Robin Ince made us happy last night with his fast-talking show about science and stuff. His show was supposed to run for about two hours, in fact it went well-beyond that and you got the distinct impression Ince would have cheerfully kept talking for a few hours more.
What did he talk about? Well, everything really. This was less a polished monologue in the TED-talk mode and more the sort of rambling stringing together of thoughts and anecdotes that you get around your fantasy science dinner table. I seriously doubt any two of Ince’s shows are the same but he managed to hold all of the rambles together like the consummate professional he is.
The golden thread that ran through his talk was that science is fun and fascinating and engaging and exciting. He read out sections of Darwin’s work on earthworms and mould and Darwin’s enthusiasm in his eighties for contemplation and experimentation was surpassed only by Ince’s joy that Darwin was, in fact, so enthusiastic. For me the funniest section was when Ince described watching some television as being like a sea-squirt that swims about until it finds a comfortable home on a rock where it settles in a eats its own brain, never to move again.
There was so much more to the show. At one point Ince described talking to physicists and thinking while they were talking that he understood what they were saying, only to walk away and realise that he didn’t. Ince’s show was a bit like that. There was just so much in it, so much flooding over you, that while I enjoyed every minute of it I’ve walked away unable to repeat anything more than a couple of garbled gems.