Piddinghoe Pond

Created by Jonathan 3 years ago
Mike gave me my first 'sort of proper' job - as a temporary lecturer at Sussex. Or rather Mike waved his hands in that characteristic circular way and with a guffaw decided it,  just like that. The neurobiology group was looking for someone to fill Ian Russell's research leave and I had met Mike  again couple of years earlier in Berkeley where he was giving an evening talk on jumping spiders. It had terrific throwaway lines. The Sussex position was my third bounce through the place  - I'd been originally an undergraduate there and then again  trying to learn biology  in the early 70s. Mike's enthusiasms were memorably infectious: he came bounding along the corridor onbe day to say he and Tom Collett had at last filmed hoverflies flying sideways. As a family we ended up in a cottage down from Lewes owned by the wonderful Marjorie Abrahams. When Mike went to Canberra for a year he lent us his sailing boat on Piddinghoe Pond, a small circular patch of water on the way to Newhaven,  with a clubhouse and a Commodore to control the waters (and the clubhouse). I never learnt to sail - even across the pond - and hope that the boat survived by the time he got back. But by that time I had left Sussex with no further opportunity to work with Mike other than write a ray tracing program which showed how parabolic lens could be better than a spherical one.  I did however manage to get him elected as a Fellow of UCL:  small payback, but at least he got one posh dinner out of the evening.