Down at the “Slug and Philosopher’ we had gotten through the first couple of quick pints and were working our way through the later, slower ones.
“You know, I don’t even remember my first Guinness,” said Old Ted, wiping some froth from his top lip.
“It was a long time ago, Ted,” I replied, “probably about fifty years”.
“You weren’t even the same person then,” said Wayne, “not one cell in your body has survived since those days. They’ve all been replaced several times over.”
“So I’m like a different version of myself, then?”
“Yeah, like Trigger’s broom in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ on the TV.”
“The joke is that Trigger claimed that he had his road sweeper’s broom for twenty years, but then he adds that the broom has had seventeen new heads and fourteen new handles.”
“Yeah, but I can remember other things, like my first pushbike when I was seven and that was before my first Guinness,” said Ted, “so it’s not like my brain has been wiped clean.”
“What ‘appens,” said Wayne, “is that each version of Ted passes the more ingrained memories on to the next version of Ted. Imagine a whole string of Teds passing a bowl of spaghetti. Each Ted adds a bit more spaghetti to the bowl but it can only carry so much and some of it gets pushed out. Some of it remains from the original Ted and each of the Teds will be responsible for at least part of it.”
We all sipped on our beers and imagined a whole string of Teds of increasing age struggling with bowls of spaghetti.
“Of course, that’s the situation if you’re using the classic Time Is a Straight Line scenario that we’re all familiar with.” Wayne persevered. “If you imagine the broader picture, that Time is like a ball of water, then all the Teds exist as a single numerical object and all their memories exist instantaneously. It’s only Ted’s brain that carves up the memories like slices of bread along the Time line that’s his life.”
“So let me get this straight; I’m not the same Ted as the one who you bought a pint for five minutes ago?”
“That’s correct,” replied Wayne.
“In that case I won’t be buying the next round, it’s that past Ted who owes you a drink and he’s gone,” said Ted triumphantly.
“Listen pal,” said Wayne menacingly, “I’m going to the loo now and if I come back and find that the current Ted hasn’t found his way up to the bar to repay the past Ted’s debt there won’t be no future Teds!”
Lucy the barmaid was collecting the empties.
“If you lot drink much more tonight you’ll not remember any of your yesterdays tomorrow and then where will you be?”
“If she starts talking about brooms, I’m out of here,” said Ted.