The Other Club
Allow me to give myself a pat on the back. Today at c. 15.59 I sent what I would once have called the manuscript of my Laughter lectures book off to the university publisher. Now of course that means some electronic cyber-space version of a manuscript, which is not really the same thing at all. It had been, I confess (boast?) a struggle, simply because of the number of things to check and double check.
I have been on the 18 hour a day routine, and 17 of those in a really filthy mood.
That's even with the book "nearly finished" for weeks. That's partly because of those references that you never did quite work out (the fragments of EnnIus were causing me grief today), and partly because the things which had simply slipped your attention. I confess I do most of my New York Review of Books reading online, and the website doesnt appear to have page numbers -- and I was trying to refer in the old fashioned way to an article there by Hayden Pelliccia at the end of last year. So far as I could see the University Library copy was at the binders.... This is where short cut came in, I emailed the NYRB and asked them for the page numbers. And lo and behold (thank you!) back they came.
I wont bore you with the other trifles, like which volumes of the third edition of Frazer's Golden Bough were published in 1911, which in 1913. Suffice it to say after an early start I did get the lot (MINUS THE LAST CHAPTER STILL TO FINISH) off by the target tie of 16.00 with a minute to spare.
To celebrate this achievement (though I have to say that bed might have been the best celebration -- to sleep, I mean), I went off to London to give a lecture at the awesome (in the 21st century sense of the term) The Other Club (... Churchillian reference there).
En route, lucky me I guess, I took in 20 minutes at the Grierson Awards Nominations Party. I've got nominated in the Documentary Presenter of the Year category. I wont win (for what it's worth, my vote goes to Grayson Perry). But I thought it would be nice to go and share a glass or three at the pre-awards party -- when everyone can be pleased at having got that far, and there isnt the grippingly agonistic element of wondering who exactly is going to come home with the trophy. (It's the "you all have prizes" moment, and great for that.)
But I was due at The Other Club at 19.30, and just about made it. If you dont know about it, this is Women's Club (men welcome as members so long as they bring woman as guest), running for a couple of months in a "pop-up" space near Carnaby St. Among other things, it is hosting evening lectures.
I was down to speak about ancient Roman geo-politics -- with special reference to Syria. For me this was great (I tend to get asked to talk about trolling these days rather than Roman history, about which I know rather more). I tried to capture something of what Syria meant to the Romans: a cultural hot spot, hugely wealthy (see that theare above), but still tainted with the slightly weird; and to capture something of what rebellion meant in the Roman empire (and how gendered that could be (Boudicca, Zenobia?); and what perspectives we might gain from this about out own global geo-politics.
I finished with the story about the Roman general Crassus going out to fight the Parthians in 53 BC, losing dramatically at the battle of Carrhae -- and having his head (decapitated) used as a prop in a performace of Euripides Bacchae put on at the Parthian court. A fantastic story of ghastly ancient warfare, of overconfident Roman imperialism, and of Hellenic culture crossing the frontiers.
But also I couldnt help thinking, it makes a nice symbol of a tough lesson: the West should probably think twice about entering warzones where the Romans had trouble.
(Now does that include Scotland??)
I had a really damn good time at the Club, by the way!