DAY ONE of the CIEP CONFERENCE
Straight from three days (well, two and a half) at the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) conference into two full-on days in a client’s office…
And I am still recovering.
Also hugely missing the bubble of wordsmiths, litterateurs, scriveners, scribes, linguists, blue-pencillers, rewriters and book dilettantes (more on that word later).
The CIEP annual conference is a thing of wonder; I’ve attended two online, but this year voyaged to Glasgow to join in person. (If you can call two measly trains and a four-hour journey a voyage.)
Bumped into fellow delegate Helen Bleck at Dalmuir station, and we tottered* along to the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel, making jokes about its handy location next door to the hospital. (Well, I made jokes. I shouldn’t make implications about the darkness or otherwise of Helen’s sense of humour.)
A few others who arrived slightly earlier at the hotel had taken the opportunity to join a tour to The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. I missed that, so instead bought a cup of tea and girded my loins for the speed networking session.
Loins definitely needed to be girded for that one-and-a-half-hour socialising sprint. I pity the fools whose loins were not sufficiently treated thus. It was Full On. (I’ve done speed dating before and while that was slightly more nerve-racking, this was definitely more intense.)
But it was a surprising amount of fun, and a great way to warm up the socialising skills. I immediately made connections with similar souls and it meant there were people I could smile at and say hello to whenever we passed for the rest of the weekend. Actually, the number of people smiling and saying hello increased dramatically throughout the two-and-a-half days.
After the intense getting-to-know-people came an hour of “social activities”. I thought the craft room looked interesting – I love a bit of painting and colouring in – so wandered in, somewhat dazed after the 90 minutes of chat preceding. Unfortunately, I hadn’t realised that, to engage in craft, one needed to bring the craft. Some others, for example, had brought their knitting. Next year, I will take a bag of colouring books and some Crayola pens.
A foray into the games room was similarly confounded when I realised I was too brain-fried to learn the rules of new games. An attempt to join a game of… lord, can’t remember its name. See, if I can’t remember the name of the game, how can I possibly be expected to learn its rules? It involved different colour cards with images and instructions on them, brains, rockets, something about winning the game if you had more than 10 cards in your hand…
I seemed to be the only person who didn’t have a clue what was going on…. No, I think there were one or two other learners but they were not slack-jawed and glassy eyed with the ineptitude of an exhausted novice. Or, if they were, they hid it well.
Anyway, having insisted I didn’t have a clue what was going on and watched with growing confusion as everyone else played their cards, I then won. Without even knowing how or why.
At this stage I realised my bewilderment and fatigue might cast a pall over the joy of the next game – some sort of Scrabble derivative – and I excused myself to buy some crisps and sit in the bar with some other editors. For, praise be, throughout the hotel were patches of editors – patches? Clans? Instances? – to whom one could attach, as a person falling into a fast-flowing river might flail and grab hold of an overhanging branch to save themselves from certain death.
It didn’t really feel like that. I’ve been reading histrionic books.
And then it was time to get changed for pre-dinner drinks and dinner itself. Pre-dinner drinks were spent chatting about pressures on the NHS with Cathy Tingle and Juliet Wilberforce. I needn’t go into details there because we all know them.
Dinner involved trying to espy the most intelligent-looking people in the room, because whoever we sat with would be our team for the postprandial quiz. I had been warned about the quiz. It was impossible, apparently. This didn’t worry me because I *love* any and all quizzes, despite being preternaturally bad at them. I don’t know whether it’s an uncharacteristic optimism I might suddenly remember everything I’ve ever read or just a joy of learning new facts all over again (facts I won’t remember beyond this night), but I get so much enjoyment out of quizzes.
I didn’t vet my tablemates at all but in the end I didn’t need to. I got lucky. I was seated with fellow East Lothian editor Philippa Tomlinson, a bevy from CIEP head office (Diane, Cecilia and Sarah), Diana Ben-Aaron and three others whose names I didn’t note. Gah. If I’d thought ahead to this report obviously I would have noted them. If I’d honed my socialising skills even the slightest bit, also I would have noted them**. Their names unremembered, their presence is not, and they were definite contributors to our team effort – though, in the end, we were all as nothing next to the encyclopaedic brain power of our final team member, Catriona Turner, who seemed to be a veritable machine of quiz facts.
She spat out answers within milliseconds of the question being asked. I was especially impressed by the speed of her answer to question two: Wilson (bonus point for Tony Wilson). Her knowledge of first lines of songs was spectacular.
I remember offering Antarctica; Manchester Utd, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle; and Paris (the French Open) as solutions to a few questions, but mostly my contribution was limited to nodding and telling Catriona I thought she was right about her answers. And we came fifth! Out of about 16 or 17 teams! “A very respectable result,” I announced proudly to the table. Proud, smug and entirely disregarding the fact it was mostly Catriona who had made us so respectable.
In a thoroughly out-of-character move, I then decided to head straight to bed so I wasn’t too tired or hungover the next day. (A somewhat naïve aim, since I’d had a white wine and soda and an Aperol Spritz.) I sunk into the enormous double bed in my wonderful room with a huge sense of satisfaction.
* Tottered in the sense that we were relying on my ability to interpret Google Maps (I couldn’t) and the differing opinions of two separate people who gave us directions.
** I have been reminded that one of my unremembered teammates was the aforementioned Helen Bleck. An absolutely memorable person! I'm a dimwit.
Next: DAY TWO of the CIEP CONFERENCE
This is the bit where I write about wordy and linguistic things that take my fancy...