Today is our official laundry day. With any multi-week vacation, we try to plan at least one day a week to do laundry and not much else. That way we can recover from info-overload, rest our feet, and have clean clothes. Priority #1 has been accomplished: our clothes are now clean.
Yesterday's tour was very good. The bus was tolerable, and while I don't love being rushed, it was a great way to scout out things I'd like to see more of. Another day at Leeds Castle would be lovely, whereas we could easily spend 2-3 days in Cantebury (and there's a B&B right next to the old medieval wall, I saw). The cathedral is absolutely stunning, and I hope to get back there to be able to really soak it in. Dover was quite lovely, but how come I had never known that at the top of the famous White Cliffs is a big honkin' gorgeous castle!?! We'd love to go back and explore that.
The tour ended with a river trip from Greenwich back to central London, so we hit the tube and did manage to get to the BASFA thing. It was great. Terrence Dicks is a lovely story teller who knows his audience. I got to have a few last words and "I'll see you in Denver's" with various people. Also, Curts & I spent the last bit of the evening having drinks with Duncan Lawie and an aspiring writer named Nick (who, if he sees this, should definitely drop 'round and remind me of his last name, so I can keep an eye out for him in the future).
One thing that Duncan & I were chewing over was a concept that Wendy Pearson introduced: Reparative readings. The idea is that you read a text counter to the prevailing reading. All of the examples of this involved producing a new text with a more empowering narrative; i.e. after all the victimization of gays over the AIDS epidemic, a comic imagining some gay activists inventing a time machine and putting condoms on all their friends in the late 60's, early 70's, thus preventing the sweeping epidemic in the gay community. It's funny and empowering.
It's a bit hard to see how you could do a reparative reading without producing a new text, though. Presumably a piece of criticism is a next text, so should be sufficient, but it doesn't feel that way. Likewise, Duncan came up with an interesting example: there's a version of the London Underground map where people have put in literary genres/authors/works and then mapped connections between, say, the "Works of W.H. Auden" line and the "Shakespearean Sonnets" line as a train connection. It's pretty cool; is that a reparative reading in a different way?
Continuing to have lots to ponder. I think next time (even if that may not be until 2011 or 2012, I really would like to do this again) I'll put the Masterclass towards the end of the vacation. That way I'll go straight home to do more proper writing, which should help me process through what I've learned more systematically. Blogging between sightseeing isn't terribly optimal for that sort of thing.