Some weeks ago I promised you, dear PooterGeekers, that I would be telling you what I planned to do with my life now that the Medical Research Council no longer has need of my services. Those of you who come here for the trouser jokes can stop reading now. The rest of you might be interested in becoming involved in the exciting new road-going PooterGeek experience. Well, the trouser-joke lovers can stick around for this sentence because, thanks to your collective generosity, UK taxpayers, my bank accounts are now bulging like the spandex pants of a guitarist in Kiss. This is of course redundancy money.
Many people have suggested to me that I do something “sensible” with it like buy (a large chunk of) a house. One glance at the state of the bubblicious UK property market is enough to tell me that I might as well withdraw the cash in bundles of crisp tens, nail it to the outside of a garden shed, and set fire to the whole blummin’ thing.
Another, rather more pleasurable, way of burning up a wheelbarrow full of tenners is to live off it like a Trustafarian while you make “Art”. This I intend to do for at least a year, during which I will apply with my film composer friend Richard Brincklow for a Wellcome Trust SciArt grant. We hope that they will give us money to make music inspired by some of the interesting things discovered by the human genome project(s), especially some of the insights it and related work have given us into questions of “race” and human identity. We’ll compose and arrange our works, take them around schools and colleges to explain the music and the science behind the pieces to young students, invite them to contribute their own compositions and, finally, perform selections with a “chamber pop” ensemble in public concerts. Yes, I will be singing again, but without the make-up this time.
You are all welcome to get involved. I hope there will be a Website where you can listen to and comment on recordings of works in progress and samples of the accompanying explanatory talks that I want to present alongside the music—sort of mini Christmas lecture-style seminars about genomics for intelligent laypeople. You are also all invited to come along to our “recitals” when they take place. You might have to pay to get in, though.
Because Richard and at least two other potential collaborators on the project live there, and because it’s a happening kinda town, I’ll be moving to Brighton. If Wardytron’s experiences are anything to go by, this might prove to be challenging in itself. I know there are lots of ‘Bloggers and Lefties in Brighton. Hello to you all. Please don’t be afraid to drop me an email when I appear in your manor in about a month’s time.
To supplement my income I’ll be doing some more wedding photography
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but for money. I’ve already had my first paying gig. If any of you have friends, relatives, or colleagues who would like someone to take quirky, beautiful photographs of their nuptials on film, please, please email me so that I can get in touch with them and show them a portfolio. They won’t get frozen families in carefully tiered ranks, but they’ll get some memories of real human beings enjoying themselves. And I’m not just good, I’m cheap.
You will not be surprised to read that I will also be writing. Again, I hope to get paid for this. Some of it will be boring to most of you, but I will tell you about various little projects as and when they come up. I’m not precious. Do get in touch with me also if you need someone to bang out readable, witty copy for commercial or technical purposes.
What I am not going to be doing over the next year is any scientific research. My disillusionment with my own achievements (or lack thereof) and with the UK scientific establishment is so great that even my slightly crazed enthusiasm for doing science has been crushed.
When I was eight or nine years old I won a competition to go to see a première of the original Star Wars—back in the days when Han shot first. I was so excited that there was a real possibility that I would wet myself before I got to the cinema. My dad (for whom anything short of encasement in an iron lung was no reason to skip school) took me away from my afternoon classes early and, as he handed me over to him, the headmaster (Mr Rehorn, I think) explained that in maths we had been doing the number of degress in a triangle. “There’ll always be one-hundred-and-eighty—until Damian proves otherwise sitting at some computer in Cambridge.”
After nearly thirty years I finally made it. (My school had never got anyone into Cambridge so they told me to try for Oxford instead.) When I arrived, what I actually discovered, sitting at my computer, was that I couldn’t really cut it with the big boys, and that I wasn’t sure if what the big boys were doing was all of real benefit to humanity. It’s time for me to move on and do something that I can excel at—and something that I have no doubt is completely and utterly trivial.
