P&J Column 19.1.17

Earthxit, anyone?

Hector Schlenk, Senior Research Fellow at the Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science:

As a scientist, people are often asking me questions like “Is manmade global warming real?”, “Is Bigfoot real?” and “Is Michael Gove for real?” to which the answers are of course ‘oh yes’, ‘oh no’ and ’oh god, I’m afraid so’. The other day, I was delivering a lecture about the continuously variable signal of binary on/off bits that constitute a digital broadcast when I happened to catch sight of a news bulletin which told me of the passing of US astronaut Gene Cernan, on the bank of televisions I was using as a visual aid. I just had time, as I was being asked to leave the electrical department of John Lewis, to note that he was last man to walk on the moon. This surprised me, as I had understood that particular honour was claimed by the pop star Sting. However, upon researching the topic, I found that the tantric troublemaker’s claim is unsubstantiated. In fact, only 12 people have ever walked on the moon, the last being Mr Cernan in 1972. How long, I worried, in our post-truth world, until we forget that we ever went there? Already there are some who believe the whole thing was an elaborate hoax, like Piltdown man, or homeopathy. So I’ve decided the only thing for it is to instigate my own moon mission and become the first Bogton Rotarian to walk on the lunar surface.

After two weeks of intense training on Aberdeen’s Union Street I have gained extensive experience of the absence of atmosphere, of negotiating a pitted and crater-strewn surface, of temperatures consistent with the -153 degrees found on the moon (cold enough, of an evening, to persuade a young man to put on a long sleeved shirt) and the sensation of weightlessness, thanks to being carried out of The Grill. I intend to blast off not from Cape Canaveral but Codonas Carnival, where I will gain the appropriate upward velocity to escape the earth’s gravity by transferring the centripetal force generated by the waltzers to propel me backwards up the giant slide. I’m not entirely sure how I’ll manage to make the return journey, though frankly, looking at the state of things here on earth, I may not bother.

Entertainment news with showbiz insider Shelley Shingles, (Miss Fetteresso 1983)

OM actual G! As you all know, Celeb spotting is one of my fave hobbies, and obviously an awful lot of very famous folk are close personal friends of mine, but, I have to confess, even I get a little wee bit star struck when I get to rub shoulders with royalty; and this week, I didn’t even have to tootle along the A93 to Balmoral, shin up a drain pipe and climb in through a lavvy window to see them!

I was at the opening of the new Rowett Institute yesterday. Well, I say I was at the opening, to tell the truth I don’t even know what a Rowett is! Anyway I’d just popped out of my bronchial ailments Outpatient clinic for a crafty fag when I spotted the tell-tale black Daimler with the flags on the front -blow me down, they’d only managed to book Camilla to cut the ribbon! Quick as a flash I legged it over to the receiving line, howking a fistful of snow-drops out of a flowerbed en route. It’s easy to get up close and personal to the HRHs as long as you’re carrying flowers and know how to curtsey. Anyway, there she was, large as life, the Duchess of Wherever she’s Duchess of. ‘What a privilege it is to be here’ she said. I said, ‘I know – for another fifty quid they could have had Claudia Winkelman.’

Of course, me and Camilla go way back. I first met her back in the 80’s on the shores of Loch Muick when I was doing a photo shoot for an outdoor clothing company (I think it was Barbour, but it might have been Robert Rae’s) I was struggling along because nobody told me I shouldn’t wear stilettoes, and I’d just heitered into a patch of heather when a kindly soul helped me back up. She was lovely. We spoke about how difficult it is to choose the right clothing before setting off on your journey, and she asked where I was off to next. “Fetteresso” I told her. “Wear the fox hat” she advised.

Wise words from a great lady.