Friday, 13 October 2006

The princess and the nobleman

There lives in a place not so far away a nobleman with lands producing the finest of wines, from vineyards bordered by a winding river as deep as it is wide. Life used to be good for the nobleman and his loyal supporters. But one day, a princess from a distant land entered the kingdom. The King invited her to live amongst his subjects and decreed that until her palace could be built beyond the river, she should inhabit an ivory tower overlooking the nobleman’s vineyards – a tower that the nobleman would shortly have converted into dwellings for the newest of his artisans. With the passing of summer her palace was ready, and the princess’s entourage awaited their mistress. But the princess had grown used to the tower, and she told the King that she wished to remain. She did not care for her entourage on the far side of the river, and she did not care to leave her ivory tower. The King denied her, but she locked the doors, blocked her ears, and started to scream. She screamed and screamed. The screaming would not stop, and the King was powerless. His courtiers suffered as the wailing echoed down the valley in which they all lived. And soon neither they nor their King could stand it any longer. There was no alternative but to request that the nobleman move his vineyards to the far side of the river, and in their place build dwellings for his artisans who could now no longer aspire to live in the tower from which the screaming continued, day in, day out. The nobleman acquiesced, and a harsh silence descended over his vines.

To this day, his loyal laborers take the long trip far away and across the river, to reach the lands they now toil. And to this same day the princess lives in her ivory tower, unseen, unheard. But the nobleman remembers, as do his loyal servants. They remember the screams and their echoes, and the life they had before. And they look up each day at the ivory tower, occasionally glimpsing through its high windows the princess, locked away by her own hand, her presence now neither felt nor heard.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006


That's where I've been. Talking to collaborators (past, present, and future). And examining an MSc. at Edinburgh. Great course. Great people.

The train trip was interesting. Wi-fi is now standard on GNER trains. The Wi-fi works well. It's just that the router it's connected to doesn't. Not often, anyway. On the way up, it was barely speedier than a dial-up connection. On the way down, a carrier pigeon would have been more effective.

So, still on the train, and having finished a bunch of emails (offline), and reviewed a grant (I should have reviewed three, but in the spirit of this blog, I have to highlight my failures more than my successes...) I'm now adding this entry. I do so with the satisfaction that it will be read by at least one person. She thinks I should allow people to post comments. There are, she says, only two reasons not to: The first is that people will ask me why I think it is worth wasting valuable bandwidth on these sad reflections on my life, or worse still, they'll tell me it's not. The second is that no one would post any comments anyway. Ok, Jelena, now tell me two reasons why I should.

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