Sunday, 16 October 2016

Scribblings - on pubs, snooker, loneliness and the curse of time

I don't know about you but I think pubs are pretty important. Mostly because they sell beer and people I like go there but also because these things are central to English culture. A while ago the Joseph Rowntree Foundation conducted a study in the South Pennine village of Denholme (which for the record has a fantastic pub - one of the best - called the New Inn) that looked at loneliness. For all that this was a good study - I've blogged about it a couple of times - Old Mudgie reminds us that the pub is a sovereign remedy against being alone:
Until various illnesses put it beyond him, my late dad used to go out for a pint or two at lunchtime a couple of days a week. My mum would ask “what’s the point of that if you never talk to anyone?” but that is missing the point. If nothing more, it provides a change of scenery, a bit of mental stimulation and something to look forward to. Sometimes you exchange a bit of conversation, other times all you do its talk to the bar staff, but anything’s better than nothing.
And our resident pub grump went on to suggest that maybe pubs need to think about design and layout - perhaps to better allow the chance of interaction between those like his Dad on their visits. It's a pity (and I blogged about this too that the smoking ban gave people - men mostly - an excuse never to leave the armchair in the shed).

This neatly takes us to pub games on the telly - snooker and darts mostly - and Frank Davis's gentle rant about how the presentation of these sports has been sanitised. No longer do we see Bill Werbenuik downing a pint a round or Alex Higgins inhaling 20 Bensons during a match:
But what really made it popular were the cast of characters it introduced to the world. And none was more flamboyant than two-times snooker world champion Alex Higgins. If any single person made snooker popular, it was him. And he was a bad boy. He picked fights with people, and threw TV sets out of windows, and got fined and banned. And he’d sit in his chair by the snooker table drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.
The smoking bit was finished by the ban but I can't see - other than wanting to make snooker even more dull than it is already - why players can't drink. Indeed Bill Werbenuik famously drank enormous quanitites of booze so as to correct a tic that affected his game.

In the end the deal here is how we spend our time. And, as you all know I hope, the 'protestant work ethic' shtick needs putting to bed. It's not that when we commit to doing something, we shouldn't put in the effort to do it well but rather that we're not put on this earth to slave our guts out putting food on the table, clothes on out backs and a roof over our heads. Or if you're not a fan of the god stuff - that stuff used to be the fate of man (and it remains so for many millions in the world) but technology, specialisation and the wonders of neoliberalism have made it possible for us to spend a little more of that time of the things we get pleasure from.

That's when we get to grips with time maybe?
Since Einstein we have come to realise that everything is relative. Place a clock in a space craft and whisk it away at close to the speed of light and the on board clock would keep different to time to an identical clock placed in my study. Actually the clock in my study hasn't worked for years but I'm too damn idle to change the battery. Thus it seems that time, and everything else for that matter, is simply a problem of perspective; a relationship to a frame of reference. This is not to say that 'time' does not exist. In fact Einstein believed in the concept of time, but a time married to the universe. His concept of time could only exist within the reference of space-time and could not be divorced and act as an independent entity.
Got that? Not sure whether this explains how slowly time passes when your team's a goal up with five minutes to go. Or how quickly time goes when you've a 12 noon deadline for a funding application. But as they say time waits for nobody.

Might as well party then!


1 comment:

Junican said...

I have a book describing Einstein's lectures on Relativity dated 1923. I read that book over and over again. I could not understand it. (I do not mean the mathematics) But, after some years, I caught a glimmer.
'Time' is a measure of change. Einstein used the example of a mechaninical clock. Such a clock has a spring which you can wind up. Gradually, due to the mechanics of the clock, the spring loses its tension, and then you have to wind the clock up again. At extremely high speeds, the unwinding of the spring would slow down, ans so the indications of 'the time', as depicted by the clock, would also slow down. If such a clock could achieve the speed of light, it would not change its indications. When it reached the speed of light, it would perpetually indicate the same time. That is because movement of the cogs would take an infinite amount of time. Erm... No. The cogs ARE time. At infinity, they just stop.
The same applies to objects such as metiorites.
The General Theory of Relativity concerns Space and not movement.
What is important about the General Theory is that Space is a 'thing'. Space is not 'emptiness' or 'nothing'. If it was 'nothing', it would not exist. Space is a 'thing'. It can be bent and twisted. Light travels through space in straight lines, but it can be bent if the space that it is travelling through is bent.

There are lots more consequences to Relativity, but they do not apply to our lives. We live our lives extremely slowly. Imagine a clock which takes a year to register a movement of one second. But what is a year? It is the movement of the Earth around the Sun from position A back to position A.

Put simply. it is not possible for 'solid objects' to move at the speed of light, because they would have to disintegrate long before they could get anywhere near the speed of light. They would have to disintegrate into light to achieve the speed of light.

I think that my explanation is perfectly clear.