Don's Diary

May 14, 1999

Monday

Marathon 9am-3pm haematology class. By 11am more than 80 have turned up - maybe blood cells aren't so bad after all. Shake off last student by 3.30pm and retreat to office. Twenty-minute breather. Rush to central London to chair alumni graduate recruitment advice evening. I listen horrified to the consultant speak of Pounds 50K to Pounds 100K salaries: mine is nowhere near. Wine reception after dulls my frustrations. My mind drifts to Wednesday's TV interview on genetically modified foods.

Tuesday

Coursework deadlines, more marking, but not now - must prepare that TV thing. Interrupted constantly until lunch with late-work excuses. Afternoon meeting with potential part-time lecturer. Absolutely brimming with enthusiasm. 5pm - day really starts - I prepare next morning's class. GM food finally gets brain time at 9pm. At 10pm, security guard looks at me like I am sad no-life person, so I go home.

Wednesday

Leukaemia diagnosis lab-class until 1pm. Overseas student follows me round writing down my every word until I point out that she needs actually to do an experiment. Early afternoon devoted to fantastic new postdoc. Our (her) intracellular investigations are going to be great.

4pm - dash to Croydon studios for Channel 17 Live Debate. I car-dream of a Mrs Merton interview, but arrive as foyer chairs are moved into the studio. The presenter tells me the food campaigner wouldn't come on against a scientist, but Friends of the Earth will do a phone-in.

6pm - I clamber over equipment to my "foyer chair" in the tiny studio. GM foods, a contentious issue, seems to draw some strange callers. One calls to tell me to "Stop it!". I visibly roll my eyes on camera. The presenter asks if I eat GM foods. I beam and proudly say: "All the time, Tom. If you live off microwave processed meals, what option do you have?" Thursday

Response to interview comes in - mostly good. I get a cheer for pointing out on camera that hype is the media's job. Down to earth with a bump with three-hour lab class. Marking until 9pm.

Friday

Four hours of lectures. Invitation arrives to House of Commons for reception for young researchers. My 120-strong first-year class is not at all impressed and would I hurry up and finish early for lunch. By 6pm I am in central London again for a finance meeting (I love money).

Saturday

Faculty of Science Open Day. Manning stands and exhibits 10am-4pm. Prospective students led round by concerned parents apparently oblivious to the fact that they might spend three years here. But one of last year's graduates brings her sister, which kinda warms your heart. Straight to the pub after for debriefing.

Sunday

Flirt with idea of going to work on Sunday yet again. Decide instead to visit supermarket. I buy healthy non-GM food complete with vitamins that don't come in a bottle. Well, if you give advice, you better take it!

Colin P. McGuckin Senior lecturer in biomedical sciences, Kingston University.

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