Number #1 on my list of things that should never have been conceived is the ridiculously good-looking, high-spec’d, compact, well-reviewed vacuum cleaner that I bought ... for the pond. Pros: at least as challenging as a 5000-piece jigsaw to put together. Cons: everything else.
Number #2 on the list of things that seemed, at the time, to be a good idea is my beard. Or rather, the equipment used to keep it in check. There I was, stood in front of my bathroom mirror, giving my newfound facial novelty a trim, when a freshly hewn hair pinged up off my face and with unerring accuracy targeted itself like an exocet missile straight towards, and into, my eye. Nowhere did it say in the instructions for either my beard or its trimmer that safety goggles are advised.
Number #3 on the list, had I not managed to jump balletically to safety at the crucial moment, would have been the fishing line with which I replaced the garden string that had previously served as a deterrent for the Heron that occasionally feasts on my fish. The fishing line is virtually invisible to the naked eye. Which might explain why, despite having positioned it around the pond only moments earlier, I walked straight into it, and nearly ended up taking an unscheduled swim.
But for these three things, life continues to accelerate towards the future. Later this week I go to the CUNY sentence processing conference in New York. Then it’s off for a few days to Philadelphia, where unsuspecting students are being hauled in off the street, in the name of science, and extruded through an MRI scanner. Their brains, lit up like Christmas Trees, reveal all sorts of useful things that make me ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ while at the same time hoping that my collaborators can decipher it all. I get back to York and then, barely 48 hours later, head off for the sunnier climes of Argentina. I can’t wait. Regrettably, of course, I have to take work with me. But I can think of worse things than sitting in an Argentinian café drinking coffee over an internet connection. Sitting in my office, for example.