Bees, Red Admirals, Ants and Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Quantum Physics

by Andrew Foote

Chapter 5

Mr Gordon lived in what is now commonly referred to as a Two up, Two down terraced town house. Age indeterminate, but probably built in the mid eighteen hundreds to house working class families during the industrial revolution; an era, I hasten to add, which was completely lost on Sonning, due to it having no industry whatsoever, revolutionary, or otherwise. None whatsoever unless, indeed, you choose to accept the local blacksmith's emporium as an industry.

The fact that these dinky little properties were built at all, came as a great surprise to the other, more solid constructions, for they were not built from lumps of fired clay, oh no! They were of proud stone, stone hewn by the blood, sweat and many tears of quarry's that got quite upset at being quarried in the first place.

We walked hand in hand. Footsteps light, yet measured. Like well-drilled soldiers parading for the Queen. Soldiers that learned their craft somewhere nasty, like the cold northeast of England.

During the winter.

In the rain.

Gabriel seemed apprehensive.

"I hope we manage to get to the bottom of this timeline / wheel of life mumbo-jumbo today?"

"I know. Me too, but still there's a part of me that's not convinced that it means much of anything, and all he's trying to do is mess with our heads."

"Pfft! He's already managed that! What I don't get, is why is it no-one else ever talks about it? Listen to the news, and like, you hear stuff like, The Footsie One Hundred suffered a downturn this morning, or The Dow Jones Industrial Average is holding steady at, whatever, so why not monitor the wheel of life and the timelines? 'Today the Wheel of life slowed momentarily to twenty-five hundred RPM, and the subsequent ripples throughout time and space caused the timelines to wobble a bit. Never mind, - things will return to an even keel eventually, they always do, you know, timelines?'"

"We'll have to beg the question once we're there."

"Here we are. This is his place. I reside at Number One, he told me, which confused the hell out of me to begin with. I always thought that number one was usually found one or other end of a street, so that's where I looked. Thing was, I found it okay, but when I saw there was a Rottweiler loafing about in the front garden, I knew I'd make a mistake somehow."

"What made you think that?"

"Because, not only does Mr Gordon not look like a dog owner, he never mentioned owning one, like ever. I mean, surely he would've told me if he owned a Rottie?"

"Yeah. He would've. Anyway, what happened next?"

"It's obvious, yeah? You go look for another Number One!"

"And this is it? Like sandwiched between one hundred and twenty-three and one hundred and twenty-seven?"

"I know! That's the point, right? I always believed that street numbers, whether odd or even, went up in a logical order, like one, three, five, seven, nine, or maybe even two, four, six, eight, ten. Me believing that one hundred and twenty-five should be in between one hundred and twenty-three and one hundred and twenty-seven, and discovering that I'd got it wrong all my life? Well, it was rather upsetting, actually?"

"I don't suppose it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, the number's two and five had fallen off, thus leaving the only number on the wall intact, was the single number one?"

"Not at the time? But then neither had it occurred to Mr Gordon, because when I knocked the door, there he was. Tea and chocolate digestives, and the most confusing conversation ever!"

"Ah, there you are, and dot on time! Welcome. Welcome to my humble home! Please do make yourselves comfortable, and I'll make us some tea."

While Gabriel decided to sit, I remained standing, looking around the room.

Like he'd said, all the furniture seemed very dated but in good condition. The leather Chesterfield Gabriel had chosen to sit on had faded over the decades, yet it wasn't worn, and neither were there the tell-tale signs of heavy usage, like indentations caused by many bums having damaged the upholstery.

You couldn't see the walls for the many photographs that adorned them. All these photos were of kids, and always two in each photo. Some were young kids, like me and Gabriel's age, but some were of older, like maybe seventeen or eighteen year-olds. All these photos were the same size and in same identical frames, but the one that grabbed my attention, and by grabbing, I mean it mesmerised me. – was an eighteen by fourteen inch landscape image of a Kingfisher in full flight. It talked to me, dragged me towards it, almost as if I felt compelled to reach out and touch it, but knowing that if I did, I'd frighten the bird into flying off the photo, never to be seen again.

