Second video chat meeting via Messenger of our writers’ club, Writing on the Wharfe, 11 April 2020. The theme set was ‘messages’. This was my contribution, a short story.

Eight club members on Messenger video chat this morning

Top row, l to r: Sussi, John, James, me.
Bottom row, l to r: Ruxandra, Luc, Jo, Martin


Messages

Did you say something?” Robert looked up from his book towards his wife about two and a half metres away. They had stretched the measuring roll between them several times to be sure, he feeding it out slowly till she could reach it and pull it in. Two metres sixty seven centimetres precisely.

I didn’t say anything,” Simona replied. “But I was just thinking how much I love you.”

Are you sure you didn’t say it?” Robert asked. “I heard it clearly.”

I’m sure. But we know, don’t we, that we often don’t need to speak? Just think about it, how many times we either begin to answer a question before it is said, certainly before the voiced question is completed.”

I suppose it’s love,” Robert said thoughtfully.

Simona paused a moment, thinking, before replying, “Not only that. Don’t you find it sometimes happens with friends, even those thousands of miles away.”

“That’s true,” Robert replied, “that happens too, but more rarely. But it’s strange how many times I begin to think about a distant friend and almost immediately there’s a ping from my iPad announcing the arrival of a message. It’s not always from the friend I’ve just been thinking about but often it is.”

So does that mean you’re beginning to believe in telepathy? You always denied it before.” Simona sounded surprised.

I’m not sure, but it now seems to me more likely than not.”

Didn’t the Smithsonian Institute say in it’s magazine about five years ago that telepathy was ‘within reach’?”

Robert was dismissive. “That was a disappointing story, especially as it was from a renowned scientific institution. My view is that it was rubbish, the experiment supposedly ‘proving’ telepathy was possible involved computers, morse code and heaven knows what other physical technology. What we are talking about involves no such technology at all, just thoughts, or parts of thoughts, passing from one person to another with no physical intervention.”

Simona looked searchingly at Robert: “That’s interesting. So you really think it’s got something to do with love?”

Robert thought for a while before answering. “It depends what you mean by love. I’d say I love some of my friends, even some of the friends who I’ve met only through blog posts, but it’s not the same as when I say I love you. It has some of the same characteristics but not all. So I’d say it has something to do with love, in both senses, but not entirely.”

Didn’t you tell me once that when you were at university studying physics you did some experiments on telepathy, the results showing it existed being statistically out of the range of chance?”

I did, but I was young then and was impressed by a lot of so-called paranormal happenings, fired up by Dennis Wheatley’s books. I later saw all the flaws in the methodology and came to the conclusion that it meant nothing.”

But now you say that the existence of telepathy is more likely than not?”

I do. I’m much older, hopefully wiser, so now I have personal experiences which I can’t ignore.”

Do you think it’s something we’ve mostly lost,” Simona asked, “or something we’re just beginning to learn?”

Oh, I think it’s an ability we have largely lost. Animals seem to have it more than we do, which suggests to me that it’s something we mostly lost as we evolved to become more human.”

Both Simona and Robert fell silent, thinking.

The silence was broken by Simona: “Sorry I wasn’t paying attention. What did you say?”

Robert looked up surprised. “Nothing,” he said, “I didn’t say a word.”


Fake news

I am pretty disgusted with the British Press and tv, even the BBC. Even Laura Kuenssberg, usually so good and with a salary of around £ quarter of a million, seems to have descended to the level of the BBC presenters, even to that of the Daily Mail. And I’m surprised that The Guardian, usually so reliable, seems to have been unable to prevent a lowering of standards.

I now know even more surely why I buy no newspapers.

I listen carefully each day to the UK Government’s daily Press conference; at best some of the journalists do not seem to be listening, at worst just seeking sensation rather than truth. Some of the questions are idiotic.

Or is it a technique pioneered by David Frost? Ask the same question to which they know there is no satisfactory answer, over and over again, and the person questioned will begin to look incompetent. I remember well him trying that ruse in an interview with Tony Benn (who at one time I was interviewing from time to time in his role as Minister responsible for Technology) and Enoch Powell, from opposite ends of the political spectrum and both with ‘extreme views’ but both super intelligent. Frost ended up looking the idiot.

So sadly it’s not only the ‘fake news’ on social media spreading misunderstanding.