Thursday, November 05, 2009

Party Absence

Last night my mother was hobnobbing with the great and good at the launch of Professor Mary Beard's book It's a Don's Life. Mary is a professor in classics at Cambridge and classics editor of the TLS. She also has a blog by the same name in The Times.

My mother was representing me. Mary's book is based on her blogs and includes a selection of the comments left by readers. To my surprise, one of my comments was included. It was not one of my more erudite (!) examples - just some throw away tale about cutting microphones at professional conferences - but it was relevant to the issue at hand, and got published along with other, more learned contributions.

So I got a signed copy of book and an invitation to the Society of Antiquaries' Burlington House premises to join in the fun of the book launch. Whilst there are many advantages to living in France, unfortunately hopping over to London for an evening's entertainment is slightly beyond my means, so, as a former Newnham girl herself ('50s), I asked my mother if she'd like to go.

She didn't need to be asked twice. I cleared it with Mary's PA (a lovely lady) and sat back to wait for my mother's review of the launch. The verdict was "GREAT!" She was welcomed by Mary herself, and introduced to various people. Then she got talking and chatting, and said how friendly everyone was, and how intellectual (unlike at home where my father, is an Alzheimer zombie and somewhat lacking in what one would call 'words'). She loved the ambiance, the food and the flowing drink, admired Mary's leggings, and came home extremely pleased with herself.

So, thank you Mary and Mary's PA for inviting my mother in my place, and congratulations on organising such an enjoyable event.

As for the book, I'm half-way through and am finding it a fun read. It covers many topics from the realm of academia and life, includes a good dose of racy subjects such as what the Romans wore under their togas, and gives the impression that Mary would be a fascinating person to have dinner with. I have a tendency to think in terms of food and company. (I would not want to eat with Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes, as it's is one of the most relentlessly miserable books I've ever not finished.)

For a proper review, however, try this, by Dinah Birch at the Observer.

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