Illustrative ad verbatim #12

J: What shall I be when I'm big? A: What do you want to be? J: Um... Maybe a wolf. A: A wolf? J: But how will I get all fluffy? [Pause] Or maybe a chin scientist. Or a builder. Or someone who makes sand. A: Would you like to have children, like me and … Continue reading Illustrative ad verbatim #12

On Obsolescence

As parents, we're slowly coming round to the idea of obsolescence, aren't we? By 'we', I mean of course those of us that are parents. And by 'obsolescence', I mean the process by which we do such a bang-up job that we render ourselves ever more useless to our progeny with every passing year; that … Continue reading On Obsolescence

What’s the Spanish for ‘constipated’?

On a recent family holiday in Spain, I experienced something I'm sure is familiar to almost all parents travelling with children. The perils of a holiday diet comprising mostly croissants and ice-cream took its toll on L's bowels. I sought solace at the local pharmacy. My sister and I memorised sections of the phrasebook so as to … Continue reading What’s the Spanish for ‘constipated’?

On Duality

The now sadly rebranded (and effectively defunct) Intelligent Life magazine used to run a regular - and self-explanatory - feature called 'The Big Question'. In one issue, the big question asked of a number of writers, several of them mathematicians, was 'What is the best number?' Reading the article, I was surprised to find that, … Continue reading On Duality

On Cooking

Well, books about cooking really. I'm always intrigued by fictional meals in novels. For some reason, they bring the author into the room with you, like those little printing errors that you're quite glad were never picked up by the publisher's proofing system, because they might just be original typos from the author's fingers. I … Continue reading On Cooking