THE opening of the film Swallows and Amazons this week brings back memories of Roger.
Who is Roger? In the film and the children’s classic he is one of the children whom the author Arthur Ransome had met and then immortalised while holidaying in the Lakes.
And Roger? Well, I met him in real life when he was grown up and had become a famous doctor, Roger Altounyan, who had invented the inhaler used now by millions of asthma sufferers.
There he was as we shook hands in his Edwardian Wilmslow home in Cheshire, his young middle-aged face alert and inquisitive, introducing himself – as my daughter-in-law’s father.
I soon discovered he seemed able to divide his life into two parts – his rigorous scientific research and that of his family. Of course, I only knew him when he was at home and that meant using his garden shed that seemed to double up as a laboratory and a research “kitchen” where he made the most delicious jams and chutneys for the family. When he wasn’t at home he was in his laboratory at Pfizers – the world’s largest pharmaceutical company – for whom he worked as a top scientist.