When I was under ten, at the age of about seven or eight, I was given a piece of our garden as my own, to plant whatever I wanted and grow it. Then that turned into looking at butterflies, and hence growing butterflies, and hence asking the question of how could it possibly happen? So gradually the questions kind of emerged. When you think of a young age, many younger people ask how or why does something happen. That’s a good sign that they are sufficiently interested to pursue the problem, the subject.
And if you’re being drafted! When my father thought that I’d do so bad at school I’d have to go into the army — that’s the sort of thing you can do if you’re thought not to be particularly motivated. I hated any thought of the army, so I was desperate not to get into that. Then he said, “Well, maybe we’ll put you into a London solicitor’s firm where you can shuffle paper.” That wasn’t very interesting to me. So it was really my mother who took the decision to try and get me into science, because everything I did at home was all to do with plants and insects.