13 - Last Days and Some Tributes  pp. 114-122

Last Days and Some Tributes

By Sara Turing, John F. Turing, Lyn Irvine and Martin Davis

Image View Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Alan's house had a room from which the bathroom had been sliced, leaving a space – the “nightmare room” as he called it – useless for domestic purposes. This he eventually turned into a laboratory where he spent many happy hours carrying out experiments. According to some of his friends these were often of an unnerving character. On one occasion Dr. Gandy refused to take part in one such experiment in a laboratory alive with electrical equipment, though he was prepared to pursue it in the kitchen. It only goes to show Alan's readiness to take chances when possessed by some absorbing idea. One who knew him well wrote to me that he was like a child when experimenting, not only taking in the observed result mentally but testing it with his fingers. He adds: “When we worked together on some electrical contraption he several times got high-voltage shocks by sheer carelessness.” One experiment that he carried out to his own great satisfaction was the gold-plating of the bowl of an egg-spoon: he used his grandfather's gold turnip-watch for the gold and, presumably, potassium cyanide, hence the presence of the latter in solid form in a drawer in his spare room.

Dr. Robin Gandy has given a full account of their joint activities over the week-end a few days before Alan's death. They were busy with the preparation of a non-poisonous weed-killer and sink-cleaner. “There was nothing sinister about these experiments, which were just an example of Alan's liking to make things himself.”