Friday, 23 October 2009

A confused post

A confused post

I arrived early at BCA gallery. This was mainly because in order to save money I had had to catch a train, which would arrive in London Liverpool street no later than four twenty nine. Bedford was much as I had remembered it, little seemed to have changed. At the gallery however things were afoot. Both Laura Pottinger and Katie Walton were on maternity leave, Sarah was moving on to a new job and Dawn Giles was the new power in the office. The office itself had been rearranged since my last visit seeming, as in fact it always did, in a state of flux. It wasn't long before I found myself helping Mira to fit spotlights and angle them in order to illuminate Dawn's desk. Then I was carrying a coffee machine down into the gallery slopping the contents of the overflow tray onto my trousers. Next I was arranging chairs and trying unsuccessfully to connect the laptop to a projector. I took on all these tasks willingly and largely unbidden. By seven the guests had arrived, taken their chairs and turned their faces expectantly towards the three speakers of which, unfortunately, I was one.

I had met Simon Munnery (our chair) before this 'in conversation' but I hadn't recognised who he was. He had seemed familiar and jocular but it was only as we seated ourselves to begin the 'in conversation' that realisation came upon me. I was on Simon's right hand and the extremely tall Chris Dobrowolski on his left. Both began by talking fluently, telling jokes, funny stories and looking extremely interested and interesting, while I, feeling my strength ebbing away, began to think about easing myself out of the audience's field of vision. I began to rehearse lines in my head while Chris embarked on a hilarious soliloquy about a very serious Russian researcher and a toy penguin. I noticed that Chris' work was very like mine, that we had similar experiences and responses to the Antarctic and that we both felt nervous, undermined even, about each others position. I was thinking that perhaps I should have travelled to those frozen wastes, he was thinking that maybe he shouldn't have. Then Mr Munnery swivelled his whole body around to face me, moved to speak and I remember no more.

The Antarctic is now a distant and rather romantic dream for me as is that evening's conversation.

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