The 13th rule of travel states: Never Ask a British Airways Stewardess for Another Glass of Wine Until She’s Good and Ready. This was not an issue on our flight across the Atlantic, as we were bumped up into World Traveller Plus, which meant plenty of leg room and frequent questions like “would you like another drink?”. The aircraft was a Boeing , or Speedbird 113. But even with extra leg space, a reclining seat, complementary blankets and pillows and a meal starting with smoked salmon, followed by beef and ending in a heavenly chocolate-orange dessert, and even if you are in good company and really like flying and planes, an eight hour flight is a bit of an ordeal. Especially if prior to it you’ve spent three hours on a bus, three hours on an airbus and three hours at Heathrow airport.
So although I’d prepared some scientific reading for the trip, I felt more inclined to pick up my paperback, than to get up and dig out my laptop from the overhead locker (extra leg space means no storing of bags in front of you during take-off and landing). While I read Pete McCarthy’s “McCarthy’s bar” a travel book about Ireland, I listened to a list of top pop-tunes in the UK compiled for BA customers. And while I read McCarthy’s words “Never mind”, Adele sang the same in her no 1 hit “Someone like you”. This was hardly a spooky coincidence, as the list was playing on repeat. Still, the song took me back. I first heard it on the coach to Heathrow over a year ago. I used to fly frequently from the airport during my post-doc in the UK.
Luckily though, the book was too funny to allow me sink into nostalgia. And after all, this is not the time for reminiscing, but a time for looking forward. So in case you are wondering, I’m Finnish, and English, of which 1:8th is Irish. However, this wasn’t enough for me to get a kiss at Moriarty’s Irish Pub, where we had lunch, although the after-dinner mints so instructed. Never mind, the food was good, and after all I’m masquerading (poorly you’ll notice, if you know anything about “en” and “ett” genders) as a Swedish speaking Finn -and trying to pass for a biophysicist. Really I’m a mitochondrial biologist, yet at this conference my poster is on integrins. Hmmmm, I might be experiencing a tiny identity crisis here.
So, to ease into things, I started the meeting by staying in my comfort zone and attending the bioenergetics session. Vamsi Mootha’s and Rosario Rizutto’s talks on the mitochondrial calcium uniporter were impressive, as was to be expected. (And sure enough, PGC1α was mentioned only 64 minutes into the meeting). But the room didn’t have stadium seating, so my view to the screen was largely blocked by the head of a lady who kept playing with her chestnut locks. Pony-tail, loose, puff, messy bun, loose again, another pony-tail now at the side, loose… (Surely, if I can sit still for 8 hours, you can go for 90 minutes without fidgeting.)
Anyway, the talks were good. And they prepared me for the rest of the weekend, which I get to spend with an ex-colleague and fellow mitochondrial scientist from Cambridge. Some nostalgia is expected and permitted.