Monday, February 25, 2008


Today's trip to Birmingham University got off to a cracking start. I realised when I got to the train station that I'd left my hat at home. This is, obviously, preferable to leaving it on the train, but it was still annoying, especially since Emma from ITV was coming to film the memo demo, as a taster for the genius documentary. I get very few opportunities to wear my poor hat on TV without people complaining that it shadows my face because of the bright studio lights. Still, I managed to meet up with James and catch our train without any real difficulty, and we spent the short trip up to Birmingham discussing various memory-related topics.

As we were getting off the train at New Street, the man who'd been sitting opposite us and listening in on our conversation said "Excuse me, isn't that your bag?" I'd very nearly left my trusty rucksack, containing my laptop, on the overhead rack. "And you're the memory man!" added the observant gentleman. He obviously thought we'd just been having him on about the whole memory thing. I don't know which would have been more devastating, the loss of my expensive laptop or the loss of my beloved falling-to-pieces rucksack.

Waiting for Emma in the pub at New Street station, we had a go on a quiz machine. One of the questions it posed us was "Who won the men's Wimbledon championship in 1975?"

I grinned at James, who has memorised all the post-war Wimbledon winners for the purposes of our university demos, and said "Hah, great question!" He replied "Um..."

He did get it, just in the time limit, so we both avoided a lot of memory-related embarrassment before the demonstration started. We met up with Emma, got down to the university, prepared our powerpoint demonstrations, had lunch, met up with Other James, found the room and were all ready to begin with plenty of time to spare, for a change. Also for a change, nobody from the university staff came to talk to us. James had been dealing with a Jo, and he did speak to him/her/it on the phone once, briefly, but otherwise we were left to our own devices entirely.

It then turned out that the university hadn't advertised the memory performance at all, and they'd scheduled it to start two hours after lectures finished for the day, so nearly everybody had gone home. We got a whopping six people in the audience, two of whom had to leave early for a seminar. So, all in all, not the best of our demonstrations to have Emma filming. Nonetheless, it all went well. We educated and astounded, as usual, and of the brave six who knew the event was happening and hung around to watch it, at least a couple were very enthusiastic about memory, keen to take part in the upcoming university championship, and happy to spread the good word. So I'd still say the day was a success. Who knows, we might have a future world champion there!

And no long train journeys or overnight stays, either. All universities should be so close to Derby. Tomorrow, I've got this interview in Breedon-on-the-Hill, the most isolated and difficult-to-get-to place in the world. Still, beggars and unemployed accountants who need the money can't be choosers, and it's a good job with good pay. Maybe I could relocate to somewhere closer. Or learn how to teleport instantly from place to place.


SamT said...

Good Luck with the job interview.

If you really like the job etc and then the travelling won't be a hassle, says she who hates her commute of 56 miles every day after 14 years!

Geoff, Your Editor said...

I hope your book is backed up somewhere other than your laptop..

Zoomy said...

Now it is. It wasn't yesterday, so I really would have lost the whole thing if I'd lost the laptop. Now that would have been a disaster!

Mike said...


Stephen King seems like a lazy writer; he can't even spell-check coffee!!