I’m on the train back to London, having spent a terrific few hours in Cambridge. I wandered around the town for a bit (pictures later), then hung out for a bit with Simon Schaffer, who I’ve not seen in about fourteen years (he looks unchanged), and who just reviewed the eclipses book for Journal of the History of Astronomy.
I hadn’t seen it before he printed out a copy for me, but Simon’s review is a classic example of the breed that is very positive, but with just enough criticism (did I misspell J. J. Thomson’s name? ouch!) to still seem credible. He’s long been a fan of the project, so it’s satisfying to see a good review of it; it’s also good to see that the book hasn’t lapsed into complete obscurity among my intellectual kinsmen. And saying something about a project you’ve known about for 15 years, and which has been out in print for three, is a challenge.
It’s nearly 10, but only now is the run below the horizon and dusk turning to night– more slowly than I’m used to, I think. Makes it easy to lose track of time.
At one point in my long walk, the sun was throwing golden light on the Senate House, and I was walking from the Backs near King’s College up to the square, I stopped and thought to myself, “I turned this down for Berkeley? What the Hell was I thinking?” I’ve been thinking a bit about that decision recently, but then I remembered: it was a two-year fellowship rather than one, and at the time it seemed more likely that I’d get a job if I was at Berkeley.
In one respect, it seems a little too safe a decision; but had I not gone to Berkeley, it’s incredibly unlikely that I would have met my wife, gone to Britannica, or done any of the other good things I’ve done.
Who knows, some chance to come back here for a while will present itself in the future. It would be cool for the kids to spend a little time here, though I constantly worry I’m going to kill myself the next time I cross the street. Look right, right– except at all the unmarked one-way streets. Then I tend to wait until someone else is crossing and just go when they do.
Pulling into Royston. More than an hour until we get into King’s Cross. Ugh. I’m going to sleep well when I finally get home. I mean, back to the Club. I’ve just got to write out my interview questions in a nicer hand, iron my shirt for tomorrow, and then I can fall into bed.
[To the tune of The Cranberries, “Zombie,” from the album “The Cranberries: Stars – The Best of 1992-2002”.]