I OCCASIONALLY struggle to fully comprehend the enormity of ‘time’.
And no, I don’t mean “when the big hand’s at 12 and the little hand’s at six...”
As a ‘for instance’, if I’m contemplating a minor luxury and my conscience is troubled by that vexatious Yorkshire syndrome of “can I thoil it?” I tell myself, “Locky, you’re down to your last 10 or 15 years, not your last 10 or 15 quid”.
Sometimes it even works, and I extravagantly purchase a bag of pork scratchings to accompany my pint. Not always, you’ll understand, because for thrifty Tykes who have grafted long and hard for their brass, saving something for a rainy day runs in our Yorkshire blood.
But always, in the background – heard or unheard – life’s clock is ticking inexorably away. Tick-tock, tick-tock. Monday is suddenly next Sunday, blink and summer’s transformed into mid- October and the Card Factory shop is already bedecked with Christmas cards. Birthdays hurtle round like a faulty electric meter.
In a week when Nobel prizes are being awarded to brilliant minds around the world, it emerged that in the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way, there was an explosion around 3.5 million years ago.
Apparently mankind’s ape-like ancestors were already walking upright and using crude stone tools by then – although even that was 65 million years after an asteroid crashed into the planet, extinguishing the dinosaurs and most life forms on Earth.
Yet here we almost magically are – and while brilliant scientists can tell us what was happening hundreds of millions of light years away, a billion years ago, they can’t agree whether modern Homo Sapiens – us – are 50,000 or 350,000 years old. Either way, in the greater scheme of our 4.5 billion-year-old Earth, mankind is figuratively still in nappies.
From nappies to extinction in the blink of an eye, to listen to the prophets of doom occupying London this week, insisting we’re down to “our last two generations” before we’re all gone. Dear me, they’re away with the fairies.
And yet I don’t doubt that in 100,000 or a million years from now, the next human genus, Homo Deus (to borrow from the brilliant historian Yuval Noah Harari) will be excavating planet Earth and discovering skeletons much like theirs, probably clasping small, electronic devices, perfectly preserved by the latest indestructible iPhone case.
How will our Homo Sapien race perish? Under a flood of melted Arctic ice or choked out of existence by unbreathable air?
A frenzied exchange of nuclear weaponry, or maybe another direct hit from a rogue asteroid? However – and if – apocalypse happens, the circle of Earth’s evolving life will slowly begin again.
Will Home Deus evolve into supermen of sorts? Or will they be destined through privilege and no apparent requirement to work, end up as spoiled ‘uncooperative crus-ties’ (to borrow from Boris Johnson) who are infesting London and other western capitals in the name of Extinction Rebellion?
My first reaction to the XR anarchists was to hope the law turned water cannons on them – a good wash and clearing the streets; a real win-win. Or put them all in rowing boats (planet-poisoning aeroplanes wouldn’t do) and point them in the direction of China.
For clarity, I’m not disputing these XR fanatics/martyrs (delete as required) have real concerns – but I do question how they express them, by inconveniencing hard working people, damaging businesses, and generally acting like the spoiled, middle-class hypocrites most apparently are.
Did they all walk or cycle to London? Have any had foreign holidays (on ‘ordinary’ jets, not private ones like climate crusaders Harry and Meghan)?
Do they ever eat beef (cows pollute more than cars)? And how much extra damaging emissions have they caused, with every London police vehicle working overtime, lorries making long diversions etc?
I wouldn’t mind, but they are only doing this in countries already committed to tackling climate change – go take on China, India, the Americans and Brazilians, why don’t you? That’s where the problem is.
Because for all the fashionable worthiness of their cause, and as with so many socially ‘enlightened’ street movements over the years, I can’t help thinking they see and treat this as one big, privileged, anti-establishment game. Not many Brexiteers amongst that lot, I’ll bet.
Still, their time will come and go. Mother Earth will warm and cool, as ever she has, and occasionally she’ll belch and many of those eight billion human fleas on her skin will be gone (the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone Park has caused three northern hemisphere nuclear winters – 2.1m, 1.3m and 630,000 years ago. If you believe in numeric patterns, it’s pretty much due). Gulp.
You see, we are infinitely tiny and insignificant in the enormous scale of the universe and one day, sooner or later, all our time will come.
Tick-tock – I think I’ll have another pint, but I can’t thoil more scratchings.
Then maybe I’ll go plant a tree, which will achieve more than all of this week’s London XR activists have.
I LISTENED to the UK’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davis on Desert Island Discs not too long ago.
Clearly a very clever, able and accomplished woman. Sadly, it appears that her 15 years in quangos at the heart of the establishment have addled her brain.
I can think of many first steps in tackling the great British disease of obesity. More compulsory physical exercise in school would be a decent start, instead of walking the kids into town centres to chant “Waddawewant – climate change! Wennawewanit? Now!” How about making food vouchers part of the state benefit system – and not redeemable for unhealthy foodstuffs?
Dame Sally’s parting gift as she prepares to retire is to ban consuming snacks on public transport.
I can only think she’s shared a train carriage recently with some lard-arse woofing down a Maccy D’s and skulling cans of Special Brew, before wafting farts in her general direction.
I can see the headline now: ‘Bus driver in hospital after trying to eject 8-stone judo black belt for eating a breakfast croissant...’
MRS L is in a state of high anxiety – not unusual in itself – but for once it has nothing to do with my occasional marriage-induced deafness, or inability to stop Arthur dog dragging me to the pub most tea-times.
Come Monday, she’s going to be one big wet hanky as we wave farewell to Son, on his way to play a season of cricket for the Reynella club in Adelaide. The Australian Adelaide, that is.
I’m not sure he really needs to pack two sets of batting pads and spare batting gloves (he’s a fast bowler) but he might need a bank loan to pay the excess baggage charges. I’ve moved overseas for years at a time on one backpack (including a season of rugby in Oz), but dad’s wisdom falls on deaf ears. So obviously I keep schtum, because the last thing I want is for him to change his mind and stay.
“You’re cruel and heartless!” wails Mother. “He’s our only son and he’s leaving!”
“He’s 23 and needs to get out there and grow up – and believe me, if I know those Aussies, they’ll see to that,” (he’s their first Pom signing).
“Waaaaaaagh, sob, sob, you nasty beast...”
It’ll be the making of him. Or breaking, quite possibly. But boy, am I jealous. Have a blast, Ry.