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You look at a brick wall and, predictably, you see a brick wall. An apricot remains an apricot, today's post rather selfishly remains and the record you bought last Saturday stubbornly chooses to continue being a record. Generally life continues in this fashion with items, on the whole, being the same as how you left them. Life goes on.

Sometimes life opts not to. Odd little changes in the makeup of our world crop up from time to time; "Man Wakes Up, Finds House Covered In Fish". The world excuses itself for its slight slip-up, returns to normal, and (probably) fires some nameless particle for its gross mistake. Job options are not particularly favourable for subatomic particles, hence the general rarity of such events.

But sometimes there are more intriguing happenings that are slightly more difficult to place. Perhaps one morning you wake up and things just don't seem 'right'. You can't place it, you cannot determine why, but you feel slightly troubled throughout the course of your day. Like the other billions of people in the world you conveniently ignore the source of your malaise, and tomorrow's newspapers conveniently forget to announce that the universe inexplicably leapt three-quarter inches to the right.

On the balance of things this is probably best kept unknown. People wouldn't approve. "The universe has no right to dance left or right," they would sigh, "and it should at least have the courtesy to tell us before it does so." This would be expressed in a strongly-worded letter to a national newspaper, and people would nod their heads and agree whilst reading it, because on the balance of things people generally like to see strongly-worded letters in their newspaper about the universe behaving itself (or certainly would do, were it to come about).

This is why the universe tends to get on with itself and doesn't tend to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the creatures that dwell within it. If you ask a goldfish whether it notices the universe, it will probably swim off and hide under its plastic castle. This is the way of the world.

The problem is that sometimes the mistakes we have talked about thus far occur slightly grander than they really ought. The occasional tear in the fabric of space and time is nothing to worry about, and a few days later you find your car keys. But when whole people start to pop in and out of existence we begin to worry, and start noticing things. And sometimes those people pop out of existence and never pop back in, which completely spoils their evening and makes a mess of their diaries.

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