Category Archives: Lost in Thought

Across the Universes

imageMy Christmas tree has turned itself off. Since this is the modern age and the consumer has to do what she is told, the transformer uses a timer setting you can’t change or override, which usually means it turns itself off during Christmas Dinner.

I tried to be elegant by restricting the decoration to a scheme of deep blue, silver and white baubles, but the baubles don’t even match… different sizes, different shades… it looked uneven, like a water-stained ballgown. So I threw the rest of the box of baubles at it… all colours, all styles. Didn’t matter. I don’t think there’s a single bare twig now, but it looks livelier, sparklier and less like I tried to do something and failed. The red baubles in particular seem to bring focus, unless it’s just that they’re distracting you from the rest of the chaos.

What I take from that is that things you throw together can succeed better than something intricately planned. There’s far more energy and joie de vivre when everything’s included, not just the specially chosen. Chaos and order…. you’re merely a part of it, repeating the experiences of generations upon generations of others in your own unique way. You retell the human story.

In your own life you get to ‘do over’ a lot, though occasionally you have to accept the loss of something that plummets from the tree… such as a friendship fragmenting into a thousand glass shards. You may wish it had turned out differently, but that particular bauble has now gone.

Now and then, however, the bauble disappears into shadow and you search around cautiously, trying to find it without cutting yourself. A little while goes by before it finally comes to light, amazingly still intact.

Some baubles break, others go missing for a while but survive. At times you aren’t sure which, and have to step carefully.

Friends are precious, even irreplaceable, but they are also fragile.

I expect you are sitting at the other side of the screen, frowning at my chaotic ramblings. You likely have a mug or glass at your side. I don’t know what you’re drinking… coffee or tea, or maybe hot chocolate, or beer or water. Or Bovril. Chicken Bovril is nice… I like that.

Probably you’re wondering why you’re reading this… you could be doing something nicer, such as weather-stripping the house, leaf-blowing the snow or cleaning the drains. It’d be more useful, but doubtless you’re the efficient sort who has done all that already. So you’re stuck.

I wonder where you live? Maybe New York in an apartment high up, and the lights sparkling all over the city? Or a cottage on thunderous dramatic moors, with a sluggish internet connection? Or across the road from me, even? Can you see me waving out the window? No, well, that’s all right. I wasn’t waving… my curtains are closely drawn.

So many things to do. I get confused and find myself standing still, looking over my shoulder…

…oh yes, I meant to change my wall calendar to December before it’s too late and the whole month blows over. What IS that, exactly? A warrior hobbit? I wish I could flip back to October, to that nice angry dragon. I could, really, but that would be cheating, and I won’t have got full use of the calendar. I don’t know why I got it — I never write anything in it.

Kind of like my blog.

I’m getting the déjà vu sensation an awful lot lately. I keep thinking I’ve read things before. I even feel I have written things before. Have I already written this blog post, word for word, and posted it maybe nine years ago? Bits of it, then? Or perhaps I’m catching glimpses into a closely parallel universe where I’ve done all this stuff alrea… but that is such a depressing thought I shied away from it. It’s bad enough to have done all this once, but twice…?

Do you remember reading any of this before; does any of it ring any bells? No, not this bit, but I have a funny feeling about my drawn curtains. Perhaps they’re the portal. Close them, shutting out the real world, and in swims the fantasy world… sorry, the parallel universe. That’s just the real world twice over, so it’s no wonder I hate the idea!

In this chaotic universe, anything can happen.

If that’s true, then perhaps it’s not a parallel universe, but a repeating one. We are doomed to retrace our steps over and over till we get them right. Don’t you get the feeling that most of the time absolutely nothing changes, and we just make the same mistakes over and over and over? Every so often someone thinks a little deeper or sees something a smidgeon of a different way and improves everything just a fraction. Even if it’s an incremental change by one person, it could have a remarkable effect on everyone else, like lights going on all over… and suddenly the latest round of existence is a whole lot better than the one before. And so it goes.

