Tuesday 24 April 2012

The Big Bang Theory

There has been quite a lot of talk recently about the similarities between myself and the Sheldon character on "The Big Bang Theory". This week I asked my oldest and closest friend if he really thought we were alike and he said "some weeks I can't remember if I've talked to you on the phone or if I've seen a new 'Big Bang' episode on E4".

Childhood: Sheldon was bullied and ostracized as a child. I was bullied and ostracised as a child.

College: Sheldon graduated summa cum laude, I graduated first in my department. Sheldon has a PhD and I don't.

Appearance: Sheldon is tall, gangly, and slightly effeminate. I'm tall, gangly, and slightly effeminate.

Caffeine: Sheldon is intolerant to caffeine and never drinks coffee. I'm intolerant to caffeine and drink only the tiniest amounts of tea and coffee.

Shower curtain: Sheldon's shower curtain displays the Periodic Table of Elements, my shower curtain displays the Periodic Table of Elements.

Routine: Sheldon lives by a strict routine, he plays Halo on a Thursday, and does laundry on a Saturday. Other than doing my washing on a Saturday I'm completely different, I have Sci-Fi club on Wednesday, band practice on Thursday, and I do my ironing on Sunday.

OCD: Sheldon has to perform certain actions in certain ways, particularly knocking on doors and sitting on his couch. My OCD is much more mild, although I can't sleep on a Sunday night unless I've finished my ironing and had a bath, and I start all phone conversations with my friends with the words "%s it's Richard[note1]"

[note1] Yes I'm showing my age using %s as a string token. Sir, my first software job was programming in C, very similar to your vaporators in most respects.

Patronizing: Sheldon tries to educate his friends during every day conversation, but he comes across as superior and annoying. The first time my favourite ex-girlfriend split up with me, it was precisely because I was "superior and annoying".

Vocabulary: Sheldon uses technical, obscure, or archaic words to express himself. My natural phraseology is commensurately sesquipedalian.[note2]

[note 2] Last week for example I said "pro-bono" when everyone would have understood "for free", and "overcoat" when everyone else would have said "jacket".

Science Fiction: Sheldon watches a lot of science fiction, takes it seriously, and analyses the science being it. I watch and read a lot of science fiction, I take it seriously, and I particularly like "Hard Sci-Fi" where all the physics of the fictional universe matches our own. Moreover I have also already quoted Star Wars' C3P0 in this article.

Sexuality: Sheldon is completely asexual and hates being touched. I have had a handful of failed relationships and have now completely given up on them.

Transport: Sheldon can't drive, favours public transport, and enjoys train travel. I can drive and I like riding motorbikes.

Chemicals: Sheldon has a favourite amino acid, I don't, that would be ridiculous. Although I realised when I was trying to memorize the lanthanides off the shower curtain that I do have favourites[note 3].

[note 3]Lanthanum, obviously; Cerium, the oxide of which is used as a polish, and shares its name with a horse that won me £10 in a sweepstake; and Neodymium because of the magnets and loudspeakers.

As you can see, we're completely different people: I haven't got a PhD, I once had a girlfriend, and I don't like trains.


Richard "Dr Sheldon Cooper" B

Wednesday 18 April 2012

No, she went of her own accord

There is a particular type of joke that my brother (and by association I) collect. The archetype is:

  • "My wife went to the Caribbean" "Jamaica?" "No, she went of her own accord." 
Over the years we have heard or come up with:

  • "My wife hurt her foot climbing a volcano" "Krakatoa?" "No she twisted her ankle"
  • "I got a new dog" "Whippet?" "No I bought it"
  • "I got a job in a bowling alley" "ten pin?" "No it's full time"
  • "I got one of those heavy German cakes for Christmas" "Stollen?" "No I think it was paid for."
A couple of weeks ago when we were at the Royal Academy of music hearing his daughter's band compete he came up with a brand new example:
  • "I spent a fortune on a piano" "Was it a grand?" "No it's an upright"
My favourite subversion of the genre is still:
  • "My wife went to the Bahamas" "Jamaica?" "No, the Bahamas, like I said."

Richard "cannon and ball" B

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Always Read the Question

When I first ate at ubiquitous Portuguese-themed chicken restaurant Nandos, the waitress handed me a large piece of card and said "This is a list of the food that we sell, read it and decide what you'd like to eat...." I thought at the time that it was completely superfluous advice, but this weekend I wished that I'd taken it to heart.

I had a house guest over the Easter break, and I very rudely stood her up to go and work for a band on Thursday night. However I did get paid enough to take both of us for an evening meal at Hugh Fearnley-Duckingstool's River Cottage Canteen. The meal was completely fantastic except I accidentally ordered something that I didn't like. I was hoping for some quality seafood, but I was also intrigued by the built-in pizza oven clearly visible from the dining room. As I read the menu I stopped at "Wood baked megrim sole...." which clearly ticked both the seafood and the pizza-oven boxes. The rest of the description said "...in anchovy butter". I don't like anchovies, and I don't like very fishy fish. The megrim is a big meaty white flatfish and it was cooked perfectly, but thanks to the anchovies the whole dinner was fisher than the fishiest of fish suppers[note1].

[note1] "a trout's tuppence" apparently.

Richard "Artist Security" B

Tuesday 3 April 2012


This weekend I went to Guildford and London, and I heard my niece perform at the Royal Academy of Music where her band won a gold award. My whole family was there, and my mum got all the way to Marylebone and back by herself, and successfully made a call on a mobile phone. However the weekend wasn't without its disappointments:

  • The National Concert Band Festival was a complete shambles, and there wasn't enough room for everybody to hear the bands or the adjudications.
  • Aberdeen Grammar Concert Band didn't do well enough to enter the competition to perform at the Olympic ceremonies.
  • 48 hours spent waiting with bated breath for a reply from the hot chorister whom I've been out with a couple of times.
  • I was booked into the wrong hotel, miles from the venue and the rest of my family.
  • I wasn't even booked into the wrong hotel.
  • Staying in a hotel less salubrious than a prison ship.
  • That my room was neither quiet, comfortable, nor dark.
  • Breakfast.
  • Engineering works between Waterloo and Guildford.
  • That the chorister wasn't interested in me after all.

Richard "No, it made me want to drown things" B