or a sharp knife, and deliberately cut into yourself, looking for veins and arteries, then you'll have no idea what I'm talking about. The closer you get to death, the closer you get to meeting your maker. Stephen Hawking could have sought solace in the mumbo-jumbo of religion, believing in an afterlife, after finding out that he had between 2 and 4 years to live, when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Instead, he wrote "A Brief History of Time" and discovered that black holes evaporate by radiating X-rays and wins the Nobel Prize at the age of 71. He's 75 years old now. He says that "god" is the universal laws of physics, which are still not fully understood by us... the Standard Model of particle physics is good, but it's just a model - there's no theory that explains why there are up quarks, down quarks, top, bottom, strange, beauty and charm. What the f**k is a tau neutrino and why do we need them? There's no theory that tells us for definite whether an electron is a fundamental particle and we've never actually seen a proton decay, although we have smashed them to bits and tried to figure out what the hell they're made out of, by looking at the pieces of debris that come flying out of the collision.
We're living in an age where we can actually make antimatter. You know that science fiction stuff? It's the most expensive substance on the planet, and you can't charge for it by weight because it has negative mass. That is to say, if you put it on some scales, it would float up and not weigh them down... you'd have to PAY to have people take your antimatter away, and you'd only need a tennis ball sized amount to pretty much destroy our whole planet, because of course as you know E = mc2 and there's a f**king shit tonne of energy bound up in matter. When antimatter meets matter, the matter is annihilated into pure energy and you'll get something that will beat the shit out of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and every nuclear explosion ever detonated all put together.
Do you want to see my life, reduced to atomic scale?
There it is. 7 cardboard boxes, a couple of bikes, a bag full of kitesurfing gear, a guitar that I'm too talentless to play and its amplifier, and a filing cabinet full of old post that I really should throw away. I'll be adding in a load of duvets and bedding and clothes that I only wear infrequently, but it's sad how my entire life doesn't even fill this tiny space, when compressed like atomic fusion.
I leave this riverside apartment, which to all intents and purposes looks idyllic to the uninitiated, but in fact, the endless boats full of drunk people dancing to disco music - in their flared trousers or whatever the kids are wearing these days - is nearly continuous on the river side, and the local watering hole - the Tooke Arms - has a police van parked outside every Friday and Saturday night, to take away those who inevitably become so drunk and disorderly that they no longer appreciate the saintly patience of our beloved Metropolitan Police. You really REALLY have to piss off a London policeman to get yourself arrested. Trust me; I've been there, done that and got the bracelets (handcuffs). You don't get to keep any souvenirs, unless you want to frame your cautions and criminal charges (I have none of the latter, and I don't know if they even give you a certificate, like when you graduate from university).
I'm around in the capital for a little while longer, so if you want to say goodbye in person, then you should register your interest now. The day that I leave with as many bags as I can carry on the train, keeps getting pushed back and back and back, but it'll be worth it, especially if I get to meet two twin boys for the first time - the baby sons of the couple who rescued me from a messy divorce and a very unhealthy mess I'd gotten myself into.
It's interesting, when you're challenged to think what you really need, day to day. There are your favourite clothes, of course. There's your phone and your laptop and the accompanying accessories, but there's very little else. I'll take my Lumix camera with a Leica lens, even though my iPhone takes perfectly good photographs. I'll take my headphone amplifier, even though I can already deafen myself with earphones that only cost £30. I'll take 2 books I want to read, even though they're heavy and made out of tree pulp, and once I've read them they're just wasting valuable space on the planet and depriving us of oxygen giving trees. I'll take my suit - which is virtually brand new - and overcoat, even though it's total overkill to look like a sleazy salesman, in whatever off-the-peg trendy fashionable garments were available that season.
I've not even seen inside where I'm going to live. It's a total gamble, but it's bound to be better than a doorway that smells of piss and has spikes on the ground to discourage you from trying to shelter from the elements there.
