Thursday, November 17
Tallinn University, 9:30
We skipped breakfast in the hotel because the conference allegedly started with a networking breakfast. I had expressed scepticism and felt quietly vindicated when we got there to receive a ham croissant and a cup of coffee each.
We stand in a room on the third floor of the university, croissant in hand, looking out of the window. We can see over the buildings to the harbour where a ferry gets ready to depart. The sky seems almost entirely grey, although light reflected on the window from inside adds some deceptive blue. Hardly anyone has arrived yet and so I spend ten minutes looking out at the dull, snow-flecked landscape.
The networking day will contain no networking at all since the programme features two introductions, ten lectures, and a five-person panel. We will however meet a couple of interesting people and manage to exchange a few words.
Ulrike will suggest that we talk with people at the dinner in the evening. The diner will take place in The Olde Hansa, a medieval theme restaurant, lit dimly by candles, where the waiters shout loudly every few minutes to announce the arrival of more food. “I bring good news. The peasants from the south of the country have just arrived by wagon with their fine local sausages. The cook has inspected them, accepted them, and is even now preparing them in his iron pan.” That sort of thing.
The woman on my left will tell everyone within earshot about how much people appreciate her, and how keenly they recognise her talent. The woman on my right will refuse to talk to me.
Afterwards Liisa and I will go to a bar called Depeche Mode which plays nothing but music by Depeche Mode and talk for several hours.