Good read

The Egg Nebula (Hubble telescope)

The Egg Nebula (Hubble telescope)

I’ve just finished reading Travelling to Infinity, Jane Hawking’s autobiography of her life with Stephen Hawking. Good read! Highly recommended! I couldn’t wait to get back to it and finish it. We only heard small parts of the story in the press reports over the years. I’d heard that Stephen Hawking had divorced his wife to marry his nurse, and I was a bit miffed about that. It turns out it’s partly true (isn’t it always), but he didn’t marry her, they only lived together. What a difficult person he is. Genius, yes, but very, very, very hard to live with. He makes up for his physical condition by having a super ego, to the exclusion of anyone else’s needs or wants. He was capable of deliberately placing his wheelchair so as to obstruct passage for his wife, and placing himself in the doorway of his daughter’s room to deny her privacy.

He was, in the earlier years, scornful of anyone else’s ideas, always demanding the last word in any discussion. If he didn’t like music or ballet or something else, then he poured scorn on it. He belittled his wife’s religious belief. He was, and presumably still is, a very difficult person to live with, always seeking the limelight, soaking up the praise and honours, wanting to be adulated.

Jane Hawking herself is highly intelligent and has a PhD in Spanish Literature of the 17th Century, as well as being a professional singer of classical music. She also taught in Cambridge.

The nurse is named, and we must assume the lawyers have passed the book for libel, but she became the dominant nurse among a rota of half a dozen or so, and took over the whole household. She seemed to want to live in the reflected glory of the great man, and fed him stories about his wife and the rest of the household, including about the other nurses. Most of them left in disgust until she was the sole carer, dominating him and his own wife and children. He allowed it to happen because he lapped up her praise and attention. Eventually he fell under her spell and moved out to a “luxury flat” in Cambridge with this nurse. That meant that his wife and children had to leave their house, as it was provided by Cambridge University for the use of Professor Hawking, not his family. They had a year’s grace, but had to find somewhere on their own.

However, Mrs Hawking wasn’t completely blameless. Although entirely platonic, she befriended another man while still in her marriage to the professor, and this male companion spent many years with her after the early death of his own wife from leukemia. He even spent most of his time in their house, helping with Stephen and acting as Jane Hawking’s close companion. It was in full view of Stephen and initially with his full approval. After the professor and the nurse, (who was still married with her own child!), moved in together in their new flat, then Jane Hawking divorced him and was eventually free to marry her long time companion.

You have to feel for her. She went through hell for more than 25 years, bringing up three children and this stick figure of a genius husband, only to be betrayed and backstabbed. I know a bit about that, being betrayed and backstabbed by family. I know what it’s like. Highly recommended reading.


Gee, this model railway planning is much harder than it looks, for a first timer like me, anyway. I’m typically trying to do it on a big scale, of course. If I started small it would be much easier. Luckily it’s all being done on the computer screen, so it doesn’t matter how many times I scrap ideas and start again. Marvellous software – AnyRail. Here are a few plan snippets that I’ve gathered to try to incorporate:

Waverly Kings X

This is London King’s Cross from one track plan.

Kings Cross N

This is London King’s Cross in another plan I’ve just found this morning.

Loch Oran

Loch Oran. This is a much simpler and easier plan. I like it, but it doesn’t bend around the L shape I want. Just an idea.


This is from a manufacturer’s web site – Kato of Japan.


This is from the blog of a German guy. Interesting. It’s multi-level, hence the black and red tracks.

Waverly L leg

Waverly Station, Edinburgh. I’ll almost certainly use this at one end.

Waverly Doncaster

Doncaster. I’ll use this too.

A new box of goodies arrived this morning from Hatton’s in Liverpool, UK. All small stuff like station platforms and ramps, but a couple of sets of electric rail catenaries, just to try out. I’m not sure if I’ll incorporate any electric trains (I mean model locos with representational power pickups from overhead wires, like our Perth trains). The fine plastic moulding work of these catenaries is amazing.


I’ve dropped nearly 4Kg in the past few months and I think I can keep it off, too. Cutting out carbohydrates (very little bread), cutting the beer down to no more than one a night, often none, no nibbles with the beer, and cutting the evening meal right down to soup or some such. “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.” I’d never heard that until about a year ago. It seems to be good advice. I’ve restarted the process to have the gastric bypass operation, though. I can’t go on like this. First appointment 2nd April. Presumably, then, gastric band removal 2 or 3 weeks later, say end of April, then wait two months and have the big one in July.. I must admit, I’m scared of it, not the operation, but how I’ll cope with the strict requirements from then on. There’s no going back on this one. It’s for life. But I’m desperate. This is primarily to fix diabetes, secondarily to lose big amounts of weight.


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