Colour Savings Time

Snooker

Friday night in the Seventies didn’t get any better!

One of my happy routines as an Electronic Bag Teen was to watch snooker with my dad. I know, I was really living la vida loca back then! We also watched showjumping, Tom & Jerry and Dr Who, and if possible any silent comedy films starring people such as Chaplin, Keaton or Lloyd. My father was a discerning television viewer who would quite literally turn on for a three minute cartoon, then turn off again.

During the Seventies, which is when all this crazy was going on chez Bag Teen, Friday night didn’t get any more exciting than Pot Black, a half hour performance of snooker showmanship. All the big names were there, such as the great Fred Davis, Cliff Thorburn, Dennis Taylor, Ray Reardon, Terry Griffiths and eventually a very young Steve Davis. And you really had to learn the how it worked because back in those days we were on colour-savings time and mostly everything was in black and white. Believe it or not, I didn’t find out my eyes were blue until the Eighties.

For those of you not familiar with the phenomenon, colour-savings time (or “CST”) was invented in order to manage an orderly transition from the Age of Monochrome to the Age of Multichrome. Colour had of course been invented some years previously, resulting in general excitement with a tendency to hysteria and significant economic success for traders in smelling salts. The population gradually became more alert to the opportunities of a nuanced colour scheme in their everyday lives, but initially it was considered a social shift of cataclysmic proportion which needed delicate management. For centuries colour had been as theoretical as the Higgs boson, and until someone invented the equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider (it was actually called the Large Pantone Collider and patented in 1928 by Ingrid Bergman’s uncle) there continued to be savage debate over such contentious issues as the colours to be found in a rainbow, or the actual colour of the Red Sea and its implications for biblical epistemology.

Nevertheless, demand was high; the world expected colour in every last nook and cranny, although early attempts were clumsy as armies of painters (or “colourists” as they were known) were deployed globally to render key landmarks and treasures in red, green, or blue. The discovery by Howard Carter in Tutankhamen’s tomb of the colour gold, for example, caused quite a stir. The colourists started with works of art and later moved into cinema. Their early enthusiasm was prone to excess, and indeed one colourist was so carried away when updating the Book of Kells that he was forcibly sectioned for the greater good.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AKellsFol032vChristEnthroned.jpg

The new phenomenon of colour resulted in some extremely vibrant pages in the Book of Kells

Gradually colouring became mainstream and coloured versions of everyday items made it into the shops, such as blue jeans and itsty-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot bikinis. Following the psychedelic period at the end of the Sixties, the world was mostly transitioned but the BBC lagged a little behind due to a limited budget. It couldn’t afford a complete colour output and snooker balls were last in the cue.

As a result, my father taught me the rules of the game the old-fashioned way: keen observation to memorise the placement of balls on the table. Snooker nowadays is a garish game, but then it was all shades of grey, and not in a kinky sense. Now there is the green baize, and balls of white, red, black, pink, blue, brown, green and yellow.

The important thing to remember with snooker, the really important thing, especially if watching in monochrome, is that apart from the white and the reds, all the colours have a home spot marked on the baize. They return to it throughout the game, like salmon to the glens or pigeons to their lofts. It is a game of physics: angles, velocity and spin. The goal is to clear the table by potting all the balls in a certain order, ending with the black. Only the white must never vanish down the rabbit hole. There are hideous forfeits if this happens. Hideous.

Knowing these rules and paying attention to play, it made perfect sense then for whispering Ted Lowe, the television commentator, to murmur “and for those of you watching in black and white, the pink is next to the green.”

What were your favourite TV moments as a teenager?

Namaste

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B4Peace: Once upon a time in TV land

Welcome once more to the Chronicles of the Young EBL. Today I am responding to the monthly Bloggers for Peace prompt set by Kozo over at everydaygurus.com. Kozo has asked me, personally, to explain what influenced me as a child to become the kind of person who posts for Peace. Feel free to join in. It doesn’t cost anything and contributes to the greater sum of human happiness.

Let’s focus on children. How can we teach children to prioritize peace? How did you experience peace as a child? What in your upbringing made you a Blogger for Peace?

Well, my dears, I have been thinking and thinking about that last sentence for a few days, and now I have thunk I am here to share it with you. Come with me back to the wondrous world of the 1960s.

I was not a particularly pacific child. I got into fights and scrapes more often than a Sixties girl was supposed to; we were all sugar and spice back then, and that meant fighting was for boys. Boys were slugs and snails and puppy dog tails.

