I spent Wednesday at the one-day symposium on Iain Banks’s Culture novels held at Brunel University.
At least, I spent part of the day there. With the best will in the world, Brunel is not an easy place to get to from Folkestone. I had to get the early morning commuter High Speed train, which meant seeing again all those pasty, blurry-eyed, unsmiling faces I used to see every day. From St Pancras, it’s a straightforward trip on the Metropolitan line to Uxbridge (enlivened by Maureen phoning to say that Kate Keen reported swans on the line), but that was when the fun started. The Brunel website suggests it’s a 15-minute walk to the campus, after walking for five minutes I stopped someone to ask the way only to be told it was at least another 20 minutes and I’d be best advised to catch a bus. I’m glad I did, the route was not actually as straightforward as it seemed, I’m sure I would have missed the right turning. And having reached the campus, later than anticipated, I still had to find the venue. The Antonin Artaud building was all I knew. By chance, it was a student open day and there were plenty of student guides about. So I asked one; blank look, never heard of it. I tried another, another blank look, but this one at least had a list on his clipboard. It’s in Zone D, down that way. I went down that way, and lo, eventually found myself in Zone D, and a board listed Antonin Artaud (it just had to be Artaud, didn’t it?) with an arrow pointing left. Only to find another board with an arrow pointing back the way I’d come. Eventually, after following a peculiar zigzag course that I’m sure was far from optimal, I came upon one of those typical fairly featureless university buildings at the other end of a car park, and there, hidden by the trees, I finally saw the name, Antonin Artaud. Continue reading