The Universe, or at least parts of our Solar System, seem to be lining up this week.
At least five of our planets were allegedly visible as a string of gems from the dark skies in Mansfield this week. I was pretty sure I saw four.
On Monday the full moon rose at the same time as the sun set so the sky glowed in both the East and West and then today Google honoured brilliant, but sadly short lived, southern hemisphere astronomer Beatrice Tinsley.
But mastering the cosmos is not for everyone, as borne out by the fabulous celestial musings in Bill Bailey’s discourse on UK Celebrity Big Brother winner Chantelle Houghton’s astronomical hypothesis:
“I thought the sun and the moon were the same thing…turns out they’re not”.
Rather than outing Chantelle as another sad example of a modern education system, Bill explored the hypothesis that the sun and moon – in Chantelle’s rather grey cognitive world – may possibly be referred to as one and the same thing and therefore readily confused, despite being recognisably distinct separate bodies of the heavens to at least the other 7 billion human planetary inhabitants and predominant number of other life forms.
Thankfully part of the life work of undergraduate Viktorie Melichová of Masaryk University was to translate the transcript of Bill Bailey’s Hammersmith performance of Qualmpeddler into Czech and analyse its cultural interpretation – an extract below:
This is what Chantelle said, and I swear to Dawkins this is true, right?
What she said was… Okay. Yeah…
She said this, she said, “I thought the sun and the moon were the same thing.”
Okay, so…How could you be that flaming stupid?
That’s what you’re thinking, innit?
And the thing is, this implies this is someone that calls something by a different name at different times of the day.
I’m like that with my leg. By day this is my knee, by night the elbow of my leg. By day my thumbs, by night the Pillars of Hercules.
And then she said, “Turns out they’re not”, right?
Like that’s one of a series of possible outcomes?
That is not a legitimate use of the phrase “turns out”.
I’ll give you a legitimate use, Hammersmith, right?
Sausages. When I was a kid, I thought you were supposed to prick sausages before you cook them.
No. Turns out…you’re not supposed to prick them.
Huh? Who was withholding that bit of knowledge?
For years I was pricking them like an idiot, spearing them away like some deluded Neptune…I call them the wasted years. Hashtag, “Just sayin”.
I mean, did she think that a man had walked on the sun?
“But at night, when it was a bit cooler.”
And then she said something that annoyed me even more, right.
Because it was quite interesting and that’s, that’s bothered me.
You know? It was intriguing, and it irritated me because I had sort of,
I’d already pigeonholed her as one of those people who has to draw an “e” on their elbow so they know where their arse is, you know.
Turns out, no, she was actually quite interesting.
And the thing is, right, it gave me a buzzing in my head, you know?
It gave me… Because life’s like that. It’s not all black and white, is it?
You know, it’s grey, “a mad weir of tigerish waters”,
I think Peter Andre said, or it might have been Louis MacNeice, one of the two.
And the thing is, this intriguing nature of what she said gave me this anxiety, a buzzing in my head.
I don’t mind telling you, Hammersmith, cognitive dissonance is what it gave me. Yeah, and you’ve all suffered from it…
(Viktorie concludes that even the Czechs would get the hilarity of Bill Bailey’s performance, apart perhaps from his reference to ‘reading it in The Moon’ which may be lost on some people who would not necessarily know about ‘The Sun’ newspaper – but I daresay that doesn’t apply to anyone much after they posted those photos of Duchess Kate)
If you do go out sometime to investigate for yourself whether the moon is not infact the sun – or want to see the planets – some lovely advice from Southern Sky Watch on star watching in January in the southern hemisphere:
Despite the warmth of the days, nights are often cool, so don’t forget a light jumper before doing any extended star watching. A blanket or rug to sit on is a good idea. Some mosquito repellent will be a must.
for the full brilliant transcript of Viktorie’s paper;
TRANSLATION AND ANALYSIS OF BILL BAILEY’S QUALMPEDDLER
and the essential Czech translation of the performance please go to https://is.muni.cz/th/390495/pedf_b/THESIS_Qualmpeddler_15.pdf