The Mysterious Mr Ripples

So here I am in the fine city of Durham, in the North Midlands, for a meeting entitled Ripples in the Cosmos. I travelled by plane from Gatwick to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon, and got there eventually – after a two-hour delay caused by the aircraft we were meant to fly on having a technical problem and needing to be replaced by another. Anyway, I spent Sunday with my folks. Thinking it was only going to be a half-hour drive to Durham, we left early on Monday morning so I’d be in time to chair the first session.

Unfortunately, major roadworks on A1 intervened and we got stuck in traffic near the Metro Centre in Gateshead. Fortunately, various people at the conference caught my Twitter updates and a deputy was arranged. I got there about 30 minutes late and I took over after the coffee break.

After the day’s conference I wandered up to Durham Caste (left), where I had a room booked for the week. However, when I got there they had no record of my reservation. The porter was very helpful and let me connect to my email to check, and I retrieved the confirmation of my booking. In exasperation, I looked through the papers he had relating to room bookings, and found one in the name of “Mr Ripples”. Not even “Professor Ripples”, mark you.


The mysterious Mr Ripples not having appeared to claim his room I surmised that the similarity of his name to the title of the conference might indicate that perhaps some administrative error might have been made. The porter agreed, changed the name from Mr Ripples to Professor Coles and gave me a key.

Anyway, Durham Castle is a rather splendid place to stay.  Breakfast is to be had in grand surroundings complete with walls decorated with suits of armour, swords and other historical weapons. This environment, together with the continuing warm weather, as well of course as the excellent conference talks, has made this very enjoyable week so far.  Apart from the nagging doubt that Mr Ripples could suddenly turn up and demand his room, the only problem is the ringing of bells all through the night.

The conference dinner is this evening, and it’s in the Great Hall of Durham Castle so I won’t have far to stagger home to bed…


4 Responses to “The Mysterious Mr Ripples”

  1. peter – you’ve been away for too long – the A1 western bypass around newcastle is supposedly the 3rd most congested road in the country… so 0.5hr to get to Durham at ~8am was always going to be unachievable. anyway – glad you’re enjoying the weather (and the bells) up here in the north. ian

    • telescoper Says:

      Yes, error of judgement there…

      The bit from Team Valley to Durham was very fast, actually, but there’s a single lane through Gateshead through a contraflow section which led to a tailback all the way back to civilisation, i.e. over the Blaydon bridge to Newcastle.

      When I last lived in Newcastle the western bypass hadn’t even been built!

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Is Durham in the Midlands then?

      • telescoper Says:

        Yes, of course. I saw a sign on the A1(M) just outside Durham that says “The North”… probably counts as the North Midlands.

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