Unfortunately things did not go to plan. Although I did not realise at the time, putting it down to teenage angst, I was terribly depressed, which, in retrospect was in part due to my social isolation and perfectionism, common difficulties for those with Asperger Syndrome. I did not do as well in my A Levels as I had planned, did not take up a place at university and spent a year working as a Product Group Consultant (a fancy name for a department manager) in a pet shop. An epiphany occurred when my Area Manager remarked I would make a good Assistant Manager one day, I was alarmed, I did not want to be a Manager, I wanted to be a Scientist! So I went back to university.
Ten years later, after two drop outs from full time university before finally finding my niche with The Open University, and a lot of pharmaceutical and psychological intervention, I graduated in 2011. What next? Was MSc Taxonomy and Biodiversity still the course for me? Would I cope with a life away from home and being skint? Only one way to find out.
So here I am, half way through a Masters in Science at my favourite place in the world, the Natural History Museum, London. So far I have been mostly:
- Getting lost in the Museum
- Walking into tourists while mesmerised at the beauty of the building
- Getting lost in the Museum basement
- Identifying and labeling Cambrian priapulid worms from the Chengjiang shales during palaeontology curation experience day
- Getting into a lift in the Darwin Centre 2 accompanied by drawers of butterflies
- Scanning Acridocarpus type specimens on botanical curation experience day
- A scientist taking a short cut through the computer room holding two turtle carapaces
- Gazing out of the window of the computing room to see a museum demonstrator dressed as Mary Anning crossing the yard in the snow
- Holding a piece of fossil wood from the Terra Nova expedition
- Seeing some of Hans Sloane's botanical collections from the Caribbean in the historic botany department
- Grubbing about in the Museum Garden discovering soil biodiversity and meeting the land amphipod Arcitalitrus dorrieni for the first time (a couple of days later I found it in my own garden in Portsmouth)