These last two days I’ve been working at the Bradford Science Festival. I was assigned to help http://smashfestuk.com/ in their Space Plague tent. An immersive experience, where families help to diagnose and treat an outbreak of Space Plague and in the process do a bit of differential diagnosis, epidemiology, and chemistry, have fun with lasers and mirrors and learn a bit about medical ethics – before running screaming back to reality.
The concept – A meteorite landed in central Bradford last night, and as if that wasn’t bad enough people are now getting sick. We don’t know what’s wrong with them – maybe it’s Space Plague?? It’s an emergency, we need your help!!
Tasks included getting people of all shapes and sizes into paper boilersuits, playing the part of a harassed epidemiologist, handing out freebies – and helping the same people to get out of the same boilersuits.
Oh, and I was IC stapler – I’d promised on my honour as a boy scout to return the stapler to the retail desk at the museum at the end of the day. A heady responsibility. And one I’m pleased to say I managed to carry off with skill and aplomb – although it was a close run thing . It disappeared altogether at one point, later turning up exactly where we thought it should have been, but under a huge pile of Other Stuff. And it jammed. I’d only promised to return it, and I hadn’t read the small print – but I was guessing that returning a broken one would be seen in the same dim light as not returning it at all. I fixed it.
I somehow missed the memo that said lunch was provided – lunch (cheese and salad sandwiches, bag of cheesy puffs, bottle of water and a box of white chocolate and pistachio truffles) was provided. These weren’t just white chocolate and pistachio truffles: these were Marks and Spencer white chocolate and pistachio truffles. So my own lunch (cheese and pickle sandwiches, cherry tomatoes, no truffles) came back home with me and got eaten for tea. The soup that I’d made the day before will have to get eaten today.
When there was a bit of a lull I found myself sitting on the grass in a tent that was a mock up of an emergency field hospital set up to deal with an outbreak of space plague, chatting to the scientists and actors involved. Oh, and I was dressed in blue coveralls to look like some sort of mad scientist myself. Being left by your husband might be generally seen as a Bad Thing – but really, what’s not to love. I’m getting paid for this!!
Day Two was more of the same – but warmer. Who knew a lady could glow so profusely…
But at least I knew that lunch would be provided. Dark chocolate and hazelnut truffles this time.
And then it was over, and everything had to be packed up – all the camouflage netting, all the hospital curtains, all the clipboards, all the paper coveralls, even the Synchrotron and the Space Plague make-up. Tables needed to be shifted, chairs needed to be shifted. More tables needed to be shifted. But, thank the lord, no lanyards were involved on this occasion.
I was working until six, and there was a train at 6:14. The train station is a 15 minute walk away. This being a Sunday, the next train wasn’t until 6:48 – so best go to the loo before hometime. Public loos closed already at ten to six!! It’s hard (but, I discovered, not impossible) to run for the train with your legs crossed…
Home by quarter to seven, straight into the shower, and on to my laptop by five to. New lodger had texted during the day to say he’d paid his deposit (have I mentioned I’ve found a new lodger? I’ve found a new lodger!!) so just time to check the bank account and email the other prospective new lodger to tell her the rooms are taken and not to come to view them as planned at 7:30. I felt really bad about that – really short notice – but I couldn’t cancel until I was sure I had the money.
What a weekend!! New job, and new lodger. Good to know (strike that – fucking brilliant to know!) that there’ll be a bit of money coming in soon. The husbanding of my resources will continue of course – I’m not out of the woods yet – but once the money’s safely in the bank I might at least start browsing the wine aisle at Aldi again.
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