Synaesthesia Magazine Science & Numbers - Page 17

Cure for Burroughs

by Jonathan Pinnock

Daniel and I sat outside the Dun Cow, sipping our pints just like we used to. I hadn’t seen him in months and his appearance shocked me. It wasn’t so much the weight loss or the way his beard had taken over his face like some rampant parasitical white fungus; it was the weariness. His whole body sagged like a beaten-up, moth-eaten old armchair.

“I’ve had enough of it,” he said. “The endless meetings, the endless arsing around with committees, the endless badgering – ”

“I know what you mean – ” I began.

“Do you?” He paused to drain his beer. “Y’know, once upon a time, you could just do science. No having to explain yourself to a bunch of cretinous jobsworths with guidelines and mission statements and tickboxes. And the thing is, it’s language that’s the problem. Having to articulate everything. I keep coming back to that William Burroughs quote. You know the one?”

Of course I did. Then Daniel gave me an odd look. A transformation came over him and his mood seemed to lighten.

“You know what I’d really like to do?” he said, before going to the bar to refresh our glasses.

When he came back, he told me. I wish he hadn’t. I wish we’d just kept drinking and complaining and reminiscing. I wish I’d been anywhere but there that night.

“Will you help me?” he said, when he’d finished explaining.

I shook my head. “No, I can’t. It’s madness. Besides, we’d never get it past ethics – ”

“Sod ethics! Sod ’em all. We’ll just do it. Secret squirrel. And once we’ve finished, then we’ll show ’em. That’s how to do science. Keep the politics and all the other shit out of it.”

"I still don't think -"