I had some friends who were boys, because I am subversive like that. The twins down the road, a son of my mother’s friend, a couple of boys from school who were not too fussy about gender if you genuinely liked Dr Who, and so on. Often we ran about the parks in packs and I had no idea who half the children were. It didn’t matter. We were a gang for the day, catching stickleback in the stream or throwing sticks into the chestnut trees to get the conkers down.

Idyllic, eh? Well, it was pretty sweet. I didn’t have a traumatic childhood apart form minor hurts and crises, and I am thankful for it.

So when a boy did try picking on me in the playground I felt quite entitled to punch him hard and then tell teacher. As I said, not very pacific.

My Dad had served in the army towards the end of the Second World War and in Germany in 1946. He had lots of happy memories of friends and people he met. He even wanted to marry a German girl but that was never going to be allowed. Otherwise I would now be something like Die Elektronischetaschefrau. Actually that sounds quite good…

Leider habe ich zu viel vergessen, auf Deutsch zu schreiben.

Now then, get back to the purpose of this post, EBL. Keep on track!

While I was living the dream paddling in the stony waters of the park, or picking leeches off my legs when I ventured into the mud, or skinning knees and elbows climbing the trees, or breaking my ankle trying to roller skate; while all this was going on other influences were at work for the very possession of my heart and soul. How very sinister that sounds! In fact, it was no more than normal socialisation.

My parents were prone to the casual prejudices of white English people, but also were fair and helpful and kind to individuals they met without being particularity interested in how those other people looked or acted. So I played with the children avoided by others, such as Elizabeth, who was black, or Cindy who had Downs Syndrome, or Nick, who was a very bright boy my age in a baby-sized body, or Lee, who had cerebral palsy. There were quite a few children about who were the survivors of thalidomide, but I didn’t know any personally. So I just thought everyone was a real person.

Then there was Sunday School. Initially my mother sent me to the local High Anglican church where I coloured in and recited the Ten Commandments. At that stage I took things literally, so “thou shalt not kill” meant just that, at least for humans. After I was too old for colouring in, I found the big church too scary on my own, with the high roof and smelly incense and lots of adults I didn’t know. My family didn’t go to church; my mother sent me on my own because she thought it would be good for me.

After I refused to go any more, my friend’s mother took me to their church, a fundamentalist Baptist congregation with a sliding floor over the pool for full immersion baptism. I thought that was very exciting, but eventually was thrown out of that Sunday School because I asked too many questions about science and cosmology. Still, I did learn that God was Love, even if some adults weren’t.

Those early explorations into religion would not be the main foundation for a later commitment to pacifism though, only an initial blueprint. No, the final keystone of the whole edifice came through the miracle of television.

The daily routine in our house was for me to watch children’s television until the Magic Roundabout had finished, and Zebedee had boinged the youngest children off to bed, and then for my parents and grandmother to settle down in front of the evening news. The television was left on for this while we ate tea, so as I chomped my way through cheese sandwiches and a slice of cake, and slurped down a cup of tea, I watched what was happening in the world. Mostly it was boring and incomprehensible. There were men talking in long words, and sometimes shouting, and occasionally there seemed to be a lot of concern about long haired people who liked grass. It was quite confusing.

my_lai_massacre

http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2013/06/when-the-war-criminal-is-one-of-us/
I don’t think it was My Lai that I saw, but it was similar

One day there were bodies.

I’m sure there were bodies other days, but this must have been a particularly traumatic massacre. My mother turned the television off in a hurry but not before I saw rows of people lying in the dirt street somewhere foreign. My grandmother was crying a bit, and my parents were very hushed.

I knew, with a real sense of freezing clarity, that those people were real-dead, not pretend-dead like Cowboys and Indians, or Daleks. They weren’t going to get up and walk away once the cameras stopped. They were never going to get up and walk away. Never. Some other men had come with helicopters or tanks or jeeps, and killed them. They were just people, children like me, old ladies like grandma. Dead.

It was wrong.

And that was it. A moment in time when I simply knew it was wrong to kill people. A black and white, no nonsense, don’t even try to argue moment.

Nowadays I might think about justification for conscientious objection because apparently some people do not see this obvious truth. For me, there is no need for argument. It’s not about who has the best words or most unassailable logic. It’s about not killing people, because there is no way back from that, and dead is dead without distinction of good or bad. You don’t get different kinds of dead. There are no more chances, or room for error, or time to say sorry, or hope for a better tomorrow. One day we will all be dead. There’s no need to rush. I knew it then, in the way a young child can be certain and an adult can’t. I know it now, in the same way.

