I am currently filling out an application form. The instructions at the top of the page are unmistakable in their clarity:

“Must be filled out in BLACK INK ONLY.”

I search in vain for a black pen. I know there must be one somewhere. I rifle through every drawer, molest the under-carriage of every item of furniture. But can I find one? Can I heck.

Why can’t I fill in the form with a blue pen? What made blue such an offensive hue? Which Nazi enforced this rule?  And were they working in tandem with the stationery fairy, who, whilst I slept, seemingly replaced the cartridges of every black pen within a 10-mile radius with blue ink? I can’t move for blue pens.

Aha, there she is! Ol’ Blacky. Good to see you, girl. I begin scribbling. Or should that be scratching? There’s no juice in the blighter. For the bin, you are destined. RIP Ol’ Blacky. Now where the hell have your sisters got to?

Why can I only find 1 black pen from the pack of 10 I bought at WH Smiths? The one pack from dozens of similar packs placed on their shelves at any given time.

And there are 618 High Street branches of WH Smiths in the UK. That presumably means hundreds of thousands of black pens, spread over over 3 million square feet of retail space.

That’s 1/836,911th of the UK’s total surface area of 90,060 square miles, in which you could house thousands of millions of black pens.

The UK, I’m sure, might seem like a big place to you and all your pens, but it could fit into Russia 80 times (too many pens to even bother counting).

And yeah, Russia’s enormous too, but it only takes up 1/30th of the Earth’s entire surface.

The Earth, of course being one of 8 (oh be fair, 9) planets orbiting the Sun, at an average distance of 93.2 million miles (that’s 3,571,429 London Marathons4 times as many as have presently been run by all the participants combined since its creation).

And all this takes place within our Solar System, one of just 200 billion estimated functioning star-systems within our galaxy, The Milky Way.

But alas,The Milky Way is merely one solitary galaxy. A recent calculation has put the number of possible galaxies in the known Universe at a figure of 500 billion – that’s more than 2 galaxies for every  1 star in our own galaxy.

And this, the Universe, an estimated 93 billion light years side to side – and the bugger’s only 13.7 billion years old…and still expanding! Light emitted from one corner of the Universe could conceivably never reach the opposite side, until it collapses in on itself, and the entire mass of everything is squashed into a super-heated point the size of an atom, before eventually running out of heat-energy reserves to radiate, and subsequently decaying into nothing.

But then, of course, we have the Multiverse to think about: that there might be infinite layers of Universes stacked on top of each other, side by side, or intertwined at the quantum-level is a concept so utterly mind-mushing that one begins to question the very nature of reality itself.

Where did it all come from? Was there anything during the inky-blackness of pre-existence?


Should I fill out this form with a blue pen?

You know, I really don’t think it matters.

*Pluto likes this*


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