We’d barely known him an afternoon, yet bit by bit Gwen was already revealing himself to be one of the most fascinating people that we had ever met. When he invited us to his 40th birthday party that evening in a private room in the Virgin Active gym at the Omni Centre in Edinburgh we leapt at the chance to get to know him better.
Other guests at the meal included a lecturer in ornithology from Northumbria University. After I explained how we run our fourth year Knowledge Management classes she listed her own modules according to their official titles: “A module about song thrushes”, “A module about cuckoos”, “A module about puffins” etc. These all sounded rather mundane after my animated summary of all the fun and games of my own classes.
The most impressive guest, however, was Gwen’s three month old baby son whose vocabulary matched that of anyone I knew. In addition, this child prodigy could already walk. These early talents had been nurtured by another dinner guest – Gwen’s best friend, a child psychologist. I wasn’t sure that I would subject my own son to experimentation at such an early age and wondered how they had sorted out ethical consent for the study.
When the dishwasher broke after the meal I volunteered to help out in the kitchen. I stood next to AA who was slotting cutlery into a drawer. My job was to wash and dry the forks, then pass them to AA. This proved rather difficult now that I had acquired super powers myself. Uri Geller would have been so proud to see how I could now convert forks into spoons simply by dropping them in and out of the dirty dishwater.