otherwise intelligent people take it seriously

Another week, another major base-ten anniversary of one of my life's most important humour/culture reference points. Again, a few people are missing something in their reviews: so what if there are flaws/signs of rushing/re-used storylines/weak points in some of Douglas Adams's writing? He had one of the most enviably awesomely idea-spouting brains the world has seen but he recorded relatively little of its output and what we have can never be added to. Yes, h2g2.com (now bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2) did come out at a particularly bad time and never stood a chance in the face of Wikipedia but (and it's such a same he never saw it) the world now has hand-held devices which can pretty much tell them anything they might want to know about anything (and a number of things they might not have wished to have known) at the click of a button. Even if the covers tend to declare "Nokia", "Sony Ericsson", "BlackBerry" or perhaps just depict a stylised bitten apple rather than "Don't Panic" we now have the largest information resource the world ever seen (apart, of course, from itself) at our fingertips, whether it's useful information such as where to eat or esoteric and possibly completely useless (except for the mental stimulation provided by the simple act of acquisition) such as the etymology of various languages' verbs for "eat". Without the success of H2G2 in all its forms there might have been no Meaning of Liff, no Dirk Gently and no Last Chance to See. If you've never heard or read it, please do so at the earliest available opportunity. If you're local to Edinburgh I'll lend you my copies of whichever medium; share and enjoy. My view of it all is considerably rose-tinted by my earliest memories of it (one of the animations of the television adaptation (mini-masterpieces of the sort of logical and intelligent but daft humour as nodded to last week), possibly the explanation of the mechanism of action of the Babel fish) but love it or like it, you can't ignore it.

The film was shite, though. Definitely ignore it. I shall not pre-judge the new book by smug impostor Eoin Colfer but I'll read it on one of Borders's sofas rather than paying money for it until I know what it's like.

On Earth, and specifically in Belgium, we didn't start the day early enough to feel it was worth forking out for the multi-musem-pass ticket thing today with most of the morning already in the past so instead went around all of the city's churches, mostly free except for where a large and noticeable donation-box skulked just inside the entrance. The first one (the Basilica of the Holy Blood) is of the small-but-lavishly-decorated variety (quite like the main basilica at Montserrat) though a great deal of the lavishness had been expressed in fancy wallpaper, not something which often increases in pleasantness in direct proportion to its cost or complexity. Overriding the wallpaper completely on taste grounds was the church's USP of the regular display of a vial containing what is alleged to be the blood of Jesus, the alleged risen-again human son of one of the world's alleged gods. Why a church of a religion whose premises involve belief in intangible forces and so on would feel the need to place such importance in such mere physical relics (including all the churches round the world which claim to have in their possessions portions of the True Cross (which would probably outweigh the world's current most massive tree if they were aggregated)) was not explained. A few people popped up to either look at it or rub the vial whilst we were there, all under the sinister smile of the blood-guarding be-robed religious office-holder. Announcements in five languages bade people to pop up and visit the blood, perhaps making a special prayer during the experience. Again, by the sometime-forgotten tenets of the religion involved it would be a mightily unfair god who chose to favour the prayers of those who said or thought their prayers in close proximity to this particular relic. You'd think they'd also enforce the NO PHOTOGRAPHY rule a bit more strictly if they really believed there was a chance that their deity's attention was closely focussed on the immediate surroundings of the relic-fluid.

Less honoured with dubious substances was the cathedral of Saint Salvation, currently undergoing extensive refurbishment which meant that a number of probably hideously overwrought and tasteless statue-things were mercifully concealed behind large white tarpaulins, giving the impression of having been recently-delivered but not yet unwrapped. Despite forgetting my little tripod and not having taken my big tripod (and then forgetting that I'd popped to ISO 800 for a few shots) I remembered to unscrew my protective skylight filters (yes, I know, but lenses are expensive and front elements very easily damaged and anyway it rains a lot back home and I really wouldn't feel comfortable wiping raindrops off the actual lens with my T-shirt) for some of the shots of point sources of light. Not only are most of the wall unpainted, a lot of them are cracked and noticeably dusty which gives the cathedral a much more richly-aged and dignified feel than many brighter or fancier cathedrals. Unfortunately, whilst they'd covered a lot of their statues and paintings with dust-sheets the poor organ-pipes were exposed to the noticeable dust raised by the noticeable maintenance work which threatened to completely drown out the sound of the organ when it started up mid-afternoon.

I had been vaguely hoping that some of the similarities of north-eastern Belgium to the Netherlands would extend to the contents of their shops. I was not disappointed this afternoon when we popped to the shop on the way home to get a few bits for eating (including some non-butter spread to counteract the butter provided at breakfast) and found Vla in stock, something I have loved ever since being fed it when on holiday once in the reclaimed-from-the-sea Flevoland in the Netherlands when I was small. I haven't had any of it yet (I thought it would be better to go for a run then eat one of the double-fist-sized apples to counteract a relatively unhealthy day (we had some fries from the frites-wagon in front of the Belfort and only found out when it was too late that they came liberally ready-salted (though the few at the bottom which escaped this unpleasant augmentation were very tasty))) but look forward to breakfast tomorrow.

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