Sunday, 7 September 2008

Punting and Staying Up Past Our Bedtime

OK, last bit about the conference, promise...

You might think it was all listening to lectures, but we were in Cambridge, so it had to be done - we went punting. There's only so much concentrating you can do, so the outing was factored in as a rest on Saturday afternoon. I've never been punting before. Fortunately, we didn't have to actually punt - there were some rather handsome, tanned young men to do that for us. All we had to do was lay down and watch the banks glide slowly by. Luckily for us, it turned out to be a proper August day. The sun reflected up off the water and down from the white stone of the beautiful, old colleges that towered above us. I trailed my fingers in the water and chatted idly to my neighbour...

Unfortunately, the serenity was broken every few minutes by first time punters and hen parties, getting their boats tangled up with one another, blocking all traffic by getting stuck sideways across the river, or grinding their punt along the side of ours. I pulled my hand in quick! Actually, that rather added to the fun and I was waiting to see someone fall in, but sadly, nobody did.

That evening, after the talk by Anthony Browne, we ate a formal meal at very long tables, in a very high-ceilinged dining hall (where I met Gus, see Author/ Illustrator Collaborations). Lawrence Anholt, author of the Chimp and Zee books, made an after dinner speech, and then a number of us wandered into the bar. It looked like things were dwindling towards an early night, when John Dougherty took out a guitar and began to strum.

Normally this is the signal to make a dash for cover, but John was very good. He played all those songs that anyone over 30 knows the words to, like American Pie and Ground Control to Major Tom. People gathered round in a cosy semi-circle and began to sing along.

They called last orders; the bar staff went home; still we sang. Tony Mitton and Jane Ray, Lynn Breeze and Anthony Browne. Fiona Dunbar even had a bit of a dance. It wasn't until around 1.30 that we finally ran out of steam. I think John had played his fingers raw! We slunk across the courtyard to our rooms in the vacated student's residence.

I finally lay in my bed and peered across at the clock: 02.00. The alarm was set for 7am, because we had to pack up and vacate the rooms before breakfast. No wonder we were all a bit dazed at Sunday morning's talks.

If you want to see some of the drawings I did at those talks, to try to keep myself awake, click the link on the right, to my parallel blog: Picture Gallery.

In the meantime, the answer to the quiz question about the 'bats in hats' was, of course, When You're Not Looking!, the one picture book I both wrote and illustrated. And here they are!


weechuff said...

Like the vast majority of people I have never been punting.Sounds like fun though!And the staying up until the early hours singing along to someone, really reminded me of my youth:0)

Lynne Chapman said...

It was just so lucky that we had a sunny day, as there've not been too many of those recently!