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16 March 2007

Wasted time, wasted sperm

Herring proposes a hell worse than any religion could conjure

By Richard Herring

I have been unusually busy filming a comedy drama that I wrote for ITV (It’s called “You Can Choose Your Friends” – hope you’ll watch when it’s on. The three of you could make all the difference). On Sunday, my day off, I fell asleep on my sofa.

It is nice to have a lazy day when you have earned it. Too often over the last four years I have wasted my days with no good excuse and just as I was drifting off to sleep I was considering (not for the first time) how much of my life I throw away playing computer games or surfing the internet or watching rubbish TV.

I really want to make the most of my time and experience what little life I have left to me to the full and yet even though I continually resolve to make more of my time, I continually fail to do so.

Half way to the world of dreams I began to consider what would be a much more effective afterlife than any proposed by the existing religions. I think that what should happen to us when we die and go to Heaven is that we go to a room (or a cloud or whatever) inhabited by all the babies that would have been created from the batch of semen that created us, had their particular sperm made it to the egg first.

There would be up to 600 million babies in the room/cloud, all very similar looking to us, but subtly different. The babies, although still babies, would be able to talk and understand us properly and be grown up and wise on the inside, like the babies on those adverts for toilet roll or that one off rubbish old Star Trek.

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They would each sit in a little throne, maybe wearing some kind of ethereal hat or crown. These details are not that important. All the babies would look sad and slightly troubled that it was you who had been given the precious gift of actual life, against all the odds, rather than them.

What would happen is that once you were dead and had gone to Heaven, you would have to go round to each of the babies in the room/cloud, explaining to them how you had spent your time on earth, in an attempt to convince them that you had not frittered your time away pointlessly – time that could have gone to them, had they won the spunk lottery.

If you had done amazing things with every second of your life, then the babies would be satisfied that the right spermatazoon had won the race and let you pass by quickly to enjoy the delights of nectar cards with a million points on them and ambrosia cream rice that would be waiting beyond the baby antechamber.

But if you said stuff like “I spent the 25th of February 2007 watching the ominbus edition of Hollyoaks, even though I am 39 years old and had seen several of the episodes this week anyway” then the babies would question you and chastise you and ask you why you didn’t at least get outside and look at the beauty of nature, or read a great work of literature, or help an old woman by doing her gardening, all pleasures that had been denied to these wise, troubled and cursed babes, who spend all eternity in their tiny thrones, wondering what might have been.

If you knew this was coming and you had to look into those big eyes, so similar, but subtly different to yours, six hundred million times over, then surely this would be a worse punishment than any Hell that the so-called Christians and Muslims could dream up.

And if you had used every second to its utmost then at least you would look into those baby eyes and see some comfort for those tortured souls. They would know that they could never have done as well as you and that the right sperm had won, because they would probably have been watching Hollyoaks for a second time, enjoying the subtle difference of having a man in the corner signing the inane script for the deaf.

I think if we could convince people that this is what will happen to us, that we’d all do a lot better at making the most of our brief lives. No-one wants to disappoint even one baby. So the thought of upsetting so many would be too much to bear.

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