Your tousled, sea-spray curls between my fingers H ^ ψ = E ψ I am sure there’s more to Reality than that, You said, frowning, challenging, It all can’t be here. I took your hand, lay it on my breast Pushed it into my heart: yes, all eternity is here. As Monte Carlo receded, disintegrating, its essence seeping insidiously into us Is that why that famous multiple probability simulation Is called Monte Carlo method? Is it because Everett’s Many Worlds coalesce in Monte Carlo The pooling of unseen rainbows and unborn raindrops Creating prisms in your sapphire irises Your sea-salt lips on mine, tasting of the Med The eigenfunction ψ comes crashing down And for that one exquisite moment My holographic inner universe Becomes material, tangible, When the waves of Cote d’Azur Made love to me; or was that you (amazing) With that long-ago voice whispering in my ear, What is Planck time, what is Planck unit We’re back in Winchester again Chasing dreams, your nano-particles, my Infinity Sunlight in your eyes, 14 once more
From 14 to 54 From Everett’s Many-World beginning From Winchester to Cote d’Azur to Islington From the nano particles of your fantasy To the quantum uncertainty of my inner world You hold in your hands the Born Rule To give life and legitimacy to the Cat within me For one joyous moment
Your ice to my fire Capture so magnificently The fleeting state between 1 and 0 The tilting of the globe and the bending of Space-Time As we sent qubits round and round the material world Sitting in an Islington pub on a Wednesday night In Planck time
Quantum decoherence Melts away the years Ends my loneliness For one beautiful moment The Cat Is achingly real, looking at you with wonder in her eyes:
Scrumping apples By Arthur Conan Doyle’s grave Your 14-year-old self said “Wear a pretty dress and I might marry you.”
You have taken that dress off Many times since Kissed the Planck sand from Monte Carlo beach on my skin Fucked me with the Med swirling On our naked, heated bodies We witnessed the dissolution of selves The Minus One Law of Thermodynamics In that one endless moment The warping of Space-Time around us We were 14 once more
When you took my hand And lay it on the sun-warmed Cote d’Azur Connecting the outer world to my inner one I believed in the impossibility of Your audacious theory Saw the stars of the Monegasque skies Exploding like tidal fractals In my kaleidoscopic mind And I am back In Winchester with you In the endless looping of Space-Time
Because it was sunny today, we decided to take out a couple of yoga mats and do our practice on the empty green space in front of my flat. Out of the Bikram hot yoga studio, I reverted to Ashtanga yoga, my first love. It was like coming home.
Being unfamiliar with Ashtanga, he struggled to follow me, realising that with Ashtanga, you flow with your ujjayi breath, rather than physical prowess or sheer strength.
We lay down on our backs at the end of the practice, the winter sun on our faces, and I could sense a smile on his face. “Rumi said…,” he began.
Rumi? This man seldom reads, and Rumi is not the sort of thing I expect him to read.
“When you close your eyes, you fall in love with yourself,” he said.
And then softly, “Stay there.”
I moved my finger fractionally to touch his. Stillness, and then his finger responded…a thousand strong emotions in one subtle movement.
“From one seed, humanity sprang forth. Excavated skulls of early humans – branchycephalic, dolichochephalic – that once housed the stories that were never written down, stories about how we come to be, passed down the generations with storytelling. Epic migration of our people across the vast continents, carrying their ancestors’ essence at the dawn of humanity. Languages, poetry, crafts, commerce, family – they become us today, we are the living stories.”
By the banks of the Thames, December night 2019
Thank you for building a nest for me, for looking after me as if I were a fragile doll, for the beautiful stories you tell me to make me feel safe – keep talking to me in your mother tongue, proszę, and I will immortalise your words – and you – in my next book, my labour of love, my best one yet. How you inspire me to be human with your magic and the love you have for me. Walk by the Thames with me x
“Think of the biggest-ever room you can imagine,” she had said to him in her innocent, tantalising way. “And then think about the space outside that biggest-ever room.”
“∞ + 1,” Merlin taunted him with its digital dots, configured to needle him just so. “How can mankind ever hope to rationalise and reconcile the biggest-ever and the smallest-ever, Alice?” He had despaired, pulling at his hair so that he looked like an angry, golden Mohican. She, the creator of Merlin, knew the answer, of course. It was in that damn book of hers.
“Because they are the same, silly!”
Oh, the blerrie English! How he hated their voices, the words they used! And he discovered, there was nothing worse than Oxford English. For instance, how can a person from Scotland go UP to Oxford? Didn’t they know their own geography, or the basic concept of up, down?
But unwittingly, he recalled the words of his Oupa from long ago:
If we were to turn the universe upside down, these stars would become grains of sand beneath our feet.
He had travelled so far from his homeland in the South African veld to this godforsaken city, where the blerrie clocks, church bells and gargoyles mocked and taunted outsiders, only to discover that his boyhood dreams were a fallacy: if you look at stars from outer space, they do not twinkle or glitter at all. The enchantment that had captivated him since he was an eight-year-old boy came solely from the earth’s atmosphere refracting millions of light particles raining down upon us from the rays of a dying sun. He remembered his Oupa’s words of long ago, which suddenly made sense after all these years: real magic is to be found here on earth. He had found it many summers ago, sitting inside the hollowed out trunk of his 1,000-year-old baobab tree.
And then in the light reflected in her kaffir eyes, he glimpsed what the universe and life truly were: the totality of the universe was just infinite light spheres blowing in and out of existence like ephemeral soap bubbles, each sphere having a different size but no total volume. Even when the spheres were compressed, this totality remained infinite. To try to catch it would be like catching infinity.
He gazed heavenwards, and up there, the sword of Orion blazed one last time in the afternoon Oxford skies, piercing the shimmering, iridescent moon.
“Catch the moon, my dear Professor,” Alice said. She watched the play of shadows across his face intently. “Let go of your stars.”
It’s called Tadpole’s Promise, and it was written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross.
In the story, a caterpillar and tadpole meet, fall in love and promise each other to never change.
But of course, we know that tadpoles and caterpillars have to change to progress in life. Like them, we too cannot afford to be stuck. Our relationships have to evolve with the years. What happens then?
Once the Tadpole breaks his promise to the Caterpillar three times the Caterpillar gives up on her prince. The irony in the story is that the Caterpillar herself changes too. She turns into a Butterfly.
But because they stubbornly hung on to their idealism of perfection, they lost touch with each other.
And here’s the surprising, masterful part of the story: One day, the frog eats the Butterfly. Neither one of them realize they were once the Caterpillar and the Tadpole, the big loves of each other’s life.