I am not known for my accuracy with numbers. (Posts passim.) I rarely feted for my excellent time-keeping. (I tend to be unfashionably late.) I am absolutely BOB at giving directions. For example:
After a while you will see a left hand turn. After a while you will see a sign for a motorway. After a while you will reach the coast of Spain.
(In this instance, after a while might be 10 yards, 10 miles, or 10 x 10 miles.)
But then I am a creative artist, an artistic creative. I'm not meant to know my fandangle from my elbow. It's in the job description.
But scientists? They're all facts, figures and accuracy to 0.0000000000000000000000001 of a percent - right?
announces a newspaper headline. Nothing to do with phone-taps or Me? I know nothing editors. No, scientists tell us that Betelgeuse, a star of which I've always been particularly fond, is due to explode. Its death throes will be so bright that there will be no night for two weeks. Darkness vanquished, we shall be bathed in eternal sunshine. In fact, during the real day, there will be two suns shining down upon us.
Gosh, how exciting, I thought. When's this going to kick off, then? I shall invest in sunglasses, suncream, sunhats. Quick, Stockbroker! Hawaiian Tropic! Buy! Buy! Buy!
O, I see ...
It could be this year. It could be next year.
Or it could be at any point in the next million years - also known as After A While.