Dr Boaz in the Hollywood cemetary
I have an afternoon rendezvous with my first honest to goodness scientist, in the Hollywood Cemetery. Dr Noel Boaz is a biological anthropologist, with a long list of achievements to his name. I feel quite intimidated as I have not managed to get my head around his; what if we knew where all our organs come from.
But hey, searching for Galileo was never going to be a walk in the park. I didn’t expect it to be a walk in the cemetery either, but as my mental jamming companion is interested in old bones, the venue seems quite fitting. Waiting for Dr Boaz at the cemetery entrance I suddenly have a spy vs. spy moment. How will I recognize him? Then I realize there are only the dead and I in the cemetery. Recognizing Dr Boaz should not be a problem.
Understanding him, well now that is a different matter. As we stroll slowly through the trees and gravestones he launches (very quietly) into his theory. The few words I can hear, I have never heard before, this promises to be a total fiasco as far as mental jamming sessions go. I ask Dr Boaz if he could speak layman’s English. He stops and looks at me. A frown rumples his aquiline features. I don’t think he has spoken layman’s English since he was three, then again, as he is the great grandson of the Reverend Alfred William Anson, who was born at Windsor Castle, perhaps layman’s English is a foreign tongue to him.
We resume our walk, as we walk we talk; about sugar and fat and kidneys and taste buds and I just don’t get it at all, thank goodness for the Dictaphone. I shall unravel this mystery quietly when I am back at my computer. Turning a corner we both stop in some surprise to look at the massive pyramid, built out of large grey stones, that rises into the sky above the more common, and expected, angels and crosses that surround it.
Pyramids, what is it with pyramids? Someone somewhere out there knows the answer to our fascination with pyramids. If there were no answer they would not still be built, and hold such sway over our imagination. I photograph Dr Boaz by the pyramid to get a sense of proportion. He is very small. Then our path finds us back at the parking lot.
Later, in my office for the evening, I attempt to replay this afternoon’s conversation, and promptly and permanently delete the whole thing…nooooo…how embarrassing! What to do? I write a grovelling letter of apology. Dr Boaz replies with exquisite politeness , but I know I have been judged and classified as a total ditz.
Ah well, I shall try to do better next time.
For now it is time to pack my bags and head south, North Carolina here I come. First stop Hertford a pretty and very strange little town, more about that in the actual book.
Meanwhile in the present…
In South Africa on 11 April 2015 I was up and about at 06h00 getting ready to clean a beach of sea swept plastic. This was the culmination of my social experiment on what it would take to get people to walk their talk, to actually get up, get out, put some time aside to do something for the planet.
It takes more than I have apparently.
Of all the people who thought it was a fabulous idea, tipped their non-existent hats to me, and believed that the world needs more people like me, only 11 made the connection that if they joined in to help, there would instantly be more people like me. Perhaps the others felt I should go forth and multiply. I don’t think we have the luxury of time.
Beach activeness done , I drive back to Hermanus, rehearsing a talk on the evolution of the mind, and in preparing this talk, realize that perhaps I did understand a tiny part of what Dr Boaz was saying after all.