Tennis News Posted on Sunday, 6 July, 2008 by Frank Key Quote of the day from the BBCâ€™s Andrew Castle at Wimbledon. A few minutes ago, he just said: â€œTim Henman â€“ like a molecule in a box!â€ My thoughts exactly.
Not being a tennis fanatic I failed to observe the match, or indeed the commentary – at the time I was engrossed in one of Dobson’s pamphlets on phrenology, apiary or some such edifying topic – nevertheless, had Dobson been alive today he would have found this commentator’s ignorance of chemistry somewhat galling:
What could he have meant by “a molecule in a box” – perhaps he was alluding to the concept of “brownian motion”, the phenomena whereby small enough particles appear to move at random through space as they are buffeted by individual molecules of air.
Robert Brown first observed this while viewing particles of smoke under a microscope – but would it be entirely fair to describe Mr Henman’s sportsmanship as a “random walk”? Perhaps Andrew Castle has been experiencing an entirely different kind of smoke, but without the benefit of Brown’s microscope?
Or is it just that Mr. Henman is an exceedingly wee person? Could it be that the commentator was simply suggesting that he looked small relative to the size of the court? This again displays an unacceptable ignorance as it is well-known that “molecules” occur at a wide range of sizes ranging from single atoms to enormous crystal structures bigger than a house.
I know not for I lack any interest at all in the modern game of tennis. It’s a game for rakes and fops.
Baffling as Andrew Castle’s observation was, I shouldn’t allow Mr Shuddery to add a further layer of obfuscation. Henman wasn’t actually playing tennis. The “box” referred to is the commentary box, where he was sitting delivering punditry. Like a molecule, presumably.
As in his head is a box, and inside is one molecule. That’s not a nice thing to suggest. I don’t think he did mean it like that though, he’s not that good.
Marty : I don’t think you can be correct. If that is what Andrew Castle was saying, he is suggesting that Tim Henman is like a molecule inside his own head… like some sort of homunculus in his own brain. This would lead us to an infinite regression, ever tinier Tim Henmans bouncing around inside the skulls of ever more minuscule Tim Henmans, forever. It is such a mind-numbing concept that I suspect a professional commentator like Andrew Castle would never be so rash as to say it aloud on air.
Surely the plural is Tim Henmen (or, possibly, Tims Henman)?
R : You are of course correct that the plural should be Tim Henmen, but I didn’t want to befuddle readers who might confuse this with the Hen Men, the poultry-related sect which will be the subject of a future post.
Beatles enthusiasts, and walrus-fanciers, know a bit about the Egg Men.
But the Hen Men: are they descendents of the same sect?
I trust Mr Key’s promised Future Post will explain which came first.