It’s that time of year when academics can grab a break from their endless PowerPoint slides, passive-aggressive question sessions and lunch breaks with suspicious fish-based sandwiches, and instead be permitted into the real world to point at things in a somewhat organised manner. Like a school trip, bus loads of academics are driven from the lecture hall to archaeological sites, great buildings and art galleries, with a burning determination to show everyone around them that they absolutely ooze theory, methodology and object-based knowledge from every gland! Things can get pretty heated as they tear into poor display, conservation and interpretation; so here’s a few situations I have identified that you can be ready for!
Everyone will look at an interesting piece of medieval sculpture for a bit, then someone will realise it is a Victorian replica and the group will die a little inside
Well… it’s a very good pastiche
Seizing the opportunity, one eminent delegate will speak inside a building to the extent that they basically recite the entire manuscript for the book about it that they have never got round to writing
He’s been going for at least 35 minutes now, isn’t the wine reception supposed to be at six??
Of course, the layout of the monastic complex is conjectural to say the least; and that tracery of the infirmary is ludicrous for the documented date
If a number of scholars are invited to climb part of a stair-turret, they will ignore instructions where to exit it and proceed to ascend to the very top as if they might glimpse the court of heaven with God enthroned with His angels in splendour, when actually all they will find is a roof-space filled with asbestos
Now this just doesn’t seem safe, maybe I ought to go back down and not mention this
Look at the state of those riddel-posts
They look like drainpipes
All 1960s, of course
I think it is…!
Even though every group is supposed to see the same things in a rota, people will hide the coloured sticker on their name badge and go with whatever group they feel like because they really don’t believe this is possible
Balls to that Anglo-Saxon tun, I’m going to the lady chapel roofspace first
I wasn’t even that close… and it’s glazed anyway so I don’t know what their problem was frankly
An amateur guardian of a building will deliver an extended Ladybird book version of its history to an assembled congregation of eminent scholars who know more about it than anyone else on the planet, but everyone will be too polite to tell them to stop
And we have three windows at the east end, which symbolise the 3 at the beginning of our village dialling code
It will rain and people will make interminable jokes about the “English summer”
Even if the conference is abroad
You will be stuck between two people discussing the differences between Purbeck marble and other types of fossiliferous limestone which is interesting for the first ten minutes but then you realise decorum means you have no escape
In the en-delit shafting in the triforium? That’s blue lilas, surely
STAINED GLASS ATTITUDES WILL RETURN
With more wonky arches