Moving Memories

Yesterday evening I suddenly realized that today would be the anniversary of a significant milestone in my life. It was 20 years ago today (on 13th November 1998) that I moved from London to Beeston in Nottingham prior to starting as Professor of Astrophysics at Nottingham University on 1st January 1999. That means I’ve been a Professor for almost twenty years!

I remember it was Friday 13th November 1998 when I took possession of the house I’d bought in Marlborough Road. I picked that particular day to complete the purchase (and sale of my flat in Bethnal Green) because a removals firm offered me a very cheap deal: normally nobody wants to move house on Friday 13th, so they were happy when I turned out not to be superstitious. The move worked out very smoothly, in fact.

This picture taken in the Beeston residence that very day. You can see one of the removal men in the background:

I was still working at Queen Mary until the end of December 1998 so I had to commute to London and back for over a month after relocating, which wasn’t ideal, but bearable knowing that it wasn’t going to last forever, and that from the New Year I would be able to walk into work on the Nottingham University campus rather than trekking by train to London.

I did think leaving London would be a wrench, and that I would probably end up going back frequently to spend time with my old friends and visit regular haunts, but that didn’t really happen, and after living outside the Capital for a while I lost all inclination to ever return. Living in London is great fun when you’re young, but loses its attraction when you’re getting on a bit. That’s what I found, anyway.

It was exciting starting the new job in Nottingham. There wasn’t an Astronomy group as such prior to January 1999, but with the formation of a new group the School of Physics became the School of Physics & Astronomy, and the influx of astronomers helped the School both to expand its research portfolio and become more attractive to students. It was hard work helping to build that from scratch, but I’m glad that it worked out well. It is good to see the Astronomy group and indeed the whole School continuing to prosper, although some of my former colleagues there have now retired.

I moved to Cardiff in 2007 and eventually sold the Beeston house in 2008, after a long delay due to the Credit Crunch, and bought a house in Pontcanna which I still own.

It’s strange to think all that happened 20 years ago. I’ve just finished giving a lecture to our second-year students, most of whom weren’t even born in 1998! And I certainly never imagined back then than in twenty years I’d be living in Ireland!

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16 Responses to “Moving Memories”

  1. Coincidentally, I walked down Wilmott Street, Bethnal Green, this morning.

  2. “It’s strange to think all that happened 20 years ago. I’ve just finished giving a lecture to our second-year students, most of whom weren’t even born in 1998!”

    Just this morning, I remarked to a colleague that the age differences between my two youngest children (7 and 10) and their teachers are much less than between their teachers and me!

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    Was that a subtle reference to Sgt Pepper?

    • Guaranteed to raise a smile?

      No, I don’t think so. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        It was perhaps uppermost in my mind because I saw a Beatles tribute band last week.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        The Mersey Beatles. Years ago I saw the Bootleg Beatles at the Albert Hall – deliberately.

      • I’ve seen the Bootleg Beatles a couple of times.

        Other bands have tribute bands, but most are essentially cover bands, whereas the Beatles, like Abba, tend do have tribute bands who are concerned not only with the music but also with the costumes etc. I’m not sure why that is.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        The Mersey Beatles’ Paul was right-handed though.

      • Interestingly, Ringo is actually left-handed, but plays a right-handed kit. It is no problem to build a left-handed drumkit, so a drummer isn’t as limited as someone playing other instruments. Left-handed guitars etc are relatively common, I’ve never seen a left-handed keyboard, and once did see a left-handed flute. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a left-handed violin. (There are people who play the violin with the bow in the left hand, though; Reinhard Goebel is one. He’s right-handed, I assume, but due to a nerve disease in his left fingers lost the ability to play, so he switched.)

      • telescoper Says:

        In my experience most drummers use a right-handed kit even if they’re left-handed. Some say Ringo had two left hands anyway….

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Spare a thought for Jewish singers… the music goes left to right but Hebrew goes right to left.

      • “Some say Ringo had two left hands anyway….”

        On the contrary. Ringo is not only the most famous drummer in the world, but also one of the most underrated. Back when other drummers were playing boom-chick accompaniment, his drumming was the icing on the cake of the Beatles’ songs. Probably no other group at the time had songs one could recognize by the drum parts alone.

        People who should know, i.e. other drummers, have tremendous respect for Ringo.

        There is a book which documents all the recording sessions of the Beatles. They had to break off a take because of a fault of Ringo only once or twice in their career.

      • telescoper Says:

        He’s actually rather good on the `White Album’ released 50 years ago!

      • “In my experience most drummers use a right-handed kit even if they’re left-handed.”

        Probably, since the incidence of left-handed kits is less than that of left-handers in the general population. Of course, perhaps fewer left-handers play drums, but that would be strange since the drums are one of the few instruments where it makes no difference—but then even stranger that they play a right-handed kit.

        There are some prominent exceptions, though: Phil Collins, Ian Paice, Mark Craney.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        I’ve seen both criticisers and defenders of Ringo’s technique elsewhere, too. He needed to be replaced by session drummers sometimes early on, but was clearly accomplished in the later stuff. I suspect he was quietly coached for a while.

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