Friday 2 January 2015

Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything and My Dislocated Thumb

Watching, The Theory of Everything I was reminded of when I saw Stephen Hawking in the Science Museum in London and why I had to explain to the customs officer in JFK airport in New York, why I had dislocated my thumb. The officer had already asked if I had ever lived in Washington, as someone with my name who had done 'some bad things' lived there and after the retina scan and fingerprints of one hand he was suspicious of the hand in the sling. As I gingerly placed my fingers in the scanner one by one and then my thumb, he asked my how it had happened. 

Stephen Hawking, 18th of August 2014, Science Museum, London
The story made perfect sense to everyone else who I had told, although they knew me and thus it would make sense. However the officer was not impressed. So I started by saying how I was a youth worker (which needed translation) and was at the Science Museum in London with a group of ten to thirteen year olds waiting for them with all their gear at the meeting point, in the Launch Pad when I heard a voice simulator. I turned around to see which machine made the Stephen-Hawking-like-sound and saw it was Stephen Hawking. I, grabbed all the gear, in excitement and rushed to find the young people to tell them. 

All seemed to go well from here. I found one girl and checked she knew who Stephen Hawking was
and when she said she did, told her that he was just around the corner. She didn't believe me. There was much 'Yes he is' and 'No he isn't' going on before she only believed me when she saw him with her own eyes. Rounding up the rest there was great interest and excitement and we talked to some of the staff who told us that they didn't even know he was coming until that morning because they couldn't be trusted to keep it secret. He was there with his grandchildren, which was a surprise, as we hadn't even known he had grand-kids but were delighted to share the time in the museum with such a major figure of science who was simply spending time with his grandchildren. The staff member admitted feeling nervous when she was explaining the activities in case he told her she was wrong.

We couldn't believe the first time we took a group of young people to the Science Museum that  Stephen Hawking was there with his grandchildren! It certainly made it memorable. That and my dislocated thumb!

Now you wonder what is the connection between my dislocated thumb and Stephen Hawking? Well I was at the museum on Monday the 18th of August, and at the doctor on Wednesday the 20th getting the pain in my thumb checked out as I was flying to New York on Thursday the 21st. The doctor asked if I'd fallen or knocked it or done anything that would cause it to dislocate. I said no, nothing had happened but I said that I was hypermobile so that could have been it. All I wanted to know was if I should rest it or use it. I was told to keep it immobile in a sling.

This was how I ended up at JFK explaining to the customs officer why it was that I was wearing a sling and why it was related to Stephen Hawking. It had been a long flight. A flight which gave me time to mull over the recent events. Time for me to replay the incident in the Science Museum and see the exact moment I dislocated my thumb. 

There I was, I heard the synthesised voice. I turned around. I was so shocked when I realised it was actually Stephen Hawking that I just grabbed all the bags and coats and rushed to get the young people. That's when it happened. I remembered the pain. Then remembered quickly ignoring the pain and readjusting my hand to rush with excitement to share the experience with the young people. It was Stephen Hawking!

I recounted the story to the customs officer, as I have here and to other people. It does help if you know who Stephen Hawking is. The ten to thirteen year olds did. He didn't. And that was the end of that.

No comments:

Post a Comment