It’s the little things that make a difference. I liked the attempt to give the authentic feel of a crime scene to the conference area.
Good thing I resisted the urge to call these posts “Gdansking Lessons” which I was temped to do, following in Vonnegut’s footsteps (“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”). After the late night, I nonetheless managed to get up early and have a hearty breakfast before heading to campus one Paul short (I had already arranged the day before to change my name by deed poll to “Where’s Paul?” because that’s what everyone called me most of the time).
I got some tea, got my Powerpoint slides up and then launched into my talk on Dorothy Hughes’ In A Lonely Place, a too-often overlooked classic of noir. I was surprised how many people turned up for the last day — and an early talk — but the audience was kind and I hoped I had a reasonable argument. David Malcolm put me in a good mood by saying he’d read “ASBO Bambi” the night before and really enjoyed it (and here’s the original headline that inspired it for those interested). With luck there will be a proceedings volume in the future, so you will all be able to read a better version of my paper.
After a brief break we were back for a catch-all panel that brought together very interesting topics. Wendy Jones Nakanishi spoke about Japanese crime fiction of which I knew not a jot and was captivated. I’m going to have to get a list from her as they were really fascinating. Natalia Palich talked about the ‘metaphysical’ detective story in Czech literature (maybe that’s what I should have called White Rabbit) and Janneke Rauscher looked at readers reading crime fiction in public, particularly how they review novels set in their own towns. People take it personally if you a) get anything wrong or b) fictionalise anything that’s not really there.
The last panel had Gill Jamieson talking about adaptating George V. Higgins and I don’t know how I’ve managed not to ever see The Friends of Eddie Coyle in all these years — especially as I love Robert Mitchum so much — but I will remedy that blindspot very soon because the dialogue is just so great. Dominika Kozera talked about Hoodwinked! which I’ve not seen at all but the opening riff on Red Riding Hood hooked me of course and I think this is a programme I ought to investigate.
The closing lunch gave us a chance to chat with folks for a while before the dispersing began. I had a Royale with Cheese and this beer which was very tasty. I sat on the end of the long table (I always choose liminal space) and chatted with Hector, Wendy and Maurice Fadel. Funny that Wendy turns out to be a Hoosier, so we were swapping “how I got where I am” stories. Fascinating woman! Then some folks left for a walking tour, but I took advantage of hitching a ride back to the Willa Marea so I could pack up before the evening’s activities and do quiet stuff like watch Adventure Time in Polish.
I love conferences, but it’s a drain being surrounded by people all the time when you’re accustomed to being alone a lot.
I chose the right moment to head out to the conference ‘cooling’ as it had been jokingly called because I ran into Paul J who was likewise heading out. I kept us from getting lost on our way to the pub 😉 even though he had said “women have no sense of direction”.
He also told me he had run into Mr B who was going to the Kinski pub. “He was supposed to take me!” I complained. So I texted him to give him a hard time and he said I should come by. It turns out the Kinski is just around the corner from the warming/cooling pub. So away I went. And fell in love!
It’s dark, quiet and full of little nooks. You could hold a conversation. How rare is that, where most pubs deafen you with noise — either music blaring or television screens. And the beer was good but you’ll have to ask Mr B what it was I got as he picked it knowing what I like. Tasty.
So we sat and chatted for a long while and after all the hubbub of the conference, it was great. The music was good, the beers were tasty and nothing better than yakking with an old friend. When they closed the downstairs bar, we went upstairs and while it’s more open — you could imagine a jazz trio playing there until dawn — it was still relatively quiet and peaceful and just the way to spend my last night in Sopot. And neither of us had to get up too early the next day.
Agnieszka and her husband (a Scot — so many Scottish connections at this conference!) took me to the airport when I checked out of the hotel, so we had a chance to talk over coffee for a while so I could thank her for this fantastic opportunity. Agnieszka did amazing work and so did Ula, Marta, Arco and the rune master tech guy (who’s name I missed!) and everyone else who had a hand in the conference. Well done, very well done.
The less said about being caught between the moon and New York City, the better (never fly Lot!). Thanks Bertie for picking me up at JFK and driving us back upstate. In bed by 2 am, up at 6 and away to campus to teach a 12 hour day. But that’s the price we pay for seizing great opportunities. Bring on the dancing lessons.
And I have my limited edition dishwasher unfriendly mug, which I am not allowed to wash!