I remember being a student in Munich – that was about half a century ago! – protesting against some new regulations that my University (LMU) was trying to implement. We were in the street and some placards read: “TRAUE NIEMAND UEBER 30!” (DON’T TRUST ANYONE BEYOND THE AGE OF 30!).
And now I am 75!
Do I still trust myself?
Not with everything, of course.
For instance, I would not trust myself to ski down neck-breaking slopes; nor would I trust myself to pass the medical exams again; nor to drum 3 times per week in jazz clubs.
But, generally speaking, I do manage not that badly. In particular, I think I am capable of providing (hopefully constructive) criticism and reliable information on so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), the subject that became my hobby horse in the late 1970s and subsequently my job in the early 1990s.
At my age, people often ask me about regrets.
Do I have regrets?
I used to answer this question with a straight NO.
Lately, I am realizing that this is not entirely true.
I have quite a few regrets – mostly, they are relatively trivial. But some go deeper.
Those who know my CV well often wonder “Do you not regret having left your position in Vienna?” It’s a legitimate question: in Vienna, I had a position for life, a large and well-funded department of high reputation. In Exeter, I initially had as good as nothing followed by 20 years of fighting for ever more scarce funding.
Despite all this, the positives of the last 30 years more than outweighed the negatives, in my view: I was soon able to build up a productive team of researchers; together we managed to publish some exciting and important research; and eventually, we even managed to get a reputation – depending on who you ask, a good or a bad one.
But more important for me was just being in England. I loved it! No, not the food, not the weather, but the British openness, tolerance, understatement, politeness, integrity, gentleness, and decency. Sadly, since the Brexit vote, much of this has started to slowly disappear.
Would I do it all again?
I am an incorrigible optimist convinced that the UK is presently going through a bit of a rough patch that soon will end. It’s just that, at the age of 75, I feel they better hurry up.
The birthday cake just came from Natalie Grams – thanks Natalie