Friday, 20 April 2012

Welcome to amazing 'conferenceworld'...

Well, we've been silent here for a few days... It's because I've been living in what we might call 'amazing "conferenceworld"'.

David Lodge actually predicted and satirised this world in his hilarious 1984 book, Small World, laughing at a band of academics constantly flying around the world, chased by their own photocopied papers (and bar bills). But it's real. I've been bashed from pillar to post in the last couple of weeks, taking in - for instance - the superb Stress of Life conference in Exeter, focusing on well... the history of stress.

And I spoke at the deeply, richly fascinating The Navy is the Nation, at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (above), a conference addressed by the First Sea Lord... Not your everyday occurrence to us workaday academics.

They were great events. But they were marked by me furiously pounding the keyboard at the back, with a wifi connection up, trying to keep up with my emails. While listening, listening, listening - more tiring than it sounds. Especially when you're on near the end (at both events). And on at least one occasion, I fell asleep and awoke unable to remember where I was. Such is life - the 'stress of life', indeed.

This isn't a moan at all - I met some great people and I enjoyed myself immensely.

But one does sometimes wonder, contemplating a new hotel room, a new sub-set of experts and a new topic: where will it all end? Our hard-writing Stakhanovite tendencies are pouring out more and more incredibly detailed testimony and analysis, but it's getting tiring - and like the Soviet economy itself, might eventually collapse under the weight of its contradictions.

The mist of meetings is beginning to clear a little, though. Normal service next week!

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