The Beginning of the Universe

(as told by Mrs Rupert Bear)

This was my first poem, written in 1991. Written to a brief for The Independent newspaper weekly poetry competition, it won first prize.

Rupert Bear Annuals had always appeared in my Christmas stocking as a kid. This was my earliest and most favoured children’s literature. In the magical world presented by Rupert it was easily possible for a child to roam, lost to the world and safe from an abusive family home.

You could sit in bed and have three or four of the annuals out trawling through the stories. This was a dreadfully middle-class fantasy world when you look back on it now. Everyone basically nice, everyone clean and well-intentioned and good children being good through the personas of British countryside animals. That is, all indigenous except of course the ‘bear’.

We did have bears in Britain but they became extinct just before the Normans arrived. In the middle ages, we had circus and performing bears and still pursued the ‘sport’ of bear-baiting until 1835. Somewhere in our cultural memory the bear still stalks our dark woods but by the 20th century, we were turning it into a fluffy and cuddly children’s toy.

In the poem, Mrs Bear is that soft motherly voice telling the story of the creation of the universe in the poetic form used to illustrate the watercolour cartoons in the annuals.


The Beginning of the Universe

(as told by Mrs Rupert Bear)

“Who did that?” Electron said,
as he sped away.“
I don’t know.” Neutron sneezed,
and more he could not say.

“Who waved the flag, who fired the gun?”
Asked Atom in a spin.
“I have to ask, I really must,
who said that word begin?”

“Here we go, we’re spreading out.”
The particles did chatter.
A Quantum Mechanic, he was called,
but could not solve the matter.

Now Heisenburg did um and ah,
but how could he be certain.
Even though old Einstein said,
“Twas time that pulled the curtain.”

There was a fuss, a dreadful row,
its gravity compelling.
But Superstring was smug as sin,
he knew but was not telling.

And in the end, as time went by,
energetic force dissolved.
For what began so long ago,
in singularity’s resolved.

“So tea and cakes,” said Mrs Bear,
“is all we really need,
And let’s just watch Neighbours,
in silence!” she did plead.


Independent Newspaper 1991 poetry competition, first prize winning entry on the brief
“Explain the beginning of the Universe in the genre of childrens literature.”

The Beginning of the Universe

Location, location, location.

Where are you?
At the beginning of the Universe?

A simple question but if you cannot answer it then you must be lost. If you are lost then maybe you get out a map, perhaps a compass, possibly a phone and you might even Google, “Where am I?”.

Knowing where you are is important for many reasons. If you know where you are then you surely must know where you have come from.

If you know where you are you probably know what you are doing there. If you know where you are then you probably know what you want to do next; stay or move on.

Therefore it follows that if you do not know where you are then you do not know where you have come from, what you are doing in the place you find yourself or have any idea where you are going to.

Lost: Unable to find one’s way, no longer in the possession, care, or control of someone or something. No longer known or practised. Beyond reach, communication, or influence.

The question is ‘Where are you?’.

In your house, on a train, in the pub, alright but where exactly is that?

In London, in New York, in Siberia, on the Pacific Ocean, alright but where exactly is that?

In Britain, In the U.S.A., in Russia, off the coast of Argentina, alright but where is that?

On planet Earth, alright but where is that?

In the solar system, in the Milky Way galaxy, in what we call the universe, alright but where exactly is that?

What exactly does this universe exist within?
How does it exist as a space?

We do not know.

When you come right down to it we do not know where we are. We have absolutely no idea whatsoever where we are on the most fundamental level; what is this place? Not knowing where you are, being lost, is psychologically stressful and can create debilitating mental health issues; you could go mad.

Consequently, the human animal prefers to be distracted rather than think about location, location, location. That or shift the responsibility to an all powerful being you can’t see, touch or feel; you could be going mad.

The beginning of the universe, it all started then and it is still going on. I believe it is amazing.

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