As I wrote in a stupid lovesick poem a little while ago, I don't remember ever feeling this daunted and exposed; fearful & anxious. One little slip and the whole house of cards comes tumbling down, and the devastation that I felt when I lost the Lloyds contract earlier this year will look like a piss in the ocean by comparison.
It's almost like I'm holding the universe to ransom: I'm saying "gimmie what I want or I'll kill myself". Obviously, nobody gives that much of a fuck about threats like that. In fact, if you were to beg your doctor to put you in a safe place, where you couldn't harm yourself, that very act of self-preservation would be proof that you don't actually want to die: Catch 22.
Anyway, the universe has ponied up and given me everything I ever wanted: 98 out of my 101 things on my bucket list. Every cloudy evening, I think "oh bummer, no nice sunset tonight" and then there's this beautiful sky that suddenly appears all lit up in orange and gold, and with wispy white vapour trails from the planes overhead, and every shade of grey in amazing cloud formations.
I could share 100 photos with you, every one of the same view from the same vantage point, but every one has something of interest, even though it's the same skyline. Whether it's fireworks going off on New Year's Eve, or a long-exposure shot of the supermoon, taken with an 8 second shutter on a tripod. Those who are of the Christian faith, would say I've been "blessed". I simply view my consciousness as an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, but also a complete accident - simply a statistical co-incidence. I've been very sad to lose things and I've suffered terrible stress at times, but I always get what I want in the end, even if it seems like blind luck.
I want to share more. I want to write and write, but if you read what I wrote before, you'll understand the fragility of my situation; the precarious position I find myself in.
I know that I'm revealing a side to myself that has no place in this day & age of mindless 'entertainment' programmes, where some botoxed pretty-boy with teeth that are blindingly white, chats mindless bullshit to a bottle blonde with big fake titties. I read "Brave New World" and other dystopian and utopian novels when I was very young. One of the kindest gifts I ever received from my dad - as I remember - was a book that explained special relativity for kids. Imagine that! Imagine having your 8 year old son travelling on a beam of light looking at his watch and seeing the hands tick just like normal, but when he comes home, Dad's been dead for millions or billions of years. That's just f**ked up.
I'll write again, before I go, but it's 1am and I'll have a regular 9 to 5 job soon. it won't be quite like the corporate humdrum I'm used to, but I've still got to play by certain rules; societal norms. I've got a week to straighten myself out.
I want to tell you about all the hidden gems of London that you'd only know if you've lived here for 10 years or more. I want to share my heartache about leaving the capital of the country that my identity is inextricably bound to. I speak the Queen's english with an old-fashioned BBC TV presenter's posh accent. "Sorry" is a kind of punctuation, where I start and end every sentence with what seems like an apology, but it's not... it's just the product of that inexplicable 'Britishness' that we offer insincere apologies all the time: "Sorry", "begging your pardon", "excuse me" and even the British "ahem!" cough that basically says "get the f**k out of my way you piece of s**t tourist" with an insipid smile as the feckless idiot steps out of the gangway they're blocking.
Oh London, I'm going to miss you so very much. With your cultural collision that's so inclusive that the sum total of all the terrorist attacks has claimed less than 100 lives, ever. 52 on the 7th of July 2005, but all the others don't even take the total into 3 figures. How can you strike a blow against a city that speaks more languages than any other on the planet. New York - in 2nd place - speaks half as many languages as London, which can boast 100+. To attack London is to attack humanity itself.
There would be novelty if I was moving to New York or Tokyo (numbers 99 and 100 on the bucket list) but to experience another major city in the UK is still exciting. I just hope it isn't like Bournemouth - trying so hard to be like London, or even like Brighton, but ending up as a cheap and tacky pastiche that offends the sensibilities of a genuine Londoner.
Of course, those born in London call me a "blow in" and mock my privileged existence, but taking the example of my friends with the twins. Their house cost them the equivalent of £1.3 million, and the beneficiaries were what the British refer to as "benefit scroungers" - people who've never worked a day in their lives and have now f**ked off to Spain, where they live in idle luxury, as tax exiles.
Oh London, how I love thee.
Better publish this or I'll be writing all night again.