Farewell to the Good Old Days is a lively and intimate tale by David Greatrix, a man who has lived a dynamic professional life, first as an aerospace engineer and then as a professor of the subject. The book, leaning heavily on the actual life experiences of Greatrix and a number of his academic colleagues close and far away, is divided into two discrete parts; the book’s narrator for both parts is nominally a fictional consolidated representation of Greatrix, drawing from various sources in addition to the author. Part One covers the narrator’s childhood and early adulthood, followed by his moving into his years of growth as a professional breaking into the challenging field of aerospace engineering. Part Two tracks the narrator’s subsequent twenty-five-year academic career as a professor of aerospace engineering at a university in a major urban centre.
Prominent in this story are the many challenges the narrator encounters in his navigation of academe in a high-profile setting for engineering education. In an emotional narrative that never strays far from various shades of humour, the narrator shares the details of his teaching and research experience at his institution, frequently bumping up against the pointy bits of an evolving cosmopolitan academic culture.
In colourful detail, the narrator reveals the small successes, notable failures, unexpected events, and crushing disappointments that describe his tenure at his university. The narrator is especially candid in his revelations about episodes of betrayal. He takes aim at big targets, including the Canadian government, university administrators, and the academic superstructure as a whole. The result is an enlightening view into an individual’s complicated experience in a demanding world that serves as a microcosm of society at large.