Doing a favour for Emma’s mum, who had been organising a conference for the National Women’s Register, I agreed to collect and deliver the male professor from the station.
In the car:
Professor: So you’re at the conference too, are you?
Shane: No - no direct connection with the conference. Just ferrying you as a favour to my mother-in-law – an act of charity, really.
Professor: Oh wow, thank you - you’re a star.
Shane: (it being a Sunday morning) Yes. I am.
Professor: (slightly startled laughter)
Shane: She attempted to sell the idea of my collecting you, by mentioning that I’d probably find you interesting, and that we could have a fascinating intellectual conversation about sport and culture and so on, whilst en route.
Professor: (flattered) Oh wow – I’m not sure that I’ve been sold quite like that before.
Shane: Don’t worry - you’ve no need to perform. I’m not sure that I’m up to intellectual chit-chat right now – it being Sunday morning.
Shane: (pause) So what were you doing in London?
Professor: Well! Last night I was at an amazing event, really – ‘cage-fighting’ – have you heard of it?
Shane: I think I’ve glanced over references to it or pictures of it - reminded me of underground fighting – street-fighting, that sort of thing – not really my thing.
Professor: No, absolutely. It did have a slightly underground feel – it’ll be the end of it if it becomes mainstream.
Shane: Where was it?
Professor: Wemblĕy Arĕna.
Shane: How many tickets were sold?
Professor: Six thousand!
Shane: Not so underground, then.
Professor: Well! I got a call from Newsnight, y’ see, they wanted me to come along and just say what I thought. It was fascinating. They wanted me to talk quite dispassionately with the great din of a fight – in a cage! - going on behind me. I ended up talking with my arms and sounding like a sports commentator – quite animated, y’ know.
Shane: Not so dispassionate, then
Professor: No – it wasn’t possible.
Shane: More of that this afternoon, y’ think?
Professor: (amused) Hmm, a very different kind of audience, I imagine.
Shane: Though no less scary?
Professor: Oh, I don’t know.
Soon after, we pulled into the conference car park. A large banner read ‘Linking Lively-Minded Women’. We walked into the venue. About to leave the professor with his main host, a middle-aged woman came running over to us… ‘Some young men in very short shorts are in the restaurant helping themselves to our food’ she said. The host rolled her eyes. The professor smiled. I smiled.
Shane: And on that note, I’ll wish you good luck.
Professor: Won’t you stay for lunch?
Shane: (whispered) Between young men in very short shorts and Lively-Minded Women Wot Lunch, I’m not sure that this is going to be my kind of gig – I'm sure you'll be ok.
Professor: Ah well, thanks anyway.
As I drove away, I considered the peculiarly incongruous worlds that I’d just had brief glimpses of. Perhaps the professor would suggest that the Lively-Minded Women join him for his next cage-fighting trip - quid pro quo and all that. Though somehow, I doubted it.