Alan Whicker and the Great Big Space Condom
UK Tour rescheduled/New Live Stream show/Some thoughts on astronomy.
Honestly, I know you don’t want to hear this, but I can’t stop thinking about an extinction level impact event. It’s all Netflix’s fault because it ran out of the good telly, and so I was reduced to enduring two hours of Gerard Butler’s Greenland which is less about the country itself, and more about how many times one man’s accent can cross continents. Maybe this was the high art he was going for. I cannot know. I could barely understand him, and was grateful for the all too few moments of narrative that had accompanying subtitles.
When we are children, at some point someone will tell us ‘anything can happen.’ They will tell us this in an effort to inspire and motivate. And this is is certainly true for Butler. ‘Gerard’, his mother, or a favourite aunty, might have said to him, ‘Gerard love, you may sound Scottish now, but don’t let that stop you from sounding like a Swedish fisherman one minute and a Wyoming ranch hand the next. Just remember: anything can happen with that voice of yours, anything!’
For a long time, I eschewed disaster movies, finding them too far-fetched. Now that I have lived through 2016, 2020 and the Katie Price and Peter Andre Whole New World album, I realise there is no such thing as far-fetched. (Perhaps the whole new world they had in mind was also an apocalyptic wasteland - they certainly provided the necessary soundtrack.)
The thing is, I am now of the mind that yes, anything can happen and it will. To this end, I have discovered something called the Torino scale. It’s like the Richter scale, except for objects hurtling around the earth, some of which we have absolutely no idea about. It’s not the objects themselves that bother me - it’s that there’s a level on the scale where astronomers might be able to give world governments a decade or more’s warning of potential extinction. Were we not living through an era of governments in headless chicken mode, I’d be feeling very Randy Quaid about things, but the idea of any government anywhere being able to plan accordingly when we can’t even figure out a universal charger for all our mobile devices is fanciful.
Think about it for a moment: if what was required was some kind of great big space condom to stop near earth objects penetrating our atmosphere, would you want Boris Johnson to have anything to do with this?
Exactly. As for Macron; he’d be arguing over whether the latex was at least fifty percent French origin or not.
So I look at the Torino scale, and its kissing cousin, the Sentry Risk Table, and I think, no thank you. I don’t want any warning. I don’t want to know, and I certainly don’t want my government to know. Really, would you?
Clearly, this has been quite the year for confronting risk. Quite the year. I watch the snow falling outside the window as I write, and the everyday miracle of the snowflake still takes my breath away. Every single one of them unlike the other. Why do we half expect to live forever when to be here for one day alone is pretty extraordinary, especially when you consider what else could fall from the sky at any given moment? Whether we get wiped out tomorrow or next millennium - and we will get wiped out, just ask Tyrannosaurus rex and he’ll tell you the good times have to end eventually - the fact the we are even here, careering through the universe in improbable circumstances is miracle enough.
I’ve been listening to French chanson today, can you tell?
In non-existential news, my UK tour has been rescheduled to the autumn. Existing tickets remain valid, and refunds are of course possible should you not be able to make the new dates.
If you can’t make the tour in the autumn or can’t wait that long, I am doing my first live streamed online only show from my favourite London venue, Brasserie Zedel on Friday February 26th and tickets are available here . We will have professional sound! Professional filming! No dog/cat/child interruptions! I may be about a year late on this particular bandwagon but I got there in the end.
I’m not sure how to navigate this newsletter thing as I know some of you only come for the music and not my slim, haphazard grasp of astronomy or geo-politics. And then for some of you the music is incidental. What to do? I don’t want to annoy anybody, but modern life being what it is, there is always someone getting annoyed somewhere. So I shall soldier on, semi-regardless.
With all my love
P.S. If you’re wondering what Alan Whicker has to do with any of this, have a look at my new alternative Instagram account @matchboxtravels