If you were looking for a fallen star, would you go happily off to the North Pole and dig holes into the seas-bed, grubbing for pieces of rock? You wouldn’t? Neither would Julian Cole. He was dragged there.

Would you choose as companions a cashiered astronomer whose capacity was purely alcoholic, a pneumatic woman whose walk alone was enough to set a man to itching, plus a collection of failures and misfits scooped from the gutters of New York? Neither did Julian. They picked him.

And when this bungling crew of heterogeneous hoboes stumbled on to a world-shattering discovery, would you believe them? Julian had to. He was there.