The Dinosaur Ghost Question

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And an Archaeopteryx in a phylogenetic tree. Aurornis xui, beautifully. Credit: Danielle Dufault. Provided by Public Library of Science. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. High pressure creates new neighbours for beryllium 26 minutes ago.

Relevant PhysicsForums posts Collisionless plasma hydromagnetic waves 3 hours ago. Stratified flows Jun 26, Jun 24, New undersea freshwater aquifer mapped Jun 23, NZ earthquake Content of Earth-impacting meteors over time Jun 22, These are among the many questions which lead Michael Tortoishell on a winding, existentialist path from mediocre solicitor to infamous artist and occult icon.

How and why to date a dinosaur

In an ideal world, that would have been where this book began - an intriguing opening statement that goes right the heart of what is to unfold in later chapters, perhaps also containing a secondary, very clever but as-yet-unknown meaning which will only become apparent on page No, no. It would be the greatest scandal in British history - maybe the greatest first page of a book ever! Sarah sighed. The club is too well protected. You know as well as I do that the British media will never print a story about it and nor will this publishing house, or any other for that matter, ever publish a book which mentions it.

She shook her grey cropped head. Forget it. That means that instead of the first line of my story being Why are there no ghosts of dinosaurs? Rather a crass statement and certainly not one which many would concur with, but it was precisely that viewpoint that ignited a spark of mutual recognition between myself and the late Edward Gustard and so brought about the beginning of a remarkable partnership.

I use the word remarkable rather than, say, wonderful, because I must concede that the partnership concluded when Gustard died, an event which was anything but wonderful. Gustard was a man who seemed perfectly suited to his name. Unusual names of people and places have always interested me, perhaps because my own name, Michael Tortoishell is somewhat out of the ordinary and often commented upon, generally at my expense. At school I was on the receiving end of rather weak tortoise-oriented jibes about slowness of movement and the eating of fruit peelings, whilst I have also answered with a forced smile to Madame Butterfly , the invention of an early employer, luxuriating in the dullness of Mr Phillip Roberts.

Mr Roberts was, however, quite bald and had green teeth, so I was happy to allow him his little joke. But Gustard, what a marvellous name! To me it speaks of a purveyor of gusts, a wind merchant, a giver-off of hot air, and yes, both verbally and digestively! A gung-ho, blustering bastard of a man, which is precisely what Edward Gustard was! Ex-public school, early forties, thinning sandy hair, trimmed moustache, pudgy ruddy cheeks and piggy eyes.

A tall man, comfortably over six feet and, though he had run a little to fat around the waistline, he retained quite an intimidating air of burly masculinity. Roaring around the countryside in his little two-seater Morgan he was almost a caricature of a s bounder, although there was of course considerably more depth to him than his appearance and manner initially suggested.

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Granted, it has its down side, but waking up on a cool summer morning wanting to drink, enjoying your first deep draught, bubbles winking at the brim and all that , and knowing that is how you are going to spend the rest of the day has a peculiar satisfaction about it. Gustard and I, individually and together enjoyed some golden days in the company of Bacchus before I turned both our attention to other matters.

To explain fully, I must return to my first meeting with Gustard, which took place at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Leeds in the September of Yes, I know what you are thinking, so much for golden days in the company of Bacchus. The meeting took place in a typically nondescript community centre in Chapel Allerton, a sprawling, one-storey, flat-roofed, red brick affair with just the right amount of graffiti decorating its exterior. It was a damp day, the kind of weather which always forms the backdrop to my recollections of Leeds.

The old brown-and-yellow Yorkshire stone pavements slightly greasy and treacherous, a moistness in the air which, depending on what mood you were in, created an atmosphere of either fecund freshness or rankness and decay. The kind of day when armies of snails would emerge from their trenches under privet hedges in the housing estates and advance slowly en masse across the no-mans land of asphalt, passing feet and bicycle wheels leaving a trail of carnage amid the brown and grey ranks.