"Wow!" I said, almost reverently. "Wouldn't you just look at that! I've never seen anything quite like it, not ever!"

I hadn't heard Mr Gordon come back, but the smell of hot, strong tea and the sweet aroma of cake assaulted my senses.

"Do you like it, Rhys?"

"I love it! No wonder you won first prize? It's absolutely amazing!"

"Thank you! I'm so pleased! Now, shall we take tea before it cools? Oh, and the cake, I baked especially for you, so I do hope you like it?"

"You did?"

"Oh yes. You see, I know that both of you boys have a sweet tooth, and so I thought, if I combined fresh wild strawberries with clotted cream within a light and delicate sponge, I could conjure up something special that you might well enjoy."

I turned to see Gabriel blushing furiously!

"How did you know?"

"That, my boy, is easy. It's all there in the timelines. Without telling you things I'm not permitted to tell you, there will come a time when you'll reside in a place that has sweet wild strawberries growing in abundance. Clotted cream will feature in your lives in the form of a most enjoyable recreational activity, so by combining both ingredients together in cake form, I think you will discover that by eating it, will come new enlightenment. Now, why don't we eat and drink, and while we do so, if you think of an important question you would like to ask, then I will attempt to answer it, but please remember, we have other pressing matters to cover today."

"You have a question for me, Gabriel?"

"Yeah. It's like, the all-time biggie."

"Which is?"

"Does God exist?"

"Is there any particular reason for asking?"

"Err…… yeah. There is as a matter of fact?"

"Then tell the reason, and then, if I am able, I will try and give you an answer."

"Well…… I don't know how much you understand about religion, but I'm, or rather, I was, raised as a Catholic, and as such, I'm expected to be confirmed this coming Thursday evening. Okay so far?"


"See…… I don't think I believe in God. My folks say they do, even if they almost never attend any services, so it's like I get confirmed because they tell me to get confirmed because they say they believe, and as a kid I have to do as I'm told, yet I don't believe, so I don't see the need to get confirmed. Um…… are you still okay with this?"

"Of course?"

"Right. So where was I."

"Were not, or rather, you are not, feeling the need to get confirmed."

"Thanks. So yeah, um…… see, if I don't feel the need to get confirmed, and if I kick up enough of a stink that my parents say like, okay, don't bother then, but then I find out later that God really did exist, I'd feel bad about it. But then, if I went ahead anyway, but found out later that God didn't exist, then it would be like, what a stupid waste of time, that was! But given I don't believe in God, yet go ahead anyway, wouldn't that be like, hypocritical of me?"

"Gabriel? God does not exist, well, not in the way you imagine, but let me say this. Every race on this planet feel the need to believe in a higher Archie, because they lack understanding. In much the same way as the human race, a loose term to be sure, cannot cope mentally with the concept of infinity, everything has to have an end point. Walk across a room and you find walls at the end of that room. Walk across this country you call home, and you will end up at the end of the land and fall into the ocean. All that makes sense to you, but to imagine taking off into the stratosphere in a space rocket where your journey can never end, is much the same thing as believing there is no God, no afterlife, and no-one to turn to in times of trouble. A nothingness. A void.

Now, let us think very carefully about possible alternatives, shall we?

Having established the fact that there is no God, would you like to tell me about what we haven't established?"

Gabriel's face was a blank. He'd stopped with the cake frenzy to the point where a trickle of clotted cream ran down from his lips.

I leaned across, used a finger to wipe it off, then stuck my finger in my mouth.

Gabriel giggled, so I decided to pitch in.

"Okay if I try and answer that, Mr Gordon?"

"By all means, Rhys!"

"I don't believe, never believed, and what's more, I've never even thought about it. If there had been a God, then my fate had already been decided before today due to some stupid things that happened in the past, and most likely compounded by stupid things I'll do in the future, yeah? And that makes me like, non-partisan in all this, right?

Now, having established the non-existence of God, you asked us to think about what hasn't been established, which I have to say is plenty of stuff. But thinking about the subject under discussion rather than me wondering if another slice of The Cake To Kill For is a good idea or not, perhaps, maybe, possibly? Could it be that we've got it all wrong, and there's more than one God?"