This has been difficult to write. For the past little while I’ve wanted to… no, it doesn’t feel like a ‘want’, it feels more like a ‘very much not want’, like I don’t even want to be here. I’d rather go back into space and be a simple star again, spinning a little, perhaps, whistling a happy tune, burning up any asteroids that wander too near. Who decided I should sit on this earth with an increasingly labouring heart, to blog, question why and… and edit?

Sometimes there’s good stuff, like… cats when they’re sleepy and purry and not killing things. Bears when they’re sleepy and furry and don’t have a headache. Family when you discover how to get along and aren’t torturing each other.

It’s a chaotic world, though, at least to our limited senses. You get both the nice and the nasty together, like the soothing sun on one level and icy deeps on the other. The velvety blue with hornets or jellyfish hanging in it. The yin and the yang and the sweet and the sour… you never know which it will be; can change so suddenly.

Or simply end.

And, after a long pause, like a bonus song, start up again when you weren’t listening any more, and go on for what seems like forever.

Mouldy Old Mood Chart

I wrote the following last night, then slept on it. No mind-mapping on this occasion (perhaps it shows). Today the sun is out, news is good and the mood chart heading for lighter values.

I took it into my head to keep a mood chart, for no particular reason, and just now my mood is going up and down like a yo yo. You have no idea the number of different plates we are spinning — each one of us has issues and hopes, ranging from the minuscule (what to do with home-grown chillis) to the mind-blowingly gargantuan (the miraculous Brexit). It’s an interesting time to start the project, but poorly chosen! Writing a blog post when you’re in the depths of despair is never a good idea either.

Half the time I suspect my sole aim in life is keeping myself from thinking too much. Letting your brain get fogged up with useless data or keeping it busy with insignificant projects like mood charts, mind-mapping digital art, databasing your CD collection and writing letters to the world (blog posts)… they’re all just ways of anaesthetizing yourself for a while.

Music makes you happy at times; it’s like your own private cocoon of good beats. Then you go away and get ready for bed, and and it turns on you… wails in your head like a Greek chorus of restless ghosts, and your mood gets very blue. Some songs I’ve learned to avoid because they are black holes of melodious depression.

One I conjured up just now is the opposite of that. Somehow it refuses to be turned into anything quite as miserable, though it’s old, therefore dripping with nostalgia… I relate it to places we don’t live in any more, and to family members long since gone. And yet…

Mouldy Old Dough

I will keep it in my head for the rest of the night; it’s a tonic! You can have it when I’m done, but not till then.

Sleep is another good way of passing the time — you forget your cares for a while, even if your dreams introduce you to a distorted group of new ones. The best part is just after you turn off the light, when you curl up in the warm with your arm over Little Witness, feeling nobody can get at you till dawn pries at your blinds.

In the period before you fall asleep, you line up your most pleasant thoughts and count them. “These things I shall do tomorrow… beginning with deleting that mood chart or changing it to something different. Then I’ll re-read my latest blog post and see if it’s improved at all during the night.” Sometimes they do. Other times they turn into twisted heaps of rage and and angst, and the best thing you can do with them is put them out of their misery before anybody else spots them.

One thing that’s pretty bad, though, is if you’re reading old posts in your blog and you discover such a sea-change happened when you weren’t looking, and most of your posts have turned into grotesque, windblown skeletons you would rather not know about. As a result, I either avoid reading anything I’ve written that’s older than six months, or I delete these horrors when I trip over any.

Even while we distract ourselves from looking at life too closely, we distract ourselves from our own past distractions. It’s easy to live only in the moment… just sing Mouldy Old Dough to yourself and fall asleep.

Coffee in the Rain

If we were having coffee, we would be a bit quiet — the heavy weather has been sending everybody to sleep. In some way I’ve regressed — it’s as though I’ve slipped and fallen into last autumn, even though it’s supposed to be summer. It keeps raining, day after day and week after week. There’s flooding again, and the drains in the centre of town overfilled and spilled in puddles. It’s dark, so my thoughts regressed to a cooler, quieter time. Just coffee and a dull room — and now you.

