Mixed feelings really post-BAAS (as ever), not least returning to the fray of work.
BAAS is always delightful (good to see friends and contacts that I only see at the annual conference) but it was tempered by seeing the lovely C - who was organising the conference - run ragged by grumbly academics. She did a fantastic job of keeping all the plates spinning (not literally) but I really just wanted to hug her by the end (which I did - and gave her some chocolate buttons: her request!) The panel of papers I chaired on Ben-Hur went well and I managed to not totally disgrace myself when taking up a last-minute chairing of a session on contemporary US fiction. Friends and colleagues gave excellent papers, including one who gave an incredibly accessible but nevertheless erudite paper on Emerson and Shakespeare. The banquet went well and the jazz band were highly enjoyable (we also had some live jazz on the first night which made for a very entertaining backdrop).
But the highlight of the conference - aside seeing friends and their families - was the arrival of Jon Snow, newscaster.
As he is connected to Oxford Brookes Uni, Snow has contacts with one of the BAAS elite who had been selected to deliver one of the plenary lectures. Instead of just a single voice then, we had a double act of first her briefer academic lecture followed by Snow's eloquent, witty and utterly partisan political take on some of the issues she raised, drawing on his extensive experience and observation of the USA.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable pairing which the audience seemed to lap up (a celebrity in our midst!). And, as mentioned, what was especially enjoyable was hearing Snow 'off-the-political-fence' so to speak: let's say he wasn't a Bush fan).
Even more pleasurable was that instead of legging it away from the conference straight after, he mucked in by travelling on one of the double-decker buses hired to take us all up to Nottingham Castle's art gallery for a wine reception. It was here that he continued to charm and chat to many of the attending academics -- including me.
Shucks. I have to admit he is a delightfully charming man: tall, distinguished and engaging. Fair made me giddy!
So, now it is back at work. If I can keep my head down and moderately out of trouble for the remainder of the term I will be very happy.