15 May 2009

I see ghosts

My Ghost by piccadillywilson
How might you know if you are a brain in a vat? Short of being able to order up a useful mind-focussing, clarity inducing red pill, on the internet, that is.

One clue that might lead you to believe your life was a scripted simulation might be the sudden emergence of new themes, or abrupt changes in your story - as unseen undergraduate experimenters move on to a new module in their degree course and devise a new set of experiments for their imprisoned but unaware and virtual subject.

Has your life suddenly become dangerous?  Is everything recently very French? Are you encountering purple vegetables with worrying regularity?

In my case I am being tortured by frequent encounters with co-workers from my old consultant days.

They are everywhere.

Encountering two in a Canary Wharf wine bar last month was unremarkable happenstance; meeting a third at a mini-rugby festival felt like coincidence, but when I noticed fourth ex-co-worker running on my shoulder at the Richmond Park 5k  I suddenly suspected enemy action

By now I was even beginning to recognise them and recall their names. (Somewhere a tentacled hand pressed pause and made a note of my pleasing progress)

So, when a fifth ex-colleague phoned me up out of the blue last month to ask me for coffee, and then a sixth turned up at in a meeting at work I wasn't even surprised. "I've been expecting you" was my (slighty unusual) opening conversational gambit but she wasn't thrown (they're good, the holo-deck programmers, they're very good) and somewhere far away someone decided turned up the heat a bit "I know! How about giving him a an alumni reunion?" and lo, I have been to two such occasions in a fortnight.

I see ghosts, I see them all the time. And last night I saw very many of them. And if the spectres of age, and the credit-crunch and a sense that things could have been different, if those spectres were also there, and they haunted us, well, we didn't let it show for there was free wine and canapes.

It had been ten years since I last saw David and it's been fifteen years since we worked together in a city in Africa, and it was good to see him again, and when everyone else had gone we stayed and we reminisced about old friends and narrow escapes, sale pitches won and lost, clients satisfied and upset and do-you-remember-whens, when suddenly it hit me

"You know, David", I said, "you know - we used to be friends didn't we" and he laughed, "Yes Alibert, so we did".

Since I last saw him he had found time to get married and father an eight year old - and I didn't even know.

"Have you been to many other reunions lately?", I asked; and he looked at me strangely.


M4GD said...

Yeah Yeah Yeah…Ghosts and old friends my foot. I don’t believe it. You’re just trying to tell us you’re popular or something and the next thing we’ll hear is that you won the MFH (Most Favored Hunk) in your town;-)
So, what could it be behind your experiencing such a ROF (Reappearance of Old Friends) phenomenon? Few possibilities come to mind:
1. They were always there. You just woke up from a TGA (Transient Global Amnesia) and noticed.
2. You just discovered you were wearing your left contact lens on the right which was blocking and blurring your focus. All along your old friend Adam was there and you never said Hi as you thought It’s scary Abbey from Accounting.
3. It was full moon not long ago. People usually go out more than normal and do crazy things and think of old friends.
I dunno Botogol. There are things that can’t be explained. For example, another true story, I have six friends who are having babies this year:
(See I’m clever I can count:-))
1. Three in London
2. One in California
3. One in Amsterdam (No not the consultant from the Disaster Project) It’s an old male friend who visited me yesterday while on a business trip announcing the arrival of their second child.
4. One in Washington DC. She called me also yesterday to share the lovely news. Two in one day!
They all shared the fabulous news over the past few weeks. None of these friends know each other. I’m the thread that binds. All the babies are expected either in October or November!!! What can one infer from this? How can this be explained? Does it matter? Few guesses:
1. And you thought the Credit Crunch was all bad. Think again! Here is one positive impact ;-)
2. Another way to prove right Kevin Bacon’s Six Degree of Separation
3. I have fertile friends. Note to self: I should start egg/sperm donor business and entice them in.
4. I better get right on it and start saving for all these exponential baby showers and birthdays to come in addition to the numerous existing ones.

Old friends or babies…they ain’t ghosts. It’s life. Life goes on and along the way we must remember to stop and celebrate!

David said...

Canapes? What canapes?

Botogol said...

@M4GD - popular? hmmm, well that would be nice. No, I'm sticking with the matrix theory, there's something wierd going on: here's another one
- yesterday, cycling, a fellow cyclist engaged me in conversation
- this morning, swimming, a fellow swimmer engaged me in conversation
- this morning, later, running, a fellow runner engaged me in conversation.
I suspect a new experiment.

And you with all these pregnant friends... I rest my case :-)

Botogol said...

@David - is that you? Now *please* tell me I didn't give you address of my blog, did I?

No, I am having my leg pulled.

David said...

Many years ago I was at one of those art fair things. At one of the gallery booths I decided to add my name to their mailing list and saw on the list the name and address of a long-lost friend from my university days. So I wrote him a letter. "David, is that you?", I asked. I didn't receive a reply, but not long after I ran into my old friend and told him about the art fair and the letter. It turned out - of course - that I had written to a total stranger and I felt relieved not to have got a response.

I can assure you that my name really is David. It says so on my passport. I don't think you told me your blog address, but my memories of the evening are a bit sketchy - too much wine and definitely not enough canapes.

It was very good to see you after so long.

M4GD said...

Wow OMG this is really something. Well, you win on both accounts i.e. (a) I believe you are popular and (b) agree with you there must be a new experiment! The Aliens did it again!!! Because guess what? (cross my heart it’s true and can provide evidence) I received an email re the arrival of yet another baby due in November so the number is now up to 7! The couple is in Arizona and again they do not know the other six. I’m still the common thread. What is special about baby number 7 is that the rascal surprised the engaged couple and now they are planning an early wedding in June! Ooopsy…
Ever imagined your GI Qualitative Easing turning to baby announcements! I just heard the Aliens submitting their utmost apologies in case they messed up GI’s decorum:-)

Botogol said...

i *am* a brain in a vat.