Folks, as a boy I wanted a chemistry set which sounds about as odd as a child demanding a large bowl of cold cabbage for desert.
But back in the 70’s, the term scientist was usually preceded by the word ‘mad’. Nearly every evil genius Batman and James Bond tackled were scientists and they were usually defeated by a combination of science and mindless violence.
How I yearned for a car with machine gun headlights, a ring camera and a watch with a laser cutter. Actually, I still do.
Science was seriously cool. So, you can imagine my delight when a mate rang and announced he’d just been given a chemistry kit for his twelfth birthday. I don’t think I’ve ever pedalled across town so fast.
The first thing we did was toss away the periodic table, then mixed all the chemicals in an old jar, screwed on the lid and got the kid from down the road to shake it vigorously while we crouched behind a wall.
To our dismay the jar failed to explode. It didn’t even get warm.
So, we set to work trying to create smoke grenades, to make startling getaways from bullies or dogs, then we attempted to build the ultimate stink bomb which would be unleashed during maths class.
Our ultimate goal though, was to build a volcano the size of a family car with eruptions so magnificent they would be seen from passing airliners.
Sadly, there wasn’t a single thing in that chemistry kit even slightly dangerous. No acids, poisons or one single radioactive isotope.
The only discovery we’d made was realising that chemistry was about as exciting as a three-hour lecture on tax accountancy.
The world lost two potential chemists as we turned our backs on science and directed our efforts to building go-karts, ramps, slingshots and X-Ray specs.
But, todays’ overprotected kids can be won back to science and all that’s needed is the following, crucial element: Danger!
Lots of smoke and bang!
Surely Batman and Bond have left one unemployed evil genius who could be retrained as a science teacher?