Aside from those careerists who consider them here chiefly for expediting others’ progression, you will be appreciative, I’m sure, of the enormous contribution made to the smooth sailing of your respective ship by a too often unsung group – the administrators.
I first heard Margaret Weddle’s lovely soft Geordie accent in ’96, when she telephoned to let me know that my CV had been well received, and that her boss wanted to speak to me. Hence, I moved up to Newcastle for the next three-and-a-half years, grinding out my Ph.D. Margaret was much more than secretary and PA to the Head of Department. A prime model of efficiency, dedication, courtesy and confidentialness, no matter her workload, she had that knack of seemingly always having time for you: from solving any real problem, to catering for a chaotic, distracted Ph.D. student’s random headaches with a ready supply of painkillers. Solutions were always administered with the warmest of smiles. She cared. And remembered; was always delighted to hear from, and of, departed ‘transients’, which most students and postdocs are. This one subsequently relocated to the other end of the country, and, consequently, we met up again on too few occasions. We last communicated in late November, after I learnt that she’d been ill again. She died a few days before Xmas.
Attending a funeral is about publicly paying one’s respects. But, to my regret, I wasn’t there, chiefly because I didn’t find out until last Wednesday afternoon that it had taken place that morning, with me still over 300 miles away, declining invites and putting off my New Year travel semi-plans, awaiting the arrangement details, which the previous week’s notification of her passing had indicated would be forthcoming. But, to my annoyance, they weren’t.
So, this is my way of publicly paying my respects.