by Rupert Merkin

This morning I realise I'm on toothbrush number three, but only toothpaste number two. I do the calculations, dividing days by number of brushes, allowing for an average squeeze size. Eventually I work out that for every ninety-two brushes I go through a new toothbrush, but only two-thirds of a tube of paste. That wastes ten minutes.

(. . .three minutes to brush his teeth by six years and two months and three days, which is two thousand, two hundred and fifty two days, twice per day, which is six thousand seven hundred and sixty two minutes brushing his teeth. . .)

I go downstairs, defrost some cheese and eat these weird freeze-dried crackers that taste of sweet powder. I have to open a new barrel of coffee, but that's ok as I still have three left. Taking into account flat spoons of fake milk, cup size and average daily consumption, I work out that I have enough coffee for another two hundred and twenty eight days. That wastes another thirteen minutes.

(. . .five cups of coffee a day by six years and two months and three days, which is two thousand, two hundred and fifty two days, which is eleven thousand two hundred and sixty. . .)

On TV I watch this thing about surveys. Apparently eight out of ten cats prefer some food or other. I remember this statistic that there are eight hundred thousand cats in England. I don't care, but I do the calculations anyway. I divide the number of meals per day, size of cat food tins, and work out that the country's cats go through three point eight two tonnes of fucking cat food a day. Another twenty-two minutes gone.

(. . .three meals a day by six years and two months and three days, which is. . .)

I switch off the TV, pace the room. A man's average stride length is two point five feet. The circumference of the world is twelve thousand seven hundred and forty two kilometres. I do the calculations and worked out that it would take sixteen million eight hundred and nineteen thousand, four hundred and forty strides to walk around the earth. (How many steps did he take into the road?). It would take over twelve and a half billion strides to get to the moon. Three hundred and fifty billion to get to the sun.

(. . .how many steps did he take. . .)

It takes five hundred and seventy two billion gallons of crude oil to produce tires for all the cars in the country. I just can't help myself. Seven gallons per tyre. At fifty miles per hour your braking speed will be about 140 feet. How many steps did he take? A child's reaction time is three hundred milliseconds in response to an approaching object. It always comes down to this. The human eye can see a hundred frames per second.

Once again, I do the calculations.

After leaving the States a lifetime ago, Rupert has now settled in London with a quill, two dogs, and a monkey. But sadly no ink.