Thursday, 11 September 2008

A very good day (yesterday that is)

Yesterday was a very good day. Not only did we trounce the opposition in my regular Wednesday evening five-a-side (eat your heart out, James), but we finished in time to watch England give us one of those ‘where were you when?’* performances that punctuate the lives of us long-suffering Port Vale and England fans. 4-1 in Croatia and the boy Walcott getting a hat-trick – who’d have thought it? There was even the vicarious pleasure for all us ABC (Anyone But Chelsea) supporters of seeing John Terry get kicked in the face.

Best of all, though, the world didn’t end at 8.32am on Wednesday 10 September 2008 (mark that moment: it will long be remembered), as some had predicted, when the button was pressed to turn on the Large Hadron Collider for the first time at Cern, the European nuclear research establishment in Geneva.

Ignore all the gainsayers (the doomsayers never merited any serious attention anyway) who say it’s just to satisfy some scientists’ curiosity, that it has no practical application and the $10 billion would have been better spent on other projects, like solving global warming or finding a cure for cancer. It’s not either/or. There’s plenty of money around in the world today to build the Large Hadron Collider and do all those other things – like guaranteeing the basics in life for everyone alive on the planet – that are suddenly being suggested as alternatives. It’s just a matter of distributing it properly.

Following our curiosity as a species, seeking knowledge and answers that might not have an obvious or immediate practical application (but will certainly turn out to do so), is part of the best of what it is to be human. That and winning at football.

* Today is one of those ‘where we you when?’ days, which reminds me that I’ve been collared by Harry Barnes with one of those blogger meme things (a glorified chain letter, if you ask me) where you’re asked to answer some questions and then pass them on to some other people to answer in turn. I will get round to doing it as soon as I can but for now my answer to the first question, ‘Where were you when you heard about the 9/11 attacks?’

Somewhat unexcitingly, I was exactly where I am now – sitting in front of my laptop typing. In those days I had a news feed in the corner of my screen, which was showing smoke coming from the World Trade Centre and a headline about a plane crash. I had some sort of deadline to meet, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. It was only when I called in to file the copy and the person on the phone asked in surprise ‘Aren’t you watching the TV?’ that I realised I might have been missing a slightly bigger story than the one I was working on.

No comments: