"As a youth,
my first job was in Drummond Street within the confines of the
Department of Natural Philosophy (the Nat
Phil) or Physics Department.
there was a lift which went from the
basement to the level below the square turret on top.
To get to the turret you had to take the lift to the
top then climb a steep ladder, push open a
fairly heavy solid 'skylight' and exit on to the turret, whose
square area was good enough to let two bodies lie down and do some
We often heard the cry
'I know you are up there'.
We ignored it. On one occasion, when
somebody did try to climb up the ladder,
we sat on the 'skylight' which wouldn't budge.
Going down was not a problem,
though. People were waiting for us
at the basement, ground and first floors
lift doors. But, on the second floor
there was nothing but storage space so they
didn't bother manning that door.
We found an alternative way
down from the second floor,
crawling over the rafters above one of the lecture theatres
and out into one of the corridors. You
could send the lift down to any of the lower floors by pressing the
internal button and exiting the lift quickly. When
it arrived at a lower floor, there was
nobody in the lift. We should have been illusionists.
Turning left half way along the
corridor you usually came across the senior technician who gave you
a blast, but as you had a roving
commission to do quite a few jobs. Well,
you were always somewhere else,
Once, for a dare, I wandered
round for a day and a half with a piece of paper in my hand. It took
that long for the technical staff to tie me down to a spot from
where I was told not to move."
the other side of the Road was the Department of Applied Mathematics
where Max Born worked as Tait professor of Applied Mathematics,
receiving a Nobel prize in 1954.
While I was going over there on
an errand one winter in the late afternoon, I
saw a Leerie going round with a pole lighting some of the gas lamps.
This was in the early 1950s. One
I was in early and saw him putting the
On another occasion I was sent
out for heavy water - a joke played on the
young. However I went along with it and was out for three hours
looking for it. Eventually I went
back and with my boss red with rage, I
told him that a Café about two miles away had given me some and that
it really felt heavy now.
I kept a straight face and was never
sent for it again
Bob Sinclair, Queensland,
Australia: January 21, 2010