Me Gordon looked at me; he was smiling. His eyes sparkled.

"Do go on, Rhys?"

"Yeah…… like, what if there were loads of gods, all these loads of gods working as a team to make sure the world kept on turning? I mean. Hey! How about this! Maybe there's zillions of gods, like all over the place.

Gods driving the universe! Each with his allotted task.

Gods controlling everything like,

The weather.

The tides.

Gods that control our thoughts.

Our actions.

Gods who introduce us to the person of our dreams.

Teach us how to love.

Teach us how to care for each other, and

I think I'd better sit down now. I've got a headache."

As we walked from the house hand in hand, we both agreed that the afternoon had been, well…… weird and informative in equal measure. Religion had been put to bed as being a harmless enough pastime, and if that's how you found solace and peace of mind, then why not? If Gabriel decided to carry on and be confirmed, then that was okay too, but we were both cautioned thus:

"Yes, by all means, carry on, Gabriel, but please bear in mind, both of you boys, that it's only a pageant, or a spectacle. See it in the same light as you would Morris dancing, or children dancing around a maypole. Such things cannot harm you, and neither does participating in a religious event, however, it is not the truth. The truth is something I will pass on to you another time; sooner, I hope, rather than later.

Unfortunately, today we ran out of time, and we were unable to get to grips with the subjects required to fully prepare you for your future lives, and as important, take measures to fully ensure that the potential catastrophe we talked of, cannot occur. So, with this in mind, would you like to come to tea again tomorrow afternoon?"

"He was pleased with you today, was Mr Gordon?"

"Yeah, but the thing is, I don't know why I even thought I knew the answer. He did a pretty good job of squaring away the God problem, yeah? The boy did really good. Well, it worked for me anyhow, but then I've never been a believer anyway. A lot I know, huh? But when I spouted off that stuff…… it was like someone else, someone with a big brain had taken over my vocal chords."

"Okay, but then he said that there was lots of stuff tucked away in our heads we don't know about."

"Yeah. Like how is it that everyone knows how to tie a reef knot, even though no-one's ever shown them how to do it?"

"Good example!"

"But I'm not so sure I'm smart enough to cope with timelines and wheels of life?"

"You should be okay, I think. He knows enough not to bother if we're not able to handle it."

"I hope you're right."

Mr Gordon felt agitated. But then, that was nothing unusual for him, especially at these times.

He absentmindedly leafed through a discarded if recent copy of the Economist magazine, and thought to himself, 'Yes. There can be little doubt whatsoever, that the gentleman, Mr Carruthers, was quite correct. The Economist magazine is, perhaps, the driest periodical publication around,' and 'how nice it would be if his powers extended to, and could be used productively for, erasing from time itself, The Economist magazine.'

He decided that it might be a nice idea to go and have an enjoyable little chat with Uranus. Yes! That was it? He hadn't seen Uranus in many, many lifecycles, and that, despite having been invited on a few occasions, required addressing!

Of course, he would have to be back by teatime the following afternoon, but that was alright, too! After all, he didn't want to outstay his welcome? Oh no! He would go, and be back in time for tea!

"Hello, you two? I'm so pleased you came!"

Gabriel furrowed his brows. "So are we, I hope?"

"I'm sure! Yes indeed!

Before we begin, I'm reminded to pass on to you, Uranus' finest regards. Oh yes! It was quite taken aback with just how well you're progressing!"

"You've been like…… talking to a…… planet?"

"Naturally? My only wish is, that I had the time to visit it more often, but never mind."

"Uranus is very cold, yeah?"

"In what way, Rhys?"

"I thought it was like, an ice giant, or something."

"Oh, yes, I understand now! Silly old me thought you were referring to its attitude, which I must point out, is far from being cold! But back to your question, Uranus is indeed a touch on the chilly side. Yesterday evening, for instance, it dropped down to a reasonably tolerable minus one hundred and ninety-seven Celsius, but as for the winter temperatures, I really wouldn't know, not having visited during its winter, therefore, dear boy, I have to rely on hearsay. The word on the grapevine is, however, that it has been known to get as parky as minus two hundred and twenty-four, then? Quite remarkable, wouldn't you say?"

