Dinner at Hogwarts

January 22, 2008

Sometimes life converges, crosses, and then spreads, like peaking waves in a choppy sea.

Yesterday I went to Oxford. I had been invited to give a seminar about AstroGrid at the Oxford e-Research Centre. This felt weird. The software is in a good state, and will be released in April, but the staff on my project don’t know if they will get paid this month; our expected grant announcement is on hold because of all the STFC problems. That stream of thought continued as I crossed Keble Road to Astrophysics, to meet Roger Davies, who like myself is entangled in all the astro-politics. We asked each other if there was any news of the Select Committee hearings..

Roger had invited me to Dinner (capital D) at Christchuch College. This was extraordinary, in the painfully beautiful but privileged Oxford manner; ancient quadrangle, sonorous bell, flapping gowns, glass of sherry in wood panelled room. Then into the Great Hall to sit at top table next to the Dean, three feet above theGreat Hall at Christchurch, aka Hogwarts massed ranks of Christchurch students, seventeenth century portraits staring down from every wall. “Wow” says I to Roger, “this is so Harry Potter”. “Yes of course” says Roger, “this is where it was filmed…”.

Back to sherry land, more Oxford banter. Roger and I trying to avoid talking about STFC politics, as we have done it to death. In comes a tall, bright, and cheerful young chap. “Have you met Chris Lintott ?” says Roger. “No” says I, “but I feel I should have done – we read each others blogs…”

My blog, my science, my politics, my children’s fantasy worlds collided in that moment. But then the clock struck nine and I had to leave before missing my train.