Petter, Nick & George

I’ve been in London the past few days, attending a conference to mark the end of the first round of HERA-funded research projects. HERA stands for Humanities in the European Research Area, and it’s a collaborative partnership between a large group of national funding agencies.

Rhythm Changes is a one of the HERA-funded projects. It’s about European jazz and national identity. I’ve been involved with it for the past three years, and it’s coming to a conclusion. It’s a shame, really, because it’s been really interesting, I’ve had the chance to work with some brilliant people that I’ve become good friends with and it’s involved travel, interesting experiments with the internet, and of course, jazz.

The conference started with a series of presentations at the British Library, followed by a drinks reception. There were meetings and seminars, I gave a talk at Kings College London about Knowledge Exchange and Digital Humanities and there were also performances, concerts, demonstrations and earnest (and often fascinating) conversations of all kinds.

Shopping with Petter

Of course, the time wasn’t all spent inside listening to people talk about ancient manuscripts, avant garde music, bronze age creativity, digital literature and research funding policy (though that did happen rather a lot).

Petter and I snuck off to go record shopping and we struck gold in a couple of places. I bought four LPs (‘Dusty in Memphis’, a Bar-Kays album, Nina Simone’s ‘Wild is the Wind’ and the ‘Gerry Mulligan meets Stan Getz’ record) – and Petter ended up with substantially more. He even took a few of my recommendations. We also had what we decided was the best falafel of our lives (Falafel King on Portobello Rd).

This being London, there was a fair bit of walking around to be done. I was reluctant to go everywhere on the tube this time around, and the weather mostly behaved itself. I have an app on my phone that tells me how far I’ve gone, how many steps I’ve taken and so on. I walked 40 miles over the past four days. Yesterday, I did 15.

As a result, I’m kind of worn out – but it was definitely worth it.

Jelena & Kati

I had a decent camera with me, and took some photos while I was there.

Mostly portraits for practice, actually (I’ve started doing a photography course recently, and I had some homework to do) – but also some snaps from a walk around parts of London I hadn’t been to before with Kati from Estonia, and Jelena from Croatia, both of whom work as part of the HERA funding body.

I also got to see some incredible concerts (Soweto Kinch and Mari Boine), had a really great time with a couple of my London friends, and also made one or two new friends from distant lands while I was there. That was a highlight, actually.

The sun even came out.

All in all, a really nice way to spend a few days. Way more ‘stuff I really like’ than ‘stuff that makes me want to poke my eyeballs out’. A very good ratio, actually, as conferences go.

Beats the hell out of working for a living…