|I am given to understand, by no less a personage than an erstwhile professor of classics at Auckland, that the plural of "curriculum vitae" is indeed "curricula vitae", and not - as, according to my memory, Mr Chapman, my Latin master at Tadcaster Grammar School ( see below ), taught me - "curricula vitarum". I'll happily receive corrections to other bits of badly remembered Latin from any apparently authoritative source. And the fault is more likely to be in my memory than in Mr Chapman.|
Private Bag 92019,
at Horsforth, Leeds, England
on 1936 August 15.
Married ( very, since 1961, and still deliriously happily ) to Jean.
Three children ( Jim, Bill, and Jill, in that order - all now alarmingly middle-aged, and, despite long association with me, remarkably satisfactory people ).
Leeds, 1957 - 1960.
Physical Chemistry Department.
( It is accepted that the description of my occupation in the heading above begs at least two questions. You may impose your own interpretation on that. )
At the end of 1998, I retired from my lectureship in the department. The reason for this somewhat early change of state was not advancing years nor dreams of a full-time holiday. It was for the most part frustration, though the realisation that we could survive comfortably above the breadline without my salary did have some weight.
The frustration was twofold. There was a significant non-professional part related to my religious convictions ( not further discussed here, but available if you want it ), together with a more professional desire to do the academic job which I want to do, but which was increasingly swamped by more and more bureaucracy, teaching, and assessment. None of this is the business of a university, but what should be - and, in a modest way, was - a place of scholarship and learning is rapidly attaining the exalted status of a second-rate high school. Perhaps some day I'll get so cross that I elaborate on that, but not yet. ( You can find a bit of it in my diatribe on universities. )
As from the first day of 1999, therefore, my connection with the department became ( almost ) honorary, and the Senior Lecturer of old was transmogrified into an Honorary Research Fellow. It is my intention to continue a selection of such of my activities which I consider to be concerned with scholarship and learning. I'll be able to collaborate on things if anyone's interested, though it is fair to say that I have never felt threatened by the rush of eager collaborators. You might wish to inspect my plan for these activities. I call it a plan in the hope that it will some day become one; at the moment it is perhaps better described as a state of mind rather than a plan, but does give a hint of possibilities.
( The "almost" is parenthetically inserted before "honorary" to acknowledge that for some time I continued my administrative function of Information Coordinator on contract. A paradox, a paradox, a most ingenious paradox ! - not only did I continue with that which I professed to escape, but I was paid to do it while labouring unpaid on higher things. "Why ?", you ask, naturally expecting that one such as Alan Creak would not embark on such a course lightly, nor be seduced by the lure of lucre. You are justified in your confidence; I did it because I thought it was, some day, going to fit in with my research on PDL. It was not uninteresting in its own right, and I enjoyed the programming. And they forced the money upon me. The Information Coordinator, as a functionary of the department, is now long dead; his main job turned out to be producing the department's handbooks, which wasn't really what I wanted, and anyway they eventually hired a real employee to do that. Even while I was doing it, the handbook production was sufficently complicated by annual changes in requirements from external sources - mainly the Science Faculty - that I hadn't time to do the things I wanted to do, instead spending all the time on modifications and changes of no real substance. I shall preserve the final state of the handbooks and some other adjunct information, and hope that perhaps I can get back to the PDL, but nobody is unduly confident about it. )
At my retirement function, which I shared with Bob Doran and Mike Lennon, I was expected to respond to a valedictory address. I mention this only because I have been requested to preserve for posterity my response, which took the form of a song.
Around the middle of 2002, I offered to edit SIGCAPH Newsletter, which was the newsletter of what was the ACM Special Interest Group on Computing and the Physically Handicapped. That wasn't entirely altruistic; the Newsletter hadn't appeared for about two years, which I thought unfortunate in principle, but the more so in that I was trying to publish an article in it. I'd been trying since December 2001; after getting nowhere for some time, during which SIGCAPH almost disappeared, I got as far as volunteering in May 2002; here's my sub-enthusiastic letter to John Goldthwaite, the then chairman of SIGCAPH :
Hello, John -
Considering the lukewarm response to your attempt to cause people to discuss the future of SIGCAPH, I'm not sure that there's much point, but just in case I would like to confirm an earlier hint that I might offer to edit the Sigcaph Bulletin. I claim no expertise in the job, but I'm possibly better than nothing, and Art Karshmer assures me that it isn't too onerous. I should declare a vested interest, in that I submitted a contribution to Art on 30 July 2001, and it's stuck in the pipeline, if there is one.
I will gladly defer to anyone else who might have offered. I don't specially crave the job, though I think it should be done. I'm conscientious and would do it as well as I could; I'm also retired, so might have more disposable time than most. Against that, I'm isolated, not fond of travel, and unlikely to acquire much in the way of contacts. I write now because you wrote "We should make these decisions by the end of June", and here it is. I had hoped for more E-mail activity, including offers from other people, which would let me off the hook, but that hasn't happened.
I eventally produced my first issue ( including my article ) in the middle of 2003, and carried on until they managed to find a new editor in October 2004. Here's my editorial web page as a souvenir. ( Do not be confused by the "Sigaccess"; SIGCAPH changed into SIGACCESS in 2004. )
How long my academic activity will go on is anyone's guess. My immediate reasons for continuing might be unrelated to advancing years, but the years advance nevertheless, and I imagine that I'll eventually fade away from the university; and perhaps I shall find other pursuits so beguiling that I'll fade faster than I expect. As against that, there are certain things which it seems to me that I should complete, and these will take quite a while, so fading isn't likely to start seriously for some time yet. And I have a ridiculous old-fashioned sense of responsibility which will guarantee that I would not willingly desert a research student in mid-stream. ( - but the last finished in 2004, so I don't have that to worry about any more. )
But time alone will tell.
Go to me.