It means I review my future and my past in the light of this feeling. It is as though I wrote in a foreign language that I am suddenly able to read. Wordlessly, she explains me to myself. Like genius she is ignorant of what she does.”
Given this table and told to pick a shot from A (fairly standard spirits), a shot from B (flavoured/novelty/grimace-forming), a mixer & a garnish in order to Mix Your Own Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster – this is a selection of what was drunk. (There were others, but by then we were too alight to write them down…)
Tequila, Jagermeister & Coke. Cherry.
Dark Rum, Fireball (liquor with whisky & cinnamon), Red Bull. Umbrella.
Gin, Limoncello, Elderflower cordial & soda. Lime.
Pear schnapps, sloe gin, lemonade.
Pear schnapps, 10-year-old plastic bottle Seychelles dark rum, lemonade. Cherry.
Vodka, Limoncello & cranberry.
Bacardi, slow gin & cranberry.
Pear schnapps, Limoncello & Red Bull
Courvoisier, 10-year-old plastic bottle Seychelles dark rum, tonic water & grenadine. Lime.
Courvoisier, margarita mix, lemonade. Lime.
Whisky, Genepy, Limoncello, lemonade. Lime.
I recall having one later on that made me shudder to my core – needed a top up of Red Bull to make it palatable. Generally though, there were some great new drinks created!
It’s 100 years since the start of World War I and a lot of trite nonsense is being spoken. There’s also a lot of being the correct way to commemorate it. This extract from Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space talking about the photograph Pale Blue Dot, taken of planet Earth in 1990 by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers, is the perfect foil to the pomposity of the those who would try to glorify the horrors of that war, and/or pretend that we only need to pay tribute to the British who suffered and fell. We are all the same, we all inhabit a pale blue dot in the vast emptiness of the cosmos, and our individual, group and national megalomania are utterly pointless.
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
Whilst driving on a very ordinary piece of road this afternoon, with me in the front and my children in the back, my 4 year old daughter came out with this:
Daughter: “Oh it’s wonderful!”
Me: “What is?”
Daughter: “The whole world Daddy…”
And as I looked again at scenery I had hitherto just seen I had to agree with her. In every vista there’s something worth seeing. Something that’s wonderful.
Thank you my beautiful girl.
Generally, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always answered “Coping…” when asked how I am. I say it sometimes at home, I say it always at work, and it’s usually accompanied by one of the sighs for which I’m renowned. Recently I read a tweet which suggested we ought to reply to that oft-asked question with “Challenged” and I confess I saw merit in doing so. I understood where the tweeter was coming from even though I’ve been berating myself for years for not fully counting my blessings.
This morning, on walking back from buying some milk at our local shop, I witnessed the following conversation between a woman I was walking behind and a man coming the other way:
Woman: How are you dear?
Man: (triumphantly) Wonderful thank you! (laughs, genuinely)
Woman: Excellent! (smiling)
And it made me smile too, and it cheered my heart, and as I walked the 90-odd seconds back to the house I looked down across our town and I breathed in the air and thought “Yes! I’m wonderful too!” because I am, and the day was, and on the whole my life is.
What difference would it make to me day-to-day if I answered the question “How are you?” with a triumphant “Wonderful!”? I don’t know, but I’m going to try and find out because it can’t be worse than my usual sighed reply. I’m incredibly lucky, my life is wonderful, I ought to try and acknowledge that and feel that as often as I can. Starting now.
Don’t mind saying when my 3yr-old sings along to this (note perfect) there’s little I can do to stop me filling up…