Date Archives June 2018

We’re going to a conference!

It seems to be a truth universally acknowledged that conferences are good for free hot drinks and cakes. Indeed, I can’t deny that I was looking forward to some posh coffee at the conference I was on my way to earlier this week. Still, an obvious but muted appreciation of freebies is one thing; brazen public cynicism towards the whole venture is another. Here are some words I transcribed on the train from someone going to a conference (not the one I was going to) while they were glancing through the programme:

We’re supposed to go to some things that are relevant to us.

‘Fire safety: post-Grenfell’. We’d better go to that.

All these people we need to know to get a new job!

Why would you want a new job when you’ve just been promoted for doing nothing?

You’ve got all this in your diary. I haven’t got any of it in my diary. I’m just going to follow you like a sheep.

Everyone who works for them is 25, aren’t they?

He’s normally so photogenic. He’s got really good teeth.

I enjoyed the conference I attended. The coffee was excellent. And all the presentations and panel discussions.

Lots of folk live on their wits

Joe Orton wrote on 14th January 1949:

‘I wish I belonged to one of the idle rich and didn’t have to work.’

Philip Larkin wrote in a poem:

‘Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?’

I don’t want to be idle (though being rich would be nice), but I am frankly fed up of daydreaming about grand projects that cannot happen due to lack of time and funds. How do you get to become a star film director? Can you pay the mortgage as a poet if you’re not called Simon Armitage?

I read yesterday that a ‘Millenial Generational Expert’ is an actual job. ‘With millennials coming of age, companies need to understand how to engage them’. Hmm…Reading this makes me want to eat my own face in frustration. Perhaps I should try to make a living out of writing sarcy comments about fancy jobs that I can never have? Or perhaps I can stop writing this blog and dutifully go to work…

Endless Summer

University in June: bereft souls, nursing students and porters still moving heavy things. Occasionally I can’t help reading a title over someone’s shoulder: something to do with blood cells or pedagogy (does anyone like that word?) The gym is more clinically desolate than usual. The corridors seem wider. What would I have done if, as a student, I had stayed on campus during the summer? Probably much the same as what I did during semester, which is not to say write precocious essays about Shakespeare.

I enjoyed browsing a book recently about Renoir, the original: in his last years he moved to the south of France, where he painted constantly right up until his death. Imagine having such a sense of urgency in your 20s with three months of summer ahead of you? On campus there is filming equipment in cupboards being unused. There are locations with perfect light if you’re prepared to capture it…

‘…Then came the coolness of the salt water. We were laughing together, dazzled, languid, grateful. We had sun and sea, laughter and love. Would we ever experience them again as we did that summer, with all the vividness and intensity lent to them by fear and remorse?’*


*Bonjour Tristesse, Françoise Sagan