Tuesday, January 04, 2005

One Thing Leads to Another

Middx Christmas Party 1979
Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
I've just read on the BBC website that 2004 was the year of the blog and 32 million Americans are now hooked. It's hard to imagine that so much time and energy is being wasted moving electrons around.

When I signed on to Blogspot back in August 2004, I had no idea where this whole thing would lead. Initially I had the idea that if I could vent my spleen about life events it would be a cathartic exercise. However I have restrained myself writing about work-related issues. It struck me early on that this might not be a prudent thing to do, especially as my blog is not anonymous. First ammendment rights allow me freedom of speech and protect me from persecution from the government (although I'm not entirely sure about even that, these days) but not from my employer. Indeed just yesterday I read of a new word "dooced", meaning, to be fired by one's employer for blogging: a fate I'm anxious to avoid. However writing these posts is therapeutic and for some reason does attract a readership. So I intend to continue for the forseeable future.

Anyway it's also fun to see how one thing leads to another. Last week (see "Enough is Enough", December 29th) I posted an old photograph of my PhD mentor, Jack Harris, and me taken at a scientific conference. On looking at the picture a few times I realized that I recognized the bright eyed young lady standing in front of Jack. Her name is Jan (for the most part I'm withholding surnames to protect the guilty but in this case I don't know it as she subsequently divorced and changed names). A year or so after the conference Jan came to work at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School where I was then employed as a postdoctoral fellow in my day job. My other career was as a jazz/rock musician. The band was started by the department's electron microscopist, Phillip Penfold (Phillip, I'm not going to protect YOU; I know you are lurking down there in Sydney and it would be nice if you'd answer my emails) and did a couple of tours of North London pubs and clubs before calling it quits. So where does Jan fit into the story you ask? Well she was our manager and her husband, a handsome fellow by the name of Nick, played bass. After quite a few gigs we packed it in for the usual reasons: artistic differences, insuffiecient funds to buy half-decent equipent, lack of committment, lack of talent and simply the tedium of schlepping a van load of rock n' roll paraphernalia around seedy dives to play to audiences who only wanted to hear "Summer Loving" (it was the late 70s remember and no we didn't play the bloody song. ) So what happened to the rest of the band? I believe Jan went to work at the University of Sheffield after a stint in California. Penfold is in Australia by all accounts, I'm in Seattle and the drummer, Brian, is still studying malaria at University College London. I've no clue what happened to Nick. Oh and in case you are wondering, I'm on the left of the photo playing alto sax and looking sartorially challenged in white T shirt (it was from Ronnie Scott's jazz club) and jeans. What was I thinking? We played that particular gig Christmas 1979 so please don't ask me why I'm trying to look like a Beach Boy.


P.S. Having written this post I started to become very curious as to the fate of Nick, our bass player and Jan's former husband. I remembered he was a scientist and a quick search on Medline indicates that he works for a large, multi-national pharmaceutical company in Switzerland.

P.P.S. The bass player in the photo is not Nick. His name is Julian and he was (and may still be) the husband of a technician who worked for me at the time. For some reason he stood in for Nick at this gig. I recall he played a fretless bass and was pretty good. Sorry if this getting a bit convoluted...

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