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2003-01-16 | 2:36 p.m.

The end of the world is not merely nigh it has already begun. Earth has started the process of turning into a burnt-out cinder that will eventually be swallowed by the Sun, say the astrobiologists Donald Brownlee and Peter Ward of the University of Washington.

They calculate that Earth's "day in the sun" has reached 4.30am, corresponding to its age of 4.5 billion years. By 5am the billion-year reign of animals and plants will have ended. At 8am the oceans will vaporise. At noon after 12 billion years the expanding Sun will engulf the planet, melting away any evidence that it existed.

That is the entire article as it appeared on the Independent's site. I'm trying to decide if this coverage was somebody's idea of a good joke. I guess so. But I tell you, this is not the sort of thing my delicate intellect can easily withstand. I was crying into the phone the other night to Frank, wailing about how people would go extinct and nobody would ever know we existed. Why this matters so much to me, this business of being remembered, I cannot say. But it's definitely there, shuttling around in my brain, this idea and the discomfort it generates.

And as if all that weren't enough to scorch your pie, on another page at the Independent is a scientific prediction that bananas will be kaput in a decade. Which really pisses me off, because I like bananas.

With death and extinction weighing heavy on my mind, I just want to tell you if I haven't told you lately that I really love you. I love you, especially if you read a lot, and I love me, and I wish I didn't have to die, and I love my diary, and I love bananas. Once in a great while I'll have a banana split, but mostly, I just like the damn bananas.

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