OUP Preface

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Being born at the end of WWII meant that early life was very different from that which exists today - ration books, cats’ whiskers radios, cobbled streets, gas lamps and town criers rather than iPads, smart phones and the internet. The local hero was Tom Finney, who played for the nearby Preston North End football club (1946-1960), and although my early education developed next door to the stadium it was soon apparent that soccer was not in young Eric’s lists of interests. Mathematics, however, clearly was, and on moving through to Blackpool (at which point I probably saw the sun for the first time) I was fortunate to obtain a place at Arnold School. For in those halcyon days of independent direct grant schools governors and headmasters were free to do as they wished. This meant that life revolved around lessons until Saturday lunchtime, huge amounts of homework, music, the combined cadet force and rugby (soccer was banned!). The first two enabled me to develop my passion for mathematics and physics, and the middle two a modest ability on the Eb tenor horn and radio transmission. As anticipated, the last didn't really feature. Self-taught piano and a badly played clarinet completed my musical education. Luckily for me, I was blessed with having a brilliant mathematics teacher, Fred Liston, to whom I owe an eternal debt of gratitude. Being able to study maths, further maths and physics in small class sizes right through to Advanced and Scholarship level under his guidance meant that I was well-prepared to read Mathematics at Imperial College. After graduating (B.Sc., ARCS) in 1966 I spent a year at Manchester University studying for a Diploma in Statistics, before settling down into my chosen research field of Applied Stochastic Processes at Sussex (M.Phil.) and Edinburgh (Ph.D) Universities. I joined the Statistics Department at Edinburgh in 1969, and served there as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Head of Department and Associate Dean, before taking up the Chair of Statistics at Strathclyde University in 1991 (Vice-Dean Research from 1996-1999). In 1995 I was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. On reaching the grand old age of 60 in the summer of 2005 I decided to take partial retirement, and retired completely with an Emeritus Professorship in 2008.

The initial idea after finishing my second book was to complete my Munros and regain a single figure golf handicap, but a chance encounter with a mandolin followed by enrolment at an evening class soon led me down a totally different route.