Sunday, 14 October 2012


Notwithstanding the fact that hers are now mere sockets, Jane Austen and I never saw eye to eye.

At school I was once asked to read 'Persuasion' and then write an essay about it. I recall that I managed about half a page which basically said that while reading the book I spent my time either fighting sleep or wondering whether suicide might be a suitable response to the novel.

My teacher wrote 'D+ - a more reasoned criticism was called for'. He also gave me a damning school report which didn't impress my parents. Despite this, I passed both my 'O' and 'A' level English with flying colours.

I was reminded of this when reading of John Gurdon whose school report read:

'A disastrous half (term). I believe he has ideas about becoming a scientist ... this is quite ridiculous ... it would be a sheer waste of time'.

Luckily John wasn't put off. An Oxford graduate, he was knighted in 1995, is a fellow of the Royal Society,  a fellow of Churchill college and has a Cambridge research institute named after him. Just to finally rub salt in his teacher's wound, he has also just won the Nobel Prize in Science.

I expect the Nobel committee in Stockholm to be contacting me very shortly.

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