Pulling up outside the centre I was rather early having overestimated the traffic, but nonetheless I locked my little brown Mini and wandered up to the door of the centre. Looking past a cheerful home-made notice on the door, painstakingly made out in a multitude of felt-tip pens and advertising a forthcoming Family Kayley , I caught sight of my own reflection.

It was one of those times when you encounter your reflection unawares and for a split second believe you are looking at somebody else. For most people it is a negative experience, for when we expect to meet with our reflection we generally prepare ourselves, perhaps by sucking in our cheeks to emphasise our cheekbones, or jutting out our bottom jaw to disguise our double chins or whatever else it is we feel will make us look our best.

Viewing ourselves fleetingly with the dispassionate and critical eye with which we would view a stranger is therefore interesting, but usually deflating. I was, I confess, rather deflated by the reflection looking back at me from the glass in the Community Centre door. I had seen a man with prematurely greying black curls and dark eyebrows, a nose which was rather too large and little rectangular spectacles, which although fashionable did not quite suit his narrow features.

The man looking back at me was certainly not overweight, but appeared a generally rather pasty specimen who while he did not look any older than his 34 years, by no means looked any younger. When I recognised him, or rather when I recognised me, I was a little consoled to note that the impression did not take account of my most striking feature, eyes of an unusually brilliant green which were doubly disguised by the spectacles and the fact that I was looking at a reflection.

My moment of self-absorption was interrupted by the sound of a sports car approaching, fast, and crunching to a halt amid a spray of loose gravel. Turning back towards the road, I saw it was a little maroon two-seater Morgan, soft-top up. Got to be a fellow boozer, I smiled to myself.

Of course I was right, and Gustard for it was he came striding purposefully down the path and pushed open the door, then held it open for me as I followed him with an unexpected, polite little smile. Once inside the entrance hall, Gustard forged through the half-dozen or so people standing around awkwardly and pretending to be taking interest in notices advertising the Kayley and other forthcoming activities and stepped smartly to the reception desk with me in his wake. Down this corridor and first door on the left smiled the short haired lady on the desk, indicating a long passageway to her right.

If you go in and take a seat, Jenny will be with you shortly. There are a couple of gentlemen in there already. Gustard glanced behind him at this and waited for me in the corridor. Glad to meet a fellow sufferer! Ed Gustard! Er, Michael Tortoishell, good to meet you I returned, bracing myself for a bone-crunching handshake but being pleasantly surprised to receive a firm but pleasant, dry grip which somehow conveyed the utmost sincerity. Just the kind of handshake you are supposed to give at the beginning of a job interview, I believe.

Good to meet you. Tortoishell, you say eh? Before I could think of a suitable response he continued, eyeing me keenly. Me too. No, no, I know exactly what you mean, old man. Gustard whispered with evident delight. Dad caught me three sheets to the wind once too often, bit of a ballyhoo at home, made me promise to come along, you know.

The accent was clipped but with the residual undertones of the West Country. Quite a few Tortoishells down in Devon and Cornwall. Well, comparatively, anyway.

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  • So that was it. Over one beer and several mineral waters in a nearby pub we were of course, both driving , I asked him what he had meant and found that we concurred almost completely, not only upon the occasional merits of alcoholism but on a good many other topics too. But to meet someone with whom you can have endless conversations about absolutely anything, and find that you are continually able to delight each other with your talk, either by affirming some half-formed, unspoken thought the other has long held but never articulated, or by precisely understanding some hazarded little observation that would have fallen flat in other company is a truly wonderful and refreshing experience.

    Those who are really lucky fall in love with someone with whom they share such a deep bond of mutual understanding, and those who are luckier still find that love is returned. Of course, there are many more who kid themselves that they do share such a bond with the person they marry or choose to share a bed with when the reality is somewhat different.

    I duly blew out my cheeks and fixed my gaze firmly on the empty pint glass in my hand, before spilling my guts about where it had gone wrong with me and Em. Which was the first time I had done so, out loud at least. Yes, you heard right. I would open up with some obtuse gambit, and usually mumble it. My wheels grip and I rally out of the potential social mire. I look Gustard in the eye. Let me put it this way.

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