Sunday, July 12, 2009

Leeds Live Blog I

by J J Cohen

The good news: I have arrived safely in Leeds. The bad news: I deliver my keynote tomorrow, so readers who have enjoyed my prolonged agonizing over the talk here at ITM, on Facebook and on Twitter must now face the fact that all good things come to an end.

I ran into a fellow American medievalist at Bodlington Hall who bragged that British Airways had offered her a $99 upgrade to Club World, where she was given her own sleeping cube. I was not offered such an upgrade by the airline, but by way of recompense they did give me an aisle seat next to a woman who gyrated her hips in her sleep in a way that perpetually crossed into the personal space of the college professor to her right. The passenger by the window meanwhile rang for the flight attendant every thirty minutes to request apple juice. Oddly enough he never peed, but to make up for it the hip gyrating personal space violating passenger awoke shortly after each juice delivery to head for the lavatory.

The hotel room that I have been given in Weetwood Hall is, in two words, quite nice. The bed is huge, the room is huge, and there is a tea kettle, a French press coffee maker, and more biscuits than even a glutton like me can devour. On Saturday afternoon I took the local bus into Leeds proper and walked around the arcades and Cornmarket. It was too late in the day for the art museum, but watching the people of the city on their Saturday errands was pleasure enough. I ate dinner, had some pretty good beer, and returned to my room to call home and head off to slumberland early.

Jet lag usually manifests as a mixture of homesickness and insomnia for me, so before I climbed into bed I popped the Ambien that my kind wife had given me from her stash. I know some people sleepwalk or bake cakes while under that drug’s influence, but not me: at some point late in the night I turned on my computer and made edits to my Leeds lecture. I lost consciousness holding down the return button and added about twenty pages of spaces to the speech. I then turned off the computer without saving anything. The next day I remembered EXACTLY what edits I had made (the holding of the return button, the changing of “chewed out” to “scolded,” some shortening of paragraphs). In a coffee shop later in the day I made the actual changes and saved them. Despite the sleep-editing I did wake up refreshed, and even took a run around Headingley, a village that it would be difficult for a medievalist not like: "In Viking times, Headingley was the centre of the wapentake of Skyrack, or "Shire Oak". Or so Wikipedia tells me. Two pubs are named after this oak, and I ran by both this morning: I will return and report if anyone with a horned hat lurks inside.

Tomorrow at 9 AM my “Between Christian and Jew” finally gets delivered. I’ve been living with the project so long that it will feel good to release some form of the project into the world. Wish me luck. Wish the audience luck as well.

Eileen just phoned that she has arrived, and that I should buy a pitcher of vodka and meet her at a nearby pub. That’s where I’m headed, but I will substitute tap water for her vodka because I really don’t think she can tell the difference.

If I can, I will try to blog some more of the conference as it unfolds.

7 comments:

Sarah Rees Jones said...

I wish you luck (but I bet you really do not need it).

Stephanie Trigg said...

Yeah, what Sarah says...

Once you get up to the lectern, though, don't you get a bit of a buzz? I tend to forget that in the week before, but then it all comes rushing back. Enjoy the moment!

Another Damned Medievalist said...

see you in the morning -- I'm in Weetwood, too...

Heo said...

I'm just sitting here, concentrating on how thoroughly, completely, and intensely non-jealous I am of you and your colleagues and graven image.

Yeah.

Anyway, have a great conference.

irina said...

Can I convince anyone to facebook/tweet-blog the talk? Because that would be amazing.

Break a leg!

Mary Kate Hurley said...

That *would* be amazing, Irina. Almost like being there. At 4 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time. :)

Eileen Joy said...

I'll attempt to tweet it--just charged up my iPhone in anticipation.