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Our Hopeless Future And Other Comedy

First off, this happened last Friday evening.

A CRACKED WISDOM TOOTH with a raging infection that resisted antibiotics so handily that it had to be removed on an emergency basis.  The dentist injected about a pint of drugs (including adrenaline) into my face and then said, “Nurse, give me the Cow Horns.”  At which point I decided it would be best to close my eyes.  Thirty minutes of hard manual labour later, the result is pictured.

And yes, I was getting on a plane the next day.  Which I did.

Also, yes, one of the bits does look a bit like a finger.

I have a lot of catching up to do, so I’m resorting to the daybook format for the rest of the week.

BEN HAMMERSLEY, presenting his new book, 64 Things You Need to Know Now for Then: How to Face the Digital Future without Fear.  The moustache is, in fact, embossed.  Much like Ben’s own.  We were on a panel together at the literary/philosophy festival How The Light Gets In a couple of weeks ago, along with the journalist/analyst Edie Lush and the radio journalist Paul Moss.  Ben and I had some fun messing with each other, but he always won the sympathy vote because of his dogs, which slept in his arms the whole time.  People thought this was cute, and did not realise they were merely biding their time until the perfect kill-strike opportunity presented itself.

(a crop of an original photo by Adam Greenfield)

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN was a really, really interesting weekend for me.  I got to meet all kinds of brilliant people I’d never normally have access to.  And there’s some cognitive dissonance in sitting talking to Michael Nyman about Chingford.  I probably spent the most time talking to Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association (their sister org, the Rationalist Association, publishes The New Humanist, which I never get to read any more because Lili stole my copy so often that I eventually put the subscription in her name when she was 14 or so, making her possibly their youngest reader).

Also, this is the back garden of the place the festival put me up in:

That is in fact a giant iron, yes.

I was billeted at Great Brampton House, a fantastic and maybe a leeetle eccentric place run by some fantastic and maybe a leeetle eccentric people who were just incredibly welcoming to a tired old hack who really had no idea what he was walking into.   (Caitlin Moran was in the car that dropped me off there, and she expressed a curiosity as to whether I would be seen alive again.)  Have a little look inside:

You have no idea how grateful I am to Nancy at the festival, and to the wonderful Millers and their staff, and their drinks cabinet.  The drinks cabinet is where I met Andrew, plying Hilary Rose with martinis.  If it hadn’t been for him drawing everyone into conversation, I probably would have stayed at the table you can see above, hanging on to the whisper of wifi so I could finish writing a tv project outline.  Instead, I got to spend an evening talking with Hilary and Steven Rose.  Which is not an opportunity you get every day, and one that may never come again, just getting to drink and talk with and listen to two eminent and engaged scientists in their seventies.

Despite the horrendous weather, both the above-mentioned panel (about whether the internet was changing the way we think) and my one-on-one panel with the festival organiser, Vassili Christodoulou, was remarkably well attended, the latter fixture’s attendance being something commented on by another staffer.  Even though the rain almost washed me off the board:


Published in daybook