South Park Self

I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve

Right, one down. That was generally a lovely conference - smallish, beautifully run, papers uniformly interesting (I only really tuned out during one or two of them), and lovely people with whom I had lovely chats. The fun thing about fairy-tale theorists is that if you scratch strategically, just under the surface a high proportion of them are total geeks. Animated conversations at the conference dinner last night included fan fiction, LARPing, the exact wording of Bilbo's drunken birthday-party compliment/insult (under the influence of rather excellent wine none of us could remember the details) and the value of truly dismal B-movies and Alan Rickman. One of the papers was on fairy-tale elements in White Wolf's Changeling, causing me to get into a spirited debate with the speaker about her actual definition of fairy tale based on my actual knowledge of the system and role-playing generally, which I don't think she saw coming at all.

Accents represented at the conference: Flemish, French, American, English, Greek, German, Dutch, Israeli, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Australian, Romanian and me, who apparently counts as "English" to the non-Brits and "weird unidentifiable colonial" to the Brits. Curse those creeping South African vowels. Most of the above non-English languages occurred in outbreaks within hearing more or less continually, frequently with mid-conversational switches: a lot of these people are at least bilingual and frequently multilingual, and their English is of course very good. All rather humbling. I was, however, congratulated on my reasonably French pronunciation of such tongue-twisting fairy-tale writers as Madame d'Aulnoy and Mlle l'Heritier, which I suppose makes up for getting "Nicolajeva" dead wrong.

Despite being lovely, the academics present were, alas, clearly academics. A small but spirited catfight broke out on Day 1 around the issue of oral versus literary fairy tale, and intensified as the conference proceeded, with proponents of both sides among the keynote speakers. There was some pointed, slightly nasty and occasionally amusing dissing of each other's theories/works/previous intellectual attacks from behind the lectern, and some insistent spirited debates continuing not quite sotto voce in the back rows. A bit sad, really. Apparently highly-regarded academics require a reasonable dose of territorial instinct to become highly-regarded in the first place. Bother, that's where I'm going wrong.

rumint asked which abbey the conference was inhabiting. It's Saint Peter's Abbey; from the outside it looks like this. (The bits and pieces in the square are because there was a massive Leonard Cohen concert there over the weekend).

It also has a very beautiful refectory, in which restoration has recently revealed a roof mural no-one knew existed; herewith A Conference Inhabiting A Refectory, and a close-up of some of the murals. The abbey people insist the murals are 13th-century, but the style looks far more 15th or 16th to me. I attribute the slightly blurry roof picture to the peril-sensitive nature of my camera. It's protecting me from cherubs.

I slept beautifully late this morning, and am now going to trundle out and sight-see in the medieval quarter for the day. It's not a bad life. If you don't weaken.
  • Current Mood: calm academicated, touristy
  • Current Music: Crowded House
Apros nothing
Do you want a copy of the Penguin 'A Dictionary of Historical Slang'? (Abridged)
Re: Apros nothing
well, not right at the moment, my suitcase is full enough as it is, but if you're proposing to shower me with a random superfluous copy when I return to CT, then yes please!
Good grief, that's a question out of nowhere. I take it as Twinings Earl Grey, not too strong, with a "show it the cow" dash of milk and one sugar.

Do I get to see you when I'm in London for the weekend of the 1st and 2nd?