The End of an Era

Since I retired from the IT organisation in Shell just over a year ago, a number of my colleagues have followed suit. Last night I attended the farewell celebrations (a reception and then later a dinner) of one who was arguably the most liked and respected of them all.
 
To my mind, he epitomises the phrase: "a gentleman and a scholar".
 
Right from the start of my time in Shell in 1980, when I was in Shell Centre, and he was across the river Thames in ShellMex House, I always viewed him as my touchstone - the excellent example of the best sort of person in Shell, and the standard by which I would wish to be judged. And I’m sure I’m not alone in relishing his dry wit and irony.
 
The British philosopher and mathematician A. N. Whitehead is quoted as saying: "Intelligence is quickness to apprehend as distinct from ability, which is capacity to act wisely on the thing apprehended".
This man has the gifts of both intelligence and ability, and exercised them well during his Shell career.
 
Here’s to a long and happy retirement, Stephen – you deserve it.
 
Postscript: there were 20 of us at the dinner, and the old saw came up of "what’s the smallest number of people needed in a group before the chances of two of them having the same birthday is greater than evens?". Most people intuit that you need a very large number, because they don’t understand how probability works. The formula needed to work this out (where n is the number of people in the group) is:
365! / ((365-n)! * 365^n)
and n works out to be 23. As it happens, even with the 20 in our group last night, there were two sharing a birthday… More background on this exercise in probability is here and here.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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2 Responses to The End of an Era

  1. Edward says:

    Geoff,I share your admiration of Stephen ! What a far cry from the mob running the place today !!!Edward

  2. Geoff says:

    David follows suit at the end of this month – the last of the old guard, I feel…

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