Things have improved somewhat after yesterday, the room is still naff by any measure, but the institute where the talks are taking place is quite impressive and is in many respects every mathematicians dream (there's free coffee). Breakfast at Wolfson Court where I'm we're staying was good, lunch was better and things are looking up. There is one small detail however which must be mentioned - whoever heard of doing a proper breakfast with sausage, bacon, eggs, beans etc. without brown sauce? There's ketchup, mustard, salt and vinegar, but no brown sauce.
Could this be that the laws of nature are not universal and that the physics which governs space and time change depending on where and when you observe them? This is the only explanation possible. If we were anywhere else (excluding singularities as described below*) there would be brown sauce. It is axiomatic that where there are sausages for breakfast there is brown sauce**. It doesn't have to be HP (the finest) but some form of brown sauce should be there - without this, my belief in the fundamentals of all mankind's understanding, such as 1+ 0 = 1, two wrongs don't make a right, and lawyers will always earn more than scientists because they are actually more important for the advancement of the human species, just falls to pieces.
But there's no brown sauce anywhere here. It's almost as if Cambridge had never heard of the stuff. What did Newton have on his chips when he was considering his now famous fluxions? When Crick and Watson were unravelling the mysteries of the helical structure of DNA did they not have some Daddies sauce with their bacon sandwiches? Where's the bloody sauce?
So in order to remedy this bizarre situation I came up with a cunning solution. The head of Manchester University School of Maths (Prof. Paul Glendinning - who is a Cambridge man and knows his way around) needed a few items in town and said he was going shopping. Before he set off I asked (very politely of course, for he is my lord and master) if he could pick me up some Head and Shoulders Shampoo (every mathematicians shampoo - prone as we are to bouts of horrendous dandruff and limpid, greasy hair) and a bottle of England's finest - HP Sauce. I intend to have some with my breakfast tomorrow. But more than that, what I shall do is write a small label on the bottle which says 'Courtesy of Manchester University Dept. of Mathematics' and leave it in the college's canteen for the use of the Cambridge Gentlemen and Ladies. I wonder if there will be any left should I ever come back here in years to come. I doubt it.
So Girton Gollege, home to some of the finest minds in the world, will be introduced to this great British tradition and their minds will be free to explore the mysteries of the cosmos and the true beauty of art, free from the fetters of sauceless thinking. "Eat the sauce, free the mind."***
* I have a friend (who I wont mention for fear of embarrassing him****) who's mum believes brown sauce to be overly common and wont allow his dad to have any in the house. To remedy this situation I send him some HP sauce every now and again (birthdays mainly) and because it's a present his mum doesn't feel she can throw the stuff out. I don't think I've sent him any for a while and as soon as I get back to Manchester, I'll buy a big catering tub and post it off. They run a B&B in Llanddydno so their guests will be happy too.
** Unless you are unfortunate enough to be American.
*** Wittgenstein, 1962. - On the relation between spicy condiments and the unfettered expression of the soul.
**** Laurie Cooper is his name.
Dinner wasn't as bad as today as people had told me yesterday. I couldn't have the roast loin of
pork or the cod, as they were things I'd had before ? instead I went for the veggy option. The
mushroom and asparagus strudel wasn't a coup de cuisine but it wasn't a disaster either. The
roast potatoes were a bit chewy and the beans overcooked, but that was to be expected. On the
whole a lot better than I was dreading. I don't think Cambridge has quite redeemed itself completely
after yesterday's fiasco but a few beers in a fine old English pub and I am feeling much more chipper
about the place. Plus, I have brown sauce with my sausages tomorrow, so life can't be all that bad.
Chocolate Biscuit Cake: It wasn't quite a cheesecake but was along those lines. Not bad.