Finding out where you should live is a question that all young professionals face at the start of their careers. My knowledge of Geography is based on the football results. I was only 2 years old when I began reading them in the News of the World on a Sunday. (See Sun readers: that is the reading age you need for Murdoch newspapers!) I soon learned where Leicester and Birmingham were, Manchester, Liverpool and Coventry held no fears for me, and while I was stumped for a while by Aston Villa, Everton and Port Vale, and never got to grips with Partick Thistle, Queen of the South and Stenhousemuir, away trips to Brentford, Queens Park Rangers, Chelsea and Leyton Orient soon familiarized me with the London clubs.
I was aware of Bournemouth, though. Permanently ensconced in the Third Division (South) I found it a pleasant place to visit, compared with Northampton or Watford and much nicer than Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton. So when I was looking for permanent jobs and had my choice of London, Southampton or Portsmouth, it was Bournemouth I chose based on my experience of the football results.
I have never regretted the choice. I have been thrice head-hunted to go to teaching hospitals and each time, though I have seriously weighed up the option, I have decided that my original decision to come here was the right one.
My reasons are plain. First: it is a fine place to raise a family. We could afford a large house overlooking the golf course, ten minutes from the beach, five minutes from the railway station, (trains to London every half-hour), two minutes from the motorway (yet no sound from it), five minutes from the hospital, ten minutes from a fine shopping center and also from a really good church. The only thing missing is a good opera house.
Second: the schools were excellent. Bournemouth has retained selective Grammar Schools, so that a highly academic education was available for all four children without our having to pay a penny - all took advantage of it.
Third: a really excellent hospital - voted the best district general hospital in the country last year by the journal, THS. This included a complete new build, which I was involved in planning.
Fourth: wonderful surrounding countryside. To the south is the English Channel with views over the Isle of Wight. To the East is the New Forest (planted by William the Conqueror). To the West is the Jurassic Coast - a World Heritage Site and to the north is Salisbury, with the finest (and tallest) Cathedral in England.
Fifth: a professorial post in Southampton, which although a pretty dismal Sixties rebuild of a bombed-out port from WWII, does have some history and a splendid Department of Cancer Studies which has been responsible for some of the most important innovations in my field.