When I arrived by car last night here in Cambridge, I got lost on my way to Churchill College and eventually had to ask somebody for directions.

Kind of embarrassing given that I spent four years in this town. To my excuse I can only say that (i) it was dark, (ii) I never looked at Cambridge through the eyes of a driver, (iii) I entered Cambridge from “the other end” (the West), more or less opposite of my “academic cradle”, so that I was never really familiar in that area, (iv) I was tired and (v) I was focusing on staying on the left side of the road.

Somewhat more embarrassing: today I got lost again – on foot. I went for a slow 25km run, criss-crossing all roads in this lovely town. Once I got “off the beaten track” in order to explore and broaden my horizon, I eventually ended up at the “Beehive Centre“. Never heard of it? Neither had I. So I asked a young lady to point me in the rough direction of the city centre, which she did.

Overall, pretty amazing how little places and streets stick in my mind. I had pretty much forgotten the name of every single college in town, and I’m not sure if I could have retraced the path I used to take for three years to lectures every morning. (In my last year most lectures had already been moved to the new CMS building.)

But, despite all, I immediately recognized Shirley.

Shirley is not young, not exactly pretty, but she always brightened up my day with her somewhat motherly voice and the way she addresses everyone with “my dear”. Shirley still works as a checkout clerk at Sainsbury’s in Sidney Street.

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