Subscribe by RSS

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Come the Apocalypse

"So what you up to?" my son asks, once we've got Glastonbury out of the way, the fried egg rolls have been dispatched and we're on to our second cup of coffee.  

"Got a grant from the people who fund particle physics and astronomy research," I say.

"What for?" he says.

"It's this Three Minute Learning," I say. "It's going well. The teachers like it and so do the scientists."

"Getting cutting-edge science into schools is a cool idea," he says.

"But not easy," I say. "Scientists overestimate what kids understand. Often they haven't a scoobie what they're on about, but are too polite to say so."

"Kids too polite?" he says, with a raised eyebrow.

"Sure," I say. "Most of them do their best to please the adults in their lives, most of the time. But we keep moving the goalposts."

"Yeah," he says, clearly unconvinced. "So what makes you good at it?" 

"Dunno," I say. "Maybe it's because I listen with the ear of a scientist one minute and a teenager the next."

"I hate to point out the obvious," he says. "But you don't have the ear of a teenager. Or the eyes or nose. Every bit of you is 90."

"See that's where you're wrong," I tell him. "I got an inner teenager I can tap into anytime. In fact it's not even a teenager. It's an eight-year-old. And when I was eight I was crap at school. Tapping into your inner idiot is handy, when you're helping people learn."

"I never knew you had an inner idiot," he says.  

"There's plenty about me you don't know," I say, but I've lost him momentarily.

"Hi," he says to a slightly-built, effeminate-looking character with long, curly hair, walking along Woodlands Road. "Now he is hard," he says, turning back to me.

So I glance again and he still looks like a powder-puff to me. "That guy couldn't break the skin on a custard tart," I say. "I could take him with one hand."

"You couldn't take him with six hands and a bull terrier," he says. "Your inner idiot has got out. That guy does Tai Chi and cage fighting and he's good."

"Seems to be a lot of your martial arts buddies in these parts," I say. 

"It's where we hang out," he says. "Come the Apocalypse we'll all be milling around Woodlands Road, beating the crap out the zombies."

"Not if there's 40 million of them and three of you. Which reminds me of something my dad used to say."

"Your dad was a smart guy."
"He was. Prone to deep insights into the human condition. So there was this street corner in Cumnock, where people used to hang out, smoking, chatting and watching the girls go by."

"What did he say about it," he asks, as the waitress drops the bill on our table.

"'If everybody in the world stood on Ayr Road Corner, how would the rest of the folk get past?'" I say.

"That is very profound," he says. "Very Zen."

"You're the first person to say that," I tell him. "Everybody else stares at me with blank incomprehension."

"Yeah well, there's something you maybe don't know about me," he says. 

"What's that?"

"I have a bigger inner idiot than you." 

No comments:

Post a Comment