Some time ago two friends were walking along Baldock High Street. It was a clear night and the stars were shining brightly.(1)
One of the two friends looked up at the stars and said: "If you look in that direction, the universe extends to infinity. If you look in the opposite direction, the universe also extends to infinity. It therefore follows that Baldock must be in the middle, at the centre of the Universe."(2)
This important observation has not had a great effect on the world at large because it has not been widely publicised. Now, with the publication of this article by Octarine, more people will have this great, indisputable truth revealed to them.(3)
At first it would not seem to be very significant that a rather
modest town in Hertfordshire has this claim to fame but the implications
are many and important.
The first important thing to note is that the writers of the crummy TV programme and film "Lost in Space" would not have written the scripts with that title because getting lost in space is impossible if one knows that Baldock is at the centre of the Universe.(4) (5)
All one has to do if one has accidentally made a wrong turning or has come out of hyperdrive too late is to go back towards the middle. The middle can easily be found because the universe extends equally far from the middle in all directions. Any space ship equipped with hyperdrive will have long range detection sensors(6) which will show which boundaries of the universe are nearest and furthest away. It is therefore simple to arrange that the space ship is driven to the point where the boundaries of the universe are equidistant. Even allowing for some inaccuracies in the measurement system, moving to somewhere near the equidistant point will be good enough to start with.
The Milky Way Galaxy(7) is quite large(8) so it should be easy to see it from anywhere near the centre of the universe. Once the Milky Way Galaxy has been reached, the next step is to check the two spiral arms. If you are lucky,you will have chosen the correct one to start with. If not, you will have to check the other one.
Assuming that you have chosen the correct spiral arm, all you have to do now is to go to a point which is roughly two-thirds of the way from the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy. From this position it should be possible to see the sun. There are not many stars just like the sun in this part of the galaxy so it should be fairly easy to recognise.
The next steps are obvious. You have to travel to a point where the sun appears to be as bright as we usually see it from Earth.(9)
From this point you should be able to see one or more planets. The next step is slightly more critical. You will need to watch a planet you have found for a while to see how it moves because most of the planets go round the sun in one plane. When you find this plane you hijack it (10) and demand to be taken to Luton Airport.
Baldock is 14 statute miles (or 0.000000000002379861586432 light years) (11) from Luton.
Drive along the A505 eastwards until you get to the A6141. You will then be located in Baldock. When you get to Baldock, you cannot be in space because Baldock is on the planet Earth. If you are in Baldock you are not lost. Therefore you are not in space or lost. This proves that the idea of being lost in space is ridiculous.
The second (and probably more important) point of getting to Baldock is that within walking distance(12) you can find a very special pub.(13)
(Baldock is a small town so everywhere in Baldock is within walking distance.)
This very special pub dates from the 17th century.(14)
It is situated in Hitchin Street. Hitchin Street extends in a westerly direction from the northern end of the High Street.(15)
If it is assumed that Hitchin Street begins at the corner of the building at the High Street end of Hitchin Street on the south side,(16) the distance to the pub from this point is 100,000 millimetres along Hitchin Street.
This pub is the only known one in the part of the Universe that you can get near to by bus rail or car,(17) which is called The Broken Drum. (18)
As The Broken Drum in Baldock is very near the centre of the Universe, it is very conveniently sited for all travellers who do not have an Infinite Improbability Drive in their vehicles. By definition, it is almost as central as it could be (19) and therefore very easy to get to from anywhere.
The Broken Drum proprietors are Dave Plant and Kirstin Wandlowsky (20) Caffreys IRISH ALE is on sale and a good selection of meals is offered. The pub has a comfortable cellar for those who wish to play it cool, and a garden at the rear for those who want to get closer to nature on hot summer days.
The interior of the main bar is adorned by a full-size bass drum which is definitely broken.(21)
The proprietors hope that closer relations with Octarine will provide a source of other decorative material which will suit the pub's name. When this happens, Octarine members wearing Tales from the Broken Drum T-shirts may get a discount on drinks when they visit The Broken Drum.(22)
Hypertext footnote 1
At least, the stars appeared to be shining brightly in Baldock. (Nearly all stars worthy of the name appear to shine brightly if you are close enough to them.)
Hypertext footnote 2
It was in 1992. (I think) (Claims that the Earth was at the centre of the Universe in Galilean times are discounted because the nobody knew how big it was then.)
