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Thursday, 7 June 2012

Jvyaskyla: Day Four in Finland; Day one of Conference

I promised that I would update this blog throughout the week. Obviously, this hasnt happened. Here's why....

Day One:
I arrive at the conference venue in very good time, cradling my precious poster to my chest like someone returning home with a newly acquired puppy. The poster itself just stops short of licking my face - it knows it is loved and, despite that it is now carried only in a humble cardboard tube, has been protected all the way across Europe by being additionally carried in one of my guitar cases during the journey from Hull to Finland, has been examined every day since I arrived,  and  placed in a cool corner of the hotel room awaiting its moment when I have gone out. The reason for this devotion is that this time, I'm determined to win. The last conference I attended, my beautifully crafted poster - which I regarded as a work of art and was therefore reluctant to let anyone near during the poster session - failed to win the prize for "Best Poster". I was devastated, as Grasshopper's advice that academia is a competitive sport, is advice I have wholeheartedly engaged with, endorsed and adopted as my own personal Warrior Code.

There's about an hour's wait before registration starts, as in my eagerness, I 've arrived a little early, but when the doors open, I sprint towards the registration desk, cut the greeters friendly welcome short, grab a welcome pack and conference pack  and slink off to a corner to examine the details of where and when and how to display, al driven by the rationale that - if I have a choice of location - getting there first will allow me to pick the best spot on the poster boards. In the poster section of the conference pack, my brilliant abstract isnt listed. Surely, I think, there's been a mistake, but after scouring the leaflet, booklet, maps, inserts, tourist information, abstracts several times, its appears that I've come all the way to Finland for nothing. I'm not listed as a poster and neither is my poster.

One final, slower, more forensic trawl through the pages is launched when suddenly I see within the "talks' section, on Conference Day Three, in Room Alpha, under Parallel Sessions, at 13:15 "Mazzer will talk about ....." . WHAT ?........ What?.....What?........what?.........what???  I check every notice board in the conference venue. I use the internet facilities provided to check the conference website. The same message keeps coming up, I have to deliver a talk in two days time. Not wanting to make an idiot of myself, I sidle up to one of the conference organisers, and introduce myself.

 "Hi" I say "I'm Mazzer, erm, Just, you know, er, like, er checking , er, a few , er" ...cough... " details of this here like presentation I'm giving, er,, are these, er, times and stuff, like, er , confirmed and all, y'know?"

The organiser glances at my name, glances at the programme and says she's pleased to meet me and looking forward to my talk (I only later find out that everyone at conference claims to be looking forward to everyone else's talk, its like saying 'thankyou' in England). I wander around for bit, disconsolate. It looks true. I have to deliver a talk in two days. Nothing else for it, so I head back to the hotel and begin to write....

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