Dulltown, UK: Today’s special colours are: bugle black, ferret fawn, languid lemon, rhubarb rouge, godly grey, and voluptuous vert.
It must, as it was posted through the letterbox in the front door, have somehow slipped behind that piece of old thin plywood leaning against the wall waiting to be thrown out (it’s a little bit too warped and stained to be of any use). An airmail letter from the USA, I wonder how long it has been sitting there unnoticed? It was from Veronica Crush, writer from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League, now living in New York with tall tree surgeon and heir to a multimillion dollar fortune, Monty Tick. In the envelope there was no message, just a printout of one of her ‘stories’ for me to share with the world in these pages. I must get in touch with her to thank her and to apologise for the delay in responding.
Betty Cumph didn’t completely go along with the idea of cars, buses, trains and such things moving about the world. She had very recently decided that she was an extreme fundamentalist relativist – a relativist in the sense of Einstein’s Theory of...
Rather as it happened to Einstein, it all came to her, complete in every detail, whilst sitting on a train; it was a Waterloo bound one waiting to set off from Betty’s local suburban station. Just as the train started to move she was looking, as one does, out of the window at the rails and the dark oily sleepers of the adjacent tracks; they were starting to glide stealthily away carrying off the row of bright chained bicycles on the platform, and the nice little brick and stone Victorian booking office.
‘Yes!…’ she suddenly exclaimed, and she snapped her slim pale fingers; the other occupants of the carriage sighed and flapped their crisp morning newspapers signalling their refusal to be engaged; Betty added, ‘It really is all relative!…’
Albert E had been very close, but he had missed one fundamental principle – every body in the great universe has an inherent ‘stillness’. But when things, bodies, appear to us to move, what is really happening is that they are really staying still, which is their nature, and the whole universe is moving relative to them!… Betty was rather pleased with this, and she smiled to herself as she counted the passing singing telegraph poles.
She filled in the details – the movement of the universe happens in an instant, time being quite resilient, like an avalanche, an avalanche triggered by say, the unexpected yap of a St Bernard puppy – a tiny spot of energy, perhaps from a human brain muscle, or on a different scale the deep throb of a locomotive engine, not much in itself, on a cosmic scale, but its tiny perturbation of the great bubbling virtual quantum soup, warmed and stirred by the energy of the Big Bang, soon spreads like bees out of a hot hive, nudging and cajoling their neighbours into copying and pasting the action until the whole multiverse shifts on its great virtual bearings to oppose the direction of the little trigger (action and reaction not being equal and opposite after all, dear Isaac!), the yap of the puppy… She sat there on the noisy, vibrating, but unmoving train, watching the whole world, the solar system, the galaxy, the local group, the universe, moving beneath her feet, beneath the humming steel wheels of the train – rolling away smoothly – until, after minutes, the growing inflating Waterloo Station is accurately served up on a plate for her, steaming hot, from the horizon’s great kitchen, as the whole universe, bang on time, slows, and finally comes to a juddering halt…
It gave Cumph a completely new perspective on things, on everything, on every thing.
Some time later, sitting in the back of a taxi which was expertly negotiating roadworks at Marble Arch, she was again thoroughly enjoying the sound, and the feel, and knowledge of the rubber-tired wheels below her as the great bright steel cogs of the earth, of reality, and the firmament, meshed and turned in quiet harmony; ephemeral yellow grease gently smacking and rolling between the teeth of God’s beautifully engineered pinions, down there in the deep fabric of space-time. She stared at the back of the driver’s head, and the horizontal crease in the back of his thick neck which was alternately smiling and frowning with the jolting of the cab, she decided to share the moment with him. After explaining her brand new ideas and watching his great round shaved head nodding in response she waited for a moment until he spoke.
Without taking his eyes from the road flowing and flashing along underneath them he opened with the question of how Cumph’s new ideas dealt with the problem of the apparently accelerating expansion of the universe. She replied confidently that the universe wasn’t expanding at all, and that what was happening, was that all the particles of the cosmos were actually getting smaller as they lost energy through all the constant moving about they had to do, so the spaces in between appeared to us, mere mortals, to be getting bigger – we were all mistaken…
After some more minutes, the world stopped rotating under the taxi, the cabby turned and said, ‘That’s just twelve quid love. Here we are, Albemarle Street W1 – the Royal Institution is just there, on the left. Good luck with your lecture! Oh, look, there’s Jim Al-Khalili with a film crew, just coming down the steps, perhaps he’s waiting for you?…’
Veronica Crush 2017.