There's a lunar eclipse, so Phil takes his computer onto the roof to ponder the universe and other questions.

Such is the beauty of modern life that I can sit up on the chimney pots on the very rooftop of my block and type about the moon. It is full and there is an eclipse. Is that a coincidence or can eclipses only happen when the moon is full. How can a planet be eclipsed if it is not actually

These and other questions can never hope to be answered even though I have been to a couple of eclipses and know things from first and second hand.

That is why there are no question marks.

Perhaps all will be revealed as I begin to get high on the warm gas fumes that rise up and out from the chimney pot that l have chosen to sit on. I discovered that some were warm as I put my hand down to climb up. This may in fact turn out to be a helpful thing to realise. Out of an urge, I am wearing a hat that resembles the fur on an antler, and l have angled the bright monitor bit of my knee-top computer in towards the keyboard which illuminates the keys and leads them out of darkness.

This I did because I have typed in the dark before and found the extra light on the keys an extra bonus. For a few times I had to discover it each time I did it, each time I moved the monitor bit I would receive this bonus and each time for a few times I was luckily forgetful enough to each time make a discovery. (I did us all the favour of leaving out the “‘s and "'s and italics there.) In a way I was stupid and yet in a way I was consistent.

So what I am attempting to do at the moment is shed light on the eclipse questions I posed at the start somewhat frivolously (and therefore possibly significantly in some accidento- intuitive choice way) through a process of revealing to myself a lesson in finding things out as brought to life in the ’finding a warm chimney pot’ thing. Which is now starting to be really cold. (I have now been given a cushion and a stylish cushion, the type you buy to give someone as a present and it never made it or that you got from someone as a present. It was confined to the third guest closet or the studio for artillery service near the paints and rock musics and now it is up here, like Rudolph finally chosen, and super for the job as its faintly, stylishly, slightly metallic surface is somehow reflecting the heat loss away.)

Although the chimney is the warmest,

4 THE ll” 18 Jan—I Feb 2001

In answering

mime. rudimentary questions about the movements of the planets, we should be like the poets and not be too specific.

it really is only the least cold. It has that dense stone cold that you would be touching if someone warned you that you'd get piles if you sat upon it. So, the basic thing from choosing the warmest ventilation outlet was that I put myself in an honest position of requirement that led me to a discovery. Perhaps, in answering rudimentary questions about the movements of the planets, we should be like the poets and not be too specific. Change the need, like the poets, from explanation to simply enjoyment. Then discover.

I feel now like I can answer the rude

questions concerning eclipses through altering in this fashion. 1 Is it a coincidence or . . . yes? A coinciding of planets. 2 Essentially: does the moon have to be full for there to be an eclipse? It is not that it has to, it is just that it must be, as all and only three planets are available for this. We - earth - cast the eclipse onto the moon and the sun does the lighting. We are the one usually covering up the moon and making it unfull most of the month and now we do it somehow quicker (but that's another question; as is the meaning of the word eclipse; solar eclipses actually have an actual planet (the moon) covering the sun, not a shadow. . . so? . . .)

(If there were more planets around, then there could be that enduring image that returns from the cover of some science fiction novel of a warrior woman on this planet at rest on White Tiger-back in a climate and atmosphere most suited to bikini armour watching an eclipse over two of their three suns.)

In wonder as opposed to wondering. And three. How can a planet be eclipsed if it is not actually visible? Exactly.

Famespotting Emily Barr

Wait a sec, I've heard of her. Posh bird? Heir to the Irn Bru millions? Not quite. Posh she may be, absolutely nothing to do with soft drinks; she’s the bright young Brighton-based writer whose debut novel is being tipped for great things.

Tell me more about this hot young debutante 29- year-old Barr has spent several years donng the JOb most Journos love to envy: writing travel columns for various broadsheet newspapers. As part of her 'work’ for The Guardian, this young Judith Chalmers whiled away the summer of 1998 On location in Thailand with Leo and pals during the filming of The Beach. Last year, Barr took a year out to travel and work on her novel Backpack. It’s a hard knock life . . .

Backpack? Let me guess, we're talking travel fiction here? Precisement. Following in the sandy footsteps of Alex Garland's twentysomething travel writing, Backpack is the sorry tale of London media-type Tansy who goes on a monster bender with the Guys and Wills and Doms, followmg her mother’s funeral. Waking in hOSpital wearing paper knickers and devoid of the contents of her stomach, Tansy resolves to ’get away' and have some fun in the South East ASian sun. It all ends in tears, presumably? Tears, tantrums, hideous encounters with Sinister locals and fellow backpackers and embroilment in a series of murders. So, it's The Beach with a female protagonist? Or 'Marian Keyes goes to The Beach', as the book’s tagline suggests. If this terrifying image isn't enough to send yOu running for your nearest travel agent's, Barr’s book is worth perSisting with as it’s an assured debut, honest, sharply observed, funny

and sad. (Allan Radcliffe)

I Backpack is published by Head/me on Thu 7

Feb priced f 5. 99.


JOE MCALINDEN OF PHAT DAT. ee clubs, page 61