Friday, December 13, 2013

So now we know: the universe is just a figment of some bloody Fleet Street sub’s imagination. I’ve long suspected as much. And give me a cook who cooks, not one who insists on bearing his soul and expressing himself

There are a couple of cutting edge science stories I suspect you might have missed while you’ve been giving your all to Strictly Come Prancing and Masterchef: The Professionals. They come to a grateful world courtesy of a certain paper in Britain which might well, given it’s fears for house prices and the multitude of causes of cancer, be known as the Daily Whail.

First off we have this, a dire warning that it is pretty pointless getting out of bed tomorrow (or even getting into bed tonight if you are reading this during the day) because - you guessed it: the universe is collapsing. Well! And I thought I was doomed to die of a second heart attack. Further details are here. Just in case you feel that this is just another load of the cack our free press regularly produces, you can opt for this cosmic disaster scenario instead. It is marginally more interesting, though equally as much total bollocks.

Here ‘scientists’ (it’s a wonder they don’t call them ‘boffins’ because that’s what Fleet Street’s finest usually do) postulate that - if I understand it correctly - the universe is just a hologram and just a figment of our imagination. No, I haven’t understood it correctly, but then given some of the goobledegook the Mail Online bods insists on printing (e.g. ‘In a black hole, for instance, all the objects that ever fall into it would be entirely contained in surface fluctuations. This means that the objects would be stored almost as ‘memory’ or fragment of data rather than a physical object in existence. In a larger sense, the theory suggests that the entire universe can be seen as a ‘two-dimensional structure projected onto a cosmological horizon’ - or in simpler terms [love that], the universe we believe we inhabit is a 3D projection of a 2D alternate universe.’

As I say gobbledegook and incomprehensible garbage, but that won’t stop various men - it will invariably and exclusively be men, I’m afraid - in pubs, clubs and golf club bars up and down the country boring for Britain as they insist, several rounds into the conversation, on explaining at

length a fascinating new theory they read about ‘in the paper’. Their account will most certainly be concluded with a platitude or other along the lines of ‘makes you think, doesn’t it’. No, it doesn’t. Just makes you wonder why 19/20 of the population of this green and pleasant land are allowed within 100 feet of a ballot box.

If you’re interested (and shame, shame, shame on you if you are) you can read the Mail’s story here.

All we now need is some explanation as to why it is bothering printing two such stories, both of which mean the other one must be complete bollocks.

. . .

I don’t know whether it is just my age, also my age or mainly my age, but not only is everyone, not just policemen and bank managers, starting to look decidedly younger, but much of what is on television is beginning to get decidedly more pretentious. Now I can understand it to a certain extent when we have a small gang of arty types sitting around discussing literature, drama, film and ballet, but when bloody cooks - sorry, chefs - start giving those arty types a run for their money, I do start to wish the universe really were a hologram.

The other night I was on my way home from work in Kensington to my brother’s flat in Earl’s Court when I decided I was still quite hungry. It wasn’t greed because I hadn’t eaten much at all since lunchtime and even then it was just a mug of soup and two small rolls. So passing the Dragon Palace, a Chinese restaurant of the parish (and where a few weeks ago I bumped into a certain Paul D. and promised not to talk to him when I also dropped in for a plate of something or other), I decided that to have a latish supper (and no, I didn’t bump into Mr D. this time).

On such occasions - I often have a plate of pasta nearby on a Sunday night - I tend to haul out my excellent Huawei smartphone and seek out a wifi signal to watch a bit of TV. As it happened there was none at the Dragon Palace, so I gave 3G a whirl. Oddly, althought 3G is good for radio, I’ve never before had much luck with TV, but last Tuesday night it worked a treat. Must be something to do with the universe collapsing or other, though don’t hold me to that, I’m not much good on science and rely on our free press to keep me informed on advances in science. (Apparently scientists now know why dogs scratch themselves, which must come as a relief to all those who were a tad disturbed by that particular gap in our scientific understanding of the world.)

Having got a signal wasn’t really the main problem, however. What now stumped me was what to watch on my smartphone (courtesy of BBC’s iPlayer, by the way, if you’re wondering). You see, I don’t really watch a great deal of TV these days because a great deal of TV these days is so fucking dull on the whole I prefer to sit in the bathroom for hours on end and pick my nose. But rather than sit and talk to myself - people often think you’re nuts when you do that - I decided to give something a go while I worked my way through a plate of something spicy with noodles and settled on Masterchef: The Professionals.

I don’t doubt that the television concept of Masterchef has travelled around the world several times over these past few years but for those still unacquainted with the programme and its ilk all I can say is: don’t worry, you’re not missing much. (There is a variant of it here in Old Blighty called Celebrity Masterchef which is equally as dull.) Don’t get me wrong: I happen to enjoy cooking very much and was very happy watching cookery programmes many years ago when they were still about cooking and learning new techniques and dishes. But they aren’t any more. They are all about ‘competition’ and ‘being passionate about wheat/mushrooms/carrots/lard’ and ‘boiling a kettle of water doesn’t get harder than this!’, cue dramatic music.

In the particular episode I saw last Tuesday (or of which is saw part, because mercifully I had finished my plate of something spicy with noodles long before the programme was due to end), the emphasis was on ‘putting your emotions and feelings into a dish’.

OK, it wouldn’t be at all difficult to make me out to be some sort of cantankerous old sod for complaining that that is 24-carat, grade A bullshit, but if that is the direction you’re thinking is now taking you - that I’m just another old fart for not being intrigued by the mystery of cooking - then you are banned from ever reading this blog again. But don’t take my word for it - after all, I am the Luddite fuck who refuses to believe the universe is about to collapse - so here are a few snippets: (t/c)

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