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In philosophy of mind, zombies are hypothetical persons who lack full consciousness but behave otherwise just like other people. They are referred to as philosophical zombies or “p-zombies”.So were to start this strange tale of the un-dead. At the beginning I suppose, for as Maria said in the Sound of Music

let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start’

Last week-end my wife asked me to do some additional bits of shopping that she had missed the day before. Although, I must say judging by the pile of stuff that she managed to drag home it looked pretty much to me like we had at least one of every item our local supermarket had on its shelves. Having examined the couple of dozen sheets of paper that made up the missing items list I decided to venture forth on foot to an unfamiliar supermarket closer to home than the one she would normally invade. Full of hope I began my walk, the list held firmly in my clenched fist and the instructions ‘don’t buy rotten fruit’ (something that can happen apparently if your inexperienced or not constantly on your guard) still ringing in my ears.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a huge hanger-like building rose from the mist, its name spelt out in hundred foot high neon letters perched precariously atop its sweeping arch of a roof. I can now imagine just how the first pilgrims must have felt as they crested that last hill to be confronted with the huge magnificence of Canterbury Cathedral. So feeling a little like a character from Chaucers’ Canterbury Tales I approached the magnificent entrance its slowly opening and closing automatic doors seemed to whisper ‘…come shop, come shop…’. Boldly I selected my trolley from the corral being constantly replenished by the small army of youths who scour the hedgerows and waste ground in a roughly three mile radius to retrieve the lost and abandoned chariots. One brave youth was even venturing out towards the far reaches of the car park, a distance considerably more than three miles; to retrieve what I can only assume was a particularly valuable cart.

It was with a growing sense of anticipation that I pointed my trolley at the entrance, lent slightly forward, and took my first bold steps. As if dragged by some mysterious force I veered to the left. This was going to be more difficult than I thought. I quick adjustment and I set off again. But no, I still could not hit the entrance. I stood perplexed as all those around me swept past into the (for me at least) impenetrable building. I selected another trolley, this time one with four functioning wheels. I was off!

I never imagined that these places sold all kinds of stuff that’s not food! Not surprising really in a building so large it must be visible from space. It was then that I started to notice the people. Everyone shuffling around slack jawed and glassy eyed; strange. As I took my next few steps I felt my own jaw beginning to droop, the life slowly draining from me. My god! It was the music, the soporific relaxation music pumped into the building at almost subliminal levels. I quickly plugged in my iPod, selected a track from The Clash, and woke from the semi-trance as if slapped. Things suddenly seemed brighter, more sharply in focus; but as I wove the curious trolley dance through the shuffling masses I realised that I was completely inappropriately dressed for shopping. I should either have worn a shellsuit (100% polyester, 100% flammable – You know you’re hot!), some form of football kit or roller-skates. “Get your skates on kids we’re going shopping” – a phrase taken quite literally by at least one family. Ah! The huddled masses, the great unwashed, the proletarian salts of the earth and of course the chav. I could see this was going to be fun. The kind of fun you have at the dentist, the kind of fun you have standing in the rain waiting for a bus that isn’t going to arrive, you know the sort.

To be continued…….