Last year when Amanda at Fig and Thistle suggested we join together to co-host a Barbara Pym reading week I took to the interwebs to look for more information about Pym. The top result Google returned was for the Barbara Pym Society of North America which in turn led me to a link for their annual conference. The thought of spending a weekend in Cambridge, Massachusetts talking about Pym was too good to pass up. Little did I know how much fun I was going to have.
The weekend started off in high style with evensong on Friday night at the Church of the Advent on Beacon Hill in Boston. In addition to including one of my favorite hymn arrangements (Ralph Vaughan Williams's version of Old 100th "All people that on earth do dwell") the service also featured an anthem that was commissioned by the Pym Society to mark Pym's centenary. The anthem was one of Barbara's favorite hymns "God Moves In A Mysterious Way" set to music by composer Rodney Lister. The evensong service itself was more Anglo-Catholic than the typical Anglican service one usually encounters in England. Although there is some disagreement as to just how high a service Pym preferred, her characters tend to prefer an incense laden version that reminded me quite a lot of my Roman Catholic childhood.
After the service we all headed down to the church basement for dinner. On the way there, I stumbled across a sign on a door that had me kicking myself for not having a camera with me. It was something about not letting Simon the church cat outside as he was still too young. Anyone who reads or knows Simon at Stuck in a Book will understand me when I say that I took the sign as a good omen for the weekend. The food at dinner was quite delicious. Perhaps the highlight for me was finally tasting cauliflower cheese (a kind of cheesy cauliflower au gratin) that featured so memorably in Some Tame Gazelle. This cauliflower cheese was garnished with a worm made of green grapes in further homage to STG.
It was clear from this first encounter with the die hard Pym fans in attendance that the weekend was going to be lots of fun. Oh to be in a room full of like-minded readers. The papers presented over the course of the weekend where plenty academic but did not diminish the warmth and fellowship that pervaded the conference.
There is much more I could say, but I save it for Barbara Pym Reading Week which is June 1st to 8th. Until then, here are some pictures.
|The conference was held at the Barker Center at Harvard.|
|Hot off the presses. Ms. Cocking gave a presentation about the poetry by Pym and her friends that is sprinkled throughout Pym's papers at the Bodleian Library at Oxford. She even had wonderful readers who recited excerpts of the poetry.|
|I counted three knitters, a quilter, a crocheter (shown above) and an embroiderer.|
|There was a birthday party to celebrate Pym's centenary as well as the release of Cocking's book.|
|With a capacity of 100 for the conference, there was a waiting list. I am glad I registered early.|
|When I was looking for a place to stay I came across The College Club which has a B&B. It seemed a fitting place to stay while attending a Barbara Pym conference.|
|Rather than get a double room with an en suite bath, it seemed more Pymsian to get a single with a shared bath. Unfortunately, the one person I shared the bath with was not particularly considerate. But I loved my cosy little room.|