Tuesday, April 08, 2008

distinguished guest from Harry Potter University

My boss is in town for a few days.

This is actually big cause for excitement around these parts as he now pretty much runs the universe, or at least Medical Sciences at the University of Oxford. So it's a wee bit of a crazy week, what with dinner meetings and planning strategies and him being keynote speaker at our Research Day later this week.

And it's so great to see him again. It's been over a year since he was last here, and I realize that when he moved to the UK, a lot of the excitement went out of my job. Dude makes things happen, there is no question, and I do miss the action that used to be part of my daily work. Now I pretty much just write things up in nice language so that proposals get past the committees and make the decisions that nobody else seems to want to make.

And my boss is doing incredibly well at Oxford, he's gone from being a department head to being a division head in a very short time. But all was not necessarily so smooth with his transition, as I found out at dinner last night.

In Calgary, he drove a car he was very fond of, and one of the physicians convinced him that he should bring it with him to the UK and that they would be able to refit it to right-hand drive. So he had it shipped to Oxford, took it into the VW dealership and asked them to make various adjustments, including switching it to right-hand drive. No problem, the mechanic told him, it'll be

Very reasonable, thought A, but as he handed over his keys and was turning to go, thought he would just clarify. "So you will switch the steering wheel over to the right-hand side of the car, is that correct?"

The mechanic stared at him for several seconds and then asked "You're a professor, aren't you? At Oxford University? A neurologist, and a department head?"

When A admitted this was true, the mechanic shook his head sadly. "And that is one of the stupidest questions anybody has ever asked me."

So now A drives a car with the steering wheel on the left side, in a right-hand drive world. Apparently reaching the buttons at the car wash is quite a challenge.

In other news:

- the lineup has been announced for the first Calgary Virgin Festival. They listened to a few of my suggestions by the looks of it (the Flaming Lips, the Constantines, Matt Good, the New Pornographers), but missed a whole bunch as well.

- the second annual Sled Island music festival is less than a week after that, and it has a
pretty impressive lineup (Of Montreal, Mogwai, Wire, Gutter Twins, Jonathon Richman, etc).

- and in the biggest news of all,
Thom drums!


Allison said...

I didn't think that was allowed! Interesting. I thought the Brits would have some crazy rule preventing it or something. However makes sense as people drive all over Europe and the UK is the only place that has things backwards. ;)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I would not be surprised if it were not allowed, Al. A has a tendency to flaunt the rules. He does claim, however, to be free of any fears that his car will ever be stolen.

BeckEye said...

Yay! The virgin and slut festivals are coming up!

Anonymous said...

tag, you're it.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It's going to be a street brawl, Beckeye! I anticipate many flying scissor kicks with stilettos versus Mary Janes.

I am intrigued, Leazwell, I shall check it out.


It appears to be allowed here to drive UK configured cars --- have seen several lately.

Very disconcerting seeing someone make a right hand turn while in the passenger seat.

I'm just happy to see more festivals come to this town. My DD is doing some volunteer work for the Sled Festival I believe.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I haven't seen the passenger seat drivers yet myself, UB, but I am pretty certain I would be a trifle freaked out by the sight.

Good for DD for volunteering at Sled Island. It was such a great festival last year!

Gifted Typist said...

That is such a great story BB.
Neuroscientists may be brilliant but...

Apparently, the combined population of countries that drive on the left side of the road (like Britain) is far greater than the number of people in countries driving on the right (like America, Europe and India)

Here's a link for which countries drive on which side:
Left side - right side

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You are a wealth of knowledge, Gifted. I had no idea about this.