I've Seen the Future

"My teacher is a god one."
- Written assessment of me by a student

"I will miss you teacher. You are my boyfriend."
- Student leaving on Friday

"No teacher you wrong! English not say like that."
- One slightly overenthusiastic student.

My class loves playing Trivial Pursuit. But there are two problems. One is that it's designed for people steeped in British culture and trivia - and to some extent that of America. Students from Europe or the Middle East are not in this group.

As for the other...

Question: What colour was Judas Iscariot's hair?
Trivial Pursuit Answer: Red
Real Answer: There is a tradition that Judas had red hair, but it's based on no evidence, biblical or otherwise. There is no way to know what colour his hair was, or if he even existed.

Question: What is the official language of Papua New Guinea?
Trivial Pursuit Answer: English
Real Answer: The New Guinean people, media and government use a creole of English called Tok Pisin, derived from "Talk Pidgin".

Question: Who created a scare with their radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds"?
Trivial Pursuit Answer: Orson Welles
Real Answer: Only a few people thought the broadcast was of a real event. The story that whole states or the whole nation were fooled are journalistic invention.

On friday evening, an art show opening - complete with all the necessary accouterments of cheap red wine, bad finger food, and men in square spectacles and sports jackets lecturing each other on "aesthetics".

I came up with a rather nice pseudo-thoughtful expression for discussing paintings one doesn't understand - "I like what it does to my eyes". Feel free to use it yourself. I used it in every conversation.

No, actually a very pleasant evening. Over five consecutive glasses of wine, I met an interesting artist who made paintings out of food, another who wants to make installations from whatever she finds on the street that day. and a "socialist but freethinking" lady who insisted Spanish is a womanhating language because the word for "woman" is the same as for "wife". My observation that the German for "man" is the same as for "husband" was not greeted with interest.

Oh, and at the end I found that I'd somehow fallen on the floor. But that always happens. People expect it.

In some alternate universe, I get to change the world.

I have an idea in my twenties, tinker with it for thirty years, and publish in my hypochondriac fifties. The usual dullards say it can't be true because they don't understand it, the usual lunatics foam at the mouth that I'm a puppet of Satan, the usual progressives love it because they say it's what they've been telling everyone all along. And after a few years it seems quite sensible and obvious, though society hasn't really changed.

Then I get to die, and even if I explicitly said "No biography please", biographies get written. And then more biographies get written questioning the first lot, my pithy quotations get attributed to other people, and people I'd never heard of are called "influences" and "close friends".

A century after my birth, Hollywood make some cringily hagiographical films of my life, in which I'm provided with a loving wife, some emotional turmoil, a thundering speech or two, and the face of a six-foot-two blond heartthrob who later dies in a drug related car crash.

After another century, my basic insight is still broadly accepted among scientists, but most of my supporting work is "extensively revised", "not to be taken literally" and "of largely historical interest only". And then...

And then...everything I ever wrote to anyone gets published. Including the snarky letters I wrote when I was twelve - because in some way it prefigures what was to come.

How do I know this? Because that's what's happening to Charles Darwin. Interesting stuff, but just a little bit ghoulish.

Imagine it. All my childhood stories about spaceships and time travel. The notebooks on epistemology and logic I kept while pretending to be a computing student. All those emails to friends bitching about other friends. Those text messages arranging blowjobs in garages - lovingly monitored and stored by the Ministry of Defence.

Unfortunately, the blog will be lost in a bizarre snorkeling accident.


  1. I've ordered a copy of your autobiography and intend to dog ear each page or highlight every mention of blowjobs.

  2. I thought Garages were where you got petrol. Thank you for putting me pleasurably straight.