Questions - you got 'em; answers - we got 'em

79 Questions I would like to ask myself

From: I. Asimov

Hey Ian,

How would you describe infinity?
In other words, how's my theory holding up?

Yours, I. Asimov


Hello Isaac,

Near Infinity is an apparently endless sequence of odd shaped containers. Some are expanding or contracting at noticeable rates and some are in stasis. So far we don't have keys for the doors that provide access to contiguous units, and we don't know where those units are or what they look like - except for a small part of the one we occupy and we call that the universe.

The universe, within or upon which we have made all our advances and set our guages on the strange assumption that other units will be made of atoms and measured in centimetres as surely as the sun goes round the earth.

We are told the big bang was not an explosion in space but an explosion of space. Either way it appears that we are standing at the centre of whatever's left, no matter where we are, and our efforts to trace the beginning have taken us frustratingly close, only to be denied by that most foolish of notions - Zeno's Paradox. And that's just the beginning, what about the end of this particular amorphous bubble? Can't have a big bang without a big pop at some stage can we.

String theory, wormholes, doorknobs and cat flaps.

As you can see I'm still working on it.

Cheers, ig

From: A Darling

Dear Mr know-it-all,

How would you fix the banking crisis then?

Alistair Darling (Chancellor of the Exchequer)


Hello Darling,

And you started so well.

First I'd re-define poverty. During the aftermath of Katrina, down in New Orleans when the media hyenas were snuffling around for content, I saw a most remarkable piece of television. The interviewee was bitching and moaning about the lack of government response to a disaster that most people had seen coming and was caused not directly by Katrina but by years of neglect. The infrastructure had not been maintained and blame rose to the surface.

Then the face of this woman was on screen, and then the body. She was so fat I imagined she could have survived three polar winters without coming out of hibernation. Screeching at the man of the moment on CNN. 'The Guvment don't care about poor people. They don't care bout us. They just care bout the rich folks and they let us drown an die. We poor people here, we got nothin!!! We just poor people drownin because the guvment don't care. We soooooo poor. There's a woman down there (she points) that's so poor she only have one TV.That's right, just one TV - imagine that!!!

Yes, I think we have to re-define poverty, certainly in the Western World. Quite clearly poverty is a relative term but from where I'm standing if you have clothing, shelter, food and water, heating, refrigeration, and more than one TV then you are not poor. You are poor when you live in your own excrement and have to drink filthy water, when food is a luxury and fear is constant, and of course there is no social security, there are no food stamps. And yet the really poor do not interest usurers (I meant to say attract, but interest is fine), because they really can't get any poorer.

But that fat lady in New Orleans can sure consolidate her credit cards. 'Lost your credit rating? Come to uncle, there there. I'll take away all your worries, just sign here and we'll make all those nasty creditors go away.' And so the spiral continues until the fiscal fabric is stretched so tight you can see right through it. Did we see this coming or not? Of course we did! Yes I remember how often we (my friends, family and I) would gasp at the advertising obscenity of cheap money being thrown at people in trouble in the name of consolidation, and you did the same - I know you did. Did any of the grand wizards see it coming? It seems they had no idea, they just kept chewing until it burst all over their snouts.

Then I'd put the whole wunch of bankers into a de-euphemisation program. Sub-prime lending would be a phrase now clearly understood as profiting from misery - lending people more than they can afford and almost as much as they dream of. Want a house based upon many times your ability to maintain payments? Such a loan must ensure reclamation and homelessness - but only if the market drops, don't worry it's not done that for - let's see, about twenty years. Yeah, dancing on the rim of the caldera to the sound of rumbling - that's how we get those volcanic bonuses you idiots.

If one of the great axioms of life - you can't take out more than you put in - is so clear to most of us mortals and a rule by which we are obliged to live, then how can it not be illegal for those with such great responsibility to ignore it.

Cheers, ig

From: Polly

Dear Mr. G

How long does it take for you to get the wrapper off a CD?

Yours, Polly x


Hello Polly,

These days it takes me no time at all, not a second, because I have a staff member employed specifically for that purpose. Highly trained in all aspects of modern wrapping, she worked for years as my hinge-oiler's assistant but rose to the top in the melee of '98. You are also naturally skilled at typing aren't you Polly...

Who's a clever girl then!

