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  • My curiousity has sometimes got me into situations it would have been better for me not to be in, and sometimes heartily regretted.

    For example, in third-year Chemistry, a subject I absolutely adored by the way, my curiousity as to what would happen if I put the contents of a pipette of water onto a weeny grain of potassium permanganate lead to my life being forever far from the realms of practical science.

    Well. Half the bench went, didn't it? I can't really blame Miss Strange for the decision she was forced to take.

    Where my life intersects with that of others, my curiousity can drag them into the fray. Not with serious consequences, 'though. I mean... can we count as the effects of trauma exactly, the fact that my youngest son does not say "WHAT'S for dinner?", but rather, "What's IN my dinner?". A recent near miss was a lilium that, Praise Be, flowered just as I was meditating on using the curious stalk and leaves to liven up a stir-fry.

    There was, however, one occasion where my father took the flak.

    1984. I was in Milan, teaching, and hating every minute of it. An opportunity came up.
    "Ooooh... I've never BEEN in a war zone before. Let's go for it!" In my flakiness I thought to allay my father's fears by saying "Papà, I'm in Tripoli, LIBYA... not Tripoli, Lebanon."

    And then didn't they just go and start bombing Libya, Tripoli to be precise......

    I felt such a shit! I still do now. I am sorry, Papà. I am so so so very sorry.

    This was part of a letter I sent my Papà, on Italian Father's Day, 19th March, 1994, when my first son was five months' old

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