You weren’t here last year. My blog was quiet for a long time. Months and years of rain in this forgotten space.

There’s been more energy in our lives, lately. Perhaps it was the sun? I was busy sorting books, and our collection is manageable now… nearly!… but today, all of a sudden, I left them and walked away.

Sitting over there with your mug, I understood you were wondering about my reserve, so I told you my weekend started early because I was tired. You laughed and said everybody’s tired because of the atmospheric pressure. Well I’m glad it’s not just me. I was so busy, then suddenly… How about you? Did you do nothing? Perhaps you half-heartedly tried to run a meeting on Friday, only members were not-so secretly snoring?

This is why I plunged back to the end of last year, to a time when I was less motivated.

A few days ago I told people, “I hope it doesn’t rain from now all the way through autumn like last year,” thinking, “surely it won’t!” … but I have a terrible feeling it will. I will be getting stern reports about moss on the roof again. For goodness sake, it’s a wet country. Might be nice to have a moss garden up there, with fairy cottages, fern trees and toadstools.

How about you — do you like gardening, or miniatures, or both in combination? On Pinterest I follow pin-boards showing the fairy houses and cabins that people build in the great outdoors. I don’t have any such property in my possession — I just like to view them.

It’s a secret place of mine… in my head I have a log cabin of my own where no one can ever find me — not unless I want them to. In my forest, I disappear into the rain, moss and silence, so you would think this weather would suit me down to the ground.

Ha.

It does suit my boy cat, who loves sloshing around. The other night he bounded merrily in through the flap, dripping in mud — the creature from the black lagoon. It’s easy to imagine him preying on the squirrels around my imaginary cabin, so I don’t suppose I could hide from him even if I wanted to. I’d turn around and there he would be, grinning in through the window — “how about a wee nibble, hmm? Something nice and filling.”

I know you are still tired, and my blethering has put you to sleep, so it’s time for me to let you go. Come back for coffee again some time — maybe the rain will have stopped by then.

Anger and the Book Not Read

It can be a real problem, anger. It makes me angry just thinking how nice life could be if nobody got angry. Who decided we should get angry, and what’s the purpose of it?

You won’t get any answers to that here, because I hate being angry. My nice smooth life turns into one with rocks, clouds and anything else wet, dark or bumpy. I have unpleasant decisions to make and ruffled feelings to soothe. What is the real issue? Should I protest? Carry on breezily? Go silent?

I’m angry tonight, yet not furious. I’m not throwing things or firing off angry emails. I’m not stamping or slamming doors. On the floor beside my bed there’s a book on Mindfulness. I tried to read it a few weeks ago, and failed. Now here I am feeling angry about something, and I bet that book would have some tips. Like, perhaps, being responsible for my own emotions? Thinking of nothing else but the now, of my breath going in and out?

I couldn’t get far with the book, but keep thinking I could start again when feeling calmer. The same thing would probably happen, though — I’d get annoyed, start flipping rapidly through the pages, and finally shut the book and put it down. As always, there’s a core idea that’s sound, but we like to overdo things, take them to extremes and expect miracles to happen. It’s not good.

“It’s impossible to be furious when lying down,” I’ve been told. Well, I should sleep but don’t feel easy in my mind. The reason being there’s a large spider with one foot on the valance. If it was just any spider, I wouldn’t pay attention, but it’s *this* spider. It has a known track record. Twice already I found it lolling in bed with the Little Witness. I put it out on the landing last night, and tonight it was back. I carefully removed it with an old hardback copy of Still Glides The Stream by Flora Thompson, and when I turned round, it had glided off the book and was over by the bed again. I sense it’s waiting for me to turn the light out.

It’s not that I’m scared of spiders. I just don’t pick them up with bare hands, and get a little freaked if one is too intent on me or something I have. It’s worse when it’s in plain sight for ages then suddenly disappears. You wonder if it has disappeared further away… or much closer?

