It is a warm summer evening, I have just arrived in the US and I am sitting on Bob Berner’s porch drinking beer and listening to his stories. I mention names of people that I had only known from the literature; people whose reputations have reached me across the Atlantic. I have just started as a visiting scientist on study leave from the University of East Anglia and I feel rather like an actor in a first night production; lights are coming on, the stage is being set and the audience is gathering. The evening gets steadily later; much wine...

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