At some point earlier in the day — I forget exactly when — Oliver Riordan asked me whether I was going to a reception hosted by the British Council and EPSRC (the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council — an administrative body that decides how quite a bit of Britain’s science budget is spent). I had had an email invitation in the morning and not got round to replying to it, but Oliver said he was going over to an EPSRC stall in the large room where various publishers and other organizations had stalls, and would be happy to tell them I was coming, which they needed to know because it involved taking us to a hotel in the centre of town by bus. I thought, “Well, if Oliver’s going then I may as well go,” which turned out to be a good decision.
Also happening that evening was a performance of A Disappearing Number, a play by Théatre de Complicité, a British theatre company directed by, and co-founded by, Simon McBurney. If that name means nothing to you, you may still remember a seedy British diplomat in the film The Last King of Scotland. He was, or rather played, that diplomat. The play is partly about the Hardy-Ramanujan story, and has had several runs in Britain over the last two or three years, to great acclaim. Despite knowing Simon (about which more later) I had not got round to seeing it, but neither had I got round to getting a ticket for today’s performance while they were still available — which was OK because the play was on in Hyderabad both today and tomorrow.