September 9th, 2007

Portrait as a Renaissance artist-enginee

"Diana the Punter"

Once upon a time, on Friday, I attended a pre-conference Picnic of Decadence and punting expedition. This proved an interesting sartorial challenge: how to be dressed to be both thematically-appropriate for decadence AND still be able to actually punt, should the occasion arise. I was rather proud of myself for managing appropriately.

Post-picnic (of which more anon), we thronged through the grounds of Christchurch to the place where the punts had been rented. Not everyone who was picnicking was punting, so the actual numbers involved were vague until we arrived at the boats and started to fill them in in threes and fours. The few experienced punters in the group were recruited for the actual punting, and the boats started to set out.

Now I had hung back in case there was need for an extra punter. I haven't been punting in years and years, but having done it twice, I was more than happy to try my hand at it again, and anyways, I'd gone to the effort of dressing to be able to punt while looking elegant. In the end, there was a spare punt - they'd rented too many - and a spare spot in the one chauffered punt, which I was invited to take. I wavered briefly, but I knew an opportunity when I saw one. I was going to refresh my punting skills with the spare boat.

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P.S. Usually, in my experience, the only way to be a Known Person at a conference is either to give a paper or to already know people from previous academic encounters. This conference, I was the lone punter. Over the course of the next day or so, the passengers in the other boats stopped to talk to me. As notoriety goes, this was the right kind.