Will I get to meet Bob Dylan?
I am feeling chuffed beyond imagining to have been elected an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. I was enormously pleased a year ago to have been made a fellow of the British Academy .. but then there had been a prior, and very discreet, request for a cv, so I knew that something was going on (even if, as all communications made clear, it would come to nothing).
This came right out of the blue. In fact I had the first congratulation before I had got the letter, and that is always the best. Not to mention the fact of my real warmth to the Academy that they did not hold some of my past crimes against me.. if ever there was a case for blazoning the community of scholarship, the welcoming of lost sheep, the broad church of democratic freedoms of speech, and the virtues of "live and let live" then this is it. For which I am truly grateful and touched and honoured. (Those of you who dont know what on earth I am going on about, click here.)
But I got even more excited when I looked at the other electees.
It is funny how different countries have different boundaries when it comes to cultural amd academic honours. In the UK science and humanities and divided, and I dont think that either the Royal Society or the British Academy recognise the performing arts etc, as part of their remit.
Anyway, when I looked at the other people who had just been elected like me -- I was, well, star struck. Yes, there is my friend Brian Rose (congratulations Brian, if you read this). But look who else. I guess that the "Bob Dylan" of Malibu must be the guy I think it is, and then there is Leonard Cohen (who has taken me round the world with Hallelujah - a British Airways favourite on their soundtrack -- not to mention the teenage years).. and to cap it all there is Paul Simon.
Do you think that when I go to sign in in October I will meet these guys. If so, so much the better for being an academic. (OK, realistically I wont, but dream on Beard.)
And excellent as the British Academy is, do we think that it might be enhamced by the presence of Mick Jagger? There's a thought, guys.