Monday, March 19, 2007

Southgate's Cat

The weather has been bizarre this last week. We had sandstorms for a couple of days, which meant driving round wasn't as pleasurable as it can be. All the familiar sights were obscured by the sand in the air as we drove past them, with the ghostly shadow of one or two large landmarks just visible through a creamy murk. Walking from the car to any building involved adopting a troubled, twisted expression, with mouth firmly shut to prevent sand getting in.

After the sandstorms and the increasing humidity that was building up, we had a short burst of thunder storms on Saturday night. The thunder storms can be quite impressive here. We saw several awe-inspiring examples of fork lightning as we returned from a meal at Ibn Batutta mall. The storm passed overhead very quickly at about midnight, and sprinkled some rain on us. This was most annoying, as I had taken the time to hose my car down to rid it of the thick layer of sand left by the sandstorms, and when it rains here, our slatted-roofed carport spills more sand onto the cars.

At least the storms took the humidity away. It was much fresher on Sunday as I headed back to work after another all-too-brief weekend. The airborne sand was also gone, and the familiar sights of towers and cranes and more cranes were visible once more. A stiff breeze was still blowing, though, and on some places on the roads, ribbons of fine sand rippled across the tarmac like other-wordly snakes coming back to claim the desert from all this maddening development.

Oh, and I've been feeling shite again. The dust and sand are playing havoc with my sinuses, and I've been feeling just generally bad, even dizzy at times. I rebuffed a friend's invitation to visit the Hatta mountains over the weekend, and decided to visit the doctor on Friday. So I laid there on the surgery bed, submitting myself to his probing and prodding, waiting for the verdict. After a moment he stepped away from me, straightened up and sighed.

"How old are you?" he asked brusquely
"Er...Thirty six," said I, almost as a question.
"And you have SO many diseases!" he said, shaking his head.
I had no answer to that.

Turns out I had a sinus infection. Yes, I am a wreck. What can I tell you? I've been through it all before; the dodgy ticker, the shagged hip, the sinuses, the things I won't mention... I'm a walking medical text book, and a hypochondriac to boot. They call it CYBERchondriac these days, because people like me spend hours looking up symptoms and diseases on the internet at the slightest twinge. I think I've worked my way up to "T" in the medical dictionary. There's definitely some ringing in my ears.

It would be great to wake up and have a day when I didn't feel rotten. I can't remember how that feels. I can only hope.

Enough, enough! I'll be setting of down that path of self-pity again, and that's half the problem, I reckon.

Onwards and sidewards. If you're wondering about the post title, I am about to reveal all. If you're not, look away now. I may have mentioned before that I am a a supporter of, or at least a fan of Middlesbrough Football Club. Being an exiled fan is something of a unique experience. I remember being in the USA in the 90s and having to listen to BBC World Service on my short-wave radio for snippets of news about the team. The only games I saw on TV were the FA Cup final and some World Cup games, and with the time difference, I watched most of them at 9am.

Nowadays, English football benefits from blanket TV coverage all over the world, and every Saturday (and Sunday), expat bars around the globe fill with supporters of various English Premier League teams hoping to see their team win. There are a few bars in Dubai that show every single game that is on, thanks to having wall-to-wall TV screens. I've been in a few of them, and it can be difficult to concentrate on one game with all the others going on around you, especially when people in various replica shirts jump up and shout at a goal in the game they're watching.

Of course, weekend games are the best, because they usually kick off at 6pm or 7pm here depending on the BST/GMT situation in the UK. Sunday games are sometimes a little later, but it's quite nice being able to go out for a drink on an evening and catch a game. But then there's the midweek games which invariably kick off at 7.45 or 8.00pm in the UK. If you're a die-hard (read NUTTER, but each to their own. You NUTTER), that's OK, you just stay up till 2am to watch the game. That isn't for me. I have enough problems with lack of quality sleep as it is, (Oh God, not again...) so I'm not really keen on staying up to watch late matches, especially on a school night.

The problem with this is that I've missed all the replays this season. Boro have got to the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup this season, and have contrived to need replays in the last 3 rounds. That's all of them, I think. Hull, Bristol City and West Brom. We've also had to win 2 penalty shoot-outs to get here. And as fate has it, we drew with Manchester United just over a week ago, and need to go to a replay at Old Trafford (We might as well not turn up, if I'm honest, but who knows). Every time this happens, I go to bed at the normal time, and the game is played as I sleep, or try to sleep at least. In the morning, I wake up completely oblivious to the result of the game until I get downstairs and switch on Sky News just in time for the sports bulletin. So in the period between waking up and watching the report, as far as I'm concerned, anything could have happened. Boro could have won gloriously, lost heavily, won on penalties, or just decided to forgo the game and go shopping for manbags. I really don't know, and until I see the result on the news, all the possibilities still exist. For me at least. Tonight, I will be going through this again, even though in my heart I know Boro have about as much chance of surviving as a sausage roll at a Meatloaf after-gig party.

Now this is what those boffin types refer to as the many-worlds interpretation or MWI (also known as relative state formulation, theory of the universal wavefunction, many-universes interpretation, Oxford interpretation or many worlds). It's all to do with quantum mechanics, apparently. A clever Austrian physicist chap called Erwin Schrödinger came up with a theoretical experiment involving a cat locked in a box (see Schrödinger's Cat) with a vial of poisonous gas that had a 50% chance of being released by a switch connected to a geiger counter which is placed near some decaying radioactive substance of indeterminate type. Until the box is opened, no-one knows whether the cat is alive or dead. It is in a state of flux, and both states (dead and alive) exist at the same time. There is also some guff about the interference of the observer and whether it has any influence on the result, and how there could be an infinite number of universes (multiverses) based on all possible outcomes of all situations that have happened, EVER. All terribly complicated and brain-troubling. I imagine any Geordie readers are dribbling on the keyboard mumbling about cats in boxes right now. I'm not far behind, to be fair. It's really deep shit, man, and would become much clearer after a nice big spliff, I imagine.

So, there you are: Southgate's Cat. If Boro win tonight, the cat will live. If they lose, the cat will be sent to the nearest labour camp.

Don't worry, there isn't really a cat. I'm off to give my brain a rest now.


Grumpy Goat said...

According to Terry Pratchett, after being locked in a box Mr Schrödinger's cat can have a third state: Bloody furious.

Just stand well back when opening the box, lest a supersonic ball of razor-sharp claws emerge.

littejimmy said...

Terry Pratchett truly is the canine's gonads. I love his books.