2016-06-30 Thu

Measuring Frank McCourt’s Reality

I have just re-read Frank McCourt’s book “Teacher Man” in which he relates the reality of his life in the USA working in the hotels, on the docks, serving in Germany, studying in New York Colleges and penultimately becoming a teacher. Ultimately, of course, he became the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Angela’s Ashes” and “’Tis”.

Frank McCourt’s reality was all inside his head; my reality is inside my head, and your reality is inside your head.

If each of Frank McCourt’s three books can be said to be a record or transcription of his reality, and taking his books to be, say, 365 pages each, then I would say that Frank McCourt’s efforts to convey his reality to me amounts to 3x365 pages of text.

Suppose that I can read Frank McCourt’s text at the rate of one page every minute, then the time taken by me to read all three books is just over a thousand minutes. That is about as much of his reality as he can convey to me.

By my calculations I spend just over a thousand minutes absorbing Frank McCourt’s reality, but Frank McCourt’s reality spanned about forty-two million minutes, so I have absorbed about 0.0026% of Frank McCourt’s reality.

It could be said that I have managed to take into MY reality practically none of Frank McCourt’s reality.

Which is not to say that Frank McCourt was a failure as a writer, or as a teacher, or as a human being. Just that when we die, our reality effectively dies with us.

A similar calculation could be done with, say, the total playing-time of all of J.S. Bach’s work, or Scarlatti for that matter.

And for all his greatness, what did grumpy old Isaac Newton leave us? “E=½ mv2”, “M=mv” and “F=ma”. Not a lot to show for a life, eh?


Christopher Greaves Home_DSCN4166.JPG

So this month I switched over to Steel-Cut Oats.

Quite nice, since you ask.

They are supposed to be “better” for me, whatever “better” means in this context.

As is my wont I boil up what I hope will be a week’s batch. But I mis-read the recipe. I mis-read the recipe as 2 cups water to 1 cup oats. On re-reading I see the ratio is not 2:1 but 4.5 to 1.

I ended up with closer to 7:1 to get a mixture that was fluid, and after pouring into TWO plastic tubs (instead of my usual one) I am now the proud possessor of two tubs of a somewhat solid mass of cooked oats, to which I add yet more water each morning...