Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Early one morning in the Rila Mountains

Normally, as I prepare to go to a conference,  I get a talk ready, and maybe prepare an article for the conference proceedings.  Or at least, I think about preparing those two things and make sure I know that I have the means to actually write the talk on the journey there.

Next week I'll be at the Rila Mountain workshop, in Bulgaria.  It's a long-standing annual meeting organised by the theoretical nuclear physics group in Sofia, and takes place in a somewhat isolated spot in the Rila mountains of Bulgaria.  I went last year for the first time, and discovered that as well as the scientific preparation, I was obligated to provide some kind of entertainment, as the sole British representative at the meeting.  The idea is that at the conference dinner, one person from each country represented must do something, such as recite a poem, or sing a song - or even tell a joke - that is somehow related to the place they are from.  I was caught a bit unawares by this last time.  I found out either on the day of the dinner, or the evening before.  Still, it was enough time to pick out a poem by Robert Burns, though not my favourite one, which had the benefit that I would be reading something incomprehensible to the non-native speakers of Scots, just like they would be with their poems and songs.  It seemed to go down okay.

This year, I am better prepared.  In a homage to Radio 4's defunct UK theme, I have learnt to play Early One Morning on the ukulele, and will attempt to sing along to my playing.  With luck, no-one will take a movie of it and post it online.

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