I don’t even know who those people were, or where, or when, least of all why. It would have been late Sixties, but probably not early Seventies, because I was quite small. I suspect it was Vietnam but can’t be sure.

In my cynical teenage phase I watched M*A*S*H and cemented my resolve. Killing people is wrong.

I conclude, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that television can be the conscience of us all, and now perhaps Face-twit and Tweet-book as well. Even, dare we hope it, blogging. You know what, if we all blogged about why killing people is wrong we could start some kind of Online Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement…..

Why Kozo – you clever, clever man!

Other bloggers who have cottoned on to this idea include:

http://sarahneeve.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/march-b4peace-post-a-peaceful-resolution/

http://peacegarret.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/a-peace-lesson-for-children-from-a-nazi

http://klamiot.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/peacemusic

http://janetkwest.com/2014/03/05/dad-the-faithful

and of course, Kozo’s original post

http://everydaygurus.com/2014/03/03/monthly-peace-challenge-peace-child/

Namaste

Tug of war

The weather outside is pretty wet and the fields are as muddy as they come, so how better to indulge in rest and relaxation as per doctor’s orders than by participating in a hearty tug of war?

That’s just what is going on over at The Matticus Kingdom, and I for one am heading along to join in the fun. The Jester himself has decreed that all are welcome to join in the debate on the thorny issue of which is better: DC or Marvel. I felt it was time to settle this particular thorny issue for once and for all. Time for some EBL wisdom.

By the way and for your information, the last time I took part in a tug of war I was 16 years old. I got to be the anchor because I was heaviest (ie fattest), but who cares because we won, and that was the one and only time being the fat girl worked in my favour. So look out world, here I come again.

When I was no more than a little Bag Girl, back in the days before Electronic was even a thing, I was a devotee of Superman comics. Bunty and Princess just didn’t quite float my boat. The rest of the girls at school loved them, but I was a bit of a rebel and preferred my super-heroes. And what was not to like about Superman: square-jawed, clean-cut and generally-hyphenated even down to having an alter-ego in Clark Kent? As a short-sighted child I adored a hero who wore glasses and wasn’t the Milky Bar Kid.

Comics also had to compete with television, even in those prehistoric times. And on television was another superhero: Batman, with his quirkily scripted sidekick Robin and hilarious villains, not to mention cartoon-captioned fight scenes. Kapow! Zonk!

And so DC ruled my imagination for my early life. What you learn as a child stays with you. Admittedly I actually preferred Marine Boy, but that is another story.

After a time though, the Superman premise got a bit thin. What was that kryptonite thing about? A super-hero who couldn’t go near a rock? And all those LLs…. I was pretty sure Mrs Woodrow at school would have something to say about stories where everyone had the same initials. I wasn’t sure what that was, but I didn’t think it would be complimentary. Mrs Woodrow did not approve of laziness. Or a lack of imagination, which was a good thing when you coem to think of it.

Then one day I was in a newsagent and saw a new comic. It had The Incredible Hulk and Spiderman. I didn’t know who they were but the drawing style caught my eye and it was a special price because it was an introductory issue. Small girls with limited pocket money learn very early to spot a bargain, and I seized it with both sticky hands, despite the newsagent man giving me the eye because I was a girl and he thought it was a comic for boys.

O (as the young people have been wont to text and tweet) and M and finally G.

Who needs to be fighting alliterative villains when you have to avenge the murder of Uncle Ben and work off your existential guilt? Who needs a Bat Cave when just getting angry has consequences for your wardrobe? And never mind all those soppy LL girls, when there was the Invisible Girl! Who needs clean-cut, square-jawed, boring and serious heroes when you can have drippy, anxious, bumbling college boys and science geeks and the types who make emos look like Zeno the Stoic. It was all so full-on, in-your-face, shades-of-grey that I almost wept for the joy of it. There were ethical debates and impossible choices and consequences and philosophy. It all felt exhilaratingly grown up, which is a slightly odd thing to say about teenagers in lycra, but there you have it.

Superman was for babies; Spiderman was for the more mature, ten year old girl about town. I was finally confronted with stories where the good guys did bad things and the bad guys had proper back stories with causes and effects and it was in one sense just a teensy bit like real life. Complicated. You weren’t even quite sure who would win in a fight, and sometimes no one did.

