The reason for the urgency of this post is that today is John Smith Memorial day [see footnote]. Now before you say, "Oh no, not another bloody obituary", I must interject to make a few points. First of all this isn't really an obit, although it does commemorate a great man. Second there is a real obituary in the works for someone else but I haven't had an opportunity to lash it together yet as I've been too obsessed with other matters such as my site traffic and Sarah Beeny.
Here's the story. Eleven years ago today I'd decided that a bonding session would be good for the lab and that we should all go to breakfast. So it was on May 12th 1994 that I traipsed off with half a dozen other miscreants from the Dept. of Immunology at St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School to the Fox & Anchor pub in Smithfield for a bolus of cholesterol. Now the F&A really do make the best breakfast in London. The pub services the porters at the Smithfield meat market and was, at the time, open to serve alcohol at 7.00am in the morning. Now I understand that licensing laws have been reformed but a decade ago it was a big deal to legally buy beer for breakfast. I don't know whether the pub had access to especially fresh cuts of meat but the gargantuan plates of bacon, sausage and black pudding they served up were absolutely delicious (not to mention the eggs, mushrooms, baked beans and fried bread). Magic! Apparently they do a special seasonal beer known as "Old Growler" although I always missed the opportunity. Anyway on that fateful day we all rolled back to the lab in a pleasant cholesterol-induced torpor. I remember thinking that my arteries were hardening by the minute and I had no interest in eating more food that day. Truly heavy fuel.
We'd not been back at work for more than half an hour when some shocking news was announced on the radio. John Smith, the leader of the Labour opposition party (remember these were the days when John Major and the Tories ruled England's Green and Pleasant Land) had died suddenly of a heart attack, wait for it, in St. Bartholomew's Hospital!. What irony!! While we were working on inducing congestive heart failure, John Smith was actually dying of the same in our place of work. Poor man. He was, by all accounts an extremely pleasant person and of the highest integrity. I never read a bad word about him. Tony Blair, who could have learned a thing or two about ingenuousness from John Smith, then seized the reins of power and the rest is history.
And thereby a tradition started. Every year therafter on May 12th the lab held the John Smith Memorial Breakfast at the Fox & Anchor. Partly in jest and partly in honour of the man. It was a popular event with all manner of people from outside the Dept. inviting themselves along. Now, having not attended a JS memorial Breakfast for four years it occurs to me that we have nothing quite like it here in Seattle. Never mind; John Smith we will remember you although perhaps for the wrong reasons!
P.S. Oh, and before some smart Alec points out that today is May 13, I did actually write the post on the 12th.