Six degrees of separation

This entry is a bit Facebooky – apologies for that but the occasional personal flippancy lightens the gloom of talking about our disastrous government, intellectual dishonesty and the national debt. I attended a wonderful dinner party last night when conversation turned to the idea of six degrees of separation – the idea that we are all just six contacts or conversations away from anyone else in the world. Now, working as a college Principal in London gives you a bit of a head start here. I’ve ‘met’ (i.e. been in a line of introductions involving) the Queen, Prince Charles, Tony Blair and John Major. This opens up very short lines of separation from Princess Diana, Nicolas Ceaucescu, Presidents Mugabe and Gorbachev, King George VI, Bill Clinton, the Beatles and various other notables, worthies and scoundrels. But Nelson Mandela once visited Brixton when I was there, and I really regret I haven’t got any photograph of my handshake with him. When I went back to the college office, most of the admin staff wanted to shake my hand just to get a few microns of Mr Mandela’s DNA to tell their kids and partners about.

But Nelson Mandela opens up a new range of one-leap-away contacts, which one malicious diner last night pointed out included the Spice Girls. Oh, well, you can’t win ’em all.


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