Friday, 13 June 2008

How it developed

When I got home I sent Morag my CV and forgot all about it. Well, not really: deep inside I hoped that is hadn't been a joke over a glass of wine and that Cambridge had really appeared vaguely at the end of the tunnel. My life went on as usual, and the C-word was banned at home until in mid-December there came an email from Morag confirming that the position would be announced soon and that I should make sure I applied.

From today's perspective, I certainly didn't know what I was doing. Burning your ships and all other pretty metaphors didn't stop me. Cambridge was so attractive that it was worth any sacrifice. I didn't think about the dimensions of the sacrifice. Beside, there was a good chance that I wouldn't get it, and I am not a person who worries in advance.

It so happened - it had to happen so, as one of my favourite writers, Kurt Vonnegut, says - that I was taking one of my grandsons to London as a birthday present. He is ten years old and his image of London was limited to Madame Tussaud and London Eye, but he is curious and enthusiastic and we had a wonderful trip. But before that I contacted Morag and asked whether it made sense for me to make a detour to Cambridge. It did, and the following day a lecture by the famous Stockholm professor etc etc was announced. It was more than I had bargained for, and I was also invited to Formal Hall, an event as grand as meals at Hogwart - I'll come back to it. Anyway, I had a chance to look around before applying for a job. I still didn't know what I was doing.

The position was announced in the end of January, the application date was February 15, and it was specified that the final decision would be made on April10. Now, in Sweden, a professorial appointment takes three years (just a slight hyperbole), what with approaching prospective committee members who take weeks to respond, the sending out of applicants' collected works that take months for the poor committee members to read and write reports on, meetings, interviews and the usual academic procrastinations. Three cheers for Cambridge! When I submited the application, I knew that within less than two months I would know the outcome, whatever that might be.

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