I took a deep breath and composed myself. "Um…… I mean, yeah. Quite remarkable," I said, vigorously nodding my head. "quite extraordinary."

Gabriel was being no help whatsoever. His total contribution to the conversation, was to look at me, saucer-eyed, and with his mouth hanging open, slowly shaking his head in disbelief.

"Now, if I may, might I suggest that we have a little talk concerning timelines and wheels? I must apologise if I sound like one of your school's tutors, but this is very important, you know?"

Gabriel, who still looked very pale, answered him.

"Yeah, I guess. That's what we came for, right?"

"Indeed yes, my boy, it is.

Do you feel alright, Gabriel? For all this world, together with a couple of others I could mention, you look as if you've just returned from a parallel universe having seen yourself!"

"Just feeling…… brain-dead. Nothing to get too worked up about."

"Jolly good! Just checking, you understand?"

"Yeah, I understand. It's just……. Could we possibly, sort of maybe, get through all this without being too controversial?"

"Yes. I was far too far ahead of myself, but then, had I forgotten to pass on Uranus'……"

" Please, Mr Gordon?"

"Very well.

First, may we touch upon the subject of timelines, and what they mean, together with their functions within time and space?

I think it would be helpful if I began by asking you if you had any specific questions."

I put my hand up. "I have one, Mr Gordon. What I'd like to know is, how long are they, like are they all the same length, or do they differ?"

"That is a very fair question, Rhys, but to answer it in such a way as to make the answer understandable, first we need to discover their purpose.

You see, not only are timelines a means whereby time and space maintain a certain orderliness, they also dictate the speed at which the wheel of time they represent, turns.

So, let us take, for instance, a substance such as stone. Now, we would expect a stone to last a very considerable length of time, would we not, so it is probably safe to assume that, given its extraordinary longevity, the time line governing such longevity would be of an equally proportionate length, in other words, it's pretty long indeed, especially if we were to draw a comparison between it, and that of a Gnat, a creature that can only expect a lifecycle of perhaps thirty minutes before it's decommissioned. In that instance, the timeline would be awfully short.

Did you find that helpful, Rhys?"

"Wanna know something? Yeah, I did, actually? Okay, I don't really get what timelines do exactly, but then, I wonder if it's really important for me to know?

Correct me if I'm way off target, but from what you've just said, just about all timelines have different lengths depending on whatever it is that's dangling off the end of it, yeah? Rock? Long timeline. Gnat? Short, to the point of almost not having a timeline worth the mention. A weird sea creature I once saw on the Discovery Channel when I was a little kid, the one that gave me nightmares for ages, had a reported life expectancy of four hundred years. So, timeline? Well, compared with a Gnat, fairly decent in the greater scheme of things, but compared with a rock? Woefully lacking!"

"Very well done! That, indeed, is the basic principle. There's a lot more to them, I assure you, but for the purpose of this exercise, that's as much as you need to know." Then turning to Gabriel who, fair play to him, did appear to have some colour returning to his cheeks, said "Did you understand, Gabriel? If you still have questions, we can always go over it again, you know?"

Gabriel uncrossed his eyes, then tugged at his nose. "Yeah. I mean, I think so. Timelines are there to control everything organic in composition, and also those who's composition is inorganic. Organic compositions, simply by their nature, mean that we would expect their timelines to be shorter than most, if not all the timelines that are concerned with inorganic material, right? Not only that, but timelines vary in length depending on the life expectancy of each organic matter they govern, and, therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the same deal applies to inorganic matter, like say, someone chucks a rock onto the surface of the sun, and so it'd be like, bang, crash, Ker-pow, finito, cheery-ho, bye-bye, instant vaporisation! End of timeline! But, what about that of a stone that, purely by happenchance, remains undiscovered for like, ages and ages? Well, that particular, individual stone, would have a timeline of, I dunno? Like really, really, REALLY LONG maybe?"

"Well, yes, it most definitely would, Gabriel! Very well spoken!

Now, I think it is time we turned our attention to the wheels of life, don't you?

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