Thursday, 18 November 2010

A bit of British science in Hong Kong

'We must be there at least two hours early.' I wave my finger at the little grits. 'Then I will queue and you can wander around the Science Museum and learn about science.'

Tiger starts to pull that strange face. I recognise it. It is the face she uses before she bursts into tears or smashes up the house.

But for once, I know exactly what her problem is. She is worried about Dr Safe with his Material Safety Data Sheets. He is at the Science Museum. Last time she saw him, she claims she did not sleep a wink all night. I doubt it. Maybe she fell asleep at 5am, something like that. She has a nervous disposition, as readers of this blog will know. I tell her Do not worry. Go look at the medicine you can get from a pig. But the most important thing is, I stay in the queue. I must guarantee our seats in the lecture today.

This is tremendously exciting for Grit. A lecture by a British sounding person! One we must properly queue for! In Hong Kong! And it's not in Cantonese!

I am almost delirious. Last time I took Shark to Sha Tin for the lecture on fish, the bloody thing was in a language neither of us could fathom.

But today, we are going to hear a lecture by a proper Prof, Peter Barham, who normally lives in the Physics Department at the University of Bristol. He is going to tell us about Molecular Gastronomy, whatever that is. And I think the dear old British Council would like a shoutout in my blog as well, since I bet they paid for his air fare. (Don't let them fob you off with economy, that's my advice, Prof.) Anyway, the lecture is all about what you can learn when you eat dinner with Heston Blumenthal.

And we are early. Very early, in fact. Unfortunately, the Science Museum is shut on Thursday. That minor point was overlooked by Grit. So everyone must wait.

For a long time, actually. There's no-one else actually queueing, so a doorman tries to move us on. I'm not leaving. You can bet the moment I turn my back two thousand people arrive. The doorman speaks quite good English, but I pretend I can't understand him.

After another half an hour the door opens! A lady puts out a sign, then closes the door again.

Just another fifteen minutes to go! Typical. Shark's hopping about, saying she needs the toilet. I consider an empty fruit juice bottle, but think that is a step too far. Maybe later in her life, when we are queuing for a $10 pair of Jimmy Choos in the January sales. So I give instructions to Squirrel and Tiger to hold our places, then I grab Shark's hand, point in the direction of the toilet and shout Run!

Now isn't it just like the parcel delivery man? After waiting for two hours, you pop off for a pee, and there's a postcard on the mat, saying You weren't in. I get back with Shark, and there are two Swedes at the head of the queue, trailed by a defeated looking Squirrel and Tiger. I tell them off, and remind them about being British, glaring, and using your elbows.

Well, reader, despite the national humiliation, we do get seats at Prof Barham's lecture!

It is fantastic. Isn't he a showman? He has this touring lecture job well crafted. You must find out where his next gig is, then queue up, like we did.

Shark particularly recommends the story about how a microwaved cup of coffee will blow your face off and leave you needing reconstructive surgery on the kitchen floor. I can recommend chocolate and blue cheese combination, and everyone except Tiger enjoyed the ice cream made on stage with dry ice. She was a bit worried it would blow up.

In fact the day was so much fun (and educational) I say hip hip hooray for everyone involved in today's science lecture. Me included, for getting us there (although not first in). The British Council made a good choice. And it felt like being back at home again, just for a little while.

Now, can we all come round to dinner with Heston Blumenthal?


sharon said...

Recently one of the TV channels here showed a series of Heston's culinary genius. Maybe you would be able to find it online somewhere, I'm sure you would all like it - well apart from the number and variety of dead animals used maybe.

Congratulations for getting your seats at the English lecture and hooray that everyone enjoyed it too.

Grit said...

the prof gave out a recipe, sharon, but i became distracted by the blue cheese and chocolate that came by, so didn't get it down. now i will certainly go looking!

Firebird said...

Well neither this prof or Heston Blumenthal were first to come up with chocolate and blue cheese, me and my flatmate did so approx 13 years ago. I made blue cheese dip for a party we were having and she proceeded to try dipping everything she could find in it, including the chocolate covered pretzels and when they ran out squares of dairy milk :-)

Grit said...

firebird, i think you may be on to his secret. i bet hb is nicking his ideas from midnight student cookery.