Love Song of the LHC

Song: ‘Big Bang Day’

Where unseen fires rage with heat
The likes of which the world has never seen
We find ourselves within a ring of dreams
Just waiting for tomorrow to escape.

The first one out was symmetry; it cracked
Just like a whip, and split the earth in two
Rotation took an unexpected turn, and
Europe shrugged its buildings off like fleas.

And then a bit of strangeness, cosmic drill
Proceeded on its thousand mile rampage
A long thin tube of hollow space
Released the oil and sucked the oceans dry.

Survivors? There was of course not one. A few
In planes had nowhere left to land
And twenty minutes later, scattered crumbs
Of our bright world were all that now remained.
07 Jul 2008

(Commentary: this poem was written shortly before the first trial run of the Large Hadron Collider. Some alarmist people claimed that particle physics had never been studied at such high energy levels before, and the scientists at CERN could unwittingly destroy the earth by producing a Black Hole.)

Journal Entry, 12 Sep ‘08

Amazing sunset tonight; sky a radiant wash of pink fire.

Last night to cinema – ‘The Strangers’, a thriller about some couple being menaced in an isolated house. Only six actors – nearly all of whom had no lines – but it was a joint venture between four production companies.

Then to OUSA: Marie had a flier for Cabaret on my birfday at Ye Palace Theatre.

(Commentary:I did indeed go to see Cabaret on my birthday, after which we dined at a lovely Italian place near the Midland Hotel. Two days later I learned that my Father had died suddenly, aged 83. Normally this would be a distressing occasion, but a few weeks previously I had spent a long time chatting with my Dad on the phone, after he had mistakenly sent me a birthday card one month early. Very strange…)

Journal Entry, 16 Sep ‘08

Black Tuesday! Last night was OCCA quiz, I joined Brenda and Anne-Marie again.

This morning got to work about 8.00, Adrian turned up v shortly afterwards, and we noticed black smoke gushing from the factory chimney.

Within twenty mins the chimney was actually ablaze and collapsed – one of the locals recorded it on a cameraphone and sent it to TV. Police & fire brigade arrived & told us to take refuge in Magnet showroom.

Lab building unscathed so we were able to return to work but production is out for two months (?).

(Commentary: the company never recovered from this incident, and we went into administration. I rarely needed to visit the factory side, where on the top floor they had old-fashioned labs with huge wood-and-glass walls. These labs were disused, and full of dusty old books – including hardbound volumes of the Journal of OCCA. A few months before the fire, I had been browsing through one of these volumes and submitted a mildly witty review to the current editor of the Journal. All the old books perished in the blaze, and my published article is all that now remains.)

Song: ‘Made in Vesuvius’

I took my legs out for a walk
In search of love one Sunday morning
Down ugly streets into a hateful park
The square-faced trees turned without warning
Into a tribe of elegant ambassadors.

Here in the derelict warehouse, my
Legs no longer belong to me; instead
Gripped by a dozen eager hands, by
Silent squares of darkness. Another bed
Becomes the witness to these broken laws.

The margins of my lake insane
Are traced by all these satin ropes
While I reflect the one genetic strain
From which all square-faced ugliness erupts
Before the star upon a weary twist reclines.
26 Mar 2003


Song: ‘The Onset of Addiction’

Tomorrow night, in someone else’s dream
I feel the snakes begin to coil
Themselves around my hungry arm
An ornamental helix, red gold and green
They do not seem to care, unfathomably calm
With soft blunt noses
And bright sharp fangs as gently curved
As one of Turner’s hyperbolic skies.

The room is waiting to decide which wall
Moves in for the attack. I look around
To see if any weapons are at hand, but
The angles only fill me with despair. Perhaps
A handful of sound
Would scatter far the tyrant and his lies
Into a place where healing fire
Teaches us to die and to believe.
29 Aug 2003

Song: ‘Mr Bleaney Buys a Copy of Meddle

Once upon a time a sad grey man
Forgot his dullness by mistake
And bought an LP (those were the days!)
To which he listened in vague disbelief;
‘How can anyone enjoy this stuff?’
But all too aware he longed to break
Away from the murmurs of steady grief
Making up the life he called his own.

And after about a month he realised
This disc of his possessed two sides, not one;
And curious, he turned it round as if to see
What lay beyond the spiral of descent.
And heard, and felt, and to another realm
Exalted did this lonely man aspire; would
That we could have that moment once again.
20 Sep 2003

Journal Entry: 3 Sep ‘03

At work; was QC testing a batch of WB stoving choke paint – DW set up testing it in a DIN 4 cup rather than a BS 4 but for no reason?

Was QC testing a batch of weldable etch primer based on Mowital and Beckopox. This contains lots of xylene – not a suitable thinner – but has no zinc phos or snowcal (so how come it’s only 35% gloss?).

Had a go at doing my monthly report using Gill’s template. There’s a section for me on the server but I’ve never been issued with a password, nor have I been shown how to use the computers at work. (After being told repeatedly during my interviews that IT skills were of the utmost importance in this job.)

(Commentary: my predecessor at work had created a vast library of paint fomulations, usually with guidance from the sales department. Unfortunately, neither he nor they had any real understanding of coatings chemistry and the resulting recipes were often unstable. And it was true that, during my interviews for the post, the manager kept telling me that computer skills were absolutely vital; yet I didn’t get a PC in the office for over three years, and I was never given access to the firm’s e-mail system.)


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