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My Scandinavian holiday ends


My VIP Stockholm tourist guide
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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And in Stockholm again – I seemed to be blessed with good fortune – but I got to Stockholm and I'd found that it was very interesting in Oslo to go to the Town Hall and to see around the Town Hall, and so I went to the Town Hall in Stockholm. And there the place... No entry, it was forbidden to go in because there was an air raid practice going on, and a chap came along and said, 'You can't come here'. And I said, 'Oh, unfortunately I've come all the way from Australia to see your famous Town Hall', and, of course, Stockholm Town Hall is, as you know, architecturally very well known. So he said, 'Oh, well, if you've come that far, you must see it'. He said, 'I'm in charge of this air raid thing, and I'm empowered to let anyone in if I think it's important'. 'So', he said, 'I'll take you on a guided tour. They can get on well without me, I'm just supposed to be running it, so they can run by themselves, without me'. And so, in truth, he took me round, explained the whole thing, and then he said, 'Well, it will... I will now have to join my colleagues with the air raid practice. It will take me about an hour. Can you find something to do around... and then we'll meet back here and I'll take you to a place which you are never likely to find by yourself'.

So I readily agreed, and he came back within the hour and took me to The Golden Hind, it was called, or The Golden Stag, perhaps, and it was down in the old part of Stockholm, a superb eating-house unknown to many tourists, apparently. And he was well known because he was, turned out to be... he wasn't the Foreign Secretary, but he was in charge of the Foreign Ministry or something like that. And we had this wonderful lunch, and at about 3.30 he looked at his watch and he said, 'Well, you'll have to excuse me, because I'm catching the evening plane to Washington for an official delegation, and my wife says I have to come home to do the packing'. And he'd taken all this time to show a complete stranger from Australia around! So of course Sweden was a favourite place for me.

Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.

Listeners: Brian Johnson

Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.

Tags: Stockholm, Oslo, Sweden

Duration: 2 minutes, 42 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011