From Cambridge to Brussels, again
Monday was a big day for us classicists in Cambridge. It was the day of the handover of our new Faculty building extension (a bit of expenditure that just got under the wire before almost all the money in the British university system disappeared). It gives us a little suite of new offices which are intended to house all those externally funded research projects that bring us in the money to keep going.
The point is that you have to say that you will give your funded project an office, otherwise you don't get the funding (nice view from new offices is seen here, on the left). But the really good news for us was that we also got more library space in the process -- almost one third extra shelving. For old fashioned books. Arts and Humanities are probably not good enough at explaining (even to colleagues in the university) why books and print journals are still crucial to research.
Scientists tend to think that any periodical more than 10 year old is chuck-able. I am still finding gems in Eastern European journals of the 1950s, even the 1850s.
Anyway, the new library has bags of space for that.
Meanwhile, after the new building handover, I was off to Brussels - for another round of the the European Research Commission Starting Grants.
The first year we did this (the adjudicating, I mean), there were all sorts of hiccoughs-- like you couldn't get internet access from the eurocrat building. But all this is now sorted, and every year gets better and better from my point of view. Being in a panel judging historical applicants across the EU really does teach you about history and national culture.
The funniest bit came at the end of the proceedings, when we were asked to suggest external referees for the projects selected for the next round. This is when we saw the cutting edge of European integration. We sat round the table with a brilliant Spanish administrator and a brilliant Lithuanian in-putter.. and we eurocrats suggested names of "expert adjudicators". All fine, except that, even in the new Europe, the names were mutually incomprehensible (McKenner or McKenna?), and everyone's view of how you explained the alphabet was quite different (does "ee" mean "I" or "E"). Add to that the fact that the computer programme has a mind of its own, and over enthusiastic 'predictive text' and will turn anything it can (starting "Co/Ch") into "Corpus Christi College, Oxford".
But we had a good time, nonetheless, as you can see from the pic.. (Jane and Tony counting out our dinner money).