Wednesday 22 November 2017

Kevin Myers: He has left us for chinwags with Galileo and Isaac Newton

Kevin Myers

I WOULDN'T want to be St Peter at his gates this morning, with Garret FitzGerald beside him, on his hands and knees measuring the width between the stone plinths to see whether the next Luas line could fit.

Nor is St Peter the only one for whose mental health I fear. Every single engineer and station-master who ever worked on the Orient Express is very soon to be closely questioned about variations on the timetable between 1938 and 1939, and why it was that the 1937 Bucharest-Sarajevo express sometimes left at 8.03am, instead of the 7.59 as advertised. This means that the four minutes had to be made up with a greater head of steam, which required another two pounds of coal per mile, at a cost of three farthings per hour. Furthermore, if it was igneous Saarland coal, it caused increased carbonising of the valve-tappets, especially in the 2-4-2 Krupps Dynamo Lokomotiv made in the Essen works, though not in the Bremen works, which remained curiously immune.

No sooner than the railway engineers of the 1930s had sought asylum back on earth, than Garret would try to buttonhole the medieval philosopher whose works he read, in Old High French, aged 2.8 years, which changed his entire world view from being a pragmatic empiricist to an existentialist Christian (or whatever), which he remained for the rest of his days. The good thing about being dead for Garret FitzGerald is that the company is so much better than it was down below. (Ah look, he splutters happily, there's Sir Isaac Newton: I need to have a word with him about a couple of tiny mathematical errors in his Principae.)

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