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Sunday, 7 July 2013


"Glastonbury was great," my son tells me, as we're sat outside the little Biblocafé on Woodlands Road. "I like sleeping on the ground.

"Strange thing is we saw about three bands the whole time. That always happens though. I have a list and when I come back I go, 'Didn't see that, that or that'."

"You see the Stones then?" I ask.

"Yeah, they were brilliant," he says.

"Not seen them live in a while," I say. "I'd heard Keith Richard has arthritis in his fingers now and forgets the words."

"Yeah well, they were fantastic," he says, as the waitress bends down to deliver our egg rolls and coffee, black for him, cappuccino for me.

"They had this mad sculpture on top of the Pyramid stage, a big phoenixy bird thing, twenty feet across. So Sympathy for the Devil comes on and this thing rises up and starts blasting out red, hellish flames. Fantastic."

"Who else did you see?" I ask.

"Dizzee Rascal," he says. "Chic. They were really good. Coupla other bands." He yawns. "Sorry - still got jet-lag."

"Those English time-zones are tough," I say. "So what you doing with your art now?"

"Got a few ideas percolating," he says. "I'm looking at feedback, closed loops and chaos. Nice possibilities there for generating new stuff. You know anything about them?"

"A bit," I say. "Put food on your table when you were a boy, by designing and analysing closed loop systems in ships and oil-rigs."

"Well, well," he says. "It's a small world."

"No it isn't," I say.

"It is compared to Saturn," he says.

I bite deeply into my egg roll and get yolk all down my fingers. "You were supposed to remind me to tell them I like my eggs hard," I say.

"You were supposed to remind me," he says, licking his own fingers.

"Closed loop control is at the heart of everything nowadays," I say. "From cars and computers to space-travel. Whole thing began with two Scots. James Watt invented the first closed loop controller for his steam engine. And you know who laid the foundations of the theory?"

"Sean Connery," he says.

"James Clerk Maxwell. The electromagnetism guy I've been telling you about. The creativity and intelligence of those two men is responsible for the whole of modern civilisation."

I'm not impressed," he says. "I could pull a better civilisation out my arse."

"Listen," I say. "Even the economy should be analysed using modern control theory. But most economists are too hidebound and dogma-driven to do that."

"You off on a rant again?" he asks, sipping his Americano and leaning back in his metal chair.

"Nah," I say, forcing myself to relax. "It's too sunny. I'd rather watch scantily-clad women walking along Woodlands Road."

"Isn't that dangerous at your age?" he says.

"Doc says it's safe to think about women occasionally," I tell him."What were they like at Glastonbury?"
"Unbelievable," he says. "Gorgeous chicks in every direction."

"And?" I say.

"And what?" he says.

"You do anything nice with them?"

He smiles and takes another sip of coffee. "I can't tell you that," he says. "Your doc wouldn't let me."

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