No Flat Denial

I saw a man on the television the other day who belongs to the Flat Earth Movement. He claimed that if given a hearing he could convince anybody that this beautiful planet of ours is flat.

I was expecting one of those eccentric guys you try not to sit next to on the bus. However, he seemed intelligent, persuasive even, rattling off fact after fact to counter the interviewer’s questions. All despite the fact that what he was peddling was barking.

We all know that this planet of ours is round. Spherical.

But . . .

But . . .

I shouldn’t really be so quick to ridicule someone who holds an opinion contrary to mine, however in the minority that opinion should be.

Everything we know for sure we have been told by somebody else.

Everything I know is what I’ve been told by somebody else.

The sum of my knowledge is the result of someone else’s teaching.

Space, evolution, history. The micro and the macro.

There is information that I can garner for myself, an understanding of the world that I can form by experience, but I know my limitations. I need it explaining to me in layman’s terms. I rely on ‘experts’ to feed me accepted theories.

What have I ever actually confirmed for myself? Maybe the best way to cook an egg. See what I mean? Limitations.

I once worked with a guy who was a huuuuuge Treky. I think that’s what you call them? Star Trek fans. Again, that’s what I’ve been told. He watched every different spin off series as well as the original one from the sixties. One day, I asked him if he was going to watch Walking With Dinosaurs, the new television show that had been heavily advertised to air that evening.

He answered with a surprising vehemence, “No I’m not! It’s science fiction!”

It took me aback. Even though it didn’t equate with Star Trek, Star Wars, or any other such flagship of the genre, (this was before Jurassic Park), I replied “You like science fiction!” Then, I spelled out: “But Nick: Dinosaurs. Were. Real.”

“Yeah, right.”

Then I twigged what the issue was. It was his religion. In my ignorance I can’t now, twenty years down the line, recall what he was. Jehovah’s Witness? Mormon? Whichever it was, the problem was to do with the Biblical version of how old the Earth was. Whether it was flat or round didn’t even enter into it. (Does Genesis explicitly say which?)

And there’s the rub. What he believed, he’d been taught. What I believed, I’d been taught. With little room to manoeuvre.

Whether we realised it or not, we were both products of indoctrination. His was religious. Mine was cultural. Products of our time, standing on the shoulders of giants.

But anyway, despite all of the above, I’m going to nail my colours to the mast here and tell you that the Earth is round. Magnificently round.




Work In Progress: Night And The City

I posted this a few weeks ago on my poetry blog, stating that I know that there’s parts of it that I’ll change, but it’s of interest to record the first birthing lines.

I’ve since deleted the opening three lines, it now begins:

the hulls and husks

of scuttled ships

shadow the sky

I’ve tweaked a few others lines and added much more.

I’ve also renamed it Rooftop Blues. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Death Of A Babe

R.I.P to one of the Busby Babes, Harry Gregg, 87.

The Manchester United goalkeeper was hailed as a hero after rescuing survivors from the burning wreckage of the plane in Munich, 1958.

Among those who died were eight members of a young team that had been standing on the verge of greatness.

I’m a Man City fan, and from all accounts I’ve heard, both personally and through media, the disaster brought the city of Manchester together, in the days when football existed before an often toxic and tribal rivalry.

I remember my Mum saying that when the accident happened she was, aged fourteen, in bed ill with Scarlett Fever. Her twin brother was a City fan, whereas her older brother, Jim, was a United fan. This brother came in to the bedroom to make the fire up for her, and my Mum said “I’m sorry about United, Jim.”

He didn’t reply, just silently cried with his back to her as he went about his task.

The fiftieth anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster fell, in 2008, on, of all fixtures, Derby Day, with my team travelling to Old Trafford. As a City fan I was dreading the possibility of the moment being ruined by a few idiots, but felt proud as both sets of teams marked the occasion perfectly.

This year, a friend of mine was chosen, along with her son who is a teammate of my son, to travel to Munich to represent the fans at the annual memorial service. Having lost her father a year ago on Christmas Day, she commented:

The occasion itself held an extra poignancy for me, travelling in the footsteps of my father who had made this same pilgrimage twice himself. I know he’d have been so proud of his grandson, reading out the players’ names and laying a wreath down for those who died, players and non-players alike. That is why the Busby Babes and their legacy will never be forgotten. Each generation passes the torch of remembrance on to the next.

R.I.P Harry Gregg

Claws For The Weekend: Romantics Semantics

A Valentine’s Day conversation. It all started with a FB status update:

Just treated Jen to a free coffee in McDonald’s with my stickers. Happy Valentine’s Day people.

Someone commented that she was a spoilt woman.

It could be an all dayer:

I was referred to as the last of the big spenders.

Do you know those thick, juicy Big Mac burgers? Well I might give Jen the gherkin off mine.

Two comments came in about romance not being dead.

How can romance be dead when you can get two hash browns for a quid?

Someone helpfully suggested that we could have whipped up to Iceland (the store, not the country) and got a bag of hash browns for a quid.

I can’t let her cook on today of all days. But thanks for the tip, though. Next year she can do a tray’s worth on the 13th.

And finally a guy I know commented that he’d booked a table for eight and hoped his partner Marge liked snooker!

Don’t believe a word of it, though, we’re all romantics at heart.

Have a good weekend everyone, see you on the flip side.

Hope we’re not all single.

After Midnight; Fevered Storms

Storm Ciara.

I can hear the gales outside. It’s just turned midnight and it feels as though the wind is trying to gain access to the house through the chimney.

I don’t know how that works. The fire isn’t on and the chimney breast rises up to it’s capped peak, but somehow it sounds like the wind is spinning around in there, a dark vortex of dust and ash. That comes over a little dramatic, I know.

I’m a little feverish. That can’t help.

It’s a perfect setting to begin an M.R James story, or one by that favourite of mine, Le Fanu, but I’m feeling weary and bunged up with this head cold. Not exactly conducive for an half hour’s reading.

No, I think I’ll go up. Even if the wind keeps me awake (my bedroom being up in the loft), bed is the best place for me.

Tomorrow I’ll get rid of this four day’s growth of stubble and step outside, blinking, into Ciara’s aftermath.

There is a poem in my second collection, called The Storm Moves Out, which was written in the wake of such a storm. I can’t recall now what that particular storm was called. I’m quite promiscuous like that-forget the last storm as soon as the next one comes along, for what is life but one long line of storms and sunshine?

I’ll take a walk around my town. Dawdle among the debris.

It may not produce a poem, but the fresh air will do me good.