Those clever blokes, like Stephen Hawking, believe in an infinite number of universes, even if they have have no faith in an infinite being. The theory goes that for every event each and everyone of us experiences, big or small, there is a separate reality that peels off in the opposite direction.
So somewhere, there is a me for whom 22 November 1963 has no significance because Jack Kennedy didn’t go to Dallas and wasn’t assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald as he was too busy plotting a preemptive nuclear strike on Russia. Similarly there is another me who forgot to brush his teeth this morning.
The way I look at it, it’s like two infinite beach balls side by side and the infinitesimal point where they touch is the reality of now. On one side is an ever narrowing chain of past events that lead to now, and on the other an ever widening vista of possible future nows.
But thinking about it makes my head hurt, so it’s something I try to avoid most of the time, but now and then you can’t help it.
I was talking to my dad about my daughter’s South African adventure when he revealed that I might well have grown up there myself. It was when I was about seven or eight and the firm he worked for offered him a job at their factory in Natal.
He had accepted and all was fixed, but my granddad died and my mum wouldn’t leave my widowed nana, so we stayed put.
That means that somewhere out there in the darkest reaches of space and time there is another me who speaks Afrikaans, has a suntan and enjoys wildebeest steak hot off the brai.
What I wonder though is whether I’d recognise me? I look like me, of course, but do I think like me, does I share the same shade of politics, am I happier or richer than me? Maybe the only thing I have in common with me is that we’re both ManU supporters.
Or perhaps growing under the apartheid regime made me more politically extreme. I could be in exile in London and on a SASS hit list. Then again, I might just have been a great cricketer or a diamond miner.
See what I mean about it making your head ache? Whoever I am, I just hope I don’t think about these things too deeply like I do.