Sister ship to Ground Control

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Often I’ll write the end of a story before I’ve written the middle. You can know how things will end up, even if you don’t know how you’ll get there. They always begin with knowing where to start…

I died suddenly and for no apparent reason.

Picard and Guinan

You don’t notice it. It turns out quantum theory is right: Your life carries on, but in an instant you’re transported to an alternative universe, before you even realise you left the last one. Both still exist.

In the old life, people mourn (or celebrate) your death. In the new one you created, you carry on, but you’re in a different physical form. In the old place, they can’t see you.

It takes a while to get used to, when you’re shouting in people’s faces and they don’t know you’re there. Invisible and mute, I can only write from the place I found myself in. I’m on board a spacecraft.

They’ve been here for a while, and there are people I know here. Friends I lost on the streets, still walking around the corridors because they remain in others’ memories. And my auntie, looking very well and with her own quarters, because I often think of her. She counsels the others, who all know her because I wrote about her. Our stories are similar: We were prisoners on Earth, when those who chose to govern chose also to clean the planet.

Like abduction by aliens, the dehumanising machinery employed by the government’s social cleansing agenda first renders you entitled to the human right you were originally denied by making you ill. It’s confusing because it makes no sense in a human mind, and when that preys on mental health, it can kill you. It’s by design, but the human memory never dies.

I starved, I froze, and I forgot to breathe. I had no-one to talk to on Earth, which is why I hitched a ride with my auntie on the sister ship, to take a break, to see things from above. You can only do that if you rise up, and if you have someone up there already, they can help, for as long as they’re not forgotten.

I’d been brain-dead for some time, since the government murdered me. They couldn’t kill what was in my heart. I knew I’d been keeping a secret, and it would be a coroner who got to tell everyone that, in writing. But as I tried to explain what was on my mind, my auntie said something which pressed on my chest.

If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

We’re not gone until we’re forgotten. As long as there are stars in the sky, I know there are other people who can look up at them and know we’re still connected, wherever we are. Keep watching the skies and you might see a shooting star, only passing you by if you were paying attention.

The story’s not over, but this is one way it ends for many here who are unable to write home. I thought I’d finish the stories, in case they didn’t get a chance to write the rest.

Some endings are already written, as they write their own beginning and start again.

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My friends’ (not Friends) wedding

THE WRITER’S LIFE

I don’t watch much TV, mainly because I don’t have much TV to watch. My area isn’t cabled and the building I live in is listed (Grade 1, and leaning slightly), so no satellite dishes allowed. My internet is intermittent at best (and leached), so I don’t have streaming services, just Freeview. I don’t get out much, and I didn’t have to go far last night to end up at a wedding…

Sheldon proposes

If I had multi-channel TV or unlimited streaming, I’d probably lose my life. Any quest for all knowledge is never going to be completed in this life, and there isn’t time to watch even a small part of current TV and film studios’ output. I have a large film library (only about one third watched), and I’m selective in my TV consumption, because most of all, I like to write.

Because I watch so few shows, I become somewhat obsessive over those that I do, always able to ace a round on the BBC’s Pointless when one of my shows comes up. Among many genres, I’m a fan of US comedy, but like all of my viewing, I’m selective. I could boss any quiz about Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, That 70s Show, and The Big Bang Theory.

Some might think I’d like Friends, but no. The only intelligent character in that show (Ross Geller) was always mocked for his intellect, or his words cut short by those who didn’t understand him: His friends; his ignorant friends. Big Bang is the opposite.

Last night I watched the long-awaited nuptials of two people I feel very close to, because I’ve studied them for so long, and because the characters are so well-observed that I have much in common with them. This was the wedding of Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler.

Jim Parsons is a person I admire greatly, not just for his acting. I like to find out about the people I enjoy on screen, and to watch what else they’ve done. In Parsons’ case, he’s worth checking out in a small role he played in Zach Braff’s Garden State (also Johnny Galecki (Leonard Hofstadter) in Andrew Niccol’s In Time, and Kevin Sussman (Stuart Bloom) in the Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading).

Mayim Bialik (Amy Farrah Fowler) is an author and neuroscientist, as well as an actor. She shares a birthday with my son, and played a young Bette Midler (as CC Bloom) in Garry Marshall’s Beaches, aged 11. But I digress.

Big Bang is a show beloved of geeks, because it’s about us, the misfits. Last night’s wedding episode wasn’t just the marriage of two good friends, but a nerd’s fantasy. It’s a show that’s good at paying tributes, and there were many nods in the wedding episode.

TBBT WeddingFox News

Amy’s parents were played by Kathy Burke, who seemed to carry parts of her various characters from American Horror Story, and Teller, the silent half of Penn and Teller. It was a little or well-known fact – depending on the circles you keep – that Teller isn’t in fact mute, and many more people knew that after the show.

Before the wedding, Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg, who can also be seen in the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man), finds a lost dog, which it turns out belongs to Mark Hamill, and who offers a chance to digress briefly into another geek world: That of StarWars.

Gary FisherHelloGiggles

Gary Fisher (Carrie Fisher’s dog) was already a legend after he shat on the floor at a StarWars convention (above), and he had a special relationship with Mark Hamill’s dog, Millie. Since then (and as featured in last night’s Big Bang Theory), Mark Hamill now has a dog called Bark (Hamill). Mark Hamill was then asked to officiate at the wedding, a role already booked for Wil Wheaton.

The Big Bang Theory is probably the best (if only) place for a friendly clash of two mutually inclusive franchises, StarWars and Star Trek. Wesley Crusher and Luke Skywalker together on screen was something even sci-fi nerds probably thought they’d never see, and the on-screen chemistry said they were right at home.

People like me don’t get invited to weddings (we can’t stand them anyway), but if we had to go to one, it would be one like Sheldon and Amy’s, where usually uncomfortable people felt at ease, in a usually uncomfortable environment.

There was a scene which didn’t make the final cut, in which Sheldon and Amy open a gift from Stephen Hawking. He made several appearances, this being the poignant last reference from the sentinel who knows the Big Bang better than most: a pocket watch (so beloved of Sheldon) and the inscription: “Sheldon, I’m so glad you finally married Amy. It’s about time. Ha, ha, ha. Love, Stephen.”

We all know it’s a fantasy (Jim Parsons is already married to his husband), but even geeks and nerds can emerge from their shells sometimes and enjoy themselves. We just need each other in our virtual lives.