Friday, June 26, 2009
Sir Paul Nurse
"My parents were born in Norfolk and spent their early years working in the big houses of that rural English county, my mother as a cook and my father as a handyman and chauffeur." That is how Dr Paul Nurse, an English geneticist, started his acceptance speech of the Nobel Prize. Only that not.
At the age of 57 Nurse needed his birth certificate and discovered that his parents were not his parents but his grandparents, his brothers his uncles, and his sister, her mother. At age 18 she had got pregnant by an anonymous serviceman, and her parents brought up the baby as their own child. Both her "mother" and "father" were born out of wedlock to unknown fathers.
Nurse says (with a lot of humor) that he always felt different from his relatives, none of them completed high school, and wonders how is that their rather simple parents were able to hide his genetic identity for fifty years, being as he is a Nobel Prize in Genetics. A poignant, fascinating "family secrets" kind of true story.
PS: The boy sitting next to me in high school looked exactly like Paul Nurse. He was a rather short, strongly muscled, blond guy. A very friendly, good natured, likeable fellow. His family name was Killer (true!) and they were of German origin.