Thursday, 10 December 2009

Call me old-fashioned……

Thanks to my jolly electric car I don’t often use the underground in the rush hour. This week my car is being serviced so there I was standing on the train ( a seat? Unlikely) and letting the mind wander when I noticed that two women in the row I was facing were putting on make-up. I don’t mean a bit of lippy and a dash of blusher but the full war-paint.

One finished quite quickly but the other one did a job worthy of Strictly Come Dancing without the fake tan. I have no idea if she moisturized and toned before I boarded – but given the thoroughness of the rest she must have. A very careful foundation – blusher, shaper and then the whole nine yards with her eyes. Three coats of mascara, separating the lashes in between with a little metal comb – that took two tube stops to accomplish. Even a few stray hairs were tweezed and I suppose we should count ourselves lucky that she didn’t feel the need to shave her legs as well. This process had already begun when I joined the train and took almost to Old Street to accomplish.

It is not that I don’t use make-up, or watch others do it but somehow this young woman sitting on a crowded train, oblivious to everyone (lucky her) was weirdly compelling. And what a bag of stuff she had – a plethora of brushes, tubes, pencils, jars and bits of coloured stuff – my shoulder was aching at the thought of lugging that around.

I write this in another confined space, on my way to San Antonio to the largest breast cancer research conference in the world - usually around 8,000 delegates and the main lecture hall is like an aircraft hangar with large screens everywhere – if you are at the back you actually cannot see the speaker in the flesh so to speak.

It is a fantastic chance to catch up with what is happening in the field, meet up with many of our scientists, always a few presenting their work – the Brits are usually the second largest national group presenting after the Americans . One wonders in the current economic mess we are in how science will fare in the UK and whether the infrastructure will be there so that we can support great brains to do great research. The science we fund today means lives saved tomorrow – can government take that leap of faith?

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