Rain lashes down out of an ominous black sky as eminent broadcaster Sara Cox ushers me into the terraced house she shares with her family in Manchester. “It’s like the end of the world!” she gawps.
“Actually Sara when the Earth is finally swallowed by the sun there’ll be a lot more heat and a lot less liquid water,” chirrups her brother Brian, emerging to take my coat.
“What a miseryguts!” scowls Sara. “He’s got a cob on because I won’t play his song on my radio show.”
Brian’s band D:Ream are on the verge of staging a comeback after many long years in the pop wilderness. Brian’s tried to make a living for himself in the meantime by giving science lessons to remedial children locally, but he’s the first to admit it hasn’t been easy. “They just don’t care about the wonder of physics!” he tells me, fixing me with an enchanting stare.
It’s just then I notice the elderly gentleman in oversized glasses perched behind a Casio keyboard in the corner, as he starts up an improvised song. “The kids don’t care about science! When they’re taught by Brian Cox!” he trills. “The boys just want to kiss girlies! And the girls just want to see — ” He looks around with a wink and pursed lips, as though for applause. “Frocks!”
“That’s our dad,” sighs Sara. “He likes it if you call him Doc. But he’s no more a doctor than our Brian’s a professor.”
Just then Brian’s wife Courteney wafts fragrantly in, shrugging off a cashmere coat to reveal a tight low-cut dress and four inch heels. “I’ve been working in the orchard,” she explains, referring to the family’s famous apple empire. Her accent sounds American, I remark. “Brian and I met at a Bruce Springsteen concert in the 80s,” she says affectionately.
“We got chatting,” says Brian, turning to me, beaming. “And I explained to her that despite its anthemic properties, the song Born In The USA is actually a disaffected howl in the face of an economic system that’s tending to chaos in the aftermath of the Vietnam war.” He fondles Courteney’s nose. “But then all closed systems disintegrate eventually. Even our own universe will one day flicker and die.”
“The death of all things! And we’re all out of luck!” sings Doc Cox, grabbing a ukulele for accompaniment. “If there isn’t a hope! Then I don’t give a —”
“And that’s the second law of thermodynamics,” says Brian sadly, grinning away. “Things can only get worse.”
continued on p15