Arthur C. Clarke, and his amazing imagination, died yesterday at the age of 90.
I have read quite a lot of his books from my teens onwards and while I never really, totally liked his writing style, which I sometimes found a bit awkward and bathetic - with the exception of 2001, A Space Odyssey where I think the influence of Stanley Kubrik made a huge difference, his ideas, his visions of the future were breathtakingly imaginative and always based in a sound knowledge and understanding of the current cutting-edge of science. Sometimes I found myself enjoying the explanatory footnotes and references at the end of his books as much as the story itself!
Who has not stood in the kitchen early in the morning or late at night, taken a tub of crunchy, chocolaty, yummy ice cream out of the fridge and felt the strong urge to eat the lot?
Just happened to me - it was a tub of some American crunchy, chocolaty yumminess and I was only stopped from a pig-out by realising that the spoon I was furtively using to dig out little dollops of delight had come from a dishwasher which had not yet washed the dishes... bleeuuugh...
However, I did return some minutes later, when my coffee was ready, with a clean spoon, a teaspoon, and hewed out some very decent and well mannered chunks into a small cup and then, on an impulse, mixed in a spoonful of peanut butter.
Not in the A.C.Clarke category of great ideas... but not bad.
A couple of weeks ago I had a cold; a sort of cold; a cold from a parallel universe maybe (sorry, reading David Deutsch's The Fabric of Reality at the moment); a cold but not a cold... anyway, along with having some unusual effects, it had the standard effect on me of putting me right off coffee and black tea and making me think that peppermint tea was quite a nice drink. This, actually, is a better way to define a cold for me than the effects and symptoms - a sort of Descartian 'I like the idea of drinking peppermint tea, therefore I am sick'.
This 'not liking coffee' continued though; a couple of days, a week, a week and a half... I kept asking myself, 'you do fancy a coffee, don't you?' And the answer would be a puzzled, 'no, actually, I don't!'
Family and friends were starting to get worried about me... in hushed tones they would ask,
'has he still not had a coffee...?'
Well, I am back to liking coffee again now but the strange thing during that time was not the not drinking coffee - I simply didn't want any - but all the time there was a feeling that something was missing, that there was some sort of invisible hole in my morning routine, some sort of black hole, some sort of black coffee hole...
(Cue Zarathustra theme... daa-daa-daaaaaaaaaaaaa - da-daaaaaaaaaaa...)