Admittedly I didn’t realise Pater Parker and the guys were foreigners (Americans) until later when cartoons arrived on television. Until then I kind of imagined Peter talking a bit like a Cockney geezer. Kind of Lock Stock for kids. Uncle Ben would have been like Bob Hoskins: “Right, Peter, wiv great power comes great responsibility, geddit?”

Oh, did I mention the theme tune?

I won’t start on what happened when I discovered 2000AD. And as for the Sandman, well now. I think we’ll stop right there.

Now none of this is particularly witty or amusing. Comics are far too important for that. But the reasons my vote goes for Marvel are that (a) I like complicated, (b) I like blurred boundaries and (c) kids need to have a chance to explore their dark side too. I may have learned my science from Star Trek, but I established my moral compass with Uncle Ben and Aunt May.

Namaste

Planning Convalescence

So my dears, just a quick note to say I am under the knife today so may be out of circulation for a little while. There is a YouTube link at the end to keep you happy while I am away.

I am hoping to get back to you soon though, and will be composing posts and thinking of you as I lie in bed – medication permitting. Actually some of the posts composed in that situation might be considerably more entertaining than my usual output.

I’m expecting George Clooney to drop by, of course, along with a convoluted and highly improbable storyline, and implausibly attractive nursing staff.

One of the things I have planned for my convalescence is watching my box set of “Due South”. I treated myself in the sales, and am looking forward to a few days on the sofa in the company of a mountie and his deaf wolf. I did watch an episode the other night because I am intolerant of delay, and Constable Fraser spotted a fake nurse because she had high heels and long, painted nails, neither of which were practical for the profession. I am not clear what he would make of some of the TV programmes which purport to represent life at the cutting edge.

If I become tired of Fraser and Diefenbaker (unlikely, but you never know) I have done my Project Manager best by establishing a contingency plan. The risk is low, but if needed, I have Dexter lined up as an antidote to cheerful television.  In fact, the chances are I will alternate anyway because Dexter is also great fun in a more macabre way. I have read the first three books, and seen series 1, so there’s plenty to look forward to. I admit I prefer the books because you are right inside Dexter’s head, bemused by the world, and witty to boot.

My third option for televisual entertainment is finishing off watching Monkey!

I, too, will be irrepressible!

Namaste.

 

Half a century of inspiration

I know, I know, serious minded individuals have been poring over the meaning and legacy of the Kennedy assassination for days and weeks. It was important I am sure. I was a toddler, so I don’t remember; it’s all history to me and to be honest I find the impact of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand more distressing. It may be sacrilege but I suspect the Sixties would have panned out pretty much the same regardless of JFK.

Forgive my vacuous frivolity but I was more interested in a different 50th anniversary this weekend. The Doctor’s. Again, I missed the initial broadcasts, for the same reason as the Kennedy event, and didn’t really watch until Patrick Troughton had appeared. Even then it was tricky because my mother was determined it was unsuitable and turned it off if she could. My best hope was that she was making tea while she thought I was still watching Basil Brush. So it wasn’t until Jon Pertwee that I really was able to establish a regular liaison with that most British of heroes (and most heroic of Brits – albeit with dual Gallifreyan nationality).

If you don’t like Dr Who, I suggest you go and do something else because this post is unashamedly a fangirl production.

And yet I will try to leaven it with some pop psychology, in the time-honoured tradition of the amateur blogeuse, because otherwise I could simply reduce this post to tweeting “OMG! LOOOVE DR WHO! #savethday”, which is barely comprehensible even to me, and I wrote it. Already I can see John Hurt quirking an eyebrow and stirring impatiently in his War Doctor persona.

So, what’s the pop psychology then, EBL? Get it off your chest, love.

I’m glad you asked! It’s about Inspiration.

The reason I am talking about inspiration is that yesterday was not only the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, but also our local Quaker Area Meeting (a geographical cluster of local Quaker groups). Obviously it pales by comparison, but Sigoth and I attended for the day because (a) it had an important item to consider on the agenda, and (b) we knew it would be over in good time for Doctor Who in the evening. I hesitate to suggest that in a tussle between Area Meeting and the good Doctor, Area Meeting may have come second. It’s hypothetical. Nevertheless I think I know which way it would have gone.

