A Brief History of Thyme – My Tribute to Stephen Hawking

A Brief History of Thyme – My Tribute to Stephen Hawking

Brief History of Thyme
Cover design – Sarah Boyce – @Boycecartoons


This book is dedicated to my inspiration, Stephen Hawking. I hope that this will make him chuckle in the world beyond the one we see.

About The Author

Andrew Knowlman is Emeritus Professor of Herbalism and Cosmology at the University of Upper Poppleton. His academic credentials include a 1982 Joint Matriculation Board O Level in Mathematics, B grade and a 1983 A grade in Physics. He is the first academic to combine quantum mechanics and general relativity with any field of horticulture. He has received no awards for his work, a situation unlikely to ever change. His first and only book was A Long History of Thyme, which mean-spirited critics called ‘dull, turgid and incomprehensible’. After receiving treatment for the resulting depression, he wrote this volume.

Foreword by Carl Sage

I am honoured to write the foreword for this book. I have known Andrew Knowlman for many years, and have consistently been impressed by his knowledge of astrophysics and herbs. As a leading herbalist myself and author of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And……. , I always thought that something was missing. Professor Knowlman explains the origin of thyme, he discusses what came before it and asks if there will be an end of thyme. I highly commend this book to you, accompanied by a generous sprig of Herbes de Provence.

Chapter I – The Origin of Thyme

Anyone doing their shopping at Waitrose in Berkhamstead will know that thyme originates from the herbs and spices shelves, where it is sold in a glass jar. What they, and you, might not know is that boxes of dried organic thyme can be found above the fresh herbs. In season, Waitrose is also the source of fresh thyme, unless the yummy mummies and daddies with their Chelsea Tractors have bought it all. Vote Labour.

I hear you say that you have enjoyed thyme on your Mediterranean holiday, and that you can get it in Asda and Tesco as well. I travelled to a remote hill farm on the parched Peleponese peninsula to speak to Takis Theolopoulus, aged 103. He is the oldest person alive with knowledge of the origin of thyme.

‘Thymus vulgaris, the Latin name of the most common variety of thyme, has been growing here for 200 years. We sing about it in our dire folk songs and my grandmother said that you can’t have lamb moussaka without thyme.’

Thyme was used at the last supper, if you look carefully at the paintings, and its Mediterranean origins are clear from ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian texts. Did it evolve from origanum, its closest relative in the lamiaceae family? How did the first seed get here? Was the world’s thyme simply conceived and spread by an Intelligent Designer? How could something so delicious with roast chicken be just a chance occurrence?

The answer to these difficult questions is provided by Knowlman’s First Theory of Thyme. I first express it as an equation.

Origin of Thyme = 567??5????8²?±23÷5????)7?(66)[76]?7????÷567?5<3?±4?*2-1³

Thyme was, I contend, the product of an enormous explosion called The Big Bang. Simply put, for you intellectual delinquents, a shedload of thyme particles, seeds and leaves fell into a black hole. The force of gravity in a black hole is so great that nothing can escape, not even light. Everything in a black hole is crushed to a single point called a space time singularity. When this explodes, it makes galaxies, and also thyme.

Thyme particles in Outer Space, just before being sucked into a black hole.

Thyme particles which escape a black hole are called Knowlman Radiation. Ones which remain in the black hole have negative mass, and when they all disappear, there is a big bang.

Actual photo of actual thyme at the actual moment of the actual big bang, 14 trillion years ago. Courtesy of the Dalakchiyska Distant Outer Space Observatory, Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

How did thyme spread so rapidly? I mean you can literally find it everywhere. Adelaide, Seville, Burton on Trent. The Theory of Cosmic Expansion shows that the universe went through a period of explosive growth, and it was at this time that thyme marched on.

Chapter II – The Antecedent of Thyme

How did people flavour their ratatouille before the big bang? Rosemary, parsley, basil? No, there are historical fossil records from Kenya showing people had thyme on their roast potatoes three trillion years before the big bang. Thyme never started. It just was, and is. One sprig at a time.

Chapter III – After Thyme

Will thyme end? Will we run out? Shoppers were swept into a wave of panic buying in the English seaside town of Scarborough when the local paper mistakenly printed an article headlined ‘After the fair, it’s the end of thyme’. The headline should have said ‘time’. We don’t know if thyme will end, but as long as Papa John’s put it on their pizzas, it will be mass produced for millennia to come.

Chapter IV – Is Mouthwash A Good Use of Thyme?

The makers of oralcare products try to convince you that brushing, flossing and mouthwash are essential, twice daily. It is a lesser known fact that thymol is in the oil of common thyme, thymus vulgaris in case you had forgotten, and is the antiseptic used in mouthwash. So, by using said oralcare product, you are wasting thyme, time and money. Think about it. #BeTheChange.

Chapter V – A Unifying Theory

A Theory of Everything has long been the goal of Herbalism academia. How to explain the origin of every herb, combining relativity, quantum mechanics, rainfall and sunshine hours? Further unification will come when the origin of spices is added to the mix, though many consider this an unrealistic dream. This remains my greatest challenge, to which I will dedicate the rest of my life. If you want to help, tweet me at @andrew_knowlman, because it’s quite complicated.

Appendix – The Brief History of Time

I am grateful to Stephen Hawking for his theories in this book, none of which I have plagiarised. Here is his original book cover.



Author: Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

16 thoughts on “A Brief History of Thyme – My Tribute to Stephen Hawking”

  1. A brilliant and engaging read for anyone with some thyme on their hands.
    Sorry couldn’t help myself!

  2. This piece of work astounded me. How is it that the discipline of Astrophysics has not worked all this out in all this Thyme? I will treat the Department of Herbology at Tesco with profound respect from now on, after all Thyme waits for no man, woman,child, pet etc but why is it always in such a hurry?

  3. Apparently Professor Knowlman may be subpoenaed to appear before Robert Mueller to explain how he knew that Trumps reign is only a brief history of Thyme and that the Pres is obviously wasting precious Thyme in his pre tweet moments.

  4. Indeed Thyme waits for no man but it might hang around long enough for a beautiful female with long slender finger who will caress it into a deep dish Beef Provençal.

  5. This needs to be published in Thyme Out magazine. For all gay herbs and spices everywhere.

    It’s a little known fact which I just made up that Victoria Beckham was also known as ‘Lady Thyme’, as it is considered the poshest of all the spices.

    Let’s also not forget the most important use of this herb, as the main ingredient in the humble Elastoplast. As the saying goes, Thyme heals all wounds.

    I must dash, Thyme is of the essence

    1. I need more time gags. Keep them coming. This is indeed a little known Victoria Beckham fact. Maybe I just might suggest that Thyme Out publishes it. The sequel will either be A Dull History of Rime or A Brief History of the Lime.

  6. They say ‘Time and Tide wait for no man’ but Thyme has waited for Knowlman to reveal its background and benefits. As for the product itself, I bought a jar of Thyme from the York branch of Waitrose, which you identified as the origin of Thyme, as a 90th birthday present for my wife. People tell us ‘There’s no time like the present’ but I believe (and my wife agrees) that ‘There’s no present like Thyme’.

    1. It is extraordinary, and only now are people beginning to understand the implications for the world.

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