I considered dropping the Mindfulness book on it, then felt ashamed. Forever after, I’d be haunted by its ghost every time I tried to meditate. OK, I don’t think I’ll ever meditate, but the mere word ‘mindfulness’ would put me in mind of myself battering the wee soul to death with a shiny yellow book.

If I went to sleep now, I would worry about where it was, throwing my mind out to every corner of my bed to explore every crease and shadow, and my toes would itch. Much more effective than standard mindfulness at distracting me from my anger, but I think I’d rather be angry…

On Communicating

Was wandering the internet and finding so many interesting things that I got confused. Which direction do I go in?

This is the lesson I take from housework: don’t think about the fact that you’ve got all these things to do before the visitors get here. Just focus on hoovering the landing! Put the kettle on, hoover the other rooms, one by one. Then have a cup of tea! You get less tired and irritable if you stay in that relaxed frame of mind, and will be able to accomplish more.

The same thing should work when your attention is going different ways and trying to get its teeth into different things. Any lion could tell you that — you can’t chase down two zebras at once.

First blog post follows. Others might take a few days or weeks, depending on how far they have dispersed into the bush.

— — — — —

So, let us say… I was thinking about how it might be possible for a severely or profoundly deaf person to get more involved in conversation with groups of normally hearing people. I don’t pretend to have found an answer to that, but the hunt goes on.

As I mentioned to a friend, groups are tricky. People can be genuinely keen to include you and they’ll say something like “I’ll write you notes,” but that’s not how conversations work. They need to fill any potentially awkward silences, even if that means talking while someone else is trying to write or read a note. I’ve seen my mother trying to keep me in the loop by writing something while all the time a friend is blethering away… it’s hard for her to keep both of us happy!

People might start with good intentions of including me, but soon slip back to their usual way of communicating.

Things might be better for future generations at a time when everybody is learning sign language at school — surely then people will be more included (and more easily included) than not. That’s all the hope I have.

When searching around for ideas and inspiration, I found a Vimeo video on lip-reading along with its connected essay, Seeing at the Speed of Sound by Rachel Kolb.

In her essay, Rachel mentions how she sometimes feels guilt about going along with hearing conventions. You know it’s not simple, barely even possible, yet we go along with it, or try to. That sense of disquiet puts you at war with yourself. I wonder if I’d be happier if I rocked the boat more? On the other hand, you can’t engage with people or change anything by pitting yourself against them.

I know what she means when she speaks of complete communication breakdown hanging in the air — gosh, that feels bad. I had a dose of that a couple of days ago, which is what sparked off this entire blog post and my discovery of these links.

There’s a bit in the essay where someone starts typing on a cellphone and she feels like hugging him — it made me smile, remembering when the audiologist typed everything down on his computer monitor. The relief was amazing! You understand everything and it puts you at ease — you are more likely to laugh and engage, because the tension and awkwardness has been lifted and you feel more equal.

Anyway, I’d just got to that bit in the essay then caught the most fragile of squeaks at the edge of my hearing. Uncertain there’d been anything, I looked up and saw my mother’s grey cat staring at me.
“Yes?”
She squeaked again — this time there was no doubt.
“Just a minute,” I said. “I’ll get it.”
When I returned with her box, she looked at it, unfurled her tail, and went unhurriedly to take possession. I left to give her privacy, and couldn’t help thinking it was ironic that I was reading about the difficulties of communicating with people, but had no problems with a single rusty squeak. It does help if you know what the topic of conversation is likely to be!

Another post I came across today was A Tear or a Smile.

Both topics in that — white lies and responsibility — have been engaging my thoughts a lot.

When important, white lies don’t solve anything — simply causing confusion and allowing problems to steadily get worse… much like somebody regularly buying a brand of beer you detest because she thinks you like it. When she discovers the truth, months or years down the line, she feels like a stupid klutz. I know this from personal experience!

