A Certain Confusion

Thoughts of a writer of sorts

Month: January, 2012

Memories of CERN

Six and a half years ago, I arrived in Switzerland to do a work placement with the exhibitions team at CERN as part of my MSc in Science Communication. It followed hard on the heels of producing a play in London – the last night was Saturday; on Sunday I flew from London City Airport to Geneva, me white as a sheet with terror, to start a job for which I had almost no qualification, in a new country where I spoke almost none of the language(s), on Monday morning at 9am.

My memory is shocking – experiences do not live on in my brain to be faithfully recalled like a film (or even radio) documentary of my life. No, they melt away, or melt together, or merge with dreams and imagined conversations. But mostly, they melt away, leaving me with a world-view shaped by my experiences but unrooted and unreferenced to the events that gave it this shape.

My CERN diary and the CERN book they gave me

My CERN diary

It would make sense, then, for me to keep a diary. I have tried a few times, and it has never quite stuck. But when I was at CERN, I kept this diary and I’ve been reading it tonight and I’m ever so glad for it. I wrote in it often at first and, naturally for me, the entries tail off towards the end of my time there, although there are a couple of bonus entries from when I was back in the UK.

Some excerpts from August 2005 are below – apologies if they are excruciatingly dull (did I use that phrase in my last post as well?). I’m mining them for any nuggets I can transfer into the Discreet Dictionary – the first original entries for quite some time. Read the rest of this entry »


Discreet Dictionary - original version

The original version of my Discreet Dictionary

I have begun the second stage of uploading the Discreet Dictionary. It involves going back through the entries from A to Z adding links to the cross-references. It is a pleasant exercise as I get to revisit some of the earlier entries and, if appropriate, retweet them for those following the Dictionary, given that I only started tweeting the Dictionary at around P.

Today I have updated entries from A to C, replacing the (q.v.) tags with links. Highlights you may not have looked at before include Alchemy and Cow, although I personally love the stark lack of context of Autumn: “Autumn is the correct season for the king’s hair and teeth to fall out.”

While tracking progress during the first phase, I would post here with a heading derived from the entries I had uploaded in the intervening time. That feels less appropriate for the second phase, so instead, I am going to share the notebooks in which I made the original notes that form the basis of the Dictionary. It may be monumentally boring, even off-putting, for you readers, so we shall see how it goes.

Read the rest of this entry »