Friday, July 18, 2008


I've had the privilege, in my time, of being a squadron leader with some of the most peculiar flights of imagination. Today's post is a shout-out to those who, however briefly, were my wingmen and my fellow leaders in the fight against intellectual terrorism.

The first wingman I ever had in professional life was Mr T. No, not the one with the big gold chains, but the quiet Malayali Christian with the razor-sharp sense of humour and the penetrating pragmatic skepticism of a true scientist. An odd person, but a genuine friend; we had many late-night suppers together with the music teacher, and when we could leave school early, evening teas. There was an excellent evening with unlimited chili crab, I remember.

A few years later, the Argonaut came along, with his ability to get work done and set things in their places. Another national of the same great northern state, he established a pattern which has not changed much; the vast majority of my professional colleagues who are friends seem to come from one specific discipline and hail from one specific country. I remember thinking, as I worked with him, that this was the beginning of a great team. Pity that it did not last.

I've never quite referred to my third wingman in this way, but he's a troll at heart: lives under bridges and forces entirely new and interesting perspectives on passers-by. Is also very capable at extracting a toll from said passers-by, thus developing the logical economy of the aforementioned bridge. He is also prone to provocative behaviour and yet has a very finely-tuned intellectual capacity; these two things come together more often than many people might think.

And I have served as wingman to several very interesting people in my time, but that post will have to wait till another time.

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