Is it just ... no, it can't be? Oh, yes, it is

9th January 2009 at 00:00

One thing I have learnt not to do is preface questions with the phrase: "Is it just me ... ?" This is because, all too often, the answer has been: "Yes, Gregor, it is just you."

Now is it just me, or do other people find themselves automatically fighting to disagree with some of the contributors to Radio Scotland's Thought For The Day because of the soupy tone they take?

I've probably distorted the following through poor memory because it happened some time ago but, since it referred to one of the most important scientific events of last year, it's worth reflecting on. The minister was talking about the Large Hadron Collider. When he said the phrase, he made it last twice as long as a non-minister would. There must be a series of lessons at minister or priest training school on protracting vowels in words describing things you think are frivolous in the grand scheme of things.

Down south, I sat through a sermon, the gist of which was that too few people took up vocations in the priesthood because they were too interested in buying ipods from ebay. So nothing to do with the celibacy or the fact that women can't be priests, then?

Anyway, the minister pontificating (can I use that word about a Church of Scotland minister?) on the LHC opined that it was all very impressive, but he doubted that it would give answers to any really important questions. I wondered if he knew of James Clerk Maxwell, who wrote: "Grant to nightly meditationWhat the toilsome day deniesTeach us in this earthly stationHeavenly truth to realise." Whatever one's religious beliefs, the view that finding out as much as possible about the universe is a way of glorifying God is surely a noble one.

At the time all this was going on, I was reading Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday. Halfway through the book, I was desperate for the main character to find happiness. I cannot explain why. There's no room for agnosticism here. Alfred Jones definitely does not exist. Why should I care what happened to him? There must be a scientific answer to this genuinely important question, but I can't see it at the moment. Perhaps it's just me.

Gregor Steele is also disturbed by the irrational sadness he felt when selling his Kia.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today