The important thing in the meeting was about increasing the number of people in our local meetings who also take part in the Area Meeting and take on various jobs and responsibilities. It’s not a new problem either for Quakers or other church groups. Things are kept running by tireless volunteers who are predominantly elderly and frail, and whose numbers inevitably are decreasing without the next generation taking up the strain.

Essentially we discussed the purpose of the Area Meeting and as a starting point took away the idea that it is there to nurture our spiritual life of our members. It was exciting to be part of the mighty Quaker Business Method in action. I’m sure you can google for more information (or read about it at the Quaker website here); this is not a public service broadcast for Quakerism. As I said, it’s actually about Doctor Who. Nevertheless, when rightly held Quaker business blossoms before your eyes, it is a bona fide miracle. It is, to me, inspiring.

So, feeling inspired I went home to watch the TV, and reflected that it had been a good week for inspiration. There had been a WhoFest of mega-proportions, and Sigoth and I revelled in every lovely second. Our people have risen and had their say. Most impressively there was a whole Culture Show dedicated to looking at Dr Who as a cultural phenomenon. The presenter, Matthew Sweet, interviewed important people about why it was all so significant, with serious music and references. But the bit that struck me was when he was speaking about a time he and his friend were about to be beaten up by school bullies and he shouted out Patrick Troughton’s catchphrase of “When I say run, run, …. RUN!”, and off they dashed to safety. The Doctor gave him permission to run away and deal with the problem differently. I know this sounds a little anti-climactic, but I think for a child to know it’s OK to run away when confronted by overwhelming odds, rather than either getting beaten up or feeling a coward, is actually positive. Boys in particular need to know there are alternatives to knocking seven bells out of each other.

Doctor Who had a profound impact on his young and impressionable fans, dealing with difficult situations in creative and predominantly peaceful ways. Although to be fair he was also fond of Venusian Aikido and blowing up Daleks, preferably in large numbers.

In the 50th anniversary episode there is a key scene (if you haven’t seen it yet look away now – spoilers, darlings, spoilers) where Clara reminds of the Doctors present of why those chose to take on the name and role of the Doctor.

Clara: You told me the name you chose was a promise. What was the promise?

Tenth Doctor: Never cruel or cowardly.

War Doctor: Never give up, never give in.

But the Doctor has been inspiring children with more than running away for far longer. When I was a a mere Electronic Bag Bairn, this is what my Doctor, the Third Doctor told us:

Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.

It was something I understood, and watched him live up to (albeit as a television story). I don’t always succeed in following his example, but I try my best. When I am nervous of speaking up or standing up or facing up to bad things, something like Jon Pertwee’s voice will often run through my head reminding me of the meaning of courage and give me a push. For such positive early influences on my life, I am grateful.

I also learned all my science from Star Trek, but no one’s perfect.

What influenced you as a child to make you who you are?

Namaste.

 

One with everything

My dears, last week I acted completely selfishly and took the opportunity of having a training course in London on a Friday to grab a weekend with a friend whom I had not seen for a while. I abandoned you all, but such is life. Now I’m back from melting in her garden over a jug of Pimms and sharing the latest of the highbrow jokes in The Independent.

From British Classic Comedy website

For example: A Buddhist monk approaches a hotdog stand and says: “Make me one with everything”.

Boom, as Basil Brush would say, boom. The old ones are the best.

Possibly the heat melted more of my brain than I realised. It’s hotter than the Med for goodness’ sake. I blame the Government. Seriously, I do. If they had manned up and dealt with climate change we would be enjoying the usual drizzle and English hobby of muttering about the weather. Now we have to go around saying things like “Well, it was never this hot when I was young!” which is completely not how it should be. I’m not confusing weather with climate; don’t get me wrong. But too many weather exceptions have been achieved over the last few years to make me comfortable.

So anyway,  I drank Pimms, came home, and packed immediately to go to work away for the week.

Now I am back home again after a week from hell, where I have had to pass on some brutal truth and try to pick up the pieces of both the thing that was wrong and the impact on the person in question. Which is a convoluted way of saying I got to play Bad Cop because no one else would do it. It’s my speciality. I’m good at the Headteacher Voice: you’ve let the school down, you’ve let your teacher down, but most of all you’ve let yourself down…

Sigh.

I’m not very good at it really, not in a constructive, caring, development opportunity way. I’m just good at the Voice which makes people stop and hear, rather than ignore and carry on doing what they were doing. It’s not pleasant, either as a Voice or as a recognised ability.

More sighs. Not many jokes there, I can tell you.

