Monday, February 06, 2006

Striking a blow for Rosalind Franklin

In the center of Cambridge, just past King's College where the bar's being repainted "Soviet red" in homage to its socialist past, there's a winding side road that takes you past one of the city's biggest bars, where Watson and Crick killed off many brain cells celebrating the discovery of the DNA double helix.

This bar offers a nice assortment of British brews, as well as your standard pub fare: fish and chips, burgers, baps (sort of like a burger but with much better fillings, like brie and mushroom). You can place your order, pick up your table number, and traipse off to a snug corner in one of their many low-lit rooms, where you can idle away a half pint or so until the food arrives.

Unless, of course, they neglect to provide your table number, don't bother telling you it's important, and forget about you for over an hour. Until the kitchen closes.

We'd tried flagging a few waittresses down when we realized we'd been at the bar long enough to watch a full shift of pre-funking collegiates rotate through the building, but most of the blonde, Slavic-accented employees just leaned in close and said, "Yeah, it's coming. We're very busy." Finally, I chased someone down when I heard him calling what should have been our table number, only to discover it was a full two table numbers later: our order'd already been cooked, called and chucked into a bin.

Twenty minutes and many more apologies later, we finally received our fish and chips. An interesting note: in Britain, fish and chips usually consists of one large, batter-encrusted slab o'fish, rather than the palm-sized pieces we're used to back home. Nevertheless, we consumed the entire thing in about five minues and finally managed to get out the door...but on the way, I managed to shatter a window in this historical bar which is older than the city of my birth. The entry was packed, so we kept close to one side as we squeezed between patrons. Without even thinking about the wall of tiny glass blocks next to me, I pulled my purse strap over my head and heard a terrific "crack!"

Somehow, I failed to associate the sound of glass splintering with the unexpected pain in my elbow until I heard a girl gasp and a guy say, "Did that girl just do that?" I whirled around in a panic, but the gasping lass quickly rearranged her features into a harmless smile and said, "Ah, nah, nothing, it wasn't you, go on!" Methinks she's broken a few windows herself staggering around Cambridge...or she's a fellow sympathetic klutz with no sense of physical space.

Last week, I snuck back into the bar to see whether I'd actually inflicted any damage, and there at eye level was a glass block pane, spiderwebbed into four neat fissures.

Rosalind Franklin, in case you're wondering, was denied recognition for her part in the DNA discovery because she didn't fully trust her male colleagues, and they didn't like her antisocial behavior. She spent the rest of a too-brief life knowing she was entirely correct in her misgivings. Given the angle and velocity I needed to crack a window that high, I'm thinking I subconsciously rebelled to help Rosalind leave her mark on what's forever known as Watson and Crick's bar. That one's for you, dark lady. Take that, boys!

1 comment:

Kristy said... and chips....Mmmmm. Wish I were there.