I was in my socks at home in Derby, staring at the globe. I’d had enough of everything. I was going to leave the civil service and travel round the world. I took my dad’s old dart set, three arrows in a frayed plastic packet. One of them was bald metal, and another had only two of its three feathers left.
At the other side of the room stood my old globe, a relic from a jumble sale at school, so old that the USSR still lolled across the Northern hemisphere.
Gently, I pressed my finger against the surface and span it. Not clockwise. That would have been unnatural. I set it moving anticlockwise, exactly as the world turns.
I felt scared then, as if a cold puddle lay in the pit of my stomach. Wherever the dart landed I would go: Saudi Arabia, Paraguay, Chad or Burkino Faso. Where the dart strikes, there go I.
My fingers felt greasy as I rubbed the point of the dart. I was four short paces away. Closing one eye, I aimed and shot. The arrow, missing a feather, described a flaccid path into the carpet where it stuck, quivering in the centre of a cigarette burn.
Yet still the world turned. I slipped the final dart out of the plastic pocket. The plastic was scarred as if the dog had been chewing it. The globe gradually slowed. The time was now. With a bend of my elbow, I jabbed the dart forward.
This time, it hit. It twanged like a rubber band stretched over a shoebox. It trembled like my fingertips as I went to see where it had landed. The globe had stopped. The dart faced away from me, unseen.
One step, Two steps. I turned my eyes as I rotated the earth towards me. My heart felt tight in my chest as I looked for the spot where the final dart stood.
It was in Derby.