You can build on honesty and respect, even if slowly, but anything else is a shaky foundation or a total waste ground… yes, perhaps like ‘communication breakdowns’ where I escape to my lair rather than try to find a way. Sometimes, I guess, we have to start from rock bottom.

As for responsibility — I’ve been reading how it all rests with us. When something needs to be fixed or changed, we must ‘man up’ and get on with it. No question. I think, however, that we are responsible not just for ourselves but each other, and it would be dangerous to lose sight of that. People can go through a huge amount of difficulty that you might never be made aware of. What are we learning if we sit silently, each side of a chasm, and smile? I don’t yet know.

Profound Deafness: Social Interlude

I was sitting downstairs with our visitors over coffee, thinking “this could be quite nice,” but got bored because I didn’t have the slightest idea what anyone was talking about. It’s not really something you can bear for very long… the next time you look in the mirror your eyelids are heavy with sleep!

I found myself remembering what my audiologist said only a couple of months ago — “you will not be able to take part in normal conversation, but might be able to pick up some environmental sounds.”

People are odd when conversing politely; they look briefly when someone starts talking, then stare at the corners of the ceiling in a laid-back, thoughtful way. There isn’t a whole lot of eye contact going on, and that’s how I communicate, really. I wondered if I was breaking some social rule by looking round at everyone.

In the end I had to potter off… pretended I was just going to the kitchen, then disappeared upstairs! They said I didn’t have to go to lunch with them, so here I am.

I won’t say I’m relieved and cheerful that I’ve been let off the hook… it’s not that at all. You feel depressed for a time because you know you’re missing out. It’s not today’s lunch or conversation you regret so much as all the lunches and conversations in your life — the extra friendships you could have had. You still have friends, but there would have been more.

I will cheer up eventually, but you end up back at this place from time to time.

Five Things I Learned

We’re into March already! Five things I learned this year so far:

(1) Treat your Mah Jong tiles with respect.

(2) Artists use battery-operated erasers.

(3) In Scotland you get a free bus pass if you’re severely or profoundly deaf. You still have to state your destination, which is not so hot if you have quiet or poor speech.

(4) There are no more photo booths in town. Even that technology seems to have ‘moved on’, at least locally. (Runs from various digital cameras pointed in her direction).

(5) It seems possible to replace just about any part of a blender — including the jug, supposing you broke it. Possibly depends on the model and the manufacturer, but always worth checking.

Colourless World

Am playing with colour wheels, using a new set of pencils. The Christmas tree stands in the corner; silver, pearl and deep blue. Most of our days are dark and dull, heavy with rain and sinking into night well before tea time — it’s hard to see the colours I work with, but I keep trying.

There’s no future and no past. Regrets and intentions have no place, and hopes and memories remain at a distance. Colouring books anchor you in the moment — your thought chooses the shade and follows the line. Nothing else matters.

This is a gift from a friend. She gives me, not just the book, but energy and a new experience. I’m offered a fresh perspective on the world… on other people, possibilities and creativity.

Time passes.

The festive season ends and the tree is gone. Colour fills my dreams every night, yet the book remains untouched. The octopus is purple, blue, green, many hues… the sea has bubbles, seaweed, nothing at all.

I want to provide photos of my progress and describe how the pages are filling with colour — instead, they stay blank. There’s no ‘undo’ button and I fear to spoil the book. I remind myself it’s only the experience that matters — holding back is not ideal, and I need to send my mind elsewhere. Clouds press down like they do outside, but sometimes sun breaks through and there’s blue sky.

Well now, there’s an evil starfish somewhere… hiding in the background, only nobody can see him. He has dinner plans involving our girl. Ignoring the growing menace, I paint a glow in the octopus’s eye and the rainbow sheen of life on her tentacles. The sun that brightens both sea and land is an illusion, but for now I can believe it’s for forever.

—–

Daily Post Prompt: “Write a post entirely in the present tense.”

… it’s hard to write something like this all in the present tense without sounding carried away on the wings of poesy! “Kill your darlings,” we are told… but where’s the rock to club them with?

