All happening at once

Thursday 7th June 2012

WITH Cheltenham Science Festival approaching, I need to do some more research. The internet can be intimidating. I am a bear of little brain.

But stuff hits fans and however much I apply the seat of the pants to the seat at this desk, the behind lags behind and there’s never enough time.

Must pack for Wales, print material for workshops, leave note for daughter’s mum who’s delivering car loads of student belongings while I’m away, check trains, cancel milk, unload washing machine, upload blog…

I get home to an answerphone message:

“Marcus, this is Robert Winston and, forgive me, I know I shouldn’t do this to you, but…”

He’s right. Far too many in the audience – not to mention the clever-clogs on the panel – will know the answer. Damn: my bluff has been called, demanding a hasty re-write, some urgent emails, and another late night.

Will it never end? this feeling of tail-chasing, this squeezing of time into too narrow a gorge?

We were promised technology would make our lives simpler. Huh.

Earlier this week, while washing up, I caught Maggie Aderin-Pocock on Radio 4’s A Good Read. She was talking about John Wyndham’s Chocky, which I recall reading as a teenager. Enthusiasts enthral. I became distracted that evening too.

She’ll be there in Cheltenham, with Robert, on Sunday week, as a team captain on Call My Scientific Bluff: my favourite annual gig: one of those rare occasions when I don’t feel intimidated by planet-sized brains – as long as I’m thoroughly prepared.

Perhaps I’ll include a mention of Einstein, who, allegedly, refused to change his clothes before meeting some important ambassador.

“If they want to see me, here I am. If they want to see my clothes, open my closet and show them the suits.”

Which pleases the shabby dresser in me.

I would, however, take issue with another of his well-known quotes. There are numerous examples disproving the claim:

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

Had I enough time to argue my case, that is.






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