I've been wandering round the UK since Sunday evening, including two interviews, and I'm now chez parents.
Flew into the Ryanair fake Glasgow airport Sunday evening. I wasn't sure when on Sunday night or Monday I'd get time for a meal, so I treated myself to lunch in Stockholm at Shanti Soft Corner, an Indian restaurant with a weird name but tasty (if pricey) food. Anyway the journey was painless, the flight getting in to the middle of nowhere in Ayr 10 minutes early, so I ran through the airport and managed to catch a train that left only 20 minutes after the nominal arrival time, rather than having to wait an hour. The west of Scotland is very pretty in sunlight, but a bit depressing in the gloaming and mizzle. Still, I made it to Glasgow safely, and across the city centre to a random hotel found on the internet, name of Best Western Glasgow. It was rather attractive in a gothy sort of way, with lots of dark wood and gilt and very inadequate lighting. They promised me complimentary drinks in the mini-bar, but there didn't appear to be a mini-bar in my room at all. There was a bath though, always a great bonus after travelling, and unlike a lot of budget hotels they actually did the traditional thing of providing soap and bath lotion so that I wasn't stranded after being good and avoiding liquids in my hand luggage.
I was too nervous to sleep very well for the 6 hours I had left to me; not really about the interview, but more about the travelling. Anyway I got up super early and had 20 minutes to spare for my 6:30 train. The train helpfully and rather comfortably carried me to Preston, but just when I thought I'd get away with leaving no time margin (train arrived at 8:55 with a 9 o'clock interview, though happily the uni is right by the station), I got a bit lost in the campus and ended up 20 minutes late and rather bedraggled. I think they felt more sorry for me and impressed at how far I'd travelled, than annoyed by the unpunctuality, but I don't know.
Anyway, they had all six candidates together, gave us a talk about the job and a tour of the department, then asked us into the lecture theatre one at a time, then fed us sandwiches and gave us a chance to talk to the people who would be our close colleagues if we got the job, then half an hour of panel interview each. It was interesting to meet the other candidates, who came from a range of backgrounds, some like me looking to move off the research track after a post-doc or two, one a bit older who is already a lecturer in an ex-poly, and an internal candidate who is just completing her PhD. At the same time it was a little awkward to have to sit making small-talk with eachother while waiting for our turn to present or be grilled! 5 girls and 1 guy; the latter wore a conventional business suit, most of the girls wore smart jackets and decent trousers, but not matched. And the fifth girl wore the kind of Islamic dress that leaves only the eyes visible; it was fascinating, but kind of scary, to observe how half the faculty who came to talk to us completely failed to notice that she was there. The worst case was a guy who went round asking each candidate in turn where they came from and how their journey was, and literally skipped over the sixth candidate as if she were invisible.
They attempted to be helpful to me since I'd come such a long way by moving my presentation back from 11:15 to 10 and my interview from 2:30 to 1, but since I didn't know this until the day it didn't actually help that much. However, since my social arrangement for Monday afternoon was sadly cancelled, I jumped straight on the first train for London I could find, and was in Cambridge for 5:30 instead of the projected 10:30. (Also the train accidentally gave me free internet when I attempted to pay for internet, so that was jammy). So I agreed to meet cartesiandaemon in the expectation of joining his people for geek pizza. But he managed to time things so that he showed up on just the exact bus I was catching from the station, and (in perhaps the most romantic gesture I've ever experienced) brought me a thermos of teeeeeeea. We didn't want to go far since we intended to meet people at 6:30, so ended up in the funny little café / bar place over the cinema. They had raspberry ale and comfy chairs, so it could have been worse. Geek pizza was excellent fun; they were most endearingly happy to just slot me in to their ongoing geek conversations, really very welcoming!
Tuesday I made an appointment at the Family Planning Clinic to get pills. But the nurse wouldn't give me the combined pill because I'm too fat. (I mean, she didn't say it like that, she said euphemistic things about risk factors and such, but that was the gist.) And then she took my blood pressure in the most stupid way ever, basically saying, I'm going to get your blood pressure and if it's not good enough no way can you have the pill. Surprisingly enough, my blood pressure was elevated. We argued a bit; I was trying to find the line between helpful compliant patient and insisting on what I wanted, but in the end she pressed a progesterone only pill, Cerazette, on me and muttered about getting STD and smear tests done. I shall try it and see how it goes; I have heard horror stories about mental health effects which I really Do Not Want, but it might be ok. Also, the annoying nurse tried to fob me off by claiming that 96% effective is really much the same as >99%, but unfortunately I understand statistics! She did say that if I was willing to go through a full panel of STD checks and then wait three weeks, I could have the coil. I'm certainly willing to do that, but it's not practical until I know where I'm going to be living. So at least that's an option. Anyway, lovely pseudomonas cheered me up with sympathy, good conversation and tasty Indian food, which made me feel lots better.
Then today I went to Leicester for a post-doc interview. It didn't work out all that well, because the guy I was supposed to be seeing was called away for a family emergency. He had a close colleague interview me instead, with the help of his current post-docs. I gave my usual kick-ass presentation and generally handled the interview well, so maybe the group will recommend me to the prof. But I would strongly have preferred to actually talk to the guy I am hoping to work for! Anyway, I had a really, really tasty south Indian meal in the 40 minutes before the train back to Cam (yes, I've been eating a lot of Indian food recently, but hey, I was in Leicester and anyway I've been pining for it!)
The lecturing job said they would let me know that day or the next, but I've heard nothing. This is leading me to suspect that I'm their reserve candidate, and they are waiting for confirmation from their first choice before they turn me down. I shall nag them tomorrow, but I'm prepared for disappointment. The research job said they are intending to do most of their interviews at the end of May, so I won't hear for a few weeks anyway. So now I just wait and hope.
I won't make it to the Carlton as planned tomorrow, since my parents sort of randomly invited my sibs for dinner without consulting me first. I'm slightly annoyed at having my plans changed on me, but I am very happy for the chance to see Thuggish Poet, so I don't mind too much. OTOH I do intend to show up to the Pembury for doseybat's party on Saturday.