All My Greatest Failings Start with the Letter P

My worst quality could be one I’m not aware of. Perhaps what I see as caution and an eye for a bargain would be seen by another as typical Scots parsimony. A wish for clarification and detail might be written off by the unsympathetic as pettifoggery. But from the list of failings that I own to, which would be the worst?

Let’s see…

Picky
Panicky
Prickly
Prattly
Prissy
Pernickety
Pesky

This list could go on quite some way, but is already sounding like the seven dwarves.

I was labelled ‘pedantic’ at the age of 19 by family and friends. Was surprised and indignant, but over time began to realize what they meant. When I wrote letters, I answered every single thing that was said, dissecting each comment and rambling away, only to get back on track with the next nano-topic. It was only polite, all right? It showed I was paying attention.

I hadn’t shaken the habit by the time I was working — one colleague told another I tended to fly off at a tangent. The same urge to dissect everything and really get my money’s worth out of it was at play. Sometimes you’re not sure if a relayed comment is a compliment or not…

Anyway, you keep combing over little clues like this in your mind, spinning out a long list of weaknesses to be worked on. Pedantry might be undesirable, but I don’t think it’s the worst. It seemed to amuse more than annoy, and probably keeps my nose to this whole self-improvement track, though that’s not as New Age as it may sound.

Since that revelation back in time, maybe I’ve swung the other way and been too casual with emails and letters, ignoring a lot of things I should have responded to. Sometimes you just don’t seem able to get it right. The worst of it is, I can look back and see where I went wrong. I shouldn’t have talked so much about this; should have said more about that. I microanalyze everything I’ve written, cringing and thinking “no, that was terrible!” One friend recently reassured me that I didn’t come across as sounding the way I thought I sounded even though I didn’t mean that anyway. Maybe she knows me too well! Either that or she knows me better than I know myself, and would be able to tell you without hesitation what my greatest failing is. I would be very surprised and completely indignant… then bound to acknowledge the truth of it!

If I microanalyze everything I say or do, you can be sure I do it with other people. I used to believe implicitly that if you said it was so, it was so. Not so much now. “Your letters are so light and chatty,” could mean “you don’t half go on… I’m not able to keep up.”

And what about ‘keep in touch’? Never used to trouble me — schoolchildren commonly wrote it to each other and I thought it meant exactly what it said. But now my crazed and self-loathing brain sees: “I don’t mean to talk very much to you — just once every Christmas, maybe?”

Actually, that’s probably what it does mean.

I seem to have singled this out as my greatest failing… pedantry? I’ve talked so much about it here, but perhaps I’m just reluctant to get to the nitty gritty. Which leads me to…

Procrastination. This is a failing I’m annoyed by so much that I fight it by being earlier with things. This year I got the Christmas tree up in November! I feel better for it. The better and happier you feel with yourself, the more you think “that wasn’t bad at all!” and the more likely you are to be early with the same thing next time. Because there’s nothing I hate more than something weighing me down increasingly… the one thing I haven’t yet done that must be done.

If you get a Christmas card from me these days, you’re one of the lucky few. But if you’re thinking “she dropped me from her Christmas card list!”… oh no, I didn’t. I dropped the whole list by accident when busy a-procrastinating, back in the days when I was a greater procrastinator than I am now. I never took it up again, as I found I liked being free of that particular albatross.

I still shilly-shally sometimes. For instance, there’s the picture I never finished. Well, more like 500 pictures I never finished.

The back-up drive I haven’t bought, though my main one failed several weeks ago (I guess this might eventually solve the problem of the unfinished pictures).

The emails and letters I never wrote.

The squeaky wheels I haven’t greased. (Sorry, trolley!)

The coffee percolator that still has old coffee grains in it. (That should give a good rich, ripe, earthy flavour to the next brew). Yes, the pink one.

The failed spotlight bulb still not replaced, after years of irritably wishing the spotlight would work.

