“Bugger Pi,” Aunty Mu said to me over the weekend, when I asked her if that was what had kept her awake in the night. You might remember that she had told me that she enjoyed seeing how many decimal places she could work out before going back to sleep; a sort of intellectual sheep counting. I always thought that it was wonderful that a woman of nearly 99 can be involved with the world at that level. But no, this time it was the orchestration of her television console that was bothering her. I felt I probably couldn’t help much as her system seems complicated to me, even though I’ve got the advantage of sight. She maps her way around by feel and instinct and still enjoys Wimbledon even though she can’t actually see the ball and then of course there is her pleasure in the neat backsides of the French rugby team. Don’t ask me how she manages to intuit them.
Anyway I’ve had my own technological challenges to face since my last post. My computer crashed and a few hours later I nearly followed , as I had a blow out on the M5 heading down to Aunty Mu. I’ve never broken down on a fast motorway before, so it was quite an adventure. My main problem was fear that something would happen to Tottie in the back of the car, while I protected myself behind the barrier. It took the recovery vehicle 45 minutes to reach me, so I had plenty of time to distract myself from contemplating my position and enjoy the wildlife at the side of the road. There were crickets, blackberries, ragwort, and butterflies galore. I also had time to mull over the arrival of a new electrician to wire my cooker that morning. Six foot four and handsome with a huge toolkit, in he came full of chatter and good energy. He was a traveller and we connected instantly the way travellers do. He told me about teaching scuba diving in Papua New Guinea. We compared notes on the dangers of spraying one’s body for years in Deet, a chemical now banned. I confided in him my computer difficulties. No trouble he said I’ll take a look when I finish this. He fixed it in moments and off he went, scattering angel dust in his wake.
My motorway saga ended with two new tyres in Bridgewater, a town I never willingly visit, having been towed there by Angel Mick. I arrived at Aunty’s seven hours after setting off on a two hour journey. She made me fish and mash and we sat down to share IT nightmares. Mine were turned into miracles with no trouble at all, her’s had to wait until the next day. Then it was my turn to put on the angel wings, don’t ask me how. It’s a mystery, I don’t know the first thing about technology.
” Bugger pi” she might have said but as I was left driving home after the weekend, I pondered the imponderables. In a universe that has orchestrated everything with astonishingly complex simplicity, is it not most surprising that the way to calculate the circle(the basic form after all) is an irrational number. Doesn’t that indicate that it is we who have got the numbers wrong? And that if Pi was a rational number God would be beyond question?