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Do you remember the first moment of your life?

I do, but then most people suffer from the inherent deficits of infancy when they are born, whereas I had the special indignity and privilege of being thirty-six years old at the time.

I admit that I did soil myself. In this respect I am on par with a lot of other people, though my insides were not stuffed with healthy black meconium but rather the still spicy remains of a sumptuous meal enjoyed shortly before the beginning of my life.

And to be entirely truthful the first first moment is hazy. I was lost in a world of synaesthetic fire, pawing out at the incoherent jangle of sudden perceptive barf that stabbed in at the amorphous horror that was quickly coalescing into my sense of self.

I was released into a blazing light, and then I fell down.

It was bliss. There was a world of smooth coolness firmly beneath me and a world of warm, blurry fog above me. I felt very peaceful. I could have lived a life splayed out like that, seeing nothing and understanding none of what I heard – currents of air, chirping birds, approaching footfalls, shouts of alarm. It was all a wondrous symphony of inexplicable and awesome stimuli, now that I’d managed to throttle the input a little by lying face down.

That’s when the apes came. They rolled me over and wiggled their lips at me while they grunted. I thought it was beautiful and magical.

With the benefit of hindsight I recognize now that they were people, just like me. They were my fellow travellers. They had rushed over because I had collapsed as soon as I stepped out of the gate. What they wanted to know was, “Are you okay?”

In reply I smiled serenely and reached out to touch their sparkly, wet-looking eyes. Funny monkeys!

“I think he shat himself,” concluded somebody.

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