New Year’s Eve’s Mental Exercise: Derailing The Conversation

It’s that time of year again; the time when the year ends. Traditionally, New Year’s Eve centres around mentally preparing yourself for an earth-shatteringly brilliant extravaganza, finding the evening strangely anticlimactic before drinking too much white wine and having a good cry.

But before that, it’s considered appropriate among human beings to hold conversations with one another, if only to fill those awkward gaps between gulps of liquor. And you probably still harbour a vague ambition to someday be considered a functional human being, or at least appear that way to the strangers you might run into tonight. Especially the attractive ones with fascinating and/or bewitching posteriors.

Small talk is never sexy, though. Unless you’re lucky enough to meet that someone, the special one who also understands that you’re only talking to each other to pass the time until it’s considered acceptable by society for you to rip off each other’s party outfits with your teeth.

If life has cruelly denied you a spontaneous mutual animal attraction of the sort that can bring down an empire, however, try trivia.

Trivia’s great if you enjoy little factoids and lumps of information that offer no real application in your everyday life. Being a predominantly useless, silly sort of person, I have a wealth of fun facts collecting dust in the dingy corridors of my mind-brain.


Shakespearean sonnet – A type of sonnet consisting of 14 lines – 3 quatrains and a concluding couplet. Not actually invented by Shakespeare but named for him because he is/was arguably its most famous practitioner.

Dom Perignon was the name of the man who invented champagne. He was also a Benedictine monk.

(The other person) “Really? How superbly fascinating, fancy a quickie?”

Happy New Year.

Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Ducks Vs Rabbits

There was a time when the gods were animals or took their forms, and the gods were natural phenomena or took their forms. Anansi the spider, who played tricks for kicks and Thunder Thor, who didn’t.

Others took animal forms at will – Isis the bird, for example, or Zeus the chauvinist pig.

Through the march of time humanity replaced the old gods with new ones, and those with yet more new ones – gods of id and ego, of higgs-boson. People came to consider themselves to be ‘spiritual’ rather than religious and revelled in the freedom this gave them to pick and choose their own rituals, ignorant of the true price of belief.

In a universe as fiendishly complex as the one we call home, there is a place for everything that exists, even if you can’t see it (especially if you can’t see it). And if it can be imagined, well let’s just say that fantasy is a form of existence. Somewhere deep in one of these pockets, far from the warmth of human affection, dwell the dejected, rejected gods of old. Some are so long in the tooth we have no surviving names for them.

There are no second acts in deified lives as Father Fitzgerald puts it.

But amongst these ragged hordes there are some we know well – some by many names. There is that old pigeon fancier, one-eyed Odin, and also the sprightly form of the Amun Ra, god of all the gods of the upper and lower kingdoms.

And like an optical illusion that is both rabbit and duck, both co-exist in the same space.

There’s a facetious theory that I’ve just invented goes like this: if you go searching for something, and you know roughly the form it will take, you’re almost certain to find it. And if you don’t want to see something, odds are you’ll never let yourself.

So it is that man found the atom, then realised it could be subdivided, and those subdivisions in turn could be subdivided, and even those sub-subdivisions could be broken apart to find, inter alia, bits of string, the singularity-aping infinites of somethingness and nothingness, room for God. Or maybe just further magnitudes of subdivision, new particles and a whole new universe of ignorance for the scientists to get excited about.

Or it could just be a hammer and that’s fine too.

That’s why the dinosaurs were giant reptile-looking sumbitches that died out but also grew feathers and flew away (hence why those who’ve seen Jurassic Park are wary of angering chickens) but also were just a joke left in the ground by some mischievous deity to mess with palaeontologists.

That’s why the devout atheists are wrong about religion and why the sceptical religious are wrong about science: both can co-exist in the same space.

Rabbits and ducks again.

Just don’t try to see it all at once; you’ll go cross-eyed.