If we are all one with everything, my Voice, the special capital letter one, is either the equivalent of self-harming, or it’s the immune system fighting off infection. I’m not sure which at the moment but I hate upsetting people. Really I do. I know people may think I don’t because I am always the Bad Cop, but I do.

One with everything, though. It’s come up a few times over the week. Firstly in the jokes in The Independent, most of which I understand but not all. Then thinking about the project which is having problems – well, we need to get it right for the good of the company and the customers. Finally today, a friend was talking about a bereavement. Sharing the memories of a person we have lost and the grief of those left behind is important for everyone. We are all one.

I keep thinking of the point made by Stephen Jay Gould about the miracle of Life. He talks about how Life has been constant on this world for so many billion years from the first bacteria and single-celled organisms up to the complexity of today. There has not been, in all those countless eons, a single break. Not for one fraction of a nanosecond has Life ceased to beat; if it did it would have to start all over again from the beginning.

It’s not like a heartbeat which can stop and then be restarted (Defibrillator, nurse! Clear!) and return the person to their whole, gloriously complicated self. If Life stopped that would be the end of it. To start again it would go back to first principles. It’s more like a soap bubble, expanding and expanding, reflecting the light in rainbows (and possibly unicorns for all I know). Once it bursts you can take the raw material and create a new one but it’s completely new and different in its own complex, wonderful way.

For us to exist, there has been a pre-requisite of soapy water if you will (and I can stretch a metaphor until it screams, people), stars have been born and died. We stretch back to the immeasurable past and into the immeasurable future.

We are one with everything.

Namaste.

Stardust

I quite enjoy a good pop-science documentary. I love science because I love how the world all fits together and does its stuff in such an amazing, clever, jaw-dropping way. I love David Attenborough whispering next to wild Mountain Gorillas or explaining how duck-billed platypuses (platypi? platypodes? whatever!) sense electric currents. I love the literally gasp-aloud wildlife photography produced by the BBC in support of his documentaries. I love serious and not-so-serious attempts to explain quantum to me, or relativity, or the Big Bang. I love Stephen Jay Gould writing about evolution, or Dara O’Briain enthusing over mathematics and astronomy.

I admit it. My name is EBL and I love Stargazing Live.

Stargazing Live is one of the craziest notions for a TV show I have ever come across. It involves getting people to be excited about maths and physics, live on air, using technology that goes wrong all the time, to demonstrate brain-boggling facts, figures and concepts, while trying to look at stars in Britain, still live on air, regardless of the weather. It is invariably cloudy. And then doing it all over again for two more nights, usually prefacing the start of the next programme with “well, it finally cleared up beautifully in North Lanarkshire at 3 am so you could catch the tail end of the Pleiades shower”. Actually I love Stargazing Live and I love the BBC for producing it.

The main host is Brian Cox, with Dara supporting him because Brian needs someone who can (a) think on his feet in front of a camera, (b) knows how to present live and without a safety net, and (c) has the “common touch”. Brian Cox sets pulses racing with his combination of good looks, northern accent and boyish charm, allegedly. This all works very well when scripted and set to dramatic orchestration but he is less agile in a live environment and only really comfortable talking to other scientists – when his good qualities do really shine out across the universe. Dara, on the other hand, can put everyone at ease, be funny but also incredibly knowledgeable, and is keen as mustard in a less academic way. Both of them just fizz with enthusiasm. It is wonderful.

Brian’s rather annoying habit, from my point of view, is to refer to anything that is not hard science as “woo-woo”. He flutters his hands and speaks in a silly voice, as if this makes it acceptable. While I am all for having rational debate about the proven scientific theory supporting new discoveries, and while I am not a fan of a number of notions masquerading as science, such as homeopathy and creationism, I take some displeasure in a blanket dismissal of a spiritual interpretation of certain phenomena as if they cannot exist alongside hard science. It’s like saying you can only read the Encyclopedia Britannica and not John Donne, because the latter is speculative and speaks about men as if they were geography which is obviously untrue. Ironically both sources agree that no man is an island…

I admit I would use the EncBrit for some things and Donne for others. The key is knowing which is which. I would be happier of Brian widened his repertoire a little and didn’t take quite such a binary approach.

None of the above will ultimately stop me from watching the world’s most peculiar concept show whenever it is broadcast, taking me to the final frontier. It’s quirky, informative and sufficiently annoying to get me completely hooked.

Namaste.