A while back I read a review of a biography of Glenda Jackson MP. One sentence in it stayed with me—something like: “The tragedy of Jackson’s life is that, instead of being the great Glenda Jackson, she chose to become a lousy Tony Blair.” I have spent fifteen years of my working life trying to be a medical researcher. Over the past couple of years it’s become clear to me that, even though I know I am better at my kind of medical research than some of my peers, I’m not good enough. Fortunately, I have now been given an opportunity to try to be better at something else. I start today. I don’t have Glenda Jackson’s kind of talent so all help will be gratefully received.
I wish you all the success that you want. Nothing more, nothing less.
Can’t give you any help as such mate, but I can give you encouragement, wish you luck, and say if you’re ever thinking about a holiday in Dubai don’t bother about arranging a hotel.
I’m not sure about this new-fangled “film” stuff: could you possibly do my wedding pictures in pencil and watercolour? You’ll have to do lots of copies, obviously, which I shall send to family and friends after the wedding by means of the traditional cleft stick.
Better than good luck. This all sounds brilliant, and I’m almost envious. You’re right about property, especially around Cambridge. It’s still worth buying in my own unlovely part of Greater London, but merely because Sutton sits beside Wimbledon, Richmond and Kingston, and has gone from being undervalued to having less far to fall.
There – you thought that telling us your plans would spare you dull house prices talk, didn’t you?
Plenty of musical bloggers in Brighton – Jonathan at Assistant Brighton and the Bedsit Bomber for starters.
Good luck !
All sounds very exciting and novel – good luck!
Of course I could say that Brighton is just Hove’s more genteel sibling (think Sally Geeson, as against Judy), but then I’m biased…
Good for you, Damian.
Speaking from considerable experience (three years in Brighton in the 1980s, four years in Worthing to date), I find living near rather than in Brighton altogether more agreeable – not least because accommodation costs are still just about manageable, whereas in Brighton and Hove they’re off the scale unless you can wangle some shady deal.
Oh, and I obviously echo all the good-luck wishes – I made a whole series of similarly life-changing decisions just over four years ago, and once I’d got over the wrenching admission that certain long-term ambitions would forever remain unfulfilled due to major shortcomings in talent and temperament, I ended up with the perfect job, wife, house and family in a matter of literally months. And I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Go for it, Damian. And let me know if you’re in the neigbourhood of Norfolk.
Excellent news! Good luck; the greater risk is with not trying out something new and exciting.
Don’t forget: I throw in a free hand-illuminated bespoke love sonnet to the bride with every six rolls I shoot.
This week’s Private Eye suggests that Dixons is not actually giving up on 35mm, but that the company wrote the press release saying that they were going to do so in order to generate lots of media coverage for their brand. They certainly succeeded.
“Sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do”.
(Did anyone ever actually say that in a film?)
Alas, I would almost certainly loathe your music, and you’re 40 years too late for my wedding, but all the same, very best of luck!
My own circumstances are –
* used to play in bands – first dream
* physics/maths/geolgy at uni
* currently working in TV – director/producer working currently for a uni
* aspiring to be a cinematogapher – second dream
* half a mind to chuck in the entertainment industry and go back to some form of science – statistcics? geology?
* remain in fairly contsant state of confusion/ambivalence about all of above
so nice to see someone with similar interests making postive career moves.
Your new projects sound wonderful! Thanks for keeping us posted.
Good luck, Geek.
That is the most reassuring thing I’ve read in months. Thank you.
(And I am still deciding whether to live inside or outside Brighton proper. You views have been noted.)
Oliver Kamm lives in Hove. Maybe you two could discuss weblog prose styles together!
> And I am still deciding whether to live inside or outside Brighton proper.
I’d definitely suggest inside rather than outside. If you’re going down the family/kids/cars route that may not be the best choice, but the single man about town would probably prefer to be closer to the action, not waiting for a bus to/from Worthing or Lewes.
House prices are a world I avoid, so I can’t comment, but £800/month is enough for a pretty reasonable 2-bed flat in Hove. £650 should get something perfectly decent in Brighton/Kemptown.
As the talented Mr Costner once said: Greatness courts failure.
So what does genome music sound like?
Sounds a fascinating project. If Einsturzende Neubauten can make music (and good music too) from drills, hammers and meat anything is possible.
Hope all goes as well as you’d like.
So what does genome music sound like?
I hope I’m not the only one who read that as “gnome music” and immediately thought of the singing underpants-thieving gnomes in that South Park episode…
…I’ll get me coat, shall I?
You can listen to some samples of other people’s genome music here and here. The sound of gamma crystallin in particular rocks! [MP3]
Definitely live inside Brighton – at least at first – then move to outside if/when circumstances etc demand. Good luck with life-changing move – you know you’ll only ever regret the things you don’t do in life, change and risk are what life is really for.
Tin Cup is one of my favourite films, casualidiot. And it worries me that Rene Russo is a lesser reason for my liking it than its underlying philosophy.
The excellent Wardyblog also hails from Brighton. And he’s NOT GAY.
Laban, daahling, from what springs your obsession with gay Brightonians?
[…] Sorry about the thin posting at PooterGeek lately. The crossed keyboards and trousers rampant are flying again over PooterGeek Towers because I am now back in residence, having spent a few days scouting around Brighton for a new place to live, meeting up with collaborators on my next big thing, music making, and generally socialising with my lovely (married) friends Richard and Kate. I discussed with them my plan to invent a wife, one who, like “Maris” (who was supposedly hitched to Niles Crane of Frasier) is never seen. As well as being a source of much lazy, Sunday supplement-style “isn’t family life hilarious?” ‘Blogging material she would bring several advantages: […]
Having been privileged to share an office with you for a couple of years and enjoy the benefit of your clear thinking and great company, I can wish you nothing but luck in the future.
I thought you might like to chortle sadly at the following snippet that Peter T passed to me.
It sums up the MRC beautifully: can’t add, can’t manage, can’t fund science properly and their solution is to employ more consultants.
Keep in touch mate!
Thanks for kind words. I hope things are okay with you. One of the (many) things I liked about the HGMP/Rosalind Franklin was that there was a bunch of people there who were true public servants in the best sense of that phrase. I hope that I was one of them; I know you were.
Thanks also for the link to the Medical Research Council underspend story. Do I get to say “I told you so” yet again? Now, let’s see if my prediction about the career prospects of a rather more prominent government scientist turns out to be correct as well. I do hope so.
all the best
[…] As revenge for having to listen to his new catchphrase—”a 2:i is a perfectly good degree, Damian“—I hand-edited Richard’s keyboard performance and have begun to loop it into manipulable chunks. It is now the basis for an “anti-Spiritual”. You are welcome to listen to a verse of Bow Down Below. As you can hear, it isn’t finished, but it’s still copyright and playright Brincklow and Counsell 2005. I’d love to play you some of our SciArt stuff, but Rich is in the process of the more heavy-duty, “needs a degree in music” orchestration on our current favourite Break Bones. […]
[…] I found out just before Christmas that I’ve been turned down for that SciArt grant I was applying for. This is not exactly a surprise, but I’m still not happy about it. Thankfully, my family took my hint when I told them and I didn’t have to endure a Christmas of them looking at me in that way and asking me what “my plans” are. I have spent the past three years making plans about my future that have turned comprehensively to dust, sometimes even after I’ve had actual positive letters of confirmation in my hand, occasionally so spectacularly that I have found myself laughing out loud at the extraordinary ability of Defeat to leap out from deep within the very oesophagus of Victory, so my New Year’s resolution is to make no plans of any kind whatsoever. I’ll do what I do. If it works out then I’ll tell people about it; if it doesn’t then I’ll write a wry ‘Blog post about it. Either way someone wins. […]