The ‘solar lights’ owl I didn’t furnish with batteries (and it got smashed in the next gale anyway).

Dental check-up. Had it to here with dentishts after being elevated to the status of a vampire at my last session, blood streaming down my chin. “What did your last dentist think she was doing?? Why so long to get this gaping hole closed?” Gosh, I don’t know.

All things considered, looking at it point by point, it seems procrastination is a failing I’ve not yet vanquished. In my vain pursuit of personal perfection, though, I’m sure I’ll get to it. Maybe tomorrow?

Just Nipping out to Peru

“Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?” WordPress prompt.

I used to think it would be the invisibility cloak, as I don’t particularly like drawing attention to myself. Faced with the other two items, though, I’m wavering!

Anyway, there’s a difference between being the only one and being one of many. If these were made available to everyone, there would be invisible people everywhere. Would you see other invisible people when you were invisible yourself? One might as well not spend money on the technology in that case!

If I thought there were invisible people everywhere, I would probably become paranoid and refuse to sleep till my door was locked and the room properly scanned. It would be like wondering if there was a virus on your computer that was keeping very quiet. Everyone else would worry too, and there would be a market for things that could scan for invisible people — everyone everywhere would do a sweep before having meetings or settling down to relax. As a result, donning an invisibility helmet would not do anything to ensure your own privacy… it would be a way of ensuring you’re noticed. People would scan, find you, and tell you you are not wanted. You would be better to save your money… you can be more invisible just staying part of the crowd.

The scariest thing on the list is the time machine. Perhaps I could go back and change a few things I did or said wrong. You question how it would work, though. Do I go back to be myself in the moment? In which case, would I remember this was a re-run? Where would the time machine be in the meantime? Or would it just dump me in the moment and leave me to relive all of that time again?

What if it could take me both ways, but broke down? You can’t complain to Currys from 1347, or even from 1987.

And what if changing my actions made things worse? Things are the way they are for a reason.

I wouldn’t like to have to make decisions about every little thing I did anyway. If I could smooth out absolutely everything I believed I’d done wrong, would I be sitting here thinking “should I go back to that dentist and tell her I don’t want that particular tooth removed?” Or “I feel awful today so I’ll go back to two days ago and refuse the flu jab!” (and maybe die later in the winter… who knows?) Everything would get in such a muddle that I would end up uncertain how to untangle all the different things I’d changed to get myself to a different place.

Added to which, if we could all buy time machines, perhaps I’d get back to someone to change my response, only to find that person was no longer there… he or she has used a time machine to change something in his own life, and everything is so completely different that they never met me, or aren’t alive any more. Not only would I get in a muddle about my own sequence of events, it would be made still more complex by the meddlings and self-edits of others.

So much for the time machine, then. That leaves just one thing — the anywhere door.

I can imagine if there was such a thing, people would start to call it the suicide door. Because, why jump in front of a boring old train when you can really go out in style… step out onto the surface of Venus?

In one way it would be worse than the invisibility helmet. You can guard against invisible people by scanning, groping, or perhaps donning your own helmet for a quick check around. With the anywhere door, though, there would be no locked doors; no privacy at all. People would be dialling wrong numbers and popping up in your locked bedroom as you sleep.

If those drawbacks could be contained, though, it sounds the most convenient, useful and positive of the three gadgets. You won’t be using the anywhere door because you’re shy, sneaky or obsessing over how perfect you can make your life. Imagine the difference it could make! You could visit friends who live very far away, just for coffee. Or, if you like to take landscape photographs, you can pop out to some famous beauty spot and back, regardless of where you live. If I wanted a photo of a snow leopard taken by myself (so I wouldn’t have to credit someone else with it), I could nip out in my slippers and take a series of shots, and be back before you know it, downloading pictures of a startled big cat to my Mac.

OK, it probably wouldn’t be quite that easy… The idea has its attractions all the same!

Bring on the anywhere door… though I suspect in reality it would be ruined by laws, Customs, scanners, disinfectant and red tape.