I went to Southampton this weekend, to enlighten people about the neo-Nazi themes in Richard Llewellyn's How Green Was My Valley. Here's a bit of pop-culture trivia: the film adaptation won 5 Oscars in 1941, including Best Film. Thus beating Citizen Kane!
I came back with typhoid. I knew there was a reason to avoid the pestilential antipodean end of this island.
I croaked my way through about three pages of my paper, before noticing a '2 minutes to go' sign being waved in my face. It felt like I'd hardly started, but my points were made and a really lively question and answer session followed. I attended a range of other peoples' papers including one on Lucha Libre, but my favourite was Sarha Moore's 'Metal, Machismo and Musical Mode: How the 'Feminine' Phrygian second has been appropriated and transformed'.
Basically, with the aid of some clips and a melodica (keyboard thing you blow into), she demonstrated how the flat second (sing the Jaws theme to yourself: it's when the second note of a sequence is flat rather than a whole tone higher) went from being a suspiciously feminine technique used in madrigals to being a macho 'diabolic' sound used only in heavy metal.
After the conference, I tried to find somewhere to eat and got repeatedly turned away for being on my own on a Saturday night. Does wonders for one's sense of self-worth.