Allow me, if you will, to introduce you to Colin.
Colin works for the same organisation that is currently my number one client, and is the life and soul of the staff sports and social club.
This group runs a bar on the ninth floor of our ten-storey example of concrete brutalism. Volunteers staff the bar from 5-8.30pm, Tuesday to Friday, thus ensuring that the price of booze is kept helpfully low.
A bottle of proper Czech Budvar, for instance, costs just £1.50.
But back to Colin. Let me give you an example of of the man himself at play.
On Friday night, he was one of the first to arrive in what we affectionately call ‘Cloud Nine’. Ben, bar steward for the evening, had gone downstairs to collect a case of wine. So Col, who does his fair share of shifts, nipped behind to serve himself.
There he discovered an open bag of cola sweets, left by a customer earlier in the week after, apparently, having spent two months in her handbag. In the interests of science, these details are important.
Colin joyfully crunched his way through a couple. And then, as other regulars drifted in, came up with an idea. Well, it was a question really – or an idea of how to answer a question.
How long would it take to dissolve a cola cube in a glass of booze?
A shot glass was pulled out and given a nice measure of neat vodka. A bright pink cola cube was dropped into it. Nothing very much happened.
By this stage, Dicky and Tim were enthusiastically joining in too, although Jon looked far less convinced.
There followed lots of boy talk about what might do the trick. Another shot glass had lemonade added to it (well, the chemical excuse for lemonade that shops retail cheaply). The sweet brought forth quite a lot of fizzing and froth, but still determinedly sat at the bottom of the glass stubbornly refusing to dissolve.
At this point, Colin decided that the only way forward was to drop one in his own pint glass of Swedish cider, to sit at the bottom with loads of ice. It still didn’t dissolve, but apparently tasted yummy when he’d quaffed his libation and fished it out from amongst the remaining ice to eat.
The ideas about how to make a cola cube dissolve completely continued. It was suggested that heating the liquid that it was in might do the trick.
Perhaps it would work if you set light to some alcohol containing such a cube? Perhaps – this was a Colin special – you could take a bottle of that never-seen-a-lemon lemonade, put a cube in the bottle and screw the top back on tightly, then put it in the dishwasher and set the machine going so that it would be heated up.
Ben refused to countenance either experiment – the first, because nobody wanted to pay for the booze required, and the second, because he thought the plastic bottle would probably explode in the dishwasher.
But thus was born the social club’s science project – a whacked-out meeting of Brainiac and beer and boys. What better combination could be imagined?