I first went to this lecture three years ago when Sir Patrick was still alive and just well enough to present part of the talk himself. Even though the lecture only lasts two hours, and is held in a hall literally a five minute walk from my house, I recall having a whole bottle of wine before we left home just to make sure I could last out. When we arrived they were selling wine as they were tonight, and I ordered two glasses, one for me and ‘one for my wife’ even though she doesn’t drink. In the interval I ordered two more glasses and remember spilling some on the way back to my seat and then spilling more down my shirt I was so drunk.
That night I wanted to ask Sir Patrick a question but was too pissed to get my thoughts in order, and at the end of the lecture I was too drunk to dare go over and shake his hand. I thought at the time I would be able to try a little harder the following year and promised myself not to drink so much, but of course Patrick had died by then. He was the man who inspired be to become a scientist in my fifties, so what an arsehole I was to waste such an opportunity in favour of booze.
Did I miss anything by being stone cold sober this evening? Certainly not. I even got to meet some new people and make new friends. Was anyone else drunk? No. So what a complete waste of space (pardon the pun) I must have looked to other people back then.
I have my own New Horizon and I love it!