On the eve of my departure I had mentioned Belfast on Facebook. And I have two friends from there, both currently living in Plymouth. I figured that were I given the job, they might give me some advice on where to live and what to do. But they came in handy before; one happened to be in town on the same day! Simon the Historian phoned to suggest he’d show me around. I’m lucky!
I touched down, found a bus, got to town, dug out the map I had kept after my visit in 2002, and walked to the B&B. In my room I found the key to the bike I had rented, and which was parked outside. Spiffing! All went so smoothly that when I phoned Simon he wasn’t even in town yet. But soon we met at the university main building.
We roamed through town a bit. He pointed pubs out he liked, or his brother liked, gig venues and restaurants. And a column commemorating the first landing of American troops in Europe, on January 26th 1942. You’re a historian specialized in Northern Irish – American relations, or you’re not. And he showed me the waterfront. And then we decided it was time for a pint of Guinness. And while we were at it, we had dinner too.
Then we said goodbye. I promised to let him know the outcome! And I trusted I would hear the outcome from what he had come for: a football match between NI and Russia. Oh dear... (Although NI would win! Hurrah!)
After I’d said goodbye to Simon I rode back into town. And out on the other side. I rode past the Black mountain which flanks the city on one side. Would I end up living here I might want to try to live close to it! I also passed thick streams of youngsters on their way to a big concert. And then I went back into town, admired the big fish that inevitably pops up when you google images of Belfast, and went back to the hotel. There I took advantage of the big mirror to decide on an outfit, and read a local newspaper. Ready for tomorrow...
The fish sculpture and my rental bike
And then the morning came. I decided to first localise the building the interview would take place in, and then see if I could find Maarten Blaauw, who is involved in one of our sea level projects. And I found him! It was nice to have a cup of coffee, and after that he kindly brought me to the school office. I there met another candidate; a palynologist. She seemed nice! And then I was called up. The interview panel consisted of only three people; the PI, the head of school and Paula Reimer. They were very nice! I hope I did well. I think I did. I expect to hear on Friday...
The building the interview took place in
I didn't hear on Friday. I left for Scotland knowing that not hearing anything wasn't a good sign, but that it did not mean anything conclusive. And while in Scotland I rarely had signal, but when I did, I still heard nothing. And then I came back to my house, finding lots of mail on the doormat. Nothing from Belfast! Until, after I thought I'd dealt with all the mail, my sister said "you seem to have more mail" and I noticed an envelope that was leaning against the door, and was camouflaged as such. I noticed a big Q on it. Oh dear. Mail from Belfast after all! I didn't get the job...