Sunday, September 28, 2008

Recycle this message

I've never wanted to use this place as a source of shameless vocalisation (typolisation possibly) but the long and short of it is that I want to build a recycling centre in a country that I have been to twice and have no idea how to do it or who to ask. If you think anyone can offer advice please send them here or tell them my email address.

In Ghana, as in many countries where clean water-sources are not readily available, water is sold in small plastic bags, which are then discarded, generally into a gutter which then becomes blocks and floods. This is stupid on a number of accounts, not least because people die during the floods, the plastic could be remade into bags or alternatively used to make things (like gutters). There are no recycling centres (that I know of) currently in Ghana. I want to get one built and then use it as an example to build others. Not only will this provide a source of income for many people in the area but it will save expenditure on clearing drains. I have no expertise in this area (other than going to Ghana and picking the bags out of gutters on occasion). If you can offer anything to this, even if it is a sentence of advice please contact me. Thanks.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Thursday, September 25, 2008


Tonight I went to a talk about Rita Levi-Montalcini, one of my personal heroins. You may already know that she won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1986 (the year of my birth amongst other more exciting things for you). This prize from the peace loving dynamite inventor was in honour of her work in identifying Nerve Growth Factor, a protein that makes neurones do pretty and perculiar things like stretching out and talk to other neurones. She did this as an Italian Jew in the middle of the second world war witb the use of a laboratory in her bedroom consisting of a microscope and a few chicken eggs (which after using in experiments she cooked and ate). When moving to work in America she included in her hand luggage two chick embryos with transplanted tumours to begin work on (certainly beating my current record of a swiss army knife, a soft-toy rat and plenty of literature). She was, in short, a bit alternative in her technique, and a complete inspiration to me. If anything she has taught me to do whatever you think is important, no matter what people think, even if your father is raving victorian luddite. The talk was followed by some Italian snacks and wine, but being on my own I felt somewhat awqward and hence soon left. Walking past plenty of lairy medical students in pyjamas i kept my eyes down, which meant they easily passed over the chap sitting in the entrance of Manchester Museum. I don't know if he asked for change because I had already told him I didn't have any and apologised. At this point it struck me that I had just left a table full of biscuits, crackers and grapes that he probably wouldn't mind. I didn't really want to go back because I would look odd coming from outside and I would have to wrap things up and I was already on my own and so felt naturally displaced. I went back. I went back because Rita Levi-Montalcini did what she thought was important. After a few inquisitive looks and some half-decent wrapping I headed off with a small package that I quickly passed on with a brief explanation and a smile. It felt great! All I had to do now was to get passed the pyjamas without anyone noticing.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

On seeing the light

The dark road

In the last couple of weeks I have made my way back into the enthralling world of lab-based academia. Aside from the more obvious benefits of things that go funny colours when you put them together, getting to wear a lab coat, and comments such as ‘oh yes, that’s just the wee of death’, it has also led to my placement firmly back in the bosom of my favour building in Manchester – the Stopford building.

There are many reasons that I love this place. Not least because there are so many nooks and crannies that I have metaphorically peed on, that is to say that I’ve made my own. There’s the corridor which I jittered down before my interview for University ( flying low throughout I might add), there is the chipboard walling on which I frantically searched for my first year exam results, the wall at the bottom of a shallow flight of stairs that I casually walked passed (oh yes, I am damn cool) and then returned to one particular evening. There are so many places that most of them I don’t remember, I have just gained a vague familiarity which it’s corridors. Oh it is ugly, ugly as hell, brown and grey and lacking windows in most walls.

But one of my favourite things about the Stopford building is something I found out in my first year of Medicine. It happens that if you stay late enough, as I often did, and you walk the corridors, as I also often did, then the lights behind you begin to turn on. It’s probably a feature of many buildings, but there was something about being here late at night, just a bit of magic I suppose.

So tonight, after more than one frustrating day at this new place in this old building I decided to go for a walk. There were other things to do, but I’d put them off long enough that it had become a habit. I walked along the corridors and looked forward at first. Everything was dark and unclear, blurry not least because I need glasses and I wasn’t wearing any. I was feeling pretty low, like there didn’t seem to be any light at the end of all this. So I walked backwards for a while, must have looked pretty stupid had anyone seen me. I realised that the light is behind you, the clear things, the things you understand have passed and can now be appreciated. The corridors which you have already walked are the ones illuminated. Sure it does mean that you will bump in to things and feel like rubbish on the way, but it’s necessary to gain anything at all.

Perhaps that’s what the end of things is like, perhaps once things are coming to a close you can look at things in the light you have created.

The lit path.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Instead of sleeping

Here's a list of things that have happened in the past few weeks (in no particular order of importance or chronology)

1. I had my first cello lesson
2. I saw the library we built in Ghana (see below)
3. I moved into my flat
4. I booked a flight to NY (leaving in approximately 6 hours)
5. I started a masters in research
6. I decided I'd had enough happiness (should a black-hole be created)
7. I started Hebrew classes

It's no wonder I currently feel approximately 70 years old.

Anywhere here is a beginning of a poem. Please finish it, because I can't...

How will I look after you? In the aftermath. After all. That has past. As I come, as I go, as I please. How/will I be careful? What do you see, in all that is before you? In the aftermath.

And finally, some pretty(ish) picatures ...

At the bottom of the valley
At the top of the mountain
At the library
At the Durbar