Hilary Fannin: We’re on a collision course with an asteroid? Tell me something I don’t know
We’re hit by our very own personalised asteroids every day of the week, annihilated over and over again by grief and disappointment
There’s every possibility, of course, that you’re not reading this. Every possibility that you and your bowl of cornflakes have, by now, been reduced to cosmic bacon scratchings. Yep. There is, apparently, a fair enough chance that you and I (or at least the “you and I” that “you and I” used to be) are floating through space like an incinerated love letter, the charred remnants of an entity that once drove a lime-green Toyota, fell asleep in front of The X Factor and secretly quite wanted to be an air hostess. (Really, not at all? That was just me, was it? But what about the navy-blue court shoes and all the duty-free volumising mascara?)
Where was I? Oh yeah, there is a scientific theory abounding (well, some kind of theory with the word “expert” tagged on to it) that, by now, you and I, and our endlessly fascinating agendas, our best-laid plans for the steady progress of our precious little lives, are kaput. Snuffed out. Extinguished.
By the time you get to read this (or not), we could be no more. Ourselves and our earnest plans to achieve permanent weight loss, to enrol in a computer course, to realise our long-haul travel ambitions and to have a shot at all-over body waxing, might have been blown sky-high.
All our gritty rubber-glove determination – to clear out the mouldering schoolbooks yellowing under the eaves since decimalisation, to paint the downstairs toilet, to get around to using those hand weights bought with the weekly shop God knows how long ago now – may be dead in the water. All those plans, those vague hopes, those distant dreams that tattooed our souls, may have been dismantled.
I hate to tell you, but a bunch of the aforementioned “experts” are predicting that you and I are both destined to be scattered, crumb-like, to the howling solar winds, a carrion feast for astral prey.
I am, of course, referring to the “slim chance” I’ve been reading about that Earth is on a collision course with an asteroid, and that humanity is about to go the way of the dinosaur.
“Experts say meteor could wipe out Earth in the next few weeks despite Nasa’s claims to the contrary,” read the headline.
Who knows, in a couple of millenniums the gnashing return of the once-extinct homo sapiens might be the subject of a post-human blockbuster: “Watch out, little cockroach, that homo sapien has a knitting needle and she knows how to use it.”
The cat yawns
“I don’t think I’ll bother ironing this,” I told the cat, holding up my only white shirt. “We may be destroyed by an asteroid before I get around to wearing it.”
“You just may be mixing me up with someone who gives a toss,” yawned the cat.
Mind you, we’re hit by our very own personalised asteroids every day of the week, annihilated over and over again by grief and disappointment. Illness and death regularly come crashing through our stratospheres like bullet trains, with little regard for our well-tailored plans.
My brother, myself and my mother’s consultant gathered around my mother’s hospital bed the other day. We were there to discuss her options: the consultant was gently insistent, my mother weak but curious and entirely cognisant.
Should the asteroid come, we asked her – metaphorically, you understand – do you want a machine to breathe for you or do you wish to stand firm and meet it without the plastic tubing?
She opted for a peaceful parting.
The consultant nodded his agreement, and slipped away behind the drawn curtain. We were all, including her, hugely relieved to have had the conversation.
I don’t fear the rocks that the universe has to hurl, even if they are the size of Denmark (don’t quote me, I’m making that bit up). Since that hospital conversation I don’t fear the slings and arrows that will fall closer to home either. Clarity and sense prevailed, the unmentionable was mentioned, trepidation met and calmed.
We left, my brother and I, stopped off for a pint and a glass of wine in my local on the way home, bought tickets for the football draw, didn’t win anything. Business as usual.
The next morning my mother was sitting up in her hospital bed, bright and breezy.
“I hope you brought ice and lemon,” the nurse said, smiling. “Your mother is suggesting a celebratory gin and tonic for the ward.”
Life goes on, death goes on. Meteors fly towards us, miss us by inches.