Sunday, 13 January 2013


This is a short piece I read at an event in Worcester earlier this week. It got a good laugh, so I thought I'd share it. It's an imaginary conversation with a child; I should add that my children are now very much older that the child imagined here.

'How deep is the Ocean?'
'That’s a trick question.'
'Because there is more than one ocean, if you don’t say which one, then no one could answer.'
'How deep is the biggest ocean?'
'That’s better, but it still won’t do.'
'Because you didn’t say what you mean by biggest. Do you mean the widest? Or the deepest? Or the one with the biggest volume of water? Or the one with the longest name?  There are many ways of being the biggest.'
'The deepest. How deep is the deepest ocean?'
'That’s not really a fair question either.'
'Because to answer it I’d have to know how deep all the oceans were, in order to know which one was deepest, so really you are asking five questions.'
'Because most people think there are five oceans'.
'When you look at a globe it looks like one ocean.'
'Yes but no one knew that when they got their names.'
'What are their names?'
'The Atlantic, The Pacific, The Indian, The Arctic and The Antarctic, but now they call that one The Southern Ocean.'
'Which is the biggest?'
'The Pacific.'
'And which is the deepest.'
'The Mariana Trench in the Pacific, is the deepest part, it's 35800 feet deep. If you stood mount Everst, the highest mountain in the world, in it, the whole thing would be so far underwater that you couldn't see any of it.'
'Why do you answer all my questions?'
'Because I’m your Dad.'
'Ask your Mother.'

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Feverishly boring

I spent New Year's Eve having the shaking chills; uncontrolled rigours, probably caused by Norovirus. Three duvets and an electric blanket brought some respite, but it’s no fun.
As a writer, I kept trying to tell myself that there must be some sort of inspiration lurking in the experience; but if your every muscle is shaking, and your teeth chatter when you don't keep your jaw clenched, it’s hard to concentrate on anything like that.
One thing I did notice was that time seemed to slow down. Apparently, I kept asking Lois the time. On each occasion, I thought that a couple of hours must have passed, but it only turned out to be 20 minutes. Unfortunately, what with one thing or another, I did not record the exact times. For a while, I had a theory that my brain must have speeded up because of the fever. I imagined it must work like a slow motion camera, where the frame speed is increased, so when you play it back at normal speed it creates slow motion. In order to make sense of that, my brain would have to be both recording events at a faster frame speed, and playing them back at normal speed, at the same time. It was a while before this struck me as rather unlikely.
 The other thing that didn't make much sense was the speed factor. I appeared to think that time was moving at about six times normal speed, so my brain must have been going at six times it's normal rate.
Chemical reactions roughly double their speed every ten degrees, so to go at six times normal my temperature would have to be something over 60C. At anything over 50C, the thermometer would have broken. As it is still intact, I am forced to abandon my feverish theories and conclude that it was just amazingly boring.
Somehow, feverish and boring don’t work together. If you put feverishly boring into Google, you get no hits, unless of course, it finds this blog.
The good news is, the rest of the year is almost bound to be better.