From the bus stop opposite over the last few years, by the taxi queue outside St Pancras, you could see the amazing new Francis Crick Institute being completed behind the British Library. It went up rapidly for such a huge building. The website says it can officially be known as the Crick as well as by its full name, so in years to come it will probably join those other buildings named after people, where the building replaces the person as the primary referent. I don’t like the cleverly balanced double-helixy lump of rusty metal in the forecourt but I do like the strips of jewel colours in the windows at the front. George Osborne posed on site in a hard hat when he was Chancellor and claimed credit but the project was of course launched much earlier under the Blair and Brown Labour governments.
Yesterday I went to visit. The first public exhibition (free) on biomedical imaging gives glimpses of how research teams are visualising and analysing what goes on in cells, healthy or not. Recommended.
There’s a new road alongside the Crick, named Dangoor Walk.
I guessed that it must have been named after the late Sir Naim Dangoor, and sure enough he appears on the list of donors on a wall inside, amongst those whose generosity is acknowledged by Cancer Research UK. Strictly speaking, the acknowledgement is of Sir Naim Dangoor CBE and the Exilarch’s Foundation. The Exilarch’s Foundation is a real charity, but Exilarch is now an insubstantial almost mythical position. The title is a link to the past of an old community and refers to the secular leader of the Babylonian Jewish community in exile. It hasn’t referred to anything real for about a thousand years.
If you want to see how Wikipedia editors struggle with getting right things that might be controversial or not fit in with legal or neutral enough definitions, take a look behind the scenes at previous edits (using history and talk tabs). The first version, written before his death, began by describing Dangoor as a refugee. The latest version of the page on Dangoor doesn’t use ‘fled’, ‘forced to flee’ or ‘refugee’ which were in early versions, but tells us he took the ‘difficult decision’ to leave Iraq, which meant he also lost all he had. It is a small example of a much larger issue: minority communities from Iraq and other countries of the Middle East and North Africa, who left under extreme duress and in some cases had to escape when they weren’t allowed to leave, lost everything and had to find other countries to take them in. They weren’t and aren’t officially designated as refugees.