"There is, Watson, much one can deduce about a city by the state of its streets," said my companion sucking on his habitual liquorice root, which I never normally mention because it makes him sound less intellectual.
"One can surmise, for example, the date at which the city came to prominence. If the roads are cobbled and unevenly pathed, one can deduce that the city's growth largely predates the motorcar and that either insufficient funds or an excessive attachment to the city's heritage has precluded subsequent refinement to the road surfaces. If the streets are smooth and the kerbs accessible to wheelchair users then one can presume the city flowered in an age such as ours in which it is possible to support one's self in a city by the efforts of brain as much as brawn, as we do and the inability to walk is not the impairment it might once have been.
"In short, the historic cities of the world can be neatly divided into those that welcome visitors to interact with their pasts and those that wish you to merely gaze upon it."
"What are you talking about, Crick?" I replied.
He said nothing and we sat in silence for a while until the tea lady came in with some bath olivers and shower stanleys and showed us the structure of DNA.
I resolved always to play down her involvement in our work, and give her share of the credit to Jeff Goldblum in association with WGBH Boston.
Ian Potter has been to Prague, Vienna and Budapest recently (during the trip he bought a European edition of The Guardian which featured him displaying considerable erudition in the field of Neanderthal teens in Notes and Queries, which was nice, if odd).