Chapter One (In which we talk about biscuits)

And in that fleeting moment Phil was King of the world. Nothing and no-one could touch him. Literally. But he had a decision to make and it was one that no-one had ever had to make before.

It would change his life dramatically there’s no doubt about that. It would affect hundreds if not thousands of people and practically the whole world would get to hear about it. Not the sort of decision you have to make every day but this was no ordinary day and definitely no ordinary situation.

A life can change on one decision but maybe not by this magnitude. There may very well be parallel universes where your other choice or choices play out a different way but then, if every decision causes at least one more parallel universe…. Yep, there must be infinite universes already playing out their scenarios and who has time to contemplate that? I just decided to scratch an itch on my leg so is there another universe where I decided to bear with the itch until it went away? Wow, I’d love to be in THAT universe!

The only universe I’m interested in is the one I’m in now and if this itch doesn’t go away I really will scratch it and not end up in this other parallel universe that I’ve just dissed but am still here in in reality. Which only goes to show that I’m tying myself in knots about a silly itch that I daren’t actually scratch now in case I get whisked away to a universe where I’m not actually writing this in the first place.

I’m going to have to risk it. It’s driving me nuts. I HAVE to scratch it so if you’re not reading this then I haven’t written it because of some stupid itch that I caused in the first place by writing about it that won’t exist because I won’t be writing about it in the first place. Clear? And if we all put that amount of thought into every decision we have to make, well we won’t get very far will we?

Normally about this time Phil’s biggest decision would be whether to have another chocolate Hob-Nob with his cup of coffee. It was never a question of any other biscuit; it was just whether or not he could manage another chocolate Hob-Nob. It wasn’t just because he liked saying the name (I mean who wouldn’t!) it was that no other biscuit had ever come close. He’d tried a lot over the years and found plenty he liked…just liked, notice, and some he hated….those fly sandwich Garibaldis were particularly abhorrent to Phil…but he loved chocolate Hob-Nobs; no, strike that, he LOVED chocolate Hob-Nobs. The fact that I’ve managed to squeeze their name four times into this paragraph is but a small signifier of how much Phil was fond of this particular snack (or meal depending on the quantity consumed).

I’m sure you can imagine then that the actual decision of whether or not to have another one each day was merely a perfunctory procedure that had never yet resulted in Phil not having another one. And it may go some way to explaining why Phil was a little overweight. But after today he may be able to afford all the chocolate Hob-Nobs he wanted (and then pay for a gastric band or something) or he may be able to afford to eat healthily which isn’t easy in Tory Britain.

Little bit of politics there © Ben Elton.

Anyway, so, the decision is quite a big one although I do just need to nip to the shop as I’m feeling a bit peckish. Bear with…

Right, back, where were we? Ah yes, this big decision. Now I’m not going to string you along any longer so I think you should know that you won’t actually get to find out what this decision is until the end of the book. Sorry about that. Now don’t go skipping to the end a la Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally, have some patience and see if you can work out what decision all the following is going to lead to. Then, if you have worked it out, what do you think Phil will do? And what would you do?

If you ignore all the waffle about biscuits (although that is important character establishment) you may notice that there are some indicators which will help you along this mysterious journey. They will become more apparent when you read on and then even more so when you look back once you’ve read the whole book. You can bank on it.

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About the author

Fresh from failing to be an actor, a singer and retaining a full head of hair Glyn is now attempting to be a photographer and a novelist. He has taken more pictures today than he has written words of his novel in the last six months. Some of them he regards as okay..

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