Monday, November 07, 2011


Google and I have something in common. We are both celebrating an anniversary. I share the day I last had a drink with Marie Curie's birthday, although to be honest I did have other things on my mind on the November day when, with trembling hands, I finally waved farewell to Uncle Jack Daniels and all his friends.
Maria Sklodowska toiled her way through the Sorbonne by working as a nanny and tutor. I too find myself nannying children through examinations, but do not, it has to be admitted, stand any chance of being awarded not one but two Nobels. She won the first for physics shared with both her husband Pierre and her professor Henri Becquerel in 1903 for work on radioactivity, the second eight years later for chemistry for discovering radium and polonium and the pioneering work of isolation.  
Later, her researches exacted the ultimate price, she died from aplastic anaemia contracted from exposure to radiation. Its damaging effects were not then known; she worked in a shed without proper safety measures and carried test tubes containing radioactive isotopes in her pocket and stored them in her desk drawer, remarking on the pretty blue-green light that the substances gave off in the dark. When I first began to drink, I too had no idea that its effects would come so close to exacting the ultimate price from me also. I am grateful that it did not and that Jeremiah 29:11 has held firm for me. 
Nevertheless, I myself was awarded a prize which may go some way towards prolonging my life and increasing cardiac fitness. 
The accompanying card is too small to see, but like a microgram of radium, carries more weight.
The fat naked man is not I. Surprisingly.

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