Imagine a research scientist at the age of twenty-four, James (Jim) D Watson. At that age, most of his peers would be checking out which lab to begin their PhD studies in; Watson, however, had not only finished his PhD but had already shared the greatest discovery in biology of the twentieth century. In Life Story, the superb 1987 TV docudrama, the quest for the structure of DNA climaxes with a triumph, the revelation of the double helix of DNA. Afterwards, Watson is with his sister on a bridge over the river Cam. She asks him why he is so quiet. ‘I’m 24 years old,’ he says. ‘Nothing’ll ever come close again.’ Life Story was right about that.
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Though 'the hotel had a reputation as the area’s best, its staff were not used to looking after world leaders, so the arrival of Cuba’s new strongman, Fidel Castro, came as something of a shock.'
@dcsandbrook on @simonhallwriter's 'Ten Days in Harlem'.
'After all, who knows what anybody is really like, or what they really think? The biographer – same as a painter of portraits – cannot help but reproduce himself to some degree.'
From the archive: Beryl Bainbridge talks to Sebastian Shakespeare.
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