BEYOND THE INFINITE

How high is the highest?

A shop going out of business in our town has an ‘infinity box’ for sale. The box is glass fronted and electrically illuminated, you can peer in and without seeing yourself at all you see multiples of whatever you’ve put in there fading off into the far, far distance.

As a child, on my back on hilltops far from light pollution on frosty moonless nights (I used to sneak out when all the house was mute) I would contemplate the shivering stars and ponder infinity. I still do. Contemplate, that is, I no longer sneak out—but I’m no closer now to any answers than all those years ago. Okay then, Einstein, if you’re so clever—

A traveller, footsore and weary happens fortuitously upon an inn just as night is falling and a terrible storm about to break. But (there’s always a ‘but’ in these things, ever notice?) the receptionist smiles sweetly says without regret, “Sorr-eee! We’re all full up! Hard luck!”

After going through (and being repulsed on) all the usual suggestions like double up? laundry? shed? kitchen? share with dog? doss down in the lounge/cellar/attic? it finally occurs to our clever traveller to ask “How many rooms do you have in this truly magnificent hostelry?”

To which the smirking reply is “Infinite, Sir! This is an ‘infinity Inn’ — we have an infinite number of rooms and all of them are occupied. Full. Taken. So very sorry.”

To cut to the chase our weary traveller makes a suggestion, which after ghasting the young lady’s flabbers scores him a room for the night without having to bunk in with anyone else. How so?

KISMET

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