Thursday, 10 November 2011

A busy week

It so happened that this week was tightly packed with academic events. It started last Saturday with the Open Day at our research centre, in which I wasn't involved in (because our brilliant students did all the work), but attended and was excited about. The purpose of a Open Day is to recruit students. When we had an Open Day last spring, I think most people came to listen to our guest speaker, Michael Rosen; although we did recruit three masters students to the current course. This time, I believe that most people came because they were interested in the course (not that the guest speaker was less attractive). There were some people who had come from as far away as Manchester and York because they were curious about the course, and I hope we'll get their applications soon. They will find out in due time that the course is not all about cupcakes.

On Sunday, my dear friend Lydia came to visit. This was an improvisation, but I couldn't help telling her that there was a children's literature symposium on Monday and she was welcome to join. This symposium grew out of two colleagues, from Sweden and Denmark, independently of each other, wishing to come to Cambridge and bring their PhD students to meet our students. I didn't mind as long as they paid for themselves (I wish I had money to be generous!). We had long deliberations about this, and finally I suggested that both groups come at the same time. I was a bit uneasy whether our students would think it was a good idea and would be prepared to have a whole-day workshop, but they did. Good students, always ready to work harder. Then it took ages to find a date that would suit everyone, which I know from experience never ever happens, so eventually the Danish colleague said: "We are coming on November 7, and whoever likes can join us". Which was the only clever solution. Then the whole thing started expanding. When I was in Glasgow last month, my friend Jean Webb told me cheerfully: "See you soon!" How soon, I wondered. Well, she was coming to my Scandinavian symposium and bringing three students. Hmmm, thanks for telling me. I also had a guest lecture planned, since half a year ago, on November 9. Unfortunately, this speaker, Elina Druker, could not come on Monday, but with Lydia and all other people it turned out impressively international anyway. The presentations were good, the discussion stimulating, and the lunch horrible - I will never use our Faculty caterers again. But then we had a party at my place, with nice food provided by Skott Bed & Breakfast, and I think everybody was happy. Lydia earned her keep at Skott B&B by helping clean the kitchen.

But it wasn't over yet. Nina, my Danish colleague, had thought that it would be a pity, once we were there, not to have another event with senior scholars, so she organised it (I just booked a room), and it was truly a most gratifying professional experience. When do we have the luxury of sitting down for two hours, talking about profound issues of our discipline! That was a joy. Then we had a quick lunch - at the Hall, so it was a huge improvement on the previous day - and the guests left, and I had two meetings, while I was obliged to ask a student to take care of our next visitor who arrived at the time of my second meeting. When I finally got out of the meeting - I was chairing it, so I couldn't leave before it was finished -  I took Elina to an exhibition by a Homerton colleague, and then to Formal Hall.

Are you still with me? Because I am not done yet. Yesterday we did some standard Cambridge sightseeing in the morning and early afternoon, and then Elina gave her fascinating talk on ABC books, and I did remember to bring nuts and olives for the post-sem refreshments, which I am myself amazed at, so much other stuff I had to have in mind.

And finally today I did the class moved from last week when I had my eye surgery. Believe it or not, I was terribly apprehensive about this class. I had only met them once, on the first day when the whole teaching team popped in and waved and said Hello, see you soon in class. I have blogged about my horror of the first encounter with a new class, and in this case they had already met my brilliant colleagues, and how could I ever be as good, and they just wouldn't turn up, and they wouldn't have prepared for the class, and they would think me boring... They did turn up, and they were well prepared and talkative and responsive, and I was really, really pleased with this class and only did half of what I had planned to do, which I always view as a successful class.

So here I am, Thursday evening of a very busy and hightly stimulating week, and I am trying not to think about all the zillions of things that had accumulated while I was having fun. I am going to take a day off tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I had a fantastic time with you (as always) and am just so glad the timing was so wonderfully serendipitous. I'm also delighted to hear you are taking the day off. Staffan, the cat and the garden are more important in the long run!

Maria Nikolajeva said...

It's 3:30 and my "day off" hasn't started yet.