Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monday Classes, Peter Taschel Lecture and Dinner with Rosemary

Monday, February 23, 2009

My week began on a lovely note with two really good classes. It's always great when you come out of class feeling as if the class went well. My students really did enjoy the field trip to Winchester and Portsmouth and have found useful material for their research papers which we began to plan and prepare today. I met with Yvonne during lunch break to ascertain my accommodation position and left with a phone number of an agent to call. It promises to be a stressful couple of weeks as I try to sort out my housing issue for the summer.

Even Office hours passed in a whirr as I printed out so many of the interviews I have done in the past week and itineraries for all my forthcoming travel. At 6.25pm, I left my office and walked the three minutes to the SOAS Brunei auditorium to listen to Peter Taschel on 'The Acquisition of Gay Rights in Great Britain'. He is an engaging speaker, clearly passionate about the issue and his historical perspective was enlightening. In the last 7-8 years, the Gay Rights Movements in this country has had achievements that they can be very proud of indeed and Britain has gone from being the most homophobic country in Europe to being the most liberal and tolerant. In fact, Taschel ended his lecture stating that he cannot conceive how an educated, free and democratic country like the USA can still be so opposed to Gay Rights and so determined to prevent homosexuals from enjoying equal rights with other citizens. Well, I guess he has no idea how powerful the Christian Right is in the USA.

I then walked the five minutes that it took to get to Pizza Paradiso, a very popular hangout with Bloomsbury's academics, for my dinner appointment with Rosemary. This place has bitter-sweet memories for me as it was in Paradiso, a few months ago, that I had run into my friend Sally Ledger who had just left her position at Birkbeck College to join Royal Holloway College. She had given me a great big warm bear hug and a kiss when she ran into me so unexpectedly at lunch time. We had left with the promise that we would get together for coffee at the British Library--a promise we never kept last semester. And when I emailed Sally a few weeks ago suggesting we do it this semester, I was kept waiting for a response--only to receive the awful news two days later that she had died that very evening! I am still mystified at the strange turns life can take. My friend Anna Vadillo has taken Sally's place at Birkbeck College and we have now made plans to meet for coffee--so, in a way, I suppose, life goes on...

Rosemary and I had the loveliest evening. As always, we chatted about a number of things--Slumdog Millionaire that has swept the Oscars (Rosemary, her friend Lizzie and I had seen it together at the Curzon a few weeks ago); my need for summer housing; my lack of sleep (Rosemary had some interesting explanations!), etc. etc. I ordered a pizza Napoleana but have to admit that it was much too heavy on the anchovies. Rosemary's ravioli asparagi was good, she said, but the bruschetta we ordered with pesto as a starter was really good. For dessert, I could not resist the Profiteroles Siciliana but again they were stuffed with just too much fresh cream and were a bit too rich at the end of a very heavy meal.

As always, for me, the pleasure of getting home within half an hour of an evening out is still a wonder.

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