Business Class

I’d never heard of Cardiff Business Club until Friday afternoon, when I received a message that they were hosting a lecture by Dr Lyndon Evans, the Director of the Large Hadron Collider experiment at CERN in Geneva, followed by a dinner, and had sent a bunch of invitations to the School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University, where I work.

Given the short notice it was a bit of a scramble to get a group together, but in the end eight of us – 3 staff and 5 students – headed off in taxis yesterday to the swish St David’s Hotel in Cardiff Bay for the welcoming reception.

Earlier in the day I’d been in contact with Alun  Davies, the Secretary of Cardiff Business Club, who had asked me  if I would deliver the vote of thanks at the end of Dr Evans’ lecture.  Naturally, I agreed to do the honours. I’m not actually a particle physicist, of course, but I was the closest thing available. This all meant that, instead of joining my colleagues at the reception, I went off to meet the speaker and various officers of the club in a private lounge where we were plied with drinks and canapés. As well as meeting Lyn Evans, I also got the chance to chat with the Club Chairman, legendary former rugby international Gerald Davies who is an extremely friendly and charming bloke.

Thence it was downstairs to the lecture, during which I sat on the platform, facing the audience, from where it was extremely difficult to see the speaker’s slides. It was a 30-minute overview of the science, technology, and even politics behind the LHC, which went down extremely well. I remember this quote in particular

The greatest economic benefits of scientific research have always resulted from advances in fundamental knowledge rather than the search for specific applications.

It’s  particularly interesting, in the light of  government suggestions that we should  focus science funding more on applied sciences and technology, to note that this remark was made by Margaret Thatcher.

At the end I did my best to keep my vote of thanks as brief as possible – brevity has never been my strong suit, I’m afraid – and we then went off to dinner, with me rejoining the physics crowd at their table in a far-flung corner of the room.

Not surprisingly, the dinner turned out to be quite a formal affair – preceded by grace and followed by the loyal toast – which I think made some of our party feel a little bit uncomfortable, but at least it was all free! The room was dominated by men in suits who all looked like they were used to going everywhere Business Class. We academics usually travel by  Economy Class only.

Proceedings drew to a close quite early, at 10pm. Unfortunately, the temptation to adjourn to the pub for a “quick drink” proved too strong to resist.

I got home at 2.30am.


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4 Responses to “Business Class”

  1. Bryn Jones Says:

    I hope Lyn Evans did not dress in the jeans and tee shirt that he used for the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider in front of the world’s media in 2008.

  2. telescoper Says:

    No, he was wearing a suit and tie. We all had to.

  3. “Not surprisingly, the dinner turned out to be quite a formal affair – preceded by grace and followed by the loyal toast – which I think made some of our party feel a little bit uncomfortable, but at least it was all free!”

    You always have a tux in your luggage, right?

  4. […] a year ago I blogged about an event I attended, along with some students and staff from the School of Physics & Astronomy at […]

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