Cheers, ig x

From: M

Last time I saw you Mr Gillan, local yeomanry were cementing the final bricks in place to seal the room at the top of a tower where you were to be confined with nothing but a dripping tap, a straw pallet, one table and a chair, plus enough cheese sandwiches to last a lifetime - Ha!

What made you say those things about Little John's new friend? Just because they were true didn't mean you had to blurt out what everyone was thinking - you idiot. Anyway, I left you for dead and was mightily surprised to see you with deep Purple in Argentina last week. Didn't know they were still going either. So how did you escape and what've you been up to the last six hundred years?



Ah - Moriarty,

Not you again, I wondered why the wildlife was on its knees. If you remember - and I'm sure you don't - those things about Blobby were said to you in confidence. And, it was merely a repetition of what I saw the two of you up to in the cellar of The Blue Boar Inn. Not that Blobby had much to do with it, being tied up like that and captured on paper by your polaroid sketch team, who then lovingly pencilled me in as the guilty party.

The escape was simple. I picked at the wet mortar until my finger became sore. With that implement I was able to cut the table in two. As you know two halves make a whole and through it I climbed, but not before making a ladder in my hose and discarding my doublet. I climbed down that ladder and shouted until I was hoarse. Then bestrode the fine steed and galloped off into the forest, where I first heard the strains of April. And there you have it.

Spoke to a maiden in Dubai earlier today who was convinced DP was a heavy metal band; wasted ten minutes of my life trying to explain we had nothing to do with alchemy or bizarre banjo histrionics, but she didn't believe a word of it. Nor could she be persuaded to see for herself, even though I swore I hadn't seen in the audience a Longhair or one of those T-shirts in ages.

Moronika works for you, doesn't she M (rhet).

See you around dipstick,

Cheers, ig

From O Utan

Dr. Gillan

I read about your bungee birth method and tried it four times with my wife off a bridge in the Atlas Mountains. It was a great success, our kids are all healthy and full of life. The only side effect has been that Janet wears a permanent puzzled frown.

Any suggestions?

O. Utan


Hello Orang,

You've written before haven't you.

The only way I know to get rid of Janet's frown is for you to explain to her that you are a cretin - repeat four times a day until she knocks your block off. The bungee birth method (DF-33, Gruntled in Brasil) was an ironic illustration to explain how vertical birth - using our daily musculature rhythms - would be so much more comfortable, quick and trouble free than the horizontal position favoured by medical staff for their own convenience.

You idiot.

Cheers, ig

From: T. Grim Reaper

Dear Mr. Gillan,

Would you be kind enough to list a few of your near-death experiences and explain some of the ways in which you were able to escape my clutches?


T. Grim Reaper


Hello Grim,

There are so many but here are just a few that come to mind.

A bucking horse brushed my forehead with its hoof, an inch closer would have klled me stone dead. I can't explain it, no-one has reactions that fast. Maybe I saw you out of the corner of my eye Grim, and turned my head just enough.

I nearly choked to death when I swallowed a bay leaf that got stuck in my throat. When I recovered consciousness I discovered it had unrolled sufficiently to make a breathing tube in my gullet. In a more relaxed condition I was able to create undulations with my oesophagus and massage it upwards and out. Ironically - and many years later you will remember Grim - my life was saved when I fell of a roof into a Bay Tree.

Chopping wood, after a jarring mistimed blow there was nothing on the end of the shaft. I looked to the right - nothing. I turned to the left - whoooosh, the axe-head descended from what must have been forty feet, flew through the newly created space between my shoulder and head, to bury itself in the ground. In England - where we drive on the left - I was taught to Look Right, Look Left and Look Right again before stepping into the road. So even if I'd actually looked right again I would have kept my head.

After spinning to an inverted halt at the Black Sabbath sessions for 'Born Again' (Trashed)...I was trapped in a car just a few inches from an old swimming pool filled with water and old tyres. If I'd gone any further the inertia seat belt would have given me no hope of escape. Fortunately, the friction caused by my head against the tarmac slowed the movement of the car just short of disaster. (Ever safety conscious, I was wearing a crash helmet!). It was a double escape actually, because I was able to scream 'Noooooooo!!!!!!' just as one of my rescuers was about to light a fag (in relief - no-one ever talks about the therapeutic value of smoking). Being very close to the ground I could detect fumes from the ruptured tank, the track was covered in petrol.

But I think the nearest I ever came to death was quite recently, trapped in a hotel room in Buenos Aires with only BBC World for company.

Cheers, ig

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