My grandson Thomas, who will straddle my life and something that might be near to immortality, was born today, weighing in at 2.44 kilos. Son of Kate and John, brother to Anna, and cousin to Julia. I will meet him for the first time tomorrow, but I want to mark his birth by just recording for him some mundane everyday aspects of my day and my thoughts which may be of interest to him in 10 or 100 years time. I will pick up this theme from time to time.

I have spent the day working in a university in Oxford, one of the world’s great universities according to annual ratings published today, and the place where your parents met. I am trying to build a research proposal whose task is to assess a range of technologies which may one day help combat anthropogenic climate change by either reflecting some of the sun’s radiation back into space, or directly remove from the atmosphere the chief gas thought to be responsible for the global warming that is one of the chief features of climate change. I am listening to a radio programme – monophonic sound broadcasting – from a national broadcaster called the BBC that points out that one consequence of the temperature rise and the melting of sea ice may be the reduction of krill, a base of the oceanic food chain. If the proposal gets written in time and uploaded to the funder’s computer by the time you are 14 days old, it may lead to a 9 partner team from 3 countries getting 1 million of a currency called euros which will enable us to work on these issues for 2 years.

I travelled to Oxford by taking a bus, an underground train and a surface train powered by diesel. The distance was 100 km and the time from door to door took two and a half hours. On the way I had a small handheld computer/telephone on which I could receive messages, read electronic news sources, and get various other sources of information or entertainment through slow 3G downloads or from an internal 32 gigabyte memory. I also bought a 32 page hard copy of a newspaper called the Guardian, which doesn’t provide much news in relation to much opinionated comment which reinforces by liberal left political and social beliefs.

The Guardian recorded a lot of discussion of whether the global economic system can survive a meltdown that will undercut living standards in the rich part of the world where we live, and threaten rising living standards for those who we somehow tolerate having very little, in material terms or in terms of their individual freedoms.

Now back at home I am writing this in a flat overlooking the cemetery on Willesden Lane, a memento mori for the remnants of the mortal. I got home to find that my lovely wife, your grandmother by marriage Kati, who departed today for a long weekend in her native country Hungary, had left lots of sticky notes with hearts and kisses everywhere I might go in the flat – she has such a warm generous mind.

Later tonight I will watch 2D television on a screen some 60 cm diagonally across.

Tomorrow I get an even slower train down to Blackheath to meet you for the first time. It will be so good.