Hypertext footnote 3
Now that you know that Baldock is at the centre of the Universe, you are henceforth one of the enlightened ones. Celebrate! Apply for a cosmology degree!
Hypertext footnote 4
If they knew, they would have given the programme the more sensible title: "Idiots in Space".
Hypertext footnote 5
It is also essential to know that Baldock is in Hertfordshire, in England, on the Earth, in the Solar System, two-thirds of the way out on one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way Galaxy. If you did not know this, you would not be properly qualified to navigate a space ship anyway.
Hypertext footnote 6
Long range sensors are vital in a hyperdive space ship. You wouldn't be able to work out where to go with hyper drive without long range sensors.
Hypertext footnote 7
Sorry about the confusion with chocolate bars - the real Milky Way Galaxy was named first by the ancient Greeks. (Please note that Milky Way Galaxy is almost tautology. The word Galaxy come from the Greek Galaxos which means milk.)
Hypertext footnote 8
The Milky Way Galaxy is a bit larger than the chocolate bars and not very edible so you should not have difficulty in deciding which is which.
Hypertext footnote 9
When it is daytime and not too cloudy.
Note that there is a sphere of even illumination around the sun which indicates the level at which the sun's brightness appears to be just the same as we see it on Earth. (9a)
The path of the Earth's orbit is around the circumference of this sphere.
Hypertext footnote 9a
Only when it is daytime on Earth and not too cloudy.
Note that there is a sphere of even illumination around the sun which indicates the level at which the sun's brightness appears to be just the same as we see it on Earth. (9)
The path of the Earth's orbit is around the circumference of this sphere.
Hypertext footnote 10
This plane is the only one which it is possible to hijack legally. All other plane hijacking is forbidden.
I have temporarily hijacked this plane for use in this article.
Your turn is next,
Hypertext footnote 11
Approximately. (c = 300,000km/sec).
(Calculated on my PC's calculator - check it out!)
Hypertext footnote 12
Walking distance is roughly the distance you would travel if you were taking your dog for a proper walk and it was not raining or snowing and your dog was not a chihuahua or a dachshund or a cuddly toy.
Hypertext footnote 13
This is not Milliways.
Milliways is at the end of the Universe and is a restaurant anyway.
This pub is very near to the actual centre of the Universe. (within about 200 metres).
Hypertext footnote 14
Grafitti artists did not use spray cans in the 17th century and they were not very imaginative.
They often just carved their initials and the date on wooden gates.
Those that wished to remain anonymous just carved the date.
It was an anonymous grafitti artist who marked the gate next to the pub with the date 1632 or MDCXXXII or MFI.
Hypertext footnote 15
The centre of The Universe is definitely in Baldock High Street but its precise position within the street is unknown.
(The person who discovered the centre of the Universe did not mark the spot at the time.)
Hypertext footnote 16
I can assure you that this is a very good assumption to make.
Hypertext footnote 17
Walking to The Broken Drum from places outside Baldock would take too long and would waste drinking time.
Bus etc. also includes a bike, motor bike, invalid chair, JCB, helicopter, trike, hang-glider, van, beach buggy, tractor, lorry and autogyro but not a milk float. (23) .
Hypertext footnote 18
The only other pub of this name is in books about Ankh Morpork. (21)
Hypertext footnote 19
The Town Planning and Licensing authorities do not like a pub to be sited in the middle of a High Street, even if it is at the centre of the Universe.(24)
Hypertext footnote 20
Kirstin could win any Tales from the Broken Drum competition because she owns a pub called The Broken Drum, has got all Terry Pratchett's books and has nice legs.
Hypertext footnote 21
Not many shops sell broken drums these days so broken drums are extremely rare.
Pubs called The Broken Drum are even rarer.
There are only two in existence and one can only be found in books. (18)
Hypertext footnote 22
I reckon that I should get a commission or a free membership of Octarine for telling you this.
Hypertext footnote 23
A milk float is better suited for floating in milk
Hypertext footnote 24
Footnotes are wonderful - well, at least one very popular author thinks they are. Hence a footnote to a footnote must be even more wonderful.
Octarine is a society devoted to the promotion of humour in SF and Fantasy.
Octarine used to be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org but not now.
The URL will be updated as soon as I can get the info.
Copyright (C) W. H. James 14/06/96 Revised 30/11/98 (1654 words) .
Wilf James,106 Jarden, Letchworth, Herts. SG6 2NZ, UK. E-mail wilf dot james at ntlworld dot com This version of my email address is to beat spammer's robots.
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