Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'd like to be a visiting lecturer, I think it would be fun. There was once a man who dropped in to sort out oil rigs. His name was Red something....he was American, a troubleshooter and he, obviously, arrived in a helicopter. I'm not suggesting in any way that I'd like to travel that way. Apart from the noise, environmental damage and the cost, it would be a little too ostentatious for me. I'd like to visit by train, ideally, and be put up in a small but comfortable hotel with a good view of sea, rolling hills, mountains, a French chateau or Georgian crescent.

I'd happily lecture on anything. I'm quite used to picking up information quickly. At one time in my life I was nearly an expert in equal opportunities employment legislation. I could even quote laws and dates. But that kind of expertise dates very quickly. I was briefly an expert on the history of seatbelts and retail design. I knew quite a lot about organic cotton and fairtrade in the 80s, even the kinds of pesticides use on cotton. Today, snippets from a report I proof-read about methane and landfill gas kept coming back to me.

Mostly, I think I'd like to lecture on daily life and how to spend time without sticking to routine or a ten point plan. I was once asked, by an inspiring maverick businessman, how to encourage his staff to waste time. He picked up quite quickly I was good at that. We used to spend hours talking about nothing in particular, never bored. My lectures would include quotes from my neighbours, maybe photos of people mending cars or fences, a list of jobs I start but don't finish and a long justification for why my hall and landing haven't been decorated 13 years after moving in.

Or perhaps a lecture could incorporate a really random element and everyone attending could put a subject in a hat. I would pick one at random and waffle. I have yet to work out a reason for anyone inviting me to be a visiting lecturer on this basis. I may need an impressive CV or a profile. I may need to persuade influential friends to organise a conference and invite me as a speaker. I'd like to be able to command a large fee. I wonder if I could pretend my poetry books were not poetry at all. One could be an expert analysis of coastal defences in Morocco, another a thesis on social interaction and body language. Then there's the north-south debate represented by the growing conditions of different tree species and the changing landscape of religious belief. That might do it.

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