The Early Days of a Better Nation

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Alien Weather

The Oxford Bar in Edinburgh is a favourite haunt of Inspector Rebus, hero of Ian Rankin's crime novels. It remains unspoiled by its fictional fame, of which it boasts by a few framed newspaper pages on its walls. It's the sort of comfortable, crowded, old-fashioned smoky pub that the Scottish Executive is bent on saving us from. Conversation is loud. Last night as I stood at the bar getting drinks for myself and Mrs Early I could see but not hear the ten o'clock news, and the pictures said it all: the happy faces of the Huygens team, and the first images of the surface of Titan. Rocks or lumps of ice shaped by nitrogen winds and ethane streams, seen on television, in a pub. Now that feels like the 21st century.


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