Paris VI 1975/6

In 1973, I gave a course of lectures on Fluid Dynamics at the Ecole d'Eté des Houches in the Haute Savoie.  There I met Paul Germain who gave a parallel course on continuum mechanics.  This led to an invitation to spend my sabbatical year 1975/6 at the Université Paris VI, otherwise know as the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, in Paris.


With an introduction from David Kelley, an authority on Baudelaire and colleague at Trinity College, I rented a third floor apartment in Rue Molière, off the Avenue de l'Opéra, where I could not have been better placed.  The apartment belonged to Desmond Ryan, who died alas of pancreatic cancer in 1976, but not before I had played several games of tennis with him and his wife Mary and daughter Juliet; they had moved out to live in Moncourt beyond Fontainebleau. Incidentally, their neighbour there was Patricia Highsmith, whom I met only on one occasion when I found her to be rather intimidating.


I gave a lecture course at Paris VI on Dynamo Theory, and spent the year writing a research monograph on this subject. My wife and (by now) four children came to spend Christmas with me in Paris, in preparation for which I learnt  to make a genuine Cassoulet de Castelnaudary, complete with stuffed neck of goose; Elizabeth David's French Country Cooking was my bible at the time.


In February 1976, I was at a low ebb, having run into a severe difficulty with chapter 6 of my monograph.  I was rescued by Hélène Lanchon, who invited me to spend the mid-term break at the end of February on a skiing holiday in St Jean-de- Maurienne.  Here I met Jean-Pierre and Agnès Brancher, who have been close friends ever since.  My spirits were greatly revived by this break, and I completed the monograph Magnetic Field Generation in Electrically Conducting Fluids over the months that followed.