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‘Twas the Night Before BSECS…

January 6, 2016


The night before BSECS is the most exciting Eve of the year for me.  I rarely sleep much.  Just to think that tomorrow I’ll be in Oxford surrounded by Eighteenth-Century specialist sends me all aflutter.

Yes, this is what makes the penitential season of Christmas worthwhile.  BSECS, the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, is like Easter after Lent, sunshine after rain, something nice after something not quite so nice.

And now the morning has actually dawned and we have to go get a train.  What does the train feel like?  Let’s just say that it’s more exciting than the train to Hogwarts.  There – I said it.  It’s the Wiggy Express.

This will be my twenty-first consecutive BSECS.  That’s like a month and a half of my life – six weeks of my existence spent entirely at BSECS.  Like an entire school summer holiday – only so much better than any school summer holiday I remember.  My chief memory of childhood summer holidays involves being repeatedly prodded in the ribs by too many siblings in a small nicotine saturated car.  Which doesn’t happen at BSECS.

Will BSECS live up to my expectations this year?  Of course not.  But then, my expectations are quite ludicrously high.  But the BSECS sublime is sustained, like most versions of the eighteenth-century sublime – by hints and fragments – but opportunities glimpses and the promise of intellectual synthesis – dangled and deferred.

And the fact that the very happy things that are going to happen in the next forty eight hours are but a shadow of the ideal BSECS that might some day be – will keep me coming back.

And back and back and back.




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