When Was the Best Moment Ever?

The best moment ever was surprisingly recent given the vast number of moments that have occurred since the dawn of time.*

On a sunny afternoon in 16th May 1992, a young man went for a cycle ride in the South-Shropshire hills. That morning, his girlfriend had agreed to marry him and the evening before he had been offered a job as a tree surgeon’s assistant – and the day before that his sister had come home from hospital, cured of a dangerous illness. Now he had the afternoon to himself and all the time in the world because his parents and sister had gone into Shrewsbury to celebrate and Lucy, the girlfriend, was at hers, telling her own parents the good news of the engagement.

God was in his heaven, fingering his long white beard, and all was right with the world.

Andrew – that was the young man’s name –  took his bike from the garden shed, packed a bottle of beer and a sandwich and set off. Forty minutes later, at 2.16 pm to be precise, tired after a steep hill, he propped his bike and sat down on the wide grass verge. He could see far into Wales, the hills blue in the distance with white puffy clouds drifting over.

Ten seconds later, he lay down and stretched out his arms. He thought of all he had and how lucky he was and indeed it’s a rare thing to have no worries whatsoever and nothing but hope for the future. Although the beer was yet to drink and the sandwich was yet to be eaten, that particular moment was so perfect, so unalloyed by any defect whatsoever of health or fortune, that it exceeded all others experienced by other human beings in similar joyful situations over the millennia – and that’s why that moment was the best moment ever.

*Number of moments since the Big Bang, assuming six moments per minute and 13,787,000,000 years since bang.  
* 60 minutes per hour
* 24 hours per day
* 365.25 days per year
* 13,787,000,000 years since bang
= 43,508,000,000,000,000 moments,
or 43 thousand million million
or 43 quadrillion
or – lots.
Calculation courtesy of my mathematical friend, Roger Terry:


When is it right to lock an Englishman in a cupboard?

There were once two Englishmen of middling years. The one was wise and patient. He was good at his job and well-liked by almost everyone. Softly spoken, he kept his own council and never got irritated by anything. The other Englishman had the red wings of a dragon and a serpent’s tail and argued dogmatically with everyone whenever he got the chance, and when not otherwise occupied he plotted sneaky deeds of revenge for imagined slights. He was also slightly plump and had an aversion to sheep and to climbing hills. Nobody liked this other Englishman.

The two Englishmen shared a house and at last, one rainy March day, the well-balanced Englishman locked the bad Englishman in a cupboard under the stairs because he could take no more. He left him there for fifteen years, during which time the well-balanced Englishman got married and climbed the career ladder – and tried to ignore his fellow countryman who remained locked in the cupboard.

During his incarceration, the bad Englishman observed the well-balanced Englishman through a keyhole. He watched as the well-balanced one went about his life, never ruffled, always on an even keel. The bad Englishman watched as the well-balanced one acquired a lovely wife and entertaining friends and saw how he managed all the difficulties that life throws up. The bad Englishman’s wings were cramped and he needed exercise and he didn’t like what he saw but gradually, over the years, things got better. He observed that the well-balanced Englishman’s smile was getting tighter and that his life, although superficially almost perfect, was shrinking to a set of duties and habits and that his wife had lost the springy step which had formerly made her so alluring. But then, inexplicably, the bad Englishman was seized by a sense of pity for his captor, a sort of dragonish Stockholm Syndrome. With no distractions to divert him from it, the pity grew into an over-powering emotion until he could bear it no longer. One day, in a sudden passion, he forced the lock on the cupboard, slamming it open. He spread his dragon wings in the rather cramped hallway and twitched his long serpent tail.

‘It’s me,’ he shouted. ‘I’m out!’

The well-balanced Englishman came running from the kitchen where he had been eating his muesli and thinking about the work he had to do that day. He was feeling tired and a little run down.

‘I’m here to save you,’ said the bad Englishman with a smirk, which was the closest he could get to a genuine smile. ‘Fly away with me to some tropical island – my dragon wings are strong enough for two. We’ll drink fermented coconut milk and try it on with the local girls.’

The well-balanced Englishman glanced to where his shoes were neatly placed by the front door, ready for him to leave for work. Meanwhile in the kitchen his wife had put down her coffee and she joined him in the hallway. The well-balanced Englishman came to a sudden decision and smiled back at the bad Englishman.

‘At last,’ he said. ‘It’s been fifteen years and Jessica has been getting worried. She’s been enquiring after you, haven’t you, dear? “What’s he doing in there?” you keep saying.’

Jessica his wife nodded.

The bad Englishman stopped twitching his tail. He was a little non-plussed.

‘The local girls were just a thought,’ he said.

‘Of course we’ll fly away with you,’ said the well-balanced Englishman, ‘and in case you hadn’t noticed, Jessica’s sister is in the cupboard opposite. Well, you couldn’t have noticed unless you can see through doors. She wears a fiery crown and fishnet stockings. She’ll come too. We’ll make a foursome.’

And with that the well-balanced Englishman stepped forward and embraced the bad one and before Jessica’s astonished eyes the two of them seemed to fuse together so that she could no longer tell which one was which. Was it her well-balanced husband but with dragon’s wings who emerged or was it the bad Englishman but with a pleasant smile? Either way, it was a bit of a relief although she couldn’t think why.

She opened the cupboard door in the opposite wall.

‘You can come out now,’ she said and out stepped a tall, imposing woman with a fiery crown on her head, a very short skirt, fishnet stockings and far too much make-up.

‘Are those dragon’s wings?’ asked the tall woman, looking across at the combined Englishmen.

‘I think so.’

‘You’d better steel yourself for some cognitive dissonance, junior.’

‘And why would that be?’ Jessica remembered why she locked her sister in a cupboard in the first place.

‘He’s Welsh.’


Please share the link to this piece with your friends and acquaintances:

Better still, email …@bobfowke.co.uk for fortnightly alerts to new blogs.