Monthly Archives: February 2013

27 Again!

I’m not religious in any sense of the word, but I do believe in something. I just don’t know what. Everything that happens in life can’t be a result of a happy accident. For evidence of this look no further than Mother Nature, where everything has a purpose, a reason to exist. I believe the signs are there if you look. Or maybe if you know what to look for.

My fascination with the number 27 is well documented, on this blog and in articles I’ve written for various publications over the years. I would like to give you with an update, or a postscript to my last 27 blog. In summary, for whatever reason, this particular number has some resonance in my life, and the pattern continues.

I spent five years working as a teacher in China. It was a wonderful experience, but I knew, deep down, that it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing with my life. One of the reasons I was so sure of this was the sheer absence of THAT number in my life, which cropped up at irregular intervals in my life as if the universe was letting me know I was on the right path. There were still a few occurrences when I was home visiting for the summer. But in China, nada. Which I found remarkable in itself.

There was one incidence a while ago…

I don’t often tell people about my 27 obsession, for fear of sounding slightly bonkers. But I did tell a girl I met recently. Most Chinese people are, by nature, quite practical and pragmatic. So this girl was instantly sceptical, and put it all down to coincidence. A fair point. But she was as surprised as I was when I pointed out the date on which we were having that particular conversation, which I hadn’t realized until that moment. It was 27th October.

A couple of months ago job opportunity came up in London. It was the kind of job opportunity I had been waiting my entire life for. Without needing to be asked twice I ripped up my teaching contract and booked a flight from Changsha back to the UK, via Beijing, where I planned to say goodbye to an old friend.

On the way from my apartment to Changsha airport, the number 27 came back with a vengeance. Suddenly, it was everywhere. The taxi I was travelling in was stuck behind a bus for much of the journey, which had the number 27 in its license plate almost as if leading us through the traffic. At one point the taxi stopped at some traffic lights. I glanced out of the window and saw a shop I hadn’t noticed before. The shop was called ‘I Am 27.’

Quick as a flash, I snapped a picture.


The journey continued, and later that day I found myself in Beijing. My friend wanted to visit a particular restaurant in the Hou Hai area. I agreed. The restaurant was one of those places where you order food at the counter and are then assigned a table number. Yep. You guessed it, our table number was number 27. To my mind, another sign that I was on the right track.

Another photo opportunity.


When I arrived in London one of the first things on my agenda was getting a new smartphone. I went to Carphone Warehouse. There, I chose a phone and could then select a number. The first number on the computer-generated on-screen list ended in 27. It wasn’t the only number available, there was a whole page and probably more. But the fact that this one was first struck me as significant. Naturally, I took it.

Another intrinsic number in my life, for many reasons, is number 9. Number 9 is, of course, 3×3, 3 being the original Magic Number. 3x3x3 is… 27

The office where I work is on the 9th floor.

My new address, however, is not number 9. Nor is it number 27. Its number 229. If you subtract 2 from 29 you get…

Of course, you could argue that the only reason my mind picks out all these 27’s is that I am consciously looking for them, and you may have a point, but still, there are an awful lot of 27’s in my life. I’m always on the lookout for the next sign post…


I always had an interest in what I now know to be called survivalism. Maybe it was a yearning to be independent, or a desire to be ready for the life struggle that lay ahead. In my childhood fantasies I was stranded alone on a desert island, or maybe in a jungle. Or perhaps I was the lone survivor after a huge natural disaster, a nuclear war, an alien invasion, or a zombie apocalypse (in that version I was obviously well tooled up with guns and stuff).

As I got older, and especially after I read Emergency by Neil Strauss, I began to realize that there didn’t have to be an alien invasion or a zombie apocalypse. Anything that knocks out the main power grid for longer than a few days would bring about the end of the world as we know it pretty damn quickly.

What would we do without an electricity supply?

When I was a kid I was a cub scout, and especially enjoyed rummaging around in forests and lighting fires. Tying all those knots was a pain in the ass, though. I also joined army cadets, which was a bit of a waste of time. When I was a teenager I put together a ‘survival kit,’ consisting of a fishing line and hooks, matches, razor blade, some chocolate and several Oxo cubes. I must have liked Oxo cubes at the time. I remember having a phase where I would make hot drinks out of them. As a bonus, they also fit neatly into my tin.

After seeing the film Rambo: First Blood Part II I persuaded my parents by me one of those ‘Rambo’ knives with a serrated edge and a compass on the handle. They were dubious at first because I didn’t have a good track record with knives. Once I cut my finger open with an old Gurkha Kukri I found in a junk shop. Another time I thought it might be a good idea to try cutting through the wire of my bedroom lamp with a penknife. Big mistake.


Anyway, the best thing about my ‘Rambo’ knife was that the handle was hollow, and contained a mini survival kit. Oh, joy! It wasn’t as good as my little tobacco tin, though. For a start there were no Oxo cubes.

My interest in… er… not dying… continued into adulthood. I fell in love with martial arts and have accumulated a small collection of cool knives and other weapons, such as an extendible baton, a knuckle duster and some nun chucks, which I keep in the name of self defence. I live and work in China most of the year, where most of these things are still illegal but readily available. And cheap. I know a girl who keeps a Taser gun in a drawer next to her bed. In a world where there are more guns than people, being able to look after yourself and the people you love is not a crime.

If I lived in America I’m pretty sure I’d own a gun. Or several. But thankfully I have not yet arrived at the stage where I move to the mountains to farm beans and live in a log cabin waiting for the end of the world.

Anyway, my point is this…

There is no point.

If there was an alien invasion or a zombie apocalypse (which, in my opinion, are among the most entertaining and attractive End of the World scenarios) any attempt at ‘surviving’ would be futile. You would just be prolonging the inevitable. We would be all be doomed whatever measures we took. Even if we managed to escape the bloodthirsty hordes we would die of starvation as soon as whatever we looted from ASDA ran out.

Of course, by that token you could argue that simply being alive is prolonging the inevitable, death awaits us all. But that’s a bit defeatist. We owe it to ourselves, the people who love us, and the human race as a whole, to fight for survival.

%d bloggers like this: