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Alumni Postcard: France

Bonjour from the heart of Burgundy, France. Actually, 'le jour' is not very 'bon': as I write, it's pouring with rain and 3°C! 

I'm just writing to say how much I enjoyed the Chemistry Alumni Winetasting in September 2018. It was my first visit back to the Department since I graduated in June 1970.

I have never forgotten my then HoD, Prof Harry Emeléus, asking to see me before I left. He congratulated me on my degree and said he was sorry I was leaving to do my PhD at Imperial College (I don't know how he knew), but that I would be in good hands with my supervisor-to-be, Geoff Wilkinson. Prof Emeléus was an Imperial man himself, so he knew what he was talking about. Geoff Wilkinson later got the Nobel Prize – nothing to do with my work! – and was knighted, so I was indeed in good hands. I have never forgotten Prof Emeléus’ kindness towards an ordinary 21 year-old student. I never told him what that meant to me at the time, and afterwards it was too late. So if a thank you is deserved now, I try not to forget.

I also remember Jack Linnett, then Head of the Department of Physical Chemistry. He was a very nice chap, but not the best of lecturers. For one lecture he gave out a set of diagrams (called 'Walsh Correlation diagrams', I think), only to give out a second set the following week, as the first had contained some errors. And then a third set the following week to correct the remaining errors! I dutifully filed them with my notes only to find, when it came to revision for Part IB of the Tripos, that I had omitted to mark the correct version... 

Please thank everyone who helped out at the Wine Tasting, it was all great fun. I walked back to my old college, Churchill, with my head full of all sorts of memories. As an undergraduate, you’re only up at Cambridge for three 8-week terms for three years. But it was transformative for so many of us.

The picture shows me (above, centre) at the Alumni Wine Tasting. 

Philip Evans