Thursday, September 4, 2008

Never forget

Malcolm has a "thing" about media stories on animals.

On the whole, they bring on the irresistible urge to vomit.

Puppies and kittens in particular.

Yeukk! Nasty.

Mind where you step!

OK, on reflection, Malcolm amends that opening statement to exclude penguins and elephants. Elephants, in particular, with those deep wrinkles and solemn eyes, always seem so ... knowing.

Today's Times had an elephant story.

So, here goes:
Under carefully controlled experimental conditions — essentially comprising a large cage and two buckets of assorted fruit — one elephant at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo managed to get its sums right 87 per cent of the time.
Meanwhile, half-way around the globe

At CERN, pointy-headed scientists are willy-waving -- my cyclotron is bigger than yours... nah, nahdy, nah!
It is the most ambitious and expensive civilian science experiment in history, based on the biggest machine that humanity has yet built...
This colossal circuit, 17 miles (27km) in circumference, is the world’s most powerful atom-smasher, the £3.5 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC), created at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva. Some 10,000 scientists and engineers from 85 countries have been involved. In the years ahead it will recreate the high-energy conditions that existed one trillionth of a second after the big bang. In doing so, it should solve many of the most enduring mysteries of the Universe.

Now, promise Malcolm ... please, please, promise him ... the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything must not be -- oh, please not -- 42!

We now reveal two moments of deep, lasting psychological trauma, that persist from Malcolm's past:
  • The second, paid job of his young life (the first was making fizzy drinks for Claxton and Son, Mineral Waters, in Wells-next-the-Sea: pay £6 a week: but that was 1959) was at a chemist's wholesaler in Norwich. He had to assemble orders, which frequently involved a closer working knowledge of brands of condoms than was usual for such a callow youth at that time. He had to sign off each completed requisition with his personal code. This code was ... 42.
  • When the second series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy aired, in 1980, Malcolm caught the first and second episodes as he lay on a bed of pain in the Whittington Hospital.
"So what?" you may say: well, try laughing constantly, through half-an-hour, with a broken and surgically-bolted leg, suspended in a sling.
No: to Malcolm, 42 is a very unlucky, painful and unfortunate number.

So, he raises a glass to that highly-intelligent elephant: 87% of the time correct. Malcolm recognises real talent.

One last flash-back from Malcolm's chequered past.

Seventeen years old, he had just completed his Irish Leaving Certificate (with honours).

This was his matriculation to Trinity College, Dublin, signed, sealed and delivered.

He was stopped in the corridor by the Maths teacher:
The Headmaster tells me you're staying on to the Scholarship Sixth.
Yes, sir.
Good. You're not planning to do Maths, are you ...
No, sir. Classics.
That wasn't a question. It was a statement.
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sarinka said...

Thought you would enjoy this

sarinka said...

Another fun picture for your amusement. "Diving Penguins"


Malcolm Redfellow said...

Thank you, Sarinka: both were fun.

Just keep me away from domestic pets.

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