Thursday, August 17, 2006

This is amusing, from a book review by Freeman Dyson:
When I was a junior fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, Hardy was my mentor. As a junior fellow I enjoyed the privilege of dining at the high table with the old and famous. During my tenure, Professor Simpson, one of the old and famous fellows, died. Simpson had a strong sentimental attachment to the college and was a religious believer. He left instructions that he should be cremated and his ashes should be scattered on the bowling green in the fellows' garden where he loved to walk and meditate. A few days after he died, a solemn funeral service was held for him in the college chapel. His many years of faithful service to the college and his exemplary role as a Christian scholar and teacher were duly celebrated.

In the evening of the same day I took my place at the high table. One of the neighboring places at the table was empty. Professor Hardy, contrary to his usual habit, was late for dinner. After we had all sat down and the Latin grace had been said, Hardy strolled into the dining hall, ostentatiously scraping his shoes on the wooden floor and complaining in a loud voice for everyone to hear, "What is this awful stuff they have put on the grass in the fellows' garden? I can't get it off my shoes." Hardy, of course, knew very well what the stuff was. He had always disliked religion in general and Simpson's piety in particular, and he was taking his opportunity for a little revenge.


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