As my notes of the Landscape Archaeology Conference are in Stockholm, I have to leave the conference reporting to another week. Just when I had needed the notes in order to cover for a quieter week that has seen me to start writing our joint article for our edited volume and finalising a presentation to yet another workshop where I will be one of only three people looking at Mediterranean migration from an ancient viewpoint. The other talks will undoubtedly include words such as 'Lampedusa', 'Syria' and 'boat' and make our contributions look slightly 'lighter' at the face of modern suffering, even if old power politics have relevance in today's world as well.
I will start with a lament of an grumpy middle-aged archaeologist and proceed to the remembrance of those who are not among us any more. I will first do my best J C coffee room impression and then pay attention to those who did their share there [relatively] quietly and make huge contribution and those who did not quite get to make everlasting contribution before the time was up.
My grumpiness is related to the fact that it seems that current students do not take student-run conferences - even if on the postgraduate level - as studenty as they used to. They do not pay attention to normal fieldwork/holiday times and are beginning to show the tendencies of the more 'serious' conferences. In the past seem to be those times when the postgrads were begging for papers long into the spring and all flowers could flower. No, now it seems that it is perfectly OK to announce the call for sessions in August so that most people miss the call when facing their mailbox at some point in September (when it was too late already). The result is that the two sensible sessions with the themes I and many others could contribute to are closed sessions and our suggestions will go directly to the general session - that will be huge on the face of the lack of sessions with general theoretical discussion potential. To keep the form, the deadline for the papers is at the end of October, almost five months before the conference! In any case, it will probably be lovely in the end. At least it is at home so we do not have to go anywhere and we may be able to get a babysitter even if I have to fly to another conference a day after.
After releasing my grumpy old lady, I release another feeling of age: the sadness when your friends disappear from your side. Our common friend lost her battle towards cancer so rare the doctors at the Addenbrooks Hospital were unsure about it. We followed her brave messages on Facebook from the hospital bed and tried to give our cheers, but when the words 'decharge plan' came up, I started to fear the worst (coming from a medical family makes me sensitive to euphemisms). We are lucky that another friend managed to pull it through, but increasingly good friends and those who were at the University with us have succumbed to all kinds of ends. For some, there have been kind obituaries, but some others left before they could finish their studies or PhDs or